AT THE BREAK

 

We didn’t see any jerseys on the ice at Rexall last night, so that’s a bonus heading into the Christmas holidays.  For just the sixth time this season the Oilers treated their fans to a win on home ice and made the holidays just a smidgen better.

We all know after the attention given to the jersey tossed yesterday and the state of this franchise, there would have been more last night had the outcome been different.

HOT TOPIC

I didn’t like Eakins reaction. Even if he felt that strongly about it, I didn’t see how that was going to make anything better. I understood his frustration because jerseys are sacred but yelling at a fan base that hasn’t seen a winning season in forever and coming off a sixth straight defeat may not have been the appropriate time.

I actually felt like he was yelling at his players in a sense about having pride and not being quitters. Either way, it came off poorly and I think it was quickly regretted.

CONSISTENT MESSAGE

I for one am a Dallas Eakins supporter. Not because he has had great results so far but because I don’t think another change on the bench is a good move. I said it 20 games into the season and I stand by it as we close in on 40 games.

This team needs to hear the same message for more than 8 months. It’s clear many of these players have struggled with having several bench bosses over the years and haven’t learned much about two-way play.

Somehow, someway this guy has to get this group to be more responsible. I played against an Eakins coached team in the minors last year. A run and gun, turnover prone, soft team is not the system I saw.

The rest of this season needs to be about teaching. It needs to be about implementing winning habits like stopping and starting and back pressuring as hard as you can. Limiting turnovers and an emphasis on playing every shift like you may not get another one.  That’s how the team that came in here and spanked them 6-0 a few nights ago plays.

This Oilers team has skill but they don’t have enough good habits yet.

YAKUPOV

Look at this guy’s game last night. I for one am not a fan of what I have seen to date (I was not watching last year) but it’s amazing what happens when your ice time gets taken from you. He played 1:32 in the 1st period. He didn’t pout; he worked harder and earned more time as the game went on.

All of the sudden he was moving his feet, he was hitting guys, he was dumping pucks, he was driving the net and elbowing goalies. He looked pissed off and you know what?

Good

Many people will say what good is that, what a waste of our skill.

SIMPLIFY

Sometimes you have to strip your game down to the simplest form before it can get better. Work on the little things like positional play, make simple puck decisions and play with a chip on your shoulder.

I absolutely loved that he whacked Ladd back and stood up for himself.  If I’m the coach I’m ecstatic with his effort last night. Show the video of his early shifts and emphasize those things. When you work like that, the goals and assists will come with that type of talent.

More guys may have to go to this hockey school as the season moves on.

HALL

Taylor Hall was everywhere. He’s the engine that needs to drive this team. I truly believe if he buys into more of a two-way style it will push everyone in that locker room to do the same. As he has many times this year, he put the team on his back last night.

BRYZ

Tough first goal left many people wondering what was happening but he shut the door the rest of the way. Much needed response from him.

TEAM TOUGHNESS

I’d like to see them initiate it more at times but it was good to see everyone get in there and stick up for Yakupov when things got a little testy. There was no hesitation.

As a teammate when you see that happen, it should give you a little extra confidence that guys have your back for the next time and maybe you can push back once in a while.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

Last night was the exact type of game I expected. The Oil had a response that will suck some fans back onto the band wagon, while other fans are left wondering why this effort doesn’t happen every night.

Round and round we will continue to go. By now everyone should be used to this roller coaster and not be surprised by the ups and downs. It’s what young teams do.

You may as well buckle up for the second half; I don’t expect this ride to change anytime soon but maybe your egg nog will taste just a little bit better for a few days.

Have a safe and Merry Christmas everyone.

  • Rdubb

    It’s funny Brian, Yak’s best games this season are the ones when he SIMPLIFIES his game & when he is using a bit of his size hitting people and being a bit of a pest…funny how that works isn’t it?
    I have talked to friends who have played in the NHL in regards to things like this and they always say the same thing, & tend to use the exact same word(s), “simplify your game”, “keep it simple”, “dump & chase”, “finish your checks”…they may seem like clichés but they are all true, are they not?
    You hear NHL players talk about it all the time, your best games are when things get simplified, and when a player & team does this, then their skill will show through and thus the goals will go in. Look no further than the Pens or Hawks to see this. Sid & Malkin dump the puck in all the time when they find themselves out numbered and have nowhere to pass the puck…
    I was also very lucky as a youngster, I guess between the ages of 9-15, as I got to spend a lot of time around those great Oiler teams, from going to a number of games in regular season and playoffs, and cup finals, to spending time with them away from the rink as many were family friends. I can look back @ those times now and can say that I learnt more from listening to them talk about hockey than from watching, but watching sure was fun! They were all very intelligent hockey people, and it would be interesting to hear what they think about this Oiler squad, from Pat Hughes, to Lumley, Ron Lowe, Mark Lamb, Huddy, Fuhr, Moog, to Gretzky, Kurri, & Anderson. Guys who are NOT part of the Oiler team @ this current time…& I know a few live in the area, so wouldn’t it be a good article to ask then of their opinions?
    Just my rabbling thoughts
    Peck