So, Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins has already warned against taking the Buffalo Sabres lightly when the teams meet Monday. If that’s not a "no-shit, Sherlock" moment, I don’t know what is.

With the NHL equivalent of Milhouse van Houten taking on Steve Urkel in a WWE cage match, the 29th-place Oilers, fresh from having their heads held in the toilet by the Boston Bruins 4-0 in a Beantown matinee Saturday, face the 30th-place Sabres in a showdown of pencil necks.

Facing the Sabres, dead-last in NHL standings at 15-31-8 for 38 points in the first of two meetings of the teams this season, Eakins was quoted on the team’s Twitter feed today: 

Fight in their game? One is tempted to add execution in their game, consistency in their game and attention to detail in their game, but that might be piling too much on the plate as the Oilers, 18-33-6 for 42 points, guard against taking the Sabres lightly.

I haven’t heard the interview/question that prompted Eakins to offer the quote, but it is mind-boggling to think the Oilers might take any team lightly 57 games into what’s been a dumpster fire of a season.


If this was a fist fight, the Oilers and Sabres would have to be told to keep their thumbs on the outside before flailing away. If nothing else, the Oilers, headed for an eighth straight year out of the playoffs, and the Sabres, who’ll need a ticket to get in for a third straight season, are evenly matched.

Buffalo is dead-last in the NHL with just 105 goals-for. The good news for Ted Nolan’s outfit is the Oilers rank 30th in goals-against with 194. Nobody throws the welcome mat at the feet of their goaltenders like Edmonton. The Oilers rank 18th in goals-for with 147, while the Sabres are middling, 19th, with 161 goals-against.

All told, the Sabres rank 30th in goal differential at minus-56. The Oilers are right behind them in 29th at minus-47. It’s straight-up even in terms of how the teams rank at home and on the road. The Sabres have treated their fans to a 9-15-5 record, which is 29th. The Oilers are 8-19-14 on the road. Buffalo is 2-5-3 in its last 10 games, while the Oilers are 3-6-1.

Of course, both teams are lottery locks, but if you’re keeping score at home, the Sabres have three games in hand in the race for the No. 1 overall seed going into the Entry Draft lottery.


. . . To understate, Ben Scrivens, who has faced 100 shots and given up just four goals in his last two games, has been impressive in his five appearances in the goal crease with the Oilers. Thanks in large part to his 59-save shutout against San Jose, he has a gaudy .944 save-percentage with Edmonton.

I don’t for a second doubt that Scrivens has already shown the Oilers enough to warrant a contract offer as he approaches UFA status, but unless the team in front of him shows something the rest of the way, I wonder if he’ll want to sign on here for another two or three years.

Yes, Alberta is home for Scrivens and this opportunity in Edmonton represents his first real chance to grab a job as starter and run with it, but if he’s anywhere near as impressive the rest of the way as he has been, he will have options if the Oilers wait until the end of the season to get ink done.

If I’m GM Craig MacTavish, I’m picking up the phone and talking contract with agent Jay Fee right now.

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

  • Sevenseven

    Has any reporter, told us how McT went looking for an assocate coach and came away with a rookie NHL coach.

    Can anyone share the hiring process the Oilers took to select Eakins to lead this team.

    It might point to some of McT, Klowes management prowness?

  • Sevenseven

    Had the sports on in the background when I heard the announcer referring to a “…disappointing, one-sided blowout”.

    My first thought was, “I didn’t think the Oilers were playing tonight…..”

  • Sevenseven

    There’s been a lot of speculation regarding Giordano and Backlund to the Oilers for Nurse, 1st (2014) and a 2nd (2015).

    There’s also a rumour out Gio would be moved to Tampa for top D and RW prospects plus their 1st.

    If I were MacT I would jump at the opportunity to improve defence with a top 15 in the league, add leadership, grit, improve team puck possession and Corsi (worst in the league).

    It would also free up Gagner to be traded.

    Giving up a couple young prospects who aren’t going to be ready for 2-4 years for proven experience and skill is a no-brainer.

    MacT..put a “like” on Burkie’s facebook and dial him up before Yzerman or somebody else does! Let’s not be talking about what coulda happened a couple months from now!!

      • vetinari

        Not Burkie..or MacT.

        Wish I was MacT so I could jettison Gagner etc and add bottom 6 role players who could add depth, size, sandpaper, tenacity & desire. Plus rebuild the D with additional experience, possession, game management and first pass.

        So Hall..what’s your analysis (beyond the clichés and cute cutting comments). Put it out there man..let’s see what you got!

        • The Soup Fascist

          I’m all about changing things up and Sam should be first out, it was just sounding like you wanted to get rid of our top talent for less value. The more this thing drags on the more I feel that we could have a whole team of fist overalls and still be in last place.

          So yes I like where your going with this but it’s not all the players fault.

  • Sevenseven

    I hear the “trade Gagner” talk…and I wonder what people are smoking. With his performance this year, does he have any trade value? How much contract would they need to eat? How much of a sweetener would need to be thrown in? How bad would the contract coming back be? I would bet if there was any way to trade him, it would have already been done. Maybe if he has a great start next year, someone gives him a look. But a smallish number 2 centre on the 29th place team? Let’s just say there is likely not a lineup for him. (Please prove me wrong MacT)

      • Admiral Ackbar

        During the summer I felt Gags would return us a 2nd round pick. With the new contract and the year he’s had I expect he has almost zero value.

        Taking back another bad contract puts us no further ahead.

    • BobbyCanuck

      Re Gagner – in a perfect world with his skill he could be an excellent third line Centre e.g. like Stoll, Cogliano, Koivu.

      Unfortunately Gagner has repeatedly shown he has no defensive focus, awareness or desire whatsoever, making him a defensive liability for appropriate line-matching or defensive zone starts. He essentially ties Eakins hands, reducing coaching flexibility and tactics.

      Given the Oilers have the worst goals against in the league, it’s pretty apparent they have no quality shut-down line against other teams top lines, and are reduced to playing the kids using power-against-power strategy.

      Unfortunately the kids are..well still kids..and lose most head-to-head battles. They instead need to be sheltered with 2nd or 3rd line QoC so they can improve possession and Corsi rates.

      Oilers need a true shut-down centre with some quality upside..I’d say Backlund again but would be trashed. How ’bout Hanzal, Steckl, Wingels, Nate Thompson, Andrew Shaw, Jordan Nolan..all guys who are very tough to play agsinst that you have to fight for every inch.

      Time to trade Gagner in the next month..or send him down after the deadline and park him on the pine till he proves he wants to be a true NHLer.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    i like the fire Brownlee, but the fact is, this team sucked just as bad last year. they were terrible 5-on-5. they still couldnt execute a game of proper hockey: they just got lucky they had a solid season in special teams. which is a monumental feat, seemingly, from these bozos… but crisp execution, smart decisions and the rest hasnt been there. maybe flashes at times but minimally. everything else is a struggle, inconsistency, brain farts, reactive… everything that spells out “ill prepared” for NHL roles from the vets on down.


    hey, at least the Atlanta Thrashers turned into the Winnipeg Jets after their “build” with Stefan, Kovalchuk, Heatley, Savard, etc… right? trash for years. anyone who brings up the “pens/hawks” cup model from here on out should be punched in the junk.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    I heard all the regular music they play between stoppages is going to get replaced for this special game. It will all be either kazoo or banjo based because anything else wouldn’t capture the atmosphere fairly.

  • beloch

    Everyone should just get comfy here in the basement of the league. I dont mean that to be pessimistic–its merely a realistic approach, given the team’s “strategy” and stubborn refusal to see that it hasn’t been working and it isn’t going to work.

    Best case scenario, we have another 3-4 years of absolutely abysmal hockey while we wait and hope and pray the defensive prospects are going to be top-quality NHL stars almost instantly.

    Worst case scenario, we have another 3-4 years of absolutely abysmal hockey, then find out our saviors, those wonderful d prospects, actually are just average at best, and the team clinches the award for worst record over a decade in the league.

    FA’s are all telling their agents Edmonton is a no-go, they’ll take less money from somewhere else to avoid it. And you have to wonder if our few decent players aren’t telling their agents to start feeling around, to see if there would be interest if they were to request a trade.

  • beloch

    Gagner plus for M Richards. LA need more creativity and less defense from their forwards. Richards is a better player but 4 years older. LA may be ready to take a leap given their season long woes.

    • Joy S. Lee

      Now this would be epic, but I don’t think Dean Lombardi would be the least bit interested in moving Mike Richards, especially for Gagner +.

      You do realize he gave up Simmonds and B.Schenn and a 2nd to acquire Richards alone (let alone what he gave up to obtain his buddy, Carter), right?

      That’s an investment, an overpayment of quality futures for current quality. Opposite deal for Flyers.

      Gagner isn’t close to enough to obtain Richards, unless something non-player related (salary cap, etc) is driving such a deal. In short, you’re dreaming.

      • BobbyCanuck

        Yep – I am aware of the history. However, that was an overpay by Lombardi to win the cup. It worked. Now LA is in a completely different position and Lombardi is exactly the type of GM who would consider a big move to shake up his team (as evidenced by the very history you bring up). I appreciate it is a stretch but crazier things happen when teams are in search of certain skill sets. Both teams are looking for something along these lines. I am not sure how to balance the scale but it isn’t as nutty as it sounds. At least in my head!

        • The Soup Fascist

          There wouldn’t be a balancing of the scales in this trade. Richards is pretty much a non-starter because he can do everything in the faceoff circle and defensive zone that Gagner can only dream about doing.

          I imagine if LA is calling edmonton it’s either in regards to Yakupov or Hemsky and the latter being because they didn’t like the asking price for Moulson or Vanek and should be able to get him considerably cheaper.

          If somehow Mactavish lured in Lombardi with this deal, it would be quickly squashed by Richards and his agent who would pull out the contract and point out the no trade clause in there. If he was lifting it, it wouldn’t be coming to a sorry team like the oilers right now.

  • beloch

    This isn’t going to make me popular, but I really believe that Gagner has done his tour of duty with the Oilers and is definitely on his way out of town. I think if Mac T can’t move him, a compliance buyout is going to be put to use.

    • BobbyCanuck

      As Gagner’s contract was signed under the current CBA he is not eligible for a compliance buy out. i.e if the Oil buy him out the $ would count against the cap.

    • S cottV

      I would agree with you.

      On merit – Gagner should be in OKC not Arcobello.

      MacT is trying to showcase Gagner but its not working very well.

      To have any chance of really showcasing Gagner, the Oilers have to break up the top line. You cannot play Gagner and Yak together because they are both inconsistent and defensively challenged.
      Against the better teams – together – they are both offensively challenged as well, so what is the use?

      Unless MacT really wants to run down the compliance buyout route with Gagner, you need to give him two complimentary wingers – even though – he doesn’t deserve it.

      MacT is hanging on – in the middle on this one and it’s probably time to go one way or the other.

      Really showcase him or really dont.

        • The Soup Fascist

          I think there certainly would be a chance that he would clear. Given most teams are either capped out or budgeted out, very few can just pick-up $4.8 mill in contract. Bottom feeders who have both cap and budget like Buffalo and Calgary might claim him but I wouldn’t think it is a given.

          This morning Bob Mackenzie though the Kings might be interested in him, but they are capped out would have to dump some other salary. I wonder if the Oil agreed to pay say half his salary for the remainder of the contract something might get done. The Kings are crying for some scoring.

          • pkam

            The season is 2/3 over, all teams need at the moment is 1.6M cap space to claim Gagner off the waiver wire. At trade deadline, the season will be 3/4 over, so it will only need about 1.2M cap space.

            At this moment, there are 12 teams who already have more than 1.2M cap space now, and 2 others are very closed, just need a few man games lost.

            Salary cap is going up 7M next season so his salary in next 2 years is not a problem.

            If you think 14 teams will let him clear waiver, I don’t know how much we can get for him.

        • S cottV

          No – I really think that they should try and showcase him for real and go for a trade.

          You cant showcase him with Yak.

          Together – they both look sub standard.

          Break up the first line and see what combinations might work better to showcase Gagner and Yak – for that matter.

          Maybe one or both might might help yield a real 2C or top pairing d man.

        • S cottV

          No – I really think that they should try and showcase him for real and go for a trade.

          You cant showcase him with Yak.

          Together – they both look sub standard.

          Break up the first line and see what combinations might work better to showcase Gagner and Yak – for that matter.

          Maybe one or both might might help yield a real 2C or top pairing d man.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I’m also a big fan of the Seahawks, have been for a very long time. Yesterday was jubilation. I’m also saddened because I know that if the Oilers won the Stanley Cup, it’d be exponentially larger.

    One thing is obvious. Dallas Eakins is no Pete Carroll. Not even close.

    A great coach rallies his team. Eakins hasn’t done this. Carroll turned around a terrible Hawks team in 2 years. The difference in the team was immediate. I remember watching Carroll’s first game. We all knew this was going to turn into something great.

    Can anyone say that about Dallas Eakins?

    I know you’ll all say that ‘football is different’. In the end, sports are sports. The coach has to get his entire team on the same page and believe in his creed. I think Dallas Eakins doesn’t understand the psychology of his team. He’ll never take us to the promised land.

    • The Soup Fascist

      …. yes, but football is different.

      Good news there is very little chance Pete Carroll gets stripped of any wins this season or gets the Superbowl win vacated.

      Even with the myriad suspensions (and positives thrown out for “technicalities”) for PEDs that seem to run rampant in the Seahawks dressing room.

      Hmm. Maybe we CAN learn something from Pete Carroll. Pssst, Sam, Jordan, Justin, Ryan – come over here a second. Hey, have any of you fellas ever heard about the “clear” and the “cream” ……?

      Congrats Bolt, sour grapes on my part. Maybe I am just a little depressed about my wager on the Broncos. Your Seahawks were awesome.

    • Zarny

      If you actually watch football you’d know that Carroll’s coaching is not what turned Seattle around.

      Carroll bringing in better players is what turned the Seahawks around.

      It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about QB, RB, WR, OL, DL, LB or the secondary the Seahawks are loaded with talent.

      The Oilers…not so much.

      • The Soup Fascist

        To be fair the GM, John Schneider brought in the talent, not Pete Carroll.

        ~He didn’t seem all that bright when he was on the Dukes of Hazzard TV show, but clearly I underestimated the guy~.

  • S cottV

    I’m thinking that Eakins has finally figured out that being the fittest team in the NHL is not enough.

    I hope that we see some teaching and development coming to the Oilers soon…….if Paul Maurice can turn a team with less talent around Eakins should be able to at least make some progression on the special team front.

    I have seen no system change to improve our fortunes……Dallas what are you doing?

  • Zarny

    BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! Imagine him in an Oiler uniform! Imagine Westgarth, McGrattan, Sestito, Kassian, et al CRAPPING THEIR PANTS EVERY TIME they had to play the Oilers!IMAGINE!!!!!!!! BIG JOHN SCOTT!!!!!!!

  • The Soup Fascist

    Why do writers still use the term “lottery picks” to describe potential high draft position? The draft rules have changed after the last CBA and EVERY team outside the playoffs is now a lottery pick and if their name is picked they get 1st overall pick. Bottom 5 or “lottery pick” is meaningless now and it makes a writer look uninformed when he references it.

  • Jtfan

    The ahl coach experiment is over. Drop in standings from last year, terrible player development: dubs, yak ,gagner worst this year, no on ice systems that make sense ie. powerplay with 4 forwards leading to short handed goals against. No system to get puck out of own end……the problems go on. The question is do we get a more experienced nhl coach like jets did or do we risk getting into next season with an insurmountable drop in standings and then forced to fire midway in season. I believe eakins time is over.