It is time for the Oilers to stop the distractions.

They need to stop believing that a consistent rotation of head coaches, 4th liners and 3rd pairing defenders will help them become a winner. The organization and some pundits also need to stop expecting goalies to cover up all the weaknesses in front of them.

It hasn’t worked so far, and it won’t work moving forward.

I doubt any organization, and some of its media, bloggers and fans, spends more time focusing and worrying about the fringe positions than Edmonton.

The 4th liners and 3rd pairing D-men will not change the fortunes of the Oilers. They might make a small impact, but until the players who play the most minutes improve, this team will not be close to the playoffs.

The Oilers need to stop worrying about the 4th line so much. It has been a revolving door for the past four seasons, and the changes have not improved the team. Why? Because teams that win rely on their top three lines and top-four defenders to succeed.

Let’s look at the revolving door of 4th liners. ( I didn’t include guys who played fewer than 10 games)

2010/2011: Brule, Fraser, Stortini, Jacques,O’Marra and MacIntyre
2011/2012: Eager, Hordichuk, Petrell and Lander.
2012/2013: Eager, Brown, Petrell, Smithson, Vande Velde, Hartikainen and Lander.
2013/2014: Joensuu, Acton, Gazdic, Lander and Jones.

Now compare the top-nine forwards during the same span.

2010/2011: Hall, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Horcoff, Paajarvi, Jones, Cogliano, Penner, Omark, Reddox, .
2011/2012: Hall, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Horcoff, Paajarvi, Jones, Nugent-Hopkins,Smyth, Belanger, Hartikainen.
2012/2013: Hall, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Horcoff, Paajarvi, Jones, Nugent-Hopkins,Smyth, Belanger, Yakupov.
2013/2014: Hall, Eberle, Hemsky, Gagner, Gordon, Perron, Nugent-Hopkins,Smyth, Yakupov, Arcobello.

The Oilers have also made numerous changes on their blueline, mainly within their bottom three:


I ranked the D-men based on minutes played and only used players who dressed 20+ games.

2010/2011: Whitney, Gilbert, Petry, Smid, Peckham, Vandermeer, Foster, Strudwick.
2011/2012: Gilbert, Whitney, Petry, Smid, Potter, Barker, Peckham, Sutton, Tuebert.
2012/2013: Petry, J.Schultz, Smid, Whitney, N.Schultz, Peckham, Potter, Fistric.
2013/2014: J.Schultz, Petry, Ference, Larsen, Belov, N.Schultz, (Marincin, Potter have played 12 games).

Basically they replaced Gilbert with J.Schultz last season and Whitney with Ference to start this season. They moved Smid with the hope that Belov would play top-four minutes, but so far that hasn’t worked.

The 3rd pairing has been a constant rotation of players, and none of the replacements are making any sort of impact. It is safe to say they need to try and acquire better fringe players, however, I seriously doubt any player who comes here in that role will have much success.


I included GS (games started) and their SV% and GAA.

2010/2011:   GS       SV%          GAA
Khabibulin    46        .890           3.40
Dubnyk          33        .916          2.71

2011/2012:   GS       SV%          GAA
Dubnyk          42        .914           2.67
Khabibulin    40        .910           2.65

2012/2013:  GS       SV%          GAA
Dubnyk          37        .920           2.57
Khabibulin    11        .923           2.54

2013/2014:  GS       SV%          GAA
Dubnyk          29        .894           3.36
Bryzgalov      13        .902           3.27

Labarbera (4) and Bachman (3) started a few games, but outside of Bachman standing on his head in LA one night they didn’t make an impact. Scrivens only played one game, so it is too early to tell how he’ll play.

Dubnyk had three seasons between .914 and .920 prior to struggling this season. If anyone believes he was the main issue they weren’t paying attention. Check out Jonathan Quick’s numbers last year in LA…He had a .902 SV%, but the team managed to win, because they had excellent top-nine forwards and top-four D-men.

Good teams don’t rely on their goalie to win them every game. Of course Dubnyk let in a few softies, but they were magnified way more than they would be on a good team, because the good teams can overcome a bad goal.

The Edmonton Oilers need to improve their skilled positions. The players who play the most minutes need to be better.

Stop changing head coaches every summer. That isn’t helping. Stop the endless rotation of 4th liners, expecting that they will somehow make a big enough impact to help you win games. In reality, they might impact 3 of 4 games all season, and the organization needs to recognize this.

The constant change of coaches and fringe players is distracting the organization from the real problem. They need to improve the guys who play the most minutes, the players who have the greatest chance of impacting the game. Stop blaming the guys who play 8 minutes a night.

The Oilers can keep changing goalies, fourth liners and the bottom pairing defenders, but it won’t make a difference.

Stop talking about the Corsi of the 4th line and blaming them for the woes of the Oilers. They aren’t the problem, and while I know it is easy to say to point to their 39-42% rating, but the fact is no 4th line in hockey makes that much of a difference.

Colin Fraser’s numbers were awful in Edmonton, but in LA suddenly he can play his role and they win a Cup with him. People ripped on Mike Brown because he didn’t add anything in Edmonton, yet he plays in San Jose and no one talks about him. Why, because their best players control the game. His Corsi is a bit better in San Jose, but not great, yet the Sharks somehow manage to overcome that. Amazing what can happen when your best players control the game.

It is time the Oilers organization looks in the mirror and realizes that their plan is not working. Have the courage to take a step back, realize the error of your ways and alter accordingly. They need to support their young players and insulate them with veterans who can play significant minutes and help them succeed.

Until that happens this team will not improve.



  • Johnnydapunk

    I remember that Ralph Krueger was/is also a motivational speaker and even did a book in German called Team Life (with one of the scariest cover pictures I have ever seen )

    Maybe that sh*t actually worked and last years Oil were just punching above their weight (which is a terrible thought) and we are seeing the non-motivated Oil at their worst/best.

    Either way we’re pooched until something is done with the D as all the deck chair rearranging in the world won’t make this poop ship Oil float.

    Man it’s pants to be an Oil fan right now….

  • Jason Gregor

    Well put.

    However the brain trust at the top is not smart enough. Edmonton Media needs to recognize that Lowe and Mac-T are NOT SMART Hockey minds.

    They were journey man ex-players, that is it. Even the best player in the world couldn’t coach in Phoenix.

    For the past 14 years during Lowe’s reign, the Oilers have had the WORST record in the NHL. That is not disputable. It is a fact.

    You could take someone who knows nothing about hockey and give them 14 years, they will do at least as well as Lowe. Statistically speaking, it would be very highly improbable to do this bad. That does not say that individual is good, but what is does say is Lowe is a REALLY REALLY BAD hockey executive. In fact, he may be the worst in history (someone look it up).

    So would a player want to play with a management team that has produced the worse team over 14 years. NO WAY. That is the problem. GET rid of Lowe and Mac T. Time for new management with a plan and understanding of what it takes to make a good team. Enough of the journey man hockey dribble.

  • Bryzarro World

    Oh not to mention the short handed goals against when we on PP… GREAT system. So we actually
    -10 compared to last year if you take into account the short handed goals against. Pretty big diff…

    • Arius Mumin

      Why must you project your insecurities on other posters on here?

      Do you honestly believe that you are tough, or that you are scaring/intimidating anyone?

      You’re right, I didn’t have bus fare. But you are also a #@$%ing goof and a half, at best. Just a goof for most part.

      Fake accounts? I know your parents IQ can’t be that high, but I’m also certain it is not lowe enough to name you Bryzarro. Is it? Or did you really use your real name in the account? Last name World of course?

      Stop calling people morons and idiots, especially when you are the poster child for both. Have some respect and express your opinion in somewhat civilized manner. No one is going to come Northgate and beef with your pride of juvenile deliquents, use that energy properly and go kick a verse in your friends basement.

  • Sorensenator

    They have revolved through so many coaches I don’t see how it matters if they bring in another one. Eakins has done a terrible job… I completely agree with what Craig button has said. This team is better then last years team on paper and we are worse in almost every category. Not to mention the shorthanded goals we give up… horrendous.

    Bring in Brent Sutter, he will truly seed out the players who do not compete..

  • Jason Gregor

    Eakins still hasn’t impressed…Krueger this many games in last year has proved to be the better coach.

    It may not be that the coach is the reason why the team is so bad but he’s not helping either. Maybe we shouldn’t discount the possibility that we don’t know how to hire coaches either.

    But seriously, three #1 overall picks (and heading towards a fourth one) and you couldn’t transform that into a competitive team? I have to stop blaming just the players for that.

  • Jason Gregor

    It is really annoy to a point about how often the same phrase of “defense”, “stability”, “lack of size”, etc. etc. etc. has been repeated. “Draft this” and “trade that” has also been repeated non-stop. Stop already…

    Is this group of players are bad? By standing then yes, by how many top talents that we have drafted then no. Where’s the problem? When will peoples start to realize that the team just can’t score? Unless that you are trying to build a team like Kings which rely heavily on physical play and suffocating defense then with the type of players that we have that is just unrealistic. To build a team like that requires depth throughout the entire 4 lines and 3 pairing to ensure that they can fight for every possession of the pucks. If we don’t have a team, nor able to assemble a squad like that then the team needs to focus on the other end instead. Shoot more, shoot often, stop dangling the puck, getting better at one-timer (at least hit the goalie instead always shot wide, I was sicken by how often during play-by-play that the same phrase “shoot wide miss the net” has been repeated). Learn how to play offense before learning how to play defense because this is not golf that rewards for lower scores.

    Of course firing Eakins is still matter at this point of season. For anyone said that it is meaningless to fire Eakins right now is deep down still defending him to retain the job. Don’t tell me that you are not still deep down supporting to have Eakins stay on the job by saying “it is pointless”, that is just hypocritical. Eakins should be fired like now, it will be an indication for management to realize their mistake and willing to correct it. At least it can still salvage of whatever is still left from this group of players. Even hiring an intern at this point cannot do any worst, but a change is needed and needed fast! I doubt this team has another 2~3 years of patience before everyone on the roster will demand a trade later. Then what? Redo every single draft and rebuild again? This is just idiotic and absolutely wasting time.

    Also, why trade the current roster and draft some unproven rookies and think the team can get better with that? So often for every players that Oilers traded away has either became a star or at least had a decent career later on. Why is that? Simply because the other team can see the talent of players and use them correctly instead of tossing them into some fancy play which will never work out in NHL. If any trade should happen is that Oilers should trade away their first round pick for next year for decent returns. Since Oilers players’ stock has been dropping but draft pick will at least still remain at high value. Burke traded away a potential 2nd overall picks for Phil Kessel which later became Seguin. It was just a lucky break for Boston because what would happen if it is not a second overall pick? Can you find any other players in that year’s draft after Seguin is even come close to Kessel?

  • Jason Gregor

    Firing Eakins not the answer. Make Bucky and Smith walk the plank this summer, then give Eakins one season with his own assistants. Firing Eakins would empower these players even more for the worse

  • Jason Gregor

    I remember the same cries to fire Quinn, Renney and Kruger at around the same time 4, 2 and 1 year(s) ago. The players will never be held accountable for their lousy effort if the coach who’s supposed to hold them accountable keeps getting fired.

    The best thing for management to do at this stage is to keep Eakins and use his input to blow up the lineup over the summer. Blow up as in half the roster should be turned over by this time next year. Gagner and Eberle are small, lazy and can’t backcheck, trade them. Smyth is tired and can retire. Hemsky and N.Schultz gone at the deadline for draft picks or prospects. Jones, Eager, Grebeshkov and Potter can start packing their bags.

    Let MacT and Eakins bring in some guys with grit and heart who will battle for the puck, crash the net, finish their checks and make this team hard to play against.

  • Big Cap

    So old Six Rings knows a little about winning hockey ? Ironic when you think about it . To bad he didn’t say a fair amount or a lot , them maybe we might see better results .

  • Jason Gregor

    I see yak is undergoing concussion treatment.

    Quote from Eakins “Yakupov left immediately and didn’t return, sitting out the entire third period. The Edmonton Journal notes that, during his postgame presser, Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins didn’t offer up any health news regarding Yakupov, but did classify the play as a “bad turnover.”