After the four to nothing loss to the Maple Leafs Tuesday night, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins said his team was simply "out-finished." There is no doubt that James Reimer played a solid game for the Leafs but I know there was more to this loss then the Oilers being "out-finished".

If Dallas Eakins wants to simply chalk this one up to that reason the Oilers will continue to play a very high-risk style with no guaranteed results going forward. Scary thought. These types of teams are happy to play a track meet type of game with lots of chances both for and against. The Oilers will just have to hope they score more goals then the other team. They will also need to go out and find the greatest goalie of all time because he will be under siege and expected to make huge saves nightly to give his team’s chance to out gun the opposition.

This has never and will never be a recipe for success in the NHL. It is a lot of fun to watch for fans, it is exciting hockey but no real long-term success will be the result.

The good news about this comment of being "out-finished" is that it is most likely not what Eakins really thinks about the game. He is trying to protect his club after a very poor start to the season. In my experience most often coaches say one thing to the media and another to their team. I am guessing that Eakins sees a fragile team and realizes there is no need for him to beat them up in the press. I get it and agree with him.

Risky Business

Matching lines is a great way for a coach to tip the balance of a game in his team’s favor. It isn’t easy to get the match ups you want on the road but at home, with last change, it becomes a whole lot easier.

Again last night Eakins seemed to want to have his first line of Sam Gagner, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov out again the top line of the Leafs. Oh boy. He also seems to like having Justin Schultz and Anton Belov on the ice with Gagner’s line. Oh no.

Having the J. Schultz pairing on the ice with your top offensive line makes sense from a pure offensive firepower point of view. When those five get skating and are on the attack their creativity is a lot of fun to watch and can produce goals.

The dark side of that combo is what we saw on the first two goals from last night. On the first goal, Belov pinches down, Yakupov is the high man and should back him up. Yakupov doesn’t back him up which results in a two on one for the Leafs two most dangerous players. Goal! Barely a minute into the game.

On the second Leafs goal, the same five Oilers are out there against the top line for the leafs. The Oilers have a good offensive rush going up the ice. Belov stays back because J Schultz jumps in and has a great chance to score but Reimer comes up with a big save.

When a d-man jumps into the play, one of the forward needs to stay back a little to be in a position to defend. No one hangs back. Quickly the two most dangerous Leafs, Kessel and Van Reimsdyk, turn the puck up ice for a full ice two versus one. Goal!

The day may come when these five Oilers can match other teams top line both offensively and defensively, that day is not upon us. One school of thought could be that Eakins is putting these match ups together so that these young players can learn tough lessons now. Maybe Eakins wants them to learn under fire.

I can see the reasoning behind this approach long-term, if the players learn the lessons. In the short term these match ups will make it very hard for the Oilers to win games. To many nights this season opponents’ top lines are having a field days against the Oilers. If the Oilers specialty teams continue to struggle and opponents’ top lines produce points the wins will not come for the Oilers. The second to fourth lines can’t score that many.

I would suggest a slight change in approach to Eakins. No more Anyon Belov and Justin Schultz on the ice at the same time as the top line. Yakupov and J. Schultz are two extremely offensive minded skaters. The issue is they create far too many offensive chances for opponents and having them on the ice at the same time doesn’t work at this point in their development.

The other way at looking at Eakins choice in line match ups is it could be he is uncomfortable with matching any if his other lines up with opponents top lines. This is the scarier thought for me. If he feels his best option is a young group of forwards then this team needs help.

To me Boyd Gordan is a no-brainer to match against top lines. But who should be his wingers? Who does Eakins trust to get the job done? Who has the skating ability, defensive awareness and physical requirements to challenge a top line?

If you are having a tough time answering that question just think how Eakins feels.

The Leafs have a great line that can do this. David Clarkson, Mason Raymond and Dave Bolland, three veteran players from winning organizations. I am not a huge Raymond fan but he fills his role on that line. A line like this would go a long way to helping the clear match up issues the Oilers are having.

  • YFC Prez

    Goal 1) 3 forwards all on the left wing boards. puck gets behind net and you have Gagner trying to rush the defender behind the net. Defender flips puck to half boards and Gagner is all of a sudden going the wrong way. The Oilers Dman (same as Gagner) rushes to pinch in and puck gets by him. Now he is WAY behind the play. JrSchultz loses a bad foot race to Kadri, while Yak is busy waiting for someone to get him the puck. He pretty much lets Kessel blow by him. Kessel goes from 30 ft behind him to 20 ft in front of him before Yak realizes his team is wearing blue tonight. Oh yeah, take a look at Bantam AAA Schultz one arm swinging his stick at Kadri’s puck. Come on JS, this is the NHL.
    Goal 2) Schultz pinching in again. DAMN YOU SCHULTZ. He totally blows the shot then wipes out. At 18:28 you can see 4 Oilers behind the net without the puck and Schultz still staring at the ceiling of Rexall, leaving first year Belov all alone on D. When the 2 on one becomes apparent at our blueline, Yak stops skating at the leafs Blueline and gives up.
    Goal 3) Just at Phaneuf tips puck behind net, we can see 4, count them 4, Oilers out past our faceoff circles and 3, yes 3, leafs within pissing distance of poor Bachman. Gagner is the only one to come to Greb’s rescue. While Petry is Schultzing himself in the faceoff circle, Grebs totally leaves his man go behind the net and puts Bachman between himself and 2 leaf players with the puck.
    Goal 4) Kadri makes Petry nervous and he passes puck to mid ice with everyone on a line change instead of backhanding it behind the net, or off the boards on the left side. Yakupov is again gliding in as he always does and is waiting for Kessel to pass it to him so he can rifle it past Bachman.

    This team is a joke. KLOWE Blows. Go get some help. Yak and Schultz need to go, along with our first overall pick next year and the year after. Lets get a bruising power forward, a stay in your zone Dman and a true starting goalie.
    MacT, I heard a rumor that your version of bold was to show episodes of BOLD and BEAUTIFUL instead of showing game footage. Is this true?
    Eakins, I was so excited when we brought you in, but where is the boomsauce? The kids need you to go a little batsh*t on the bench. Send Yak and Schultz to the pressbox for a few, tes few games. Demand MacT and KLOWE bring in some trades. Did we miss out on Vanek? Whats up with Ehrhoff. 5 of your top 6 FWD hitters are new this year, where are the rest of our hits. Time to go old school. Shoot the puck as often as possible and HIT anything that moves on our side of center ice.

    Its going to be a long year. 6 of the top 7 teams in the league are western teams, and coincindentally are big hitting and shooting teams. You cant score if you dont shoot. You cant shoot if you dont have the puck, and you cant have the puck if you are afraid to physically take it from the other team. We are obviously not an elite team, SO STOP TRYING TO PLAY ELITE HOCKEY!!!!! these kids are not big enough or strong enough to get it. GOT IT?

  • YFC Prez

    Watching who’s line last night to get my mind off the oilers. Turns out The musician ladies that play for them are Linda TAYLOR and Laura HALL. There is no escape!

  • Mark-LW

    Been an oiler fan sice 82,will always be an oier fan(although it hurts)but when will there be some changes?They need to change up the balance of this team and I am sick and tired of listening to give them time to learn,injuries,new coach ect.first 5 years I bought into but now its getting old and something has to give!Please santa bring us a #1 goalie,a true #1 defenceman and a bit of grit up front(also let hall stay healthy!)

  • Mark-LW

    The Oilers out shot the Leafs 43-26. The first goal was blown coverage on a pinch. The second goal was a quick turn around after a good scoring chance went off the post and turned into an odd man rush the other way.

    Two odd man rushes, two goals. Odd man rushes happen in hockey and not every one ends up a goal.

    The third goal was a ridiculous play by Kessel, not much you can do about that shot.

    Fourth goal was a horrible, horrible turnover by Petry.

    I’m upset as hell with the teams record, but I would be more worried if the Leafs had out shot us 43-26.

    Every team makes mistakes in a hockey game, the Leafs seemed to capitalize on every one we made while we couldn’t get anything past Reimer.

    • #YakCityGettingScrewedOverByCoach&Mgmty

      Keep dreaming there little fella. Keep popping those happy pills. Don’t forget your re-fills at Rexall. Is that a unicorn, mommy? LOL

    • Dallylamma

      Shots were also 19-5 in the 3rd period when the game was well in hand for the Leafs. It was 24-21 Oilers after two periods, but how many great scoring opportunities did they have? Seemed like the Leafs shots were of much better quality than the Oilers.

      That was the easiest looking 43 save shutout I’ve ever seen…

  • 2004Z06

    The only issue I have with putting Gordon on the top line is that in a matter of 3 games, the fans will make him the new whipping boy.

    There may be one player on this team right now that can match up against the other teams top lines. He can score, stir S**t up, goes to the net, plays decent defensively and fore checks hard. His name is David Perron.

  • ReJ

    Struds, what are we as fans supposed to do here? For the first time in my life I don’t even care if the team wins or loses. It seems like every game has the same endings, we’re either scored on early and can never recover or we get the lead and blow it late.

    I used to take pride (what else is there to be proud of?) in being one of the the best worst teams in sports, now I can’t even do that.

  • Hey Struds, at this point we don’t have the guns (Hall) to match power vs power. I agree with you that we brought Gordon in to take on the Horcoff tough minutes role.

    I didn’t love the lines or how they were used.

    Arcobello – Gordon – Eberle – against the other teams best. This is a skilled, 2 way line that can shut down the other team’s power line, and still score.
    Perron – Nuge – Yakupov – This line should score a lot
    Jones – Gagner – Hemsky – ease Gags back in with soft minutes at 12-15 minutes a night
    Gazdic – Acton – Eager – limited ice time against soft competition.

    When the other team has their best players out why not match with Smid and Petry, or Ference and Petry?

  • 2004Z06

    I have also noted these matchups. essentially making the firepower of your team a checking line. Crazy… A lot of this teams problems are structural IMHO. It would be nice for them to have clutch goaltending as well.

  • Lowe But Now High Expectations

    Everyone in Edmonton is turning into such pouts all of a sudden. The young guns are learning, they’re getting better and they’re playing harder minutes in more difficult situations. Did we want Hall, Ebs, Nuge and Yak to be perimeter guys for the rest of their careers? Hell no! We want them to be gritty and tough, situations that Kruger never put them in. Now Eakins is making them change their style of play to be more like Ovi, Crosby, etc and be real threats in the NHL. It’s gonna look ugly for a while but Eakins is the first coach in a long time to show any determination not just to make the team better, but to make individual players better. (Look how Kadri has turned out under him). I support Eakins 1000% and although there are trades to be made, they aren’t trades that will build a dynasty; Eakin’s actions will build a winning franchise.

      • Doctor Smashy

        Dallas Eakin’s Magnificent Forehead

        Sorry for being a wise-a$$ but this is about more than wanting them to be gritty. We can all agree we want our young players to be tough and tenacious. The problem is that these two things cannot go together –
        A. Swarm Defence: Playing a swarm defence means there will always be a man uncovered that you have to hope the guy with the puck isn’t good enough to get the puck to quickly.
        B. Pitting your top line against the other team’s top line: This means that the guy being swarmed will ALMOST ALWAYS be good enough to get the puck to the uncovered man quickly.

        Unless I don’t understand this swarm business (which is possible) I just don’t see how this particular combination can ever, ever work.

    • I agree with you a bit. But like Struds said, its putting all the offence together. I don’t mind teaching the Young Guns how to check or defend but you need some reliable defenders out there on that same matchup, to help prevent some of the mistakes.

  • outdoorzguy

    I Like Eakins coaching style..I like how aggressive he wants this team to play..problem right now is the young players on this team havent learned the nhl game well enough to succeed playing such aggressive hockey..and the Defence needs a major upgrade to handle this kind of tempo.

    I like how Eakins style looks on paper..and in time if players work hard enough at it..management hangs on to the high end talent (as opposed to trading it for B level 2way forwards) it will pay off…if this team stays strong mentally.

    and quit blaming road trips and injuries..every freakin team deals with those.

  • 5 Cups

    October and done……..again.

    Worst thing about it is I have 4 more games in my minipak to go to.

    The staff at Rexall might just want to play Sweet Georgia Brown every time the oposition has the puck.

  • outdoorzguy

    It’s pretty bad when the Leaf’s “out-do” anyone!! Continue to put $$$$ into the pockets of Katz. That’s all he cares about…he’s a business man. Buy those jerseys. More $$$$ for Katz. Keep hoping for a turnaround. It’s been fifteen years…there’s no turnaround coming anytime soon. This is an inferior team at best that has proven it can’t play together. Time for “BOLD MOVES”. Yeah right. This inferior team is being led by a coaching staff that is less than NHL quality and caliber. And this inferior team is being supported by a management team that at best is mediocre, despite their vocal attempts at “Hoping” something can be done.
    Just keep going to the games, buying those jerseys and souvenirs and picking up your prescriptions at Rexall. Until it hits in the pocketbook nothing will change. Nothing!!

  • 1983 and This Year

    Deja Vu all over again.

    Eakins can only use the tools he has. The problem dates back to the common denominator Kevin Lowe. His philosophy is wrong , he know nothing about winning.

    You could bring in Mike Babcock you would get similar results. Lowe is a cancer whether you like him as a person or not. Oilers have gone for the low hanging fruit( no pun intended) and have fired coaches it is time to right this ship 8 is enough. Fire Kevin Lowe

    • 2004Z06

      Unfortunately won’t change a damn thing. We need different players. These “kids” are in way over their heads. They handed the keys over to the youth waaaay to soon.

  • 1983 and This Year

    Struds, I feel genuinely sorry for you, LT, Willis, Brownlee and Gregor. I’ve been a diehard fan for 30 years and after defending the ineptitude of this team for 20 years, I can shut it down today because for the first time I’m genuinely embarrassed to be an Oilers fan.

    I’ve given up on the team because the team has given up on me.

    You guys don’t have that luxury. You have to keep showing up here and on the radio, picking some angle to describe for the 1000th time that they suck, they’ve sucked forever, and there’s no end in sight to the suck. Sorry guys, through no fault of your own, ON left my bookmarks this morning.

    • james_dean

      I have been an Oiler seson ticket holder and have not missed many games since 1984! I feel embarrased and cheated, and can finally say, that after last night, I may never attend another Oiler home/road game. I am no longer interested! My love/faith in the Oilers has hit rock bottom. I want out. I am done!

    • I urge you to stay and keep us bookmarked.

      Every second Wednesday starting next month we will pick the name of a random poster here and put it in a hat toward a grand prize draw at the end of the season for a brand new 1990 26-inch Zenith television (unopened and still in the original crate in my garage).

      Bet you stick around now, eh? Eh?

        • Dallylamma

          HAHA! Nice, made me LOL. Needed that.

          Fans need to rise up and start to embarrass this organization. If you are too much of a druggie to quit going to games at least boo. Don’t necessarily boo the players though. Just boo the organization.

          I suggest constant booing between each whistle.

          Fire Kevin Lowe chants, and constant between whistle booing. Perhaps that will at least prompt some action or firings.

          I’m tired of blaming the coach. 27 coaches later, eventually you have to look at the root cancer. Kevin Lowe.