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.