It won’t matter what the line combinations are if the Oilers elect to sleep walk through tonight’s game like they did Saturday vs. the Detroit Red Wings. Hockey fans, coaches and players can accept losing, as long as you put forth an effort, but the Edmonton Oilers barely registered a pulse vs. the Wings.

Whatever happens tonight, the Oiler must show they care.

I watched the game on Saturday with some diehard Oilers fans and they were distraught during and after the game. These are fans, like many of you, who buy tickets, jerseys and have supported the Oilers through seven years of sucking. They love hockey, and as long as the Oilers put forth an effort that satisfies most of you.

What you saw on Saturday was pathetic.

The Oilers showed no desire. Not one player looked remotely annoyed that they were getting embarrassed in front of their home fans and on national TV.

I rarely will say players don’t care, because you don’t make it to the best league in the world without caring, but on Saturday night their "care meter" barely registered.

It is obvious this team lacks confidence right now. No one is shooting the puck with any authority, and it seems most players are scared to make a mistake. The harsh reality is that no other team is going to feel sorry for them. If they want to start winning, they simply need to roll up their sleeves and compete.


They did lose another player to injury on Saturday, Anton Belov, but two Oilers will return to the lineup tonight.

Devan Dubnyk’s ankle has healed and he’ll make his first start since October 24th. Dubnyk is the best goalie they have, and the Oilers must be hoping he can make some big saves early and inject some confidence into a lineup that looks beaten down.

Ryan Smyth also returns after injuring his groin vs. the Senators on October 19th. At this point in his career, Smyth isn’t a go-to guy, but he at least knows how to play hard and go to the net. The Oilers need more guys willing to do the small things, if they ever hope to start winning.

They have to realize that they can’t beat teams with skill. You need more than just skill to win in the NHL.



Eakins moved Yakupov back to the right side with the hope he’ll be more comfortable and start producing. With Smyth on his wing, Yakupov is clearly the shooter on that line, and if he uses his heavy shot, while Smyth stands in front, the Oilers might get an ugly goal or two.


Eakins has three new pairings. Taylor Fedun will make his NHL debut, and every fan is pulling for him to complete an incredible comeback story. Smid and Petry haven’t looked in sync for a few games, so it can’t hurt splitting them up.

As I stated earlier, the pairings won’t matter if the Oilers don’t play with passion.

We can discuss the system, the line combinations, which wing Yakupov is playing or many other aspects of this team, but ultimately if they don’t play with desire or passion it won’t matter.

Remember when the Oilers of 1997-2004 had little proven talent, yet they managed to be competitive. Why?

Because they had players like Ethan Moreau, Todd Marchant, Jason Smith, Mike Grier, Steve Staios, Ryan Smyth and others who played hard. They weren’t the most skilled team, but the worked their ass of every night. This team has more natural skill, but if they don’t work hard, or work smart, it is irrelevant.

If the Oilers show a willingness to compete tonight, they will have a shot at beating a team that isn’t very good.


  • Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier were scouting the Rangers/Ducks game last night, and since it is safe to assume they weren’t watching Dustin Penner, it seems likely they were watching the Rangers. The Rangers, like the Oilers, are struggling and the Rangers need offence. Rick Nash is still suffering concussion-like symptoms and he isn’t close to returning, so the Rangers will be looking for some offensive help.

    Ales Hemsky’s name has come up again, and so has Nail Yakupov. A deal involving Hemsky would likely have the Oilers eating part of his salary, since the Rangers don’t have much cap space, and no one they would trade that is close to $5 million cap hit.

    If a deal involved Yakupov, then we are looking at a major trade, and I’d guess Ryan McDonagh would need to be involved. The Oilers are in no rush to move Yakupov, but to even consider it; they would need a solid D-man coming to Edmonton. McDonagh is a $4.7 cap hit until the end of the 2018/2019 season.

  • It is interesting to notice the difference between Eskimo fans and Oilers fans, many of whom are the same people. Many Eskimos fans ripped Ricky Ray and wanted him traded, yet in hockey most of the venom is directed towards the coach or GM. I’ve never seen a key Oiler player take as much criticism from the fans as I did Ray. Any idea why that is?
  • The Oilers couldn’t have asked for a better place to start their road trip than in Florida. The Oilers have won their last four meetings in Florida dating back to 2003 and they’ve outscored them 13-6.
  • If you need some positives to convince you to watch tonight’s tilt:

    Dubnyk has a career .963 SV% and 0.93 GAA vs. the Panthers.
    Ben Eager has four goals vs. the Panthers, the most he’s scored against any team.
    Ryan Jones has two goals in three career games vs. Florida.
    Smyth has 21 points in 18 career games vs. the Panthers.
    The odds are good one Oiler will register their first career goal vs. Florida tonight: Acton, Arcobello, Eberle, Fedun, Ference, Gagner, Gazdic, Larsen, Nugent-Hopkins, Petry, Smid and Yakupov have never scored a goal vs. the Panthers.


GAME DAY PREDICTION: Just when you think you are about to stop caring, the Oilers will find a way to draw you back in with a 3-1 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers play better than they did on Saturday. ***Really bold prediction.***

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fedun scores his first NHL goal. Right now the Oilers and their fans need a beacon of hope. Something to make them believe this 87-month losing drought will eventually end. That’s right; you’ve just entered your 87 months of losing hockey since September, 2006. You need something to make you believe their is hope, and if a local boy, who shattered his leg two years ago can score in his NHL debut, then damn rights the Oilers can eventually return to the land of winning.


  • Craig1981

    I think the difference is many Oiler fans have played some form of hockey and can relate to the players. Football is a very complicated sport that few of us have played competitively and very few have ever been a QB. Simply we can’t relate the same.

  • reaperfunkss

    I want to believe. i want to care but I cant see me tuning in tonight. As far as Lowe in on a big deal with the Rangers…Who cares he is just gonna screw this up as well

    Fire Lowe

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      when i heard that lowe, mact t and messier were at the game last night, i thought maybe they were all there to beg sather for a job, no such luck. instead rumors of a trade, god help us, katz is going to let the peanut gallery drive the bus right over the cliff.

  • match16

    Jason, I don’t think there’s been much difference between the fan bases of Oilers/Esks at all. For years, Oilers fans have been ripping on Horcoff, Whitney, etc. but they have come and gone and the team has still not improved. However, the one constant in the last 7 years is Kevin Lowe which the fans realize and are now wanting a change up top.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The brain trust mind melding for a possible Hail Mary?..what could possibly go wrong? This to is all wrong but the flames drop two contracts and hire a educated leader and instant rebuild in process, no three first picks, no selling out or short. I can taste throw up just writing that. Hire leaders of men! In all areas, I’m not seeing player development

  • Reg Dunlop

    Starting tonight, only 6 more consecutive losses before D-day vs Calgary.

    Deal Yak now before his lack of production and the perceived KHL flight risk renders him worthless. Watch Mac bring back DelZotto for him; another small, defensively suspect JS clone. Gotta hit bottom before you can climb out. 3-2 Florida with Whitney getting the winner.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    C’mon, that Oiler lineup is mostly AHL caliber. Oil put in a better effort but they’re still a free space on the Panthers bingo card tonight. Oilers will atleast score a goal this evening, Barkov gains some confidence with a 3 pt night….. 5-1 Florida.

    Taylor flippin Fedun……is that all they have in reserve during these difficult times?

    Stay the course Oilersnation, tankage certainly appears to be on the Oils agenda. And i’m fine with that.

  • we can’t trade anyone – insert name – cause their value is too low. we can’t trade – insert name – because their value is too high.

    this my friends is part of parcel and how we got to where we are today. fear of change.

  • vetinari

    I’m not giving up on the oilers, for years they would tease us with hot starts then fizzle off and miss the playoffs in the end. This to me signals a change , a reversal in luck. When hall comes back it will be like when horcoff came back in the lineup last season and they climbed back into a playoff spot. Trust me I have never in my lifetime seen the oilers lose this much but if there is one team that literally rubs there face in sh@t before getting any reward it’s the oilers. Even the season when they went to the playoffs they had a ton of bad bounces but crawled into 8 th place. Nothing has been easy for the oilers. This season is no different. When things are this bad(and the worst things have been) the reward can equally be as good. Oilers crawl in the dance again this year by having a good November and a great December. Remember where u heard it first.

  • shanetrain

    I was one of those fans who wanted nothing to do with Ricky Ray at the end. He was playing like a shadow of himself. Holding onto the ball too long etc.

    I just didn’t expect him to get dealt for virtually nothing.

    Personally, I am worried about Yakupov. Yes he has incredible offensive accumen, but in his own zone he is lost. That is being complimentary. When he is not filling the net fans/basement dwelling bloggers and their minions are going to key in on it.

    Nobody is going to take Hemsky now, not with that putrid contract and his invisibility in long stretches.

    Too bad, two years ago he could of possibly brought in a #2 Dman by himself.

  • Still finding it tough to watch this one Gregor.

    B/C I think there’s some snow I still need to shovel or garbage to take out or dishes to wash or laundry to do or dogs to feed and walk or a workout to do or make dinner or bills to pay or dusting to do or make the bed or catch up with some family or news to watch or…anything except watch the Oilers.

  • Rocket

    I don’t want to be mistaken for DSF, but that Smyth-Gagner-Yakupov line looks like TROUBLE.

    And what are the odds that either Whitney or Gilbert scores tonight?

    • Quicksilver ballet

      I think you got a scorer, and grinder and a playmaker. Smyth knows how to little things to make a line work. If he needs to play defensively, he will do that. If the line needs boardwork or a guy in front he know what to do. Ryan Smyth from 6 years ago would be dynamite, but I think they’ll be ok.

      I hope Gibby scores a hatty, and the Oil win. Gibby a good guy, better then half the defence this year. Him as our 4/5 would be ok.

  • The 'Real' Ron Burgundy

    The fan in me wants to be home and fed in time to watch the game, live.

    But, the realist in me says PVR it and make better use of my time.

  • Spoils

    I am pulling for Fedun, but I kind of wish Klefbom was playing so well that they just had bring him up.

    Here is the list of DMen that were first team allstars at the WJC –

    Phaneuf, Suter – Bourdon, JJohnson – Letang, EJohnson – Doughty, Hedman – Karlsson, PK – Pitrangelo, Carlson – Ellis, Orlov – Gormley, Klefbom – Trouba, McCabe

    Pretty great company.

    No1 DMen…

  • 6zeppelin6

    With regards to ripping the GM and Coach versus the player – I think that has more to do with the core of the team not proving much of anything yet. They haven’t had success and achievement throughout their careers, whereas Ricky Ray had excelled at a professional level in the past.