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 

  • JJmorrocco

    Hey Gregor,

    Is this Oil’s worst 20 game stretch of the past 7 season? Maybe this team is not setting us up like teams of the past that showed decent starts but then always failed in the new year. Hope is they can improve in each 20.

    Looks like Steve smith took back the PK (or was given to him by higher powers?) players are dropping again to block shots/passes not the stand up screen and deflecting we had the fisrt 15 games. baby steps.

    • Jason Gregor

      Smith didn’t take back PK…Eakins was patient that the players would pick it up…and they have now…

      Not worst stretch, from Dec 15th, 2009 to Jan 30, 2010 they went 1-18-2…Like Smid said, it can get worse…

  • Serious Gord

    San Jose is due for a loss. But i suspect that it won’t happen tonight.

    GDPs:

    Several oilers will get injured

    Gagner will end up getting snow on his pants.

    Eakins will stare off into space for minutes at a time

    San jose will score and likely score often

    Fans will boo and boo often

    5-2 san jose

  • northof51

    Arco better be hurt…. Eakins stock with me is falling very fast with each line up card he fills out……. score points? play physical? win draws? YOU ARE BENCHED.. sorry sir just trying to help the team win…. WIN? YOU THINK THATS WHAT WE ARE TRYIN TO DO HERE??!! I am still praying for a win here but.. this is getting ridiculous.. why is it the fans who only see it… ps yes, I did turn down free tickets…

  • Zarny

    If the Gagner-Hemsky-Yakupov line stays together for 3 periods, they may set some single game record for combine minus.

    Agree with others comments that Eakins is sitting his best 2 way forward.

    • camdog

      I expect San Jose will score 2 goals with this line on the ice, but maybe they score 1 goal and we won’t set an nhl record for most consecutive minutes shutout on home ice in modern day NHL history.

  • A-Mc

    Oilers lose 0-2 to continue the STINK on their way to a double shutout weekend!

    The key to happiness is lowered expectations! So i’ll be setting my expectations extremely low for the weekend =) (Tonight especially)

  • kawi460

    I know that hockeys not all about dropping the mitts. But I don’t see the toughness or compete on the oilers roster. They don’t show much emotion, especially when things go bad.

    The Avs were playing like crap and they let their emotion boil over. Scrums all over, lots of hitting and trash talk. Duchene even dropped the mitts. I’m just saying it would be nice to see the Oil to compete for every puck battle and when things are going so well maybe start letting that emotion out on someone.

    Maybe a bar room brawl is what the oil need?

  • Spydyr

    OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score their first goal at home in November. Dubnyk lets in a weak goal I know shocking.Gagner is again minus something.The beat goes on.Oilers lose.Tough time to be a fan of this team right now.

  • Spydyr

    Exactly what kind of message is the coach sending to the team, and the fans by sitting the most productive offensive, defensive, and physical player we have in Arcebello?

    For those who can see what is happening , this coach seem to have 22 deaf players.

    Yea coaching is not our problem.

    • A-Mc

      It is way past time to move one or three of the “stars?” out! Let’s get some SIZE, GRIT and NASTINESS into this line up! I agree! EAKINS and MACT are not the problem! They are the solution! Eberle, J. Schultz, Gagner, Hemsky, Yakupov, Potter, Petry, N. Schultz, Flubnyk, LaBarbera, Larsen are the problem! CLEAN HOUSE!!!! I don’t want anybody coming back, at any position except goal, that is under 6’3″ 225LBS, averages less than 1 PIM per game played, and who hasn’t had to attend ANGER MANAGMENT sessions because they can’t handle LOSING! Simmonds, Ott, Lucic, etc. are the type of sweethearts the Oilers need desparately. PAY THE PRICE AND MAKE IT HAPPEN MACT!!!! ETEM, PRUST, T. JACKMAN, FOLIGNO, MAROON, NEIL, STEWART, REAVES, etc. etc. etc.!!!

    • Zarny

      No, coaching isn’t the problem.

      With Krueger last year, they finished 12th and were falling at the end of a 48 game season.

      They weren’t one win away from the Stanley Cup.

      The problem is the players on the ice…or more specifically a lack of good players on the ice.

      • Through 48 games last year the Oilers gave up 134 goals.

        They’ve given up 75 through 19. Now, I’m not a math wizard but I’m willing to bet that the Oilers through 48 games give up more goals then 134.

        Through 48 games last year as you mentioned the Oilers sat 12, through 48 games this year my guess is the Oilers will sit 29th possible 30th.

        We have virtually the same players as last year, and yet one could argue we got better positional players this year.

        The PK has been worse while so has the PP.

        You can argue till your blue in the face that it’s not coaching but even the most diehard Oiler fan has to concede that coaching hasn’t been great ether.

        • pkam

          You have at least ignore 3 major factors.

          1st. The team was healthier last year than this year. We have 117 man games lost after 20 games, we have 118 man games lost over 48 games last year.

          In last year, 48 man games were going to Andy Suton. So we actually lost 70 man games over the entire year. And the major ones (top 6 forward and top 4 defense) are 7 games to RNH, 1 game to Hall, 10 games to Ales Hemsky. So 18 man games to core players. And most of the games lost to Hemsky and RNH are in the last quarter of the season. So we were pretty much injury free for the first 36 games.

          This year, we have lost 2 game to RNH, 13 games to Gagner, 7 games to Hall, 4 games to Perron, and 5 games to J. Schultz. So far 31 man games to core players in 20 games.

          2nd, compare to last year, our goaltending is terrible this year. I can but I don’t think I have to quote you the stats to prove it. I don’t know how you can blame the head coach to poor goaltending. Actually, our SA/G is the best in 4 years. Last year was the worst.

          3rd, poor S%. Actually our S/G is the highest in 4 years, a shot per game more than last 3 years. I don’t have the number but I believe we have more post in 20 games than we had in 48 games last year. And post don’t even count as shots on goal.

          Last year, we have many games that we were outplayed but came out with a win. This year after 20 games, we only have one game like that, the Senators. But we have many games that we outplayed the opponents but ended up losing.

          Injury, low shooting % (plus post), and poor goaltending are the major reasons for our poor result this year. And I don’t know how you can blame those factors on coaching.

          • Stack Pad Save

            As Mark Twain said, “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics”. You can use all the excuses you can muster, the fact is the Oilers haven’t been able to ice a competitive team for the better part of a decade, and despite all the promises and statistical bafflegab, this year is a major step backward.

            I was at the Detroit game. It was the worst performance I have ever witnessed by an Oiler team. I watched the Dallas game. After a couple of close calls in the first period, the Oilers never even looked like they were going to come close to scoring. They had zero offensive zone pressure and were stranded in their own zone by the Stars for long stretches of time. It was pathetic. They are visibly worse this year then they have ever been, and we were told it wouldn’t be like this

            As Charlie Brown famously told Lucy in a Peanuts cartoon many years ago, “Tell your statistics to shut up.”

            The only statistic I care about is the place in the standings. And it says dead last.

          • I can’t believe your comparing last year to this year; completely irrelevant!! It’s like comparing the 80’s Oilers to now! Hi Kevin.

            Every team has injuries, who’s more important? Stamkos or Hall? Yet TBL are in first place.

            You can use whatever excuse you want, I could argue last year the coaching staff had zero time to prepare, if given a full training camp plus games the Oilers might have been even better under Ralph.

            Taking more shots doesn’t mean jack! Just because you shoot more doesn’t mean anything! So you were the league worst last year, congratulations you moved up two spots!

            Winning and losing is all that matters, look at the schedule and telling what is more plausible, the Oilers beating those teams or the Oilers losing against those teams?

            December and January are going to be nightmare months.

          • YFC Prez

            Stamkos was injured in the last couple of nights, if I’m not mistaken. A little different than several weeks of Hall out. Plus first in the east puts them just right around the playoff cut line in the west.

          • vetinari

            “Taking more shots doesn’t mean jack! Just because you shoot more doesn’t mean anything!” Guess that Gretzky guy didn’t know much about hockey.

            You like to cherry pick stats (and poorly). The fact is special teams and goaltending have been better lately and they are steps in the right direction.

            Make no mistake, the team has to be better. There aren’t more than a few players that can claim to have had a good start to the season but never acknowledging when they’ve done some things right is just a fanboy throwing a fit.

          • pkam

            Are you comparing last year to this year too?

            Through 48 games last year the Oilers gave up 134 goals.

            They’ve given up 75 through 19. Now, I’m not a math wizard but I’m willing to bet that the Oilers through 48 games give up more goals then 134.

            Through 48 games last year as you mentioned the Oilers sat 12, through 48 games this year my guess is the Oilers will sit 29th possible 30th.

            You said “I also never said anything about Ralph or Dallas, I’m simply comparing statistic.”

            So what statistics are you comparing? Just win and lost and standing? So injury, shooting percentage and save percentage are not statistics? A team can play better and lose, can’t they? Penguins dominated the Avs and outshot them 42-18 and lost 1-0. So Penguins played terrible that game?

            You also said “You can argue till your blue in the face that it’s not coaching but even the most diehard Oiler fan has to concede that coaching hasn’t been great ether.”

            I am just arguing that the majority of the problems that contributing to our loss is not the coach’s fault. The team isn’t any worse than last year despite we face all the injures to our core players. As far as I know, coaches don’t shoot the puck and don’t tend the goal.

          • You are talking like this is some kind of anomaly, that some how this was a one off year, a bad break, it’s been going on for a decade!

            I really don’t care about the coach’s, statistics or injuries. W/L it’s all that matters, by my eye the Oilers have more L and are worse then the previous 8 years.

            And yes, the coach’s have to eat some of that.

          • DSF

            The team IS worse than last year by almost any measure.

            1) Goaltending (needs no explanation.)

            2) PP (has dropped from 20.1% to 16.9%)

            3) 5V5F/A (has dropped from 0.90 to 0.57)

            4) Goal differential (has dropped from -9 to a projected -123)

            5) Goals/game (has dropped from 2.56 to 2.35)

            6) Goals against/game (up from 2.56 to 3.85!)

            The Oilers are getting 1 more shot for per game but remember that last season ALL their games were against WC opponents while this season they have played 14 games against weaker EC opponents and only 8 against the stronger WC.

            That folks is a train wreck of monumental proportions.

        • A-Mc

          A couple things:

          1. The oilers finished 24th overall last year, 12th in the conference. So we’re talking about a drop from 24 to 29/30, not 12th

          2. The coaching is DIFFERENT. There is always an adjustment period when you experience change. When Ralph came in, he didn’t change much due to not having a training camp and already being a part of the system the previous 2 years. Like Gregor has stated, over the last 8 game stretch, the Oilers Special teams has been good so it’s likely the adjustment period is over with (for the most part).

          • I never said where they finished overall last year, just 12 in the division.

            I said where they would finish this year, so I’m not sure what you are getting at there?

            I also never said anything about Ralph or Dallas, I’m simply comparing statistic.,

            frankly, I don’t care if it’s a different coach or the same coach, the overall record speaks for itself.

            As you stated, over the last 8 game the special teams have been better, which is more likely accurate?

            The last 8 games or the last 19? During the last 19 games the Oilers have been terrible, the last 8 games so-so.

          • A-Mc

            “I never said where they finished overall last year, just 12 in the division”

            Prior: “Through 48 games last year as you mentioned the Oilers sat 12, through 48 games this year my guess is the Oilers will sit 29th possible 30th.” You compare sitting 12th through 48 (entire season) with sitting 29/30 after 48 this season. You’re making a comparison to say we will go from 12th to 29/30 in 48 games and that is inaccurate. 12th in the conference was actually 24th overall. So you should be comparing 24th overall to 29/30 overall.

            Yes you did bring up coaching. your reply was to a conversation re: coaching and you finish off your post by mentioning a coaching fail. Did you read your own post?

          • Zany actually mentioned that the Oilers finished 12th in the division, I was reiterating what he had said.

            I don’t care if its 24th overall or 12th in the division, I simply said they WILL finish 29 or 30th this year.

            I did mention coaching, while not completely blaming coaching, it has to be considered! That’s illogical to you? It can’t be coaching even a little?

      • Devolution

        Dallas, should you not be working on the game plan for tonight? Stop writing in as a pretty girl, you my friend are Mr. Barbie Doll and we all know it.

        Now go back to combing your wavy hair.