AREA 51: NO SECRETS HERE

Today is Hockey Day in Canada for the rest of the country but it’s Groundhog Day for fans of the Edmonton Oilers as they were treated to more of the same song and dance in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Familiar stuff.

After playing 30 decent minutes of road hockey and building a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes, the Oilers spent the final 20 minutes of regulation time and overtime on their heels and looking over their shoulders waiting for something bad to happen.

Sure enough, it did — rookie Jacob Trouba notched the winner with his second of the game, sending the Oilers packing for home with a charity point from a four-game road trip that saw them go 0-3-1 and drop to 15-30-6 for 36 points through 51 games.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

How did this one get away? Let us count the ways.

. . . Up 1-0, the Oilers survived a Winnipeg power play early in the third period and then went on a man-advantage of their own with a chance to put the Jets away. Instead, they gave up their NHL-worst ninth shorthanded goal of the season as Trouba got his first of two to make it 1-1.

. . . . The Oilers spent most of the rest of the period on the ropes as the Jets picked up their fore-check and poured it on, outshooting them 13-2 at one point and 13-5 overall. Edmonton got to overtime when David Perron’s deflection made it 2-2.

. . . In a game where Edmonton’s defense again lost too many battles of the body and for the puck, Trouba, a rookie, outmuscled Belov for ice in front of the net – depositing him behind Ilya Bryagalov with a cross-check – on the winner. For his part, Jeff Petry couldn’t get a handle on the puck or his man, Blake Wheeler. Belov and Petry both had forgettable games.

Coach Dallas Eakins, via the team Twitter feed, summed it up this way:

Previously, the team feed tweeted:

RINSE AND REPEAT

What we’re seeing, and have seen since this season began, is an overmatched group on defense with players like Petry, who played 24:49, being pushed into minutes and roles they aren’t capable of handling. That isn’t going to change until the personnel does.

Be it turnovers, slack play on gaps or the inability to withstand any kind of physical onslaught by opposing forwards, the options Eakins has on defense aren’t getting it done – locking things down with a lead, handling pressure on the fore-check or withstanding, let alone initiating, physical play.

Bryzgalov stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced. Goaltending wasn’t the problem against the Jets. The weakness of the defensive corps assembled by GM Craig MacTavish and utilized by Eakins was, and is.

As long as this group stays the same, the results won’t change.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • bwar

    I am not a big defender of Lowe, but this season is all on Eakins, which presumably was MacT’s decision.

    The general consensus is that MacT is at least trying and deserves a chance to turn things around.

    Other than the obvious personnel decisions, MacT has to make a bold decision, realize his mistake, and rid this team of Eakins.

    The results don’t lie. Eakins quite simply is in over his head.

    I may not know a thing or two about winning (in case there was a concern), but I do know WHAT ISN’T working, which is to say – Eakins, who undoubtedly has a better roster with far inferior result to the profess made last year.

    Eakins and his ego must go!

    • Serious Gord

      It came right from lowes mouth that he was in on the decision to hire Eakins.

      Eakins is the symptom – Lowe is the cause. Eliminate the cause and the symptom in time will be eliminated as well.

      • Serious Gord

        Fire them both then. All I know is Eakins has to go. As in the case with some venereal diseases, you can get rid of the cause but those nasty symptoms don’t seem ever to be eliminated.

    • Randaman

      They all must go including Mac t..

      I am tired of listening to journeyman ex NHL dribble.

      Gt some real management. Last 8 cup winners have GM wih no NHL experience.

  • Serious Gord

    So, did Eakins point a finger at any one persons mistake that turned the game around and made us lose? Lots of guys to pick from tonight. I guess for Eakins though, he only points a finger if it’s at Yakupov.

  • Serious Gord

    guys i was actually at the game in winnipeg this afternoon. if you thought it was bad on tv, trust me 10 times worse in person. the oilers were outhusseled, outworked and outclassed. they looked like little boys playing men. the defence looked like dogs running around in circles chasing their tails (i can’t believe these are paid professionals). the jets didn’t need to turn the puck over in most instantaneous we passed it right to them. we had no business even getting a point today, bryz was the only reason we did. i don’t know were mact is seeing the progress or improvement? this team is at best stagnant but i fear it is regressing in terms of development. really hard to watch.

  • Serious Gord

    Just a couple of weeks ago robin you were writing that the oil would have a better second half than it did in the first half.

    Have you changed your mind?

    It should stand to reason that over a season a young team such as the oil should improve and mature. To my laypersons eyes that does not seem to be happening. Other than subpar coaching I can think of no reason why this should be happening. What is you opinion on these two items?

        • Serious Gord

          Seriously Gord, it’s time for you to switch gears. It is too damn easy for you to express what’s wrong with the entire ” Oiler ” organization. Outside of fire “the old boys club” what are your first moves?? Seriously ” Serious Gord ” lets hear your strong opinions on your first 5 Moves??

          • We’ve already established that NotSoSeriousGord doesn’t do that. His game, as a snakeskin oil salesman in the wild west of bad times, is to merely point out obvious things, provide no solutions whatsoever, and then get people to buy his green tinted little pill bottles full of nothing.

            Then he moves on to the next town before more than half can discover his ruse.

            He has no moves. He just says things the depressed among us want to hear is the reason for our depression. That is all.

            Remember everyone, Fire Lowe BAM! Stanley Cup™ Just drink this little green bottle and everything will be ok.

      • Brownlee

        I suggested that you were being too optimistic when you suggested a better 2nd half. Gregor must have been smoking something when he suggested between 40 and 46 points. I suggested that the Oil would be challenged not to be the worst of all time and suggested they might reach 65 points. Now even this modest total seems a pipe dream.

        I think we are seeing some of the players who were giving good accounts starting to show frustration and their performance is dropping off. Perron is the most noticeable, he likely hasn’t had to endure this before. A career full of futility may be wearing thin.

  • Serious Gord

    I think you have to give credit to MacT. He obviously didn’t do enough in the offseason, but bit by bit he is improving the team character and team defense. The Oilers obviously need Top 4 dmen, Top 6 forwards and a starting goaltender, but we also needed bottom 6 forwards and he’s addressing that need because that’s the only deal available right now. I’m excited to see what he does at the deadline and in the offseason.

    This team sucks, and it will continue to suck until the game 82. MacT has been on the job for 6 months, and I for one think he’s doing an alright job. But I can’t argue with the chorus of Oiler fans calling for Lowe to be fired.

    • Serious Gord

      MacT has this team going backwards. Let’s look at what he has done and promised but failed to do:

      The failings:

      Hired Eakins (fired Krueger?) (to an apparently unprecedented for a rookie coach four year contract)
      Kept assistant coaches
      Didn’t buy out/ trade hemsky
      Re-signed gagner (should have traded him)
      Kept dubnyk as starter
      Scouted and hired belov
      Brought Grebs back
      Acton
      Barbarella
      Traded smid(?)

      Did I miss anything?

      And here are the positives:

      Perron
      Arcobello
      Gordon
      Ference

      And some of those are maybes as it may be too soon to tell…

      On balance MacT has – even this early in his tenure (and how involved was he in GMing in the prior year?) been very much a failure.

  • Serious Gord

    Normal re-building mentality progress: Get talents, get better, be a team on the bubble, be a contender, be a champion.

    Oilers managements re-builidng mentality progress: Get talents, getting more talents, getting more talents, getting more talents, got a little better, championship!

  • Serious Gord

    Will they certainly can change the defence core. Only Ference and Marincin signed past this year.

    Petry….Goodbye
    J Schultz….qualifying offer at best.
    Belov…qualifying offer at best.
    N Schultz….gone
    C Potter…gone.

    Watching Oilers is like watching A&E….REPEAT…same every game

  • It’s kind of hilarious how many poor defensive decisions were made on the 2nd goal. First Perron makes an incredibly weak play to *try and get to the inside of Scheifele, then Petry makes the correct decision to try and rub him out along the boards, but his effort is a weak one.

    Despite Scheifele coming out of the corner with the puck and Petry chasing him, O’Dell in the high slot and Wheeler behind the net, the Oilers are still in good position. Marincin is at the top of the crease, and can take away space from Scheifele should he drive the net, or stop a cross-crease pass should Wheeler move around the net to above the goal line on the other side. Ryan Smyth has dropped down to cover O’Dell, and Boyd Gordon is moving in to pressure Sceifele. It looks in this moment like Scheifele is going to have to shovel it over to Wheeler, who poses little danger behind the net, or (hopefully) turn it over to Gordon after succumbing to pressure by both him and Petry. Then things get a little cray-cray.

    Gordon decides he needs to cover the high slot and reverses direction, almost colliding comically with Smyth. I don’t know if Smyth was out of position and O’Dell is supposed to be Gordon’s man, but this is a clear communication break down (a cardinal sin in hockey) and in any case, Smyth was in a much better position to cover O’dell. They still might’ve been okay here as Marincin was in a good spot to stop Scheifele’s drive. Except Marincin, perhaps expecting Gordon to take Scheifele, moves to take away the pass to Wheeler. He was probably cheating hoping to cause a turn-over but he should’ve recognized that Wheeler is in a much less dangerous position than Scheifele. As a result, him and Gordon gave Scheifele a clear lane to the net. The rest is predictable. Scheifele drives the net, All four Oilers involved in the play reverse direction and converge to try and stop him, but he’s already on the inside, and none of them can do anything except reach in impotently while Scheifele shovels his own rebound home.

    Many of the Oilers’ defensive faults are on display here. First a lack of grit as both Petry and Perron make weak efforts to hit Scheifele, then Gordon, Marincin and Smyth all make bad decisions regarding positioning and basic communication. None of them had any idea what the other was doing, and as a result, nobody picks up Scheifele, allowing him to look real good by driving the net unopposed.

    And that’s why Oilers are performing even worse in the standings than they should be. yes, their lack of talent on D and in the bottom 7-8 forwards would put a rather low ceiling on how well they could perform but that group on the ice should have been able to prevent this goal. It wasn’t just one bad mistake, but 5 (by my count)with each player on the ice making one mistake. 5 Mistakes, in FIVE seconds, from the time Perron failed to get inside Scheifele to the puck entering the net. Oy.

    • I agree. The team constantly makes poor defensive decisions, poor coverage and lack battle on the D side of the puck. This includes most of the players but not all.
      There is a real lack of defensive responsibility on this team…they really need to focus on this as a team because bringing in a Top D will not help much. They need team D then push the offense!

  • Serious Gord

    …Im still suffering from Gagneritous…I feel for Jordan Eberle…he scores the goals, gets all the assists and pathetic and chicken sxxx “GAGS” thinks he contributes to Eberle’s success…I had to throw up watching “Gags” celebrate on Eberle’s goal…this idiot actually believes he is good…great…LMAO…please tell me I am not the only one that has actually laced on some blades and can see it…its too bad the Women’s Olympic team has so much grit…we could have traded him…not

  • Serious Gord

    I support everything you wrote with one small exception. Petry and Belov have likely forgot the game and their role in it already. However the memory of the Oiler’s performance will cause me to remember it as I awake from a sound sleep screaming…maybe it’s time for the bar of soap wrapped in a towel treatment.

  • Serious Gord

    Here’s my 5 moves:1:fire bucky and smith. 2: send yak to minors. 3:move out gagner and hemsky. 4: dump smitty at end of season. 5: If I was Klowe go on the record to step down if Oilers miss playoffs again next season. Not exactly bold but worth a shot

  • **

    Is it just the defensive core?, are we allowed yet to blame at least a bit of this mess on the rookie coach who seems either not wiling or not able to assign personnel more efficiently?

    Are we not to question the rookie coach who keeps trying the same stupid strategies even though they have failed over and over again?. I’m talking about the power play formations, pulling the goalie with half a period left when the opposition has already scored about 10 empty netters on you and you haven’t won a single (maybe one) game this way.

    The list goes on. The Oilers tried to sell us the latest fad, the next big thing that Eakins is supposed to be, but he’s proven to be nothing more than a dud. At this point every time I see his face or hear him say “oh boy we had them”, my blood just boils.

    This is the kind of culture the organization promotes, smokes and mirrors. They trumpeted the first round picks to death and then Dallas Eakins and Mac Tavish’s masters degree. All style, ZERO substance. This is oilers hockey. Bunch of pigs wearing a bucket of make up moving like pretty marionettes just so they can squeeze one more cent out of the people who choose to seek entertainment from them.

    The Edmonton Oilers management has no respect for the game, no respect for the fans. They have a disgusting sense of entitlement clearly demonstrated on their media gaffes. Their biggest star runs around the ice like a kid on a rant because he is not getting his way, yelling, banging sticks, slashing players in the legs. Then there are the wolves like Perron who, when push comes to shove, they realize they’re not part of a pack, they’re lone wolves.And the other poor bastards like Petry and Belov who are just way out of their league keep getting tossed into the arena to be slain by the lions like sacrificial lambs who are supposed to pay for all the sins of this disgusting rotten organization. At least they get to avoid real jobs for their troubles.

    Right now there is absolutely nothing to look forward to with these Oilers. I’m a fan, I have invested emotion, time, money and thought on them over the years. Today I am angry, angry at the legacy and the history that is being mocked and dragged through the mud. I am disappointed at myself for coming back every season even though I should know better by now.

    I’m sad these bastards Edmonton Oilers have taken the joy of watching this once great team away from me.

    Enjoy your millions. You don’t deserve them.

  • reaperfunkss

    Watching van/cal game. 1second in and I’m already more entertained than I have been during any game the oilers have played in 4 years!!

    Trade hemsky already, I can’t wait to see who my new favorite team is

  • CMG30

    Is Eakins the problem? I don’t know, but what is abundantly clear to me is that whoever is coaching this team is not the main problem.

    Not to sound like a broken record but we need a couple legitimate top pairing defense-men. What’s more, they must come via trade or free agency because this team does not have time to wait the 5+ years it takes to develop defensive prospects properly. If this team has any hope of being competitive next season, that must be the sole goal this summer.

  • I think one of the big mistakes MacT made was hiring Eakins and firing Krueger. What harm would there have been if Eakins was hired as the assistant Krueger wanted? At least there would have been 9 fewer goals allowed. This years personnel seemed a better team on paper then last years but went from tops on the PP to the bottom – that is ALL on the coach.

  • CMG30

    Guess what??? Nobody gives a sh!t anymore!!!! I’m just a tier2 fan, but this tier2 fan got his little unimportant hands on some tickets to the van game! And you better believe I’m bringing my jersey!! Keep an eye out boys!!!

  • Randaman

    I don’t get the mentality of some of you. Are you so in love with Smid, Gagner, Eberle, Yakupov, Petry, etc that even the mention of trades to improve the team get trashed. No change = same results.
    MacT traded DD and has been criticized for the return. Personally I think Hendricks has been a good addition. Perron has been a good addition although he is sinking lately as the ship lists. Pass.
    Grebes and Belov are both gone after this season I think. Fail.
    I give MacT a C+ grade so far. Big mess to repair coming in.
    Eakins gets a D. Maybe this improves if Smith & Bucky we’re let go when RK was Skyped. Fail.
    Eberle & Hall do not like Yak according to rumour. Who leaves? I think the dressing room is in serious discord and that comes down to leadership or lack of same. Who is our veteran leader that should fix that? No Messier to put someone up against the wall and straighten out this mess.
    We have so many things wrong I think they are lost as to where to begin.
    Oh and FIRE LOWE!!!!

  • Randaman

    I don’t care what Eakins said a couple of weeks ago.

    At least half of this team has quit.
    Packed it in for the year.
    Cruise control.
    Just not into it.
    Guaranteed paycheques.
    Ride it out.

    Most of these millionaire punks could take their salary from this disgusting season alone, and never have to work for the rest of their lives.

    And I generally have a lot of respect for Craig MacTavish, but I think Dallas Eakins conned him out of his shorts on Job Interview Day.

  • Randaman

    1. Move Sam Gagner. Can you even imagine him playing in the 70s re: Broad Street Bullies, early Isles etc. Yes, it’s the new millennium and all that blah blah blah blah-blah- I know. Point: Gags lacks the size and toughness this team needs going forward. So sick of seeing him glide on the bac check. Sail on Samwise!

    2. They embarrass us as a city of fans- let’s give it right back to them – I propose that the fans have our own “Shirts off our back night” vs Vancouver. Litter Rexall’s ice with jerseys if this crap continues to flow! Maybe (vain hope?) mgmt will sense the degree of real frustration inthe Oil Nation! Not just one jersey – hundreds this time!!

  • So glad we didn’t renew our season tickets this year! Used the money to take the family to Mexico ….it was awesome.
    Didn’t waste hockey day in Canada watching Katzs team either. Watched my boy get a hat trick instead! … It was awesome,
    Not to mention it was entertaining which is a lot more then what Katzs team has been.
    Edmonton fans need to stop wasting your money at Rexall it’s the only way to get Katzs attention.

  • Robin, time to admit, oilers biggest problem is Eakins. The players are NHL players. Many coaches have gotten far more out of less. Can any player be better? Of course. Eakins is an arrogant AHL coach being spanked by better coaches. Systems are poor. Special teams are poor. Talent is elite (top 6-8 forwards anyway). Eakins needs to improve more than ANY player on the team.

  • After the last eight seasons of futility I wouldn’t be surprised to see a fan put a paper bag over the head on the Gretzky statue. My guess a close inspection of the face on that statue is flushed with embarassment and maybe even one small tear. Just sayin’…

  • elpol

    Yes, there was a cross-check. However, Belov much more clearly tripped on Petry skate. That is really what caused Belov to tumble into the net. Trouba just did what tons of players to to give themselves some room. I think if Belov doesn’t trip over Petry’s skate, Belov doesn’t fall over Bryz. Probably still a goal anyways as its the Oilers right?

  • gus1000

    I look at the Flyers and the Jets as examples A and B of what the proper coaching for the team does. The Flyers had tuned out Laviolette’s voice and needed a change. I think he’s a great coach, but the chemistry of the room was done with him. It happens. Ask Scotty Bowman, how many times was he fired, he was still a great coach.

    Claude Noel seemed in over his head, much like Eakins. He wasn’t in sync with the guys in the room. Maurice moves in and with the exact same roster, with a new message, the team opened their eyes and are playing better.

    I do not believe the Eakins / MacT 4th line grinder mentality is working with this group of players. I think he has lost the room, they seem disjointed, and not at all interested in any sort of game plan. The only thing I have for evidence of this is the poor product on the ice.

    We saw gradual improvement with RK, over a shortened season and without a training camp. I think this group would have been better under season two with RK.

    I say Skype him back after the Olympics, and get him back, with his assistants, not ones forced onto him. It takes a big man to make a change, it takes an even bigger man to admit his mistakes, MacT, should admit he pulled the trigger too quickly and ask him back. Get the kids and the special teams rolling again. Get headed in the right direction.