SCENES FROM A MAUL

The Edmonton Oilers won the battle last night, but once again lost the war. The shot differential said Edmonton was well clear of the Flames (52-33) but the final score told us Calgary won the day. The story of last night was execution, and at this point I’m in favor of it.

SHOT DIFFERENTIAL BEATDOWN

The Oilers had a field day last night based on even-strength shots for and against (my thanks to Michael Parkatti for the table above), hell the guy they benched went 12-0 in the discipline. The problem for Edmonton? They’re a miserable team without the puck and increasingly they are not willing to do the hard work of getting it back.

I’m not a guy who talks about "physical presence" or "someone to get in your face" very much, because for the most part I do believe those things are overrated. However, this edition of the Edmonton Oilers needs someone to light a fire under their ass, the way Glen Sather did with the Boys on the Bus when they were pissing about instead of eating their vegetables. This team could use a whole lot less "Harlem Globetrotters" skill and a lot more lunchpail work ethic and attention to detail.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

There are two ways out of this:

  1. Impress upon these players that "fleeing the zone for offense" is treason, and that you’re letting the team down.
  2. Trade one or two of these players for new ones in order to grab the group’s attention. 

I bet Craig MacTavish is edging closer to the second option. The Edmonton Oilers are going to finish last with Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner and Justin Schultz, they can sure as hell finish last without them.

    • Devolution

      Mactavish wasn’t fired as head coach. He resigned. His resume is perfect for a new GM and if the Oilers didn’t hire him, someone else would have. Give him some time. Tambellini was terrible GM but he was recently hired in some capacity in Anaheim. I agree that Lowe should have been fired a long time ago and I’m not sure what Howson brings to the table.

  • Batfink

    I will apologize for the length of this post in advance. The error that the Oilers have made is a simple one, but it continues to be made:

    They have handed the reigns of the team to players who were too young and had no veteran leadership.

    1. Hall and Eberle have lived together from day 1. Major recipe for disaster. Logic tells you that and 18 and 20 year old living together with a combined income of +5M will be a problem.

    2. Fast tracking players to the NHL creates a myriad of problems (Hemsky, gagner, cogliano, nilsson, schrmep, Hall, Eberle, Nuge, Yak, J. Schultz, Petry).

    2a) They do not learn to play two way hockey (see Arcobello for a prime example of what having to earn your ice time does).

    2b) they have unhealthy egos

    2c) they earn WAY too much money too soon (j. schultz for $3.75?!?! Hall and Eberle for $12M combined?!? I would rather have Tatar and Nyquist from Detroit for $1.8M combined). This creates a salary cap issue.

    3. Lack of veteran leadership means that young players learn bad habits. Anyone who has tried to quit smoking will tell you that bad habits are very hard to break, sometimes impossible.

    4. Lack of success means that other young players are pushed in too early, perpetuating the problem.

    If the Oilers had been REALLY serious about the “rebuild”, they would have kept Eberle in the AHL for a few years, left Pajaarvi in Sweden and then in the AHL for a bit, etc. etc. etc. Sure, we probably should have kept Hall as an 18 year old, but could the Nuge not have benefitted from another year of Junior? Don’t forget, by returning the Nuge and Yak to Junior, we would have delayed their salary increases by not burning a year of their contracts.

    Good GMs and well-run organizations (CF: Detroit) make the hard decisions that are right for the player and team long term. Bad organizations cannot see past the 1 year horizon, which is why the Oilers have made the same mistake with

    • Admiral Ackbar

      I didn’t think the oilers played awful last night( am I drinking
      The copper and blue kool aid ? ) anyhow, Gagner is coming back from a serious injury. Let’s cut him a little slack. He has
      Been a good soldier in his time here. I wonder if a few of the
      “WONDERKIDS ” r even tradeable with their fat contracts?
      I know the oilers have been very high on KULIKOV for a couple of years now. Would he help? Also, let’s give MACT
      A chance. Admitedly he has made some mistakes. But he also
      Got Dallas to take horcoff, and pulled off a heist getting PERRON. Pretty shrewd bringing in the BRYZ also. AS far as
      Klow …… he needs to b gone! If nothing more than to please
      Our fan base. Obviously he is useless in any adminastrative
      Capacity

    • Greasy Goal

      All decisions made under the brutal management of Steve Tambellini, hopefully Mac T won’t mess up our top young defence prospects. Time will tell but the Oilers need to learn to be patient, becuase hurrying a product into the NHL clearly does not work. (Just check the Islanders)

  • Spydyr

    You know people/fans/bloggers are getting really fed up with the state of
    this Oiler debacle when L.T. starts getting pissed off. He’s the champion of the “glass-half-full-contingent”.

    My point being that at some point even the most moderate critics of the Katz/Lowe/MacT mis-management triumvirate is going to turn people off to such a degree they are going to vote to re-allocate their discetionary dollars elsewhere. Katz’ arrogant belief that the fans will pay up no matter how inept his decisions may not pay off in the long run. I want to see an honest effort and for that I would be thankful. I don’t know how the likes of Gagner, Hall and Eberle can stand in front of those cameras at the end of another gutless lacklustre performance and keep a straight face. Where the hell is their pride?

  • oilers1168

    Its easy to blame the players. But as the game progressed Eakins must recognize that they need to change up the PP setup. Shoot the puck in and force the flame d-men to tire out by pivoting and chasing it. Yes that means we need to get physical and fore-check to win a puck battle. Carrying the puck in wasn’t working. Recognizing which players was struggling example Gagner and J. Schulz. Playing the same forwards upwards of 20 minutes is ridiculous. We have a team playing 3 games in four nights. Take advantage of the last line change and play 4 lines or part of all 4 lines. Tired players make mental mistakes.

  • camdog

    The problem with the organization is that there are very few players on this team that have earned their status, in Edmonton we just annoint players stars, without making them have to work for it speaking of Hemsky, Gags, Eberle and Hall. Heck we were ready to give Hall the C and have Eberle and Gags with A’s. Hall is the only one that deserves a letter, however that letter is an A and that is all.

    The Oilers best player this season is Perron. With Hitchcook as coach Perron had to earn his position on the team. When he didn’t play the “200” foot game he got benched. THat doesn’t happen in E-town, not with the star players. That’s the difference between Edmonton and winning franchises.

  • Spydyr

    You know things are bad when Lowetide writes an article like this. Play time needs to end, accountability needs to come into play. If only we had an organization that realized this.

  • Spydyr

    How could a team with the hockey president who has 6 Stanley cups be this bad? He should know how to build a winner because he has 6 cups.I guess I am speaking out line since I am a tier 2 fan. Sorry about that Kevin

  • Admiral Ackbar

    That was a pathetic loss. They were outworked by an under-talented, under-manned Calgary team.

    I’d say lesson learned, but I know better: I’m an Oiler fan.

  • Devolution

    The truly frustrating thing is that, except for the players names, this entire conversation could be from 1,2,3 or four years ago. Nothing changes and I am starting to think nothing ever will.

    It is a bad organization that makes money, the worst combination for future success. Harold Ballard’s Leafs comes to mind.

  • beloch

    I’m a Flames fan who pulls for the Oilers too (whenever they’re not playing the Flames).

    Hall has a lot in common with Baertschi. Hall probably has more talent plus he’s waaaay closer to his peak. I admit that. Don’t jump on me! Just wait for it…

    Both Hall and Baertschi are great when they have the puck. They’re skilled wingers who can generate a lot of offense. Hartley said as much about Baertschi and, infuriating many Flames fans, proceeded to bench Baertschi multiple times for the quality of his play “when he doesn’t have the puck”. There’s a lot of debate about whether those benchings were the best thing for Baerstchi’s development. However, whether it was the benchings or the general team work-ethic, his play “without the puck” does seem to be improving.

    Hall is horrible without the puck. He hardly back-checks at all! There were multiple instances Saturday night where the Flames still possessed the puck in the Oilers’ zone and Hall was already over the red-line waiting for a pass. He needs to learn the first step to scoring is to get the puck! Hall has some pretty good jets so there’s absolutely no excuse for him to be cherry-picking like that!

    Many flames fans are extremely frustrated with Hartley right now for benching players like Baertschi and Backlund or demoting them to the goon-squad where they have virtually no chance of generating offense. Inferior players are getting better ice-time and it’s probably not helping the team on the score-sheet. Maybe it’s helping motivate these players to develop though. It’s certainly up for debate, but it’s possible that what’s best for the team’s position in the standings isn’t necessarily the same as what’s best for player development, and it’s certainly a good year for player development to be a top priority in Calgary. For Edmonton, doubly so!

    Personally, I wouldn’t bench Hall. I’d put him on the face-puncher line and give him nothing but defensive zone starts for several games in a row. Put him in a situation where he has to learn the part of the game he clearly doesn’t know how to play right now. This will reduce the Oilers’ offense for a few games, but it might goad Hall into developing as a player. Continuing to give Hall top-minutes and primo zone-starts after playing the way he did Saturday would reinforce some pretty nasty habits!

    P.S. I’m picking on Hall mostly because he stood out on Saturday. There are certainly other Oilers who are in dire need of similar treatment.

  • like Cassie said… they play for points , not to win.

    We gave that game to Calgary. We were clearly the superior team all game, and yet we couldn’t help but try and be cute. Constantly turning the puck over.

    Just brutal.