GDB 21.0: STARTING OVER

The Oilers enter the second quarter of their season tonight vs. the San Jose Sharks. The first quarter had disastrous results, and cost them a playoff spot. The management, coaches and players can’t look at it that way, playoffs being a pipe dream, but a 4-14-2 start has them 15 points out of the playoffs.

The remainder of this season will be about understanding the system, learning to compete, not just working hard, every shift and hopefully the bitter taste and stench of losing will motivate the players to never be in this situation again.

The Oilers must use the next 62 games to build the foundation of continuity and winning. If they want to become winners, they must be committed to the system, their teammates and themselves.

The Oilers are showing signs of improvement in some areas of their game.

Despite going 0-for-5 last game the Oilers PP is 25% in their last eight games. Their PK has killed off 25 of the last 26 powerplays, 96.3%, over their past eight games.

Many will say the Oilers haven’t improved enough because they aren’t winning, and that is valid. However, the Oilers can’t  solve all their problems over night. These next 20 games will be a test of their character and inner strength. Do they have willpower and focus to concentrate on the next game and not pout or worry about the previous 20? Have they learned that they need to play smarter, faster, stronger and with move conviction in order to win?

We won’t know until December 29th. That is when they will have played half the season. Can this team stick together, play hard and become competitive? The next quarter of the season will show us a glimpse of whether or not they can execute the system, or if they have the guts to go to the net consistently,  or if they have the intestinal fortitude to try and stop opposing teams from going to the net and the internal desire to finally learn how to win.

The 2nd quarter of the season could show us a lot about which players should be here long-term.

DIFFERENT APPROACH…

If I was Andrew Ference, I would sit the team down and show them some of the great inspirational/motivational speeches from movies. Hockey is a game. You can inject some humour into the game. Try and get the players to relax, inhale and recognize that it isn’t life or death.

For some reason our society thrives on negativity too often. Yes, the first 20 games were f^@#*&()*) embarrassing. But whining and focusing on it every day isn’t going to change that. Learn from it. Challenge them to be better, and maybe have some fun doing it.

Here are some examples. Guys love this stuff. I know watching these clips made me laugh and they got me fired up.

I’d start with something light… 

"That’s what were here for guys, to win." I freaking love that line. Makes me laugh every time…

Most sports movies have a dramatic scene that usually leads to the team bonding or that shows an individual realizing they need to work harder. We eat this stuff up. We love it, and that’s why we watch those movies over and over again.

Ference could show them this one. (fast forward to 1:40 to the quicksand speech.) 

"You’re playing and you think everything is going fine. Then one thing goes wrong. And then another. And another. You try to fight back, but the harder you fight, the deeper you sink. Until you can’t move… you can’t breathe… because you’re in over your head. Like quicksand." Shane Falco

That could resonate with many Oilers right now. They have had numerous things go wrong…but they can’t let it paralyze them.

Then I’d show them this one. It is fitting since the Sharks are in town. (actual words start at 2:00)

For some laughs I’d follow it up with this one. This kid is great.

Then, I would play the greatest sports speech of all-time. I don’t care what sport you play, whether you are playing beer league, the NHL, NFL or road hockey this scene/speech will get your blood flowing. 

Eakins could play this one.

"I can’t make you do it….Either we heal now as a team, or we will die as individuals…Now what are you going to do?"

Tony FREAKING D’Amato (Pacino) would have made a great coach.

I would leave them with this one.  

I understand the need to talk systems and strategy, but sometimes you simply need to tap into the emotions of the players, and in this case, with the loyal citizens of Oilersnation.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Hemsky-Gagner-Yakupov
Smyth-Gordon-Perron
Joensuu-Acton-Jones/Gazdic

Ference-Petry
Belov-Larsen
N.Schultz-Potter

Dubnyk

Sitting Arcobello is perplexing. I don’t get it. He has been solid offensively, defensively and on the PK. 

The Sharks are playing their third game in four nights. They defeated the Flames Tuesday and the Canucks last night, both times in OT. Fatigue

The Sharks have three players averaging a point-a-game. Thornton and Pavelski have 20 points in 19 games, while Logan Couture has 19 in 19. Patrick Marleau has 18 points and Tomas Hertl has 17. The Oilers will face Alex Stalock. He has won both of his starts, and he has a dazzling 0.946 SV% and 1.57 GAA.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: On paper this is an easy choice, the Sharks should dominate, however, it is Positive Friday and if Ference showed even one of the aforementioned videos prior to the game the Oilers will win. Chalk one up for D’Amato, Oilers win 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers haven’t scored at home in 182 minutes. They score in the first period, and combined with the first 8 p.m. Friday game that I can remember, the first intermission beer sales are the highest of the season.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ilya Bryzgalov stops 33 shots in his AHL debut in a 4-1 victory. During the 2nd intermission the Oilers show highlights of the OKC victory and a few of Bryzgalov’s saves. After the highlights, they play the clip of Bryzgalov saying he is only afraid of bears in the woods.   

SHARE AND DROWN YOUR SORROWS…

Do you need to share your feelings and frustrations about the Oilers? We have the best possible solution. Next Friday is the 2nd annual DJ Suitcase party. Don’t miss out. Tickets are already 80% sold out. You can buy them here. See you then.

Speaking of Struds, media whore, make sure you vote for him in Battle of the Blades. If Struds win, the Inner City Children’s Program will receive $50,000. That is huge. Take a moment and vote. If you take a few extra moments, answer the Quick Challenge questions, sign in and you will get 7 bonus votes. Do it. Help the kids. Vote here. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Quicksilver ballet

    And all while Rome is burning, the GM pleads for yet more calm and patience. Where do they find these bozos……. 5 yrs later, and it’s still the same ship different yr. Letting the players and management in this organization off the hook yet again.

    We’ll continue to get what we support. Only in Edmonton could a fringe hockey player get a 4.8 mulyi yr deal. The big shake up deal looks to be Klefbom in and Smid out it appears.

    Love to see the fallout of a 6-0 Flames victory tomorrow.

    • Admiral Ackbar

      I hate the Flames almost as much as the Nucks. But honestly, I’d love to see them light up the Oil tomorrow in a big way.

      The entire fan base is beginning to ditch the Kool-Aid.

  • DSF

    Joanne Ireland ‏@jirelandEJ

    In case you were wondering, Nail Yakupov’s dad was in the stands. That’s where the #Oilers winger was pointing after he had scored.

  • DSF

    No offensive cycle. I was at the game and saw a lot of white ice at the attacking end. Same old story, no sustained offensive pressure. Until this is fixed the losses will keep coming.

  • Slapshot

    If you haven’t listened to Taylor Hall’s post game interview you should,it’s only a matter of time before some of the players start asking for trades out of town,the fans are tired of losing and the players are tired of losing,Katz,K Lowe and Mac T only know how to lose,their ownership and management record speaks for itself.It’s time that there is a major overhaul, Edmonton hockey fans deserve a way better hockey team than this mess we have been watching and supporting for the past 8 season’s.

  • Stack Pad Save

    Another serious error in judgment by the current Oiler leadership. They arrogantly decide to incur the wrath of the Oiler fan base by demoting Arcobello to OKC in order to play Acton. Was it worth it for the 3 minutes and 45 seconds that Acton played? Eakins should have known better than to have a coach-son situation on a professional hockey team. Action should have been sent down to OKC 5 games ago when they started to bench him. The problem appears to be someone made the decision to tell him he could find a place to stay in Edmonton whereas Arcobello does not seem to have received a similar assurance even though it is clear by any standard he has played much better. The optics of this situation once again unfortunately reflect poorly on the Oiler organization.

  • Stack Pad Save

    I’m embarrassed to be an oiler fan. Booing the team, honestly is disgusting. Why boo and make the situation worse when they have no confidence already and they aren’t deciding on what personnel should be here and who should be coaching. Make a statement to Katz and management by not showing up to the games. Booing is pathetic and punishes the players not the owner.

  • I tried it at home

    I get that it was a great morale booster when he picked us as his new BFF’s forever, and he sure did tear up that there AHL something wicked… but seriously, WTF has J.Schultz done for us lately? Hell, at all??? Send him and Yak down to the minors and let them figure it out there. Meantime, more rum. Jeeziz Murphy this sucks

  • WinterNightSky

    Gregor you are funny, for Ference to sit the team down would actually mean that he is a leader. Only time he leads is when there is a camera in front of him. He is a media whore and not a leader. Give some of the Boston Bruin players a truth serum and see what you learn about his leadership skills. Taylor Hall basically said it last week saying wish we had Horcoff. Talk about a problematic contract, a 34 year old Ference at $3.25 million for 4 years with a no trade. In a year the new management and coaches of the Oilers will be buying that one out.