THAT’S EMBARRASSING

Fans of the Edmonton Oilers have been kicked in the junk so often the past six seasons there’s barely any leather left on that damn shoe, and they took yet another pop in the pills watching their team mail it in with a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center Sunday.

Even the most devout Edmonton booster knows the score flattered the Oilers, who needed a fluke goal by Sam Gagner just to keep things mildly interesting in a game in which Ralph Krueger’s team didn’t manage a single shot on goal in the second period. Not one. Zippo. Nada.

This feeble effort, one devoid of emotion and physical engagement with the Wild, was bad enough to get the attention of Krueger, who chewed out his team on the bench during a called time out. Krueger was clearly pissed off. Not nearly as much, I’m guessing, as fans weary of waiting for this team to start delivering on some of the promises management has been making.

Fans made that abundantly clear in the aftermath.

WHAT YOU SAID . . .

Here’s a sampling of the comments directed my way on Twitter in the wake of a loss that dropped the Oilers to 8-9-4 on the season with five games left on a road trip that looks like it will end any hopes of a playoff push.

Mitch Dul‏@mitchdul @Robin_Brownlee at what point does management finally get shown the door…when Gretzky left the coyotes the team went forward.

Jeff Hendrick‏@jeffhendrick @Robin_Brownlee this #oilers club has more holes than Swiss cheese, and a terrible GM…4th straight top three pick awaits

Wendy Dwernychuk‏@WendyDwernychuk @Robin_Brownlee embarrassed once again

Dave Anderson‏@RantnRoller @Robin_Brownlee – players coach is fine. Being supportive is fine too. Some Oilers need to be called out after tonight’s debacle

Wade Westworth‏@rumdum @Robin_Brownlee the Oilers were a much better team when the lockout was on! Need some heart. A little pride.

NOT EVEN CLOSE

I thought the Oilers might get nine of a possible 18 points from this trip, a total that would most certainly see them fall marginally farther out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. They need six points from the last five games just to reach that. Some fans, bolstered by a loser point in Chicago and a rare win in Dallas to open the trip, were talking 12 or 13 points. Really.

That aside, what fans saw in the final period against the St. Louis Blues and for all three periods against the Wild was an Oiler team that took the easy way out at every opportunity. A team that didn’t physically or mentally compete or engage. A team that too often didn’t bust its collective backside in an effort to get the job done. A team that didn’t play smart or with gusto.

After six years out of the playoffs choking back heaping helpings of rebuild pie, the very least fans deserve is an honest effort from the players on the ice. If the team isn’t good enough – and it’s becoming clear it’s not – then that falls to GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe.

Until then — holes in the roster and limitations be damned — fans have a right to expect that their team compete on every shift and show up for battles, even if they don’t win them rather than turning the other cheek. Right now, all fans are getting is what looks like a collective shrug of the shoulders.

Not good enough. Not even close.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The play Eberle made in the final two minutes of the game pretty much sums up some of my frustrations this year.

    2 mins remaining, goalie pulled and a chance to make a simple play by putting the puck on net with a bunch of players standing on the crease.

    What does he do instead? A no look, behind the back pass to an unsuspecting Yakupov in which the puck ultimately slides across the blue line into the neutral zone.

    A lot has been said about the supposed skill and intelligence of our top six. I don’t doubt the skill part, but I’m really starting to question the latter. IIRC, this was something Pat Quinn alluded to. Maybe he was onto something?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      That made me want to cut my eyeballs out with a spoon! There was no need for a play like that…none. Sometimes this team does the most stupid, nonsensical things. These kids are supposed to be smarter than that, at least that’s what we were led to believe.

      • mr_nihilism

        Is it not possible that the view Ebs had at that moment differed from the camera view the public saw? Is it possible all Ebs saw at that moment was a bunch of legs in between him and the net and, rather than shoot the puck into a few sets of legs and see his shot surely blocked and bouncing into the corner or out of the zone, his instinct was to attempt a pass to a pure goal scorer who might have a better lane? Is it possible that, more often than not, Ebs might have a better idea of what the best option is in that situation over the thousands of professional hockey players who regularly watch games from their sofa?

        It’s hilarious because, if the pass works and Yak scores, it’s up for the honor roll or maybe highlight of the night. If it doesn’t work, the good feelings created from Ebs strong season last year officially wash away and he should now be traded.

        That’s the glory of being an Edmonton Oilers fan I guess – full permission to be absolute full-on bandwagon-jumpers. How many players in this league can shoot from the circle and put it under the bar with such velocity and accuracy that the goalie doesn’t even go down? The goal on Reimer last year and this year on Varlamov…so close to the bar no one on the ice was even certain it went in. That’s talent. And it’s not teachable.

        But, since the team is 4 points out of a playoff spot 43% into the season, it probably makes sense to trade away…well, everyone. And, while they’re at it, they should go ahead and pull the trigger on the Omark and Whitney (or, in other words, a player not playing in the NHL and a part-time healthy scratch defenseman) for a “big winger who can score” trade (those types that grow on trees) that seems like the pure never-see-it-again “no-brainer” deal for any team that isn’t Edmonton.

        • mr_nihilism

          Or course it’s possible. My point is that there were probably other possibilites as well. Too many nights these kids are going for the pretty plays. They need to simplfy. How many times have we seen the ole “no look drop pass” totally backfire? Too many for a lot of people’s liking.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    5 games in 8 nights, this could work out great as far as landing a potential impact player. 4 pts out of dead last, like it or not, another potential leader is what this team needs.

    GO JACKETS!

    29th place or bust, baby.

  • This is what happens when you put essentially a U-21 squad against NHL clubs night in and night out – there will be games where it is so evident its men vs boys out there.

    Teams that are big and can slow the speed down will just lean hard on the young ones until they fall or cough up the puck.

    The last four games CHI-STL-DAL-MIN are prime example for it..they “offensive machine” has dissappeared as they are being pushed around as mops all over the ice.

    problem is the kids still think they can miracously pull it off with a fancy spinorama here or there and try to do it all on one shift and usually as an individual. why – because they are kids – stubborn – and haven’t grasped the concept of playing the game with your brain not your dance moves.

    why would they – they are 20 – they got loads of NHL years ahead of them – they can dimiss a game or two easily – they are not professionals yet with a driven focus.

    Stop catering to it and demand more. I would even use demotions available to the squad to send a message.

    but I’m sure people would have a cornorary if the oilers did that. or even put Nuge on the 4th line until he can contribute with regularity on the faceoff dot.

    so nothing left to do but wait until the 20 becomes 25.

    we got a LONG ROAD ahead of us still…not even close. I’m sure the oiler fan can’t stomach that thought but its the truth.. if this is the core then sit tight and wait another 3 to 4 years!

  • Your asking Hall,RNH and EBS to step up this year and play first line minutes.The result is what you are seeing on ice is exactly what you should expect to see from 3 players learning to play at the elite level of the NHL. No longer sheltered by Renny,playing against the other teams 3/4th lines.The BIG 3 are going to be schooled night in and night out by players with 5-6 years more experience than them.Physically the difference is huge.Guys like Marleau and Thornton,Kopitar and Carter,IGGY and Tanguay, and Kane and Teows. The expectation should be that we’ll continue to improve over time. Not over night.

    The addition of Brown sent a message to the team today..Step up the physicality.

  • mr_nihilism

    This team is absolutely incredibly unbelievably awful. Does this team have a real honest will to win besides once every now and then? Lazy, uninspired more often than not. #1 picks up the wazoo and still it’s not enough.

    But hey, at least the Oil are four points up on Columbus!

    Drastic actions need to be taken. Whatever they may be.

    Rant over.

  • DSF

    Well, let’s begin with the notion the Oilers are 4 points out…in fact, they are 5.

    But that’s not actually the problem.

    The problem is that there are currently 6 teams between the Oilers and that playoff spot, many of whom have games in hand.

    Then the issue is that these teams will be playing each other and many of the games between them will result in 3 points.

    Here’s how the odds of making the playoffs look today:

    CHI – 99.99

    ANA – 99.8

    VCR – 88.4

    SJS – 76.7

    LAK – 75.3

    PHX 57.2

    MIN – 56.8

    STL – 54.8

    DET – 51.6

    DAL – 44.4

    NSH – 33.3

    CAL – 24.6

    COL – 20.4

    EDM – 16.1

    CLB – 0.7

    Considering Anaheim plays Phoenix and Nashville plays Los Angeles tonight, things will look even worse tomorrow.

  • Good read Robin- you are bang on the fans are tired of this thing called hope and promise we have been preached. Its been a whole lot of false hope and far to much BS. We have gone through coaches and players but the real cancer here is upper management. The true die hard oil fans need you to keep telling it like it is and hopefully someone will see the light and sooner than later, I for one is getting sick and tired of watching this franchise die a slow and painful death.

  • DSF

    Hey Guys

    Does everyone remember last year when everyone was screaming to play the kids more and Renney was saying hold on, hold on, let them in slowly, well Renny is gone and the kids are playing more and all their warts are starting to show..Nuge is 19 yrs old and the playing againts the top line every day and his cute WHL moves are not working..
    Not one of these kids are going to the net anymore since Eberle was helicoptered by Jack Johnson a few games back….thoughts???