That old line about your best players needing to be your best players has an application when it comes to the Oilers this season. Injuries, playing out of position, digging the puck out of your own net, the Oilers Jacks and Kings have had a tough start to this season. The last 10 games are showing us things are returning to normal.

If all things were normal—whatever your version of normal is—I’d guess that Hall, Eberle and Nuge would be near the top of the scoring charts and that we wouldn’t see a lot of -12’s and -14’s in the plus minus column.


  1. Taylor Hall 10, 6-5-11 -3 (40 shots!)
  2. David Perron 10, 3-6-9 +1
  3. Jordan Eberle 10, 3-5-8 -3
  4. Ales Hemsky 10, 2-4-6 +2
  5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 10, 2-4-6 E
  6. Sam Gagner 10, 2-4-6 -3
  7. Mark Arcobello 9, 1-3-4 +1
  8. Ryan Smyth 7, 0-3-3 -1
  9. Nail Yakupov 10, 1-1-2 -7
  10. Jesse Joensuu 8, 1-0-1 -6
  11. Ryan Jones 9, 0-1-1 -1
  12. Luke Gazdic 6, 0-0-0 -1
  13. Anton Lander 4, 0-0-0 E
  14. Boyd Gordon 4, 0-0-0 -2
  15. Will Acton 3, 0-0-0 -2

The usual suspects at the top of the list, the offense falls off badly after Arco and I do think the Smyth injury has impacted the skill of the bottom 6F’s. Smyth might be old as the hills and twice as dusty, but he can take and make a pass. Yakupov had a tough 10, but he’s still in his first 82 game window and we know from history that things like a slump can happen for young players. I don’t know why he isn’t the trigger man for the #1 PP, but there’s some kind of disconnect there. Anyway, 21 goals from this group in the last 10 games.

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  1. Andrew Ference 10, 1-2-3 +1
  2. Justin Schultz 10, 1-2-3 -5
  3. Jeff Petry 8, 0-2-2 -1
  4. Nick Schultz 10, 0-2-2 -3
  5. Anton Belov 8, 0-1-1 -1
  6. Denis Grebeshkov 4, 0-1-1 -1
  7. Phil Larsen 5, 0-1-1 +2
  8. Corey Potter 3, 0-1-1 E
  9. Martin Marincin 2, 0-0-0 E

Interesting to see how many defensemen the club has been running through in 10 game sets this season. A lot of turnover, as you might expect from a struggling crew. Ference and Larsen in the black, Justin Schultz the only one with a ghastly minus and Marincin makes his NHL debut.


  1. Devan Dubnyk 9, .880 3.95
  2. Ilya Bryzgalov 4, .939 2.11

Plus Jason LaBarbera played one game and stopped 12 shots in 39 minutes. The story here is twofold: Bryz has been exceptional in a very small sample size and the evidence against Dubnyk is so overwhelming there’s no one left to defend him. I don’t know how he found his inner Salo but lordy it’s going to cost him a lot of free agent money.



The season is long lost and playing for pride has to be a burden for this group because that’s all they’ve been playing for since arriving in the NHL (with few exceptions). Still, the scorers are scoring and there are some numbers in the black on the blue, so the return of Ilya Bryzgalov may signal better days.

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The schedule up to Christmas suggests the Oilers are going to need outstanding performances from all three sets in order to win as many as they lose.

(My thanks to Dennis King for the Title idea)

  • Lowetide

    Playing for pride is all good and comes natural to anyone with a competitive side. However, pride can only carry you so far.

    In my humble opinion, Dubynk is the perfect example of the above and the results speak for themselves. DD has hit his peak and I do not think he has anything left to enhance his play.

    On the other side of the coin, us fans have our pride as well. Sport teams tend to forget that fans do not cheer for their teams just for the sake of cheering but a lot of us cheer for the pride of their home town, their country, their province or state and etc. Perhaps the Oil Management should realize that the pride of the Oiler fan base may have come as far as it can and has no more to offer.

    • YFC Prez

      One would surely expect the owner and senior management groups of the Oilers would be very concerned at this point over the loss of pride by fans due to the organization’s poor performances on and off the ice and seven-year absence from the NHL playoffs (going on eight).

      A very good example of what happens under these circumstances is close at home with the Edmonton Eskimos. From being the gold standard in the CFL for years and now long-time denizens of the basement has resulted in a huge dropoff of attendance and revenue as their fan base continues to decline. The Esks may have lost the next generation of football fans in Edmonton and northern Alberta, which could have deadly consequences.

  • YFC Prez

    Now is when MacT has to earn his bucks. A blockbuster (that we win) would be great but I will settle for a move or two that add key pieces to the existing talent pool.

    It is important that neither MacT nor Lowe make an error in judgment in trying to keep up with Mr. Burke.

    • D-Unit

      Absolutely, 110% agree with this post.^^

      Katz should start paying attention to the management of his team, not just the money to be made downtown. Putting a candy coating on a turd doesn’t make it an M&M, Darryl, and no amount of marketing spin can change that.

      Will fans care about the shiny new building if it contains a steaming pile of–a hockey team?

      Ironically, Burke may turn out to be the best thing that has happened for this organization in a long time. If he out-GMs Lowe and MacT, there may be a rush to the exits by the fan base.

      Better keep looking over your shoulders, boys…

    • reaperfunkss

      Lowe not make any error in judgement…seems like that is the norm for Lowe. Mact started well but has completely floundered since.

      What happens when Burke turns the flames around before the Oilers do? (Speculating not stating that he will as a fact)

      • YFC Prez

        Burke already turned the Leafs around. Like the man or not, That’s his work and he deserves the credit.

        If the Flames join the upper tier of NHL teams and see playoffs on a regular basis he will have built 2 teams from zero to playoff teams while the Oilers spin their tires.

        Watching the Avs and leafs return to respectability when they were rebuilding at the same time we were really adds salt to the wound doesn’t it.

  • YFC Prez

    Pre Olympics Salo was awesome. He gave us 3 really good years. DD is lucky to give us 3 good Weeks. Finding his inner Salo would be a drastic improvement to what we’re seeing. Dubnyk has officially lost his starting job ( at least he should have).

    Now let’s hope bryZ can find his inner Joseph or Roloson.

  • Lowetide

    “Yakupov had a tough 10, but he’s still in his first 82 game window and we know from history that things like a slump can happen for young players.”

    The steal of that draft, Alex galchenyuk (Yes, Herr Katz, you should have left your top scout decide who to draft)is no way near any slump, even with 3rd line minutes. The kid is a beast!
    Yaks= 80gp, 42pts -25. Galchenyuk= 82gp, 48pts, +14.
    Nothing against Yaks of course. I think that Ralph was (still is) a better coach than Eakins. MacT [email protected]#ked this up good. Must be Lowe’s mentoring here…

  • YFC Prez

    @LOWTIDE I really wish that the Hall at center experiment would have been done with different wingers, I thought his defensive play and face-offs was alright with all things considered, Playing with Perron and Eberle on hindsight would have been a better combo.

  • Lowetide

    Tired of the we should of taken Galchenyuk. Had he not been injured all year maybe they would of drafted him. Most teams take the consensus 1st overall pick, the Oilers made the right pick. The mistake was not trading down if Yak wasn’t your guy.

      • reaperfunkss

        Yak a Killer….no hard evidence of it yet but we will call him a killer. Lets keep annoiting these guys as beasts before they have done anything cause it the best way to go instead of proving it before we call them killers. Wonder if Ottawa said that about Daigle?

        I do believe in Yak and have high hopes for him but to continue to label these draft picks as killers before they show it seems to be the basis of the whole Oiler Franchise. It shouldn’t work this way.

        Many fans, bloggers, media people and specifically Mark Spector gave DD the title of next great goalie and well we see the state of that.

        Why didnt they bring in a better goalie coach when they saw that DD wasn’t progressing? Oh right cause they said he was gonna be good so thats all thats needed.

      • YFC Prez

        Adding this to may last comment.

        In hindsight Does Burke really look like the idiot so many of us anointed (myself included)him after the Kessel trade.

        We need Balls…both on and off the ice, Burke just proves that.

  • D-Unit

    One of the biggest issues the Oil have with the Best Players being the best is the effort level. Or the lack there of it. Very few of the top NHLers these days don’t have to back check hard. The Oilers best players, and I use that loosely, do it consistently. I don’t count Perron in this, as based on the Oilers draft and usage of players the last few years, he shouldn’t be their best player.
    Perron is a best player because of his effort level and willingness he brings every game. It’s actually not surprising he wasn’t an Oilers drafted and developed player.

  • Zarny

    DD may not survive past the 60 game mark. His play has been from below average to downright awful. He has shot himself in the foot. MacT has his answer and willnot be handing out DD another 3.75million dollar cheque again. Nor will 29 other GM’s. DD is done. The goal against Boston was the final nail in his coffin. He is done as an Oiler. MacT will look to Ryan Miller or resign IB if he proves he is still a number 1.

    Hall and EBS and RNH have a great opportunity to learn this season. No pressure. Just learn how to play both sides of the puck. If we see this season as a step to greater success I think we all will feel better about the wins/losses.

    As far as I am concerned the first 20 games were a write off due to having an inexperienced coach along with poor play and injuries.What I look forward to is how the team does after the Oly break.The final 20 games is where I want to see how this team has grown during the season. It will be interesting to see the tumult of emotion that will come from the fanbase as they cry foul and seek blood for another lost season. Patience. We need not bring out the hanging post.We are far away from the goal and there are still many hard days ahead.

  • S cottV

    The failure of this season is MacT and Eakins inability to keep this group close to the playoff pack, thru the course of the season.

    MacT went against conventional wisdom and hired a rookie Coach. There are reasons why nobody does this.

    Eakins feeling like he is a rookie Coach, feels the need to overly assert himself – declaring “for the team to win it will have to be done his way.” So he go against conventional wisdom and implements the swarm, scorers on pk, 5 forward pp, among other Eakins way things. There are reasons why nobody does this.

    The systems blow up left and right, but Eakins keeps steering the ship into uncharted waters. Along the way, his credibility as a real NHL coach is surely being questioned by the player group which is highly distracting. The result – the team gives away too many unwarranted points and is out of the playoffs in mid Nov for crying out loud. I truly believe an experienced Coach has this team at .500

    At 500 the team still has some hope for the playoffs to drive team like performance.

    Gaining this experience as a group – this year was critical to a legit run at the playoffs next year. It’s lost and that is a disaster in itself, let alone Oiler fan boredom for the rest of the season.

    Playing for pride vs teams playing for a playoff spot is not a dynamic that can be sustained for long. Eakins would have to be a genius leader to pull this off.

    Playing for pride from this point thru the spring of next year – will easily digress to playing for self and the more that takes over, the uglier this is going to get.

    Hope not – but – no hope for the playoffs since mid Nov – that gives way to worry in particular for Eakins.

    • Zarny

      The failure of this season is that the players on the roster simply aren’t good enough. 1-2 of the top 6 F get hurt and literally half the team are borderline NHL players.

      Against conventional wisdom? You mean like Pit hiring Bylsma? Wsh hiring Oates? Clouston in Ott then MacLean? Or Cooper in Tampa Bay?

      The game has changed since the previous lockout and conventional wisdom is that you actually hire a younger coach.

      Eakins isn’t the problem.

      Goaltending that let in beach balls for all of October is the problem.

      A blueline with no legitimate top pairing D is the problem. On any contender every single Edm D is 3rd or lower. The 4-5th D on Bos last year is our default 1D. Only 2 of them have played more than 200 games. 2 of them haven’t even played 100 games. That’s the problem.

      The young kids are offensively minded players who average 1.5 seasons in the NHL.

      On the 3rd line Gordon is flanked by Moses and Hemsky who basically has the same soft game and defensively liabilities as the 20 y/o.

      And the 4th line are a bunch of borderline NHL players at best who actually have less experience than all of the young kids we drafted 1-3 years ago.

      The ONLY way Edm wins a game is if the top 6 F win it. Neutralize 2-3 players on the top 2 lines and most farm teams can mop up against the Oilers.

      And luckily for opponents the top 6 F are all the same type of player. Fast and skilled but everyone of them gets shutdown by the same game plan. Most are easy to knock off the puck. 5 out of 6 are smaller than the AVERAGE NHL player only because Perron is a whopping 1 lb over the average weight. Those two are directly related. That is the problem.

      The systems blow up because too many Oilers get beat in their 1 on 1. The D or the F blow their assignment cleanly and then it’s a odd-man situation 10 feet away from the net. That’s the problem…not Eakins.

      Other than the top 6 F and a handful of players the most relevant debate is whether they are good enough to play in the league not win the Stanley Cup.

      That’s the problem. And the only one who can do anything about it is MacT.

    • D-Unit

      So, what you are saying is there should never be rookie coaches in the NHL? How does that work?

      Also, can you tell me an NHL coach who doesn’t have the same sort of “it will be done my way approach?” They all have systems that teams play. I don’t know a coach who just lets the players do whatever they feel like. But even with a system, the Oilers players take that approach.

      Not all things Eakins has done are conventional, but the Oilers as a team haven’t done anything conventional. They haven’t had a true #1 D man since Pronger left town, and have really done nothing to address the problem. Eakins would have many more options if he had a true top pairing defence. Not a collection of # 5 to 8 NHL guys.

      MacT knows he needs many things, but other teams don’t give away many legit top NHLErs the Oilers desperately need. Even trading many of the talent won’t get him that right now, cause they all play soft, and still haven’t learned the NHL game.

  • reaperfunkss

    The Tank is on!

    Play bad for Ekblad. Yea that has a ring to it. The season is over for us so now it’s time to see the following:

    1. Someone, anyone, just hack and slash opposing players to show you care……no need to fight, just show up with your stick or elbow, sort of like Messier use to do.

    2. Someone, anyone, just take a shot on net for the fun of it. You dont need to try and score, just put the shot on net!!!!!!

    3. Someone, anyone, appear at a scrum like you are 6′ 4′ and 250 lbs. Yell, scream, facerub, do something to show you have a pulse.

    4. Someone, anyone, receive a pass…….give a pass, pretend like you are a NHL player.

    It’s Christmas time after all, give the fans a present, someone, anyone??

  • reaperfunkss

    Lowetide place a value on Boyd Gordon? Is his current value a mid to late first round pick? Come trade deadline day is it wise to consider flipping him for value? Especially if the Oilers are in a lottery pick position. Would not the drafting of Sam Rheinhart at center push Gagner down in the lineup?

  • Zarny

    No NHL GM would ever have had any reason to trade Dubnyk before this year. He had a 0.917 save % on the worst team in the NHL.

    Granted, this year he has been below average for sure. But to say he has always been bad is plain wrong.

    Over the previous 3 years he is a top 15 goalie on the worst team in thee league (simple stats). That means there were 15 starters WORSE than him and they had BETTER teams in front of them.

    In my opinion we could have Lundqvist in goal at this point and still be a terrible team. There is so much more wrong with this team than Dubnyk (altho this year, for the first time in the last 3 years, he is a part of the problem).