Without superhuman goaltending from Ben Scrivens (and he was just fine in today’s loss) the Edmonton Oilers were on the wrong end of a 4-0 score against Boston. They were outshot, outchanced, somehow outhit despite never having the puck and flat-out out-played.
The Last Two Games
Edmonton has allowed 100 shots over its last two contests. They have matched up against the NHL’s powers and been found not just wanting but humiliatingly, embarassingly unable to even put in a respectable showing. Team Switzerland has been more competitive in Olympic matches against Team Canada.
The scoring chances today paint an ugly picture of an outsmarted, outskilled and outworked team:
- The powerplay. A strength as recently as a year ago – with much the same cast of players – it has devolved into a terrible weakness. Boston outchanced Edmonton 2-0 during Oilers powerplays today, and after a decent start to the night a first period power play sucked whatever energy the team had out of them. This one is on the coaching staff.
- The Oilers had a top-10 penalty kill a year ago. This year, they sit 17th in the NHL, and they allowed two goals on five opportunities against the Bruins. The cast may even be improved from last season – this one too is on the coaches.
- The top line. A year ago, the top line was an undisciplined run-and-gun trio that outshot and outchanced the opposition. This year, it’s an undisciplined run-and-gun trio that gets badly outshot and outchanced by the opposition.
- Sam Gagner. Just that.
- The defence. This one is on the current general manager to some degree, and on the one before him to a much larger degree. A year ago, Nick Schultz and Justin Schultz were in over their heads as the Oilers’ second pair. Currently, they’re in over their heads as the Oilers’ top pair. Andrew Ference and Jeff Petry have good points, but they’re being asked to play at levels well beyond their ability to handle. Rookie Martin Marincin is in the top-four on merit. Mark Fraser is just the latest addition to a forgetable group of bottom-pairing blue liners that have demonstrated little beyond an ability to get lit up in the NHL.
Today’s loss is yet another in a long series of humiliating low points for the Oilers. There is no excuse. It cannot be allowed to continue. This team desperately needs to turn things around, and soon. Maybe that means reworking the coaching staff so that new assistants can add some outside insight during an Olympic break reworking of team strategy – and provide better support for a rookie head coach. Maybe it means replacing Dallas Eakins with a veteran NHL bench boss.
Maybe it means more than that, or that and more than that. But this team cannot continue as-is.