There is no doubt it will be difficult to go from watching Canada’s team of all-stars dominate the rest of the world, to watching the Oilers try and salvage another lost season. However, Oilers fans are a resilient bunch and the final 22 games should carry more importance, than previous years in shaping the future of this team.

Why are these games more important?

Because the head coach will be here next September, and for only the 2nd time in the past six seasons the Oilers won’t have to learn a new system when camp begins.

Prior to the break, the Oilers started to show small signs — I repeat small —  that they were getting a better handle of the system, while Eakins seemed to have a better grasp on individual players. The break should benefit the Oilers more than other teams, because they have more room to improve, and because it allowed them significant practice time to get a better understanding of their system.

Having to learn a new system every year has continually put the Oilers behind other teams when the season begins. The Oilers haven’t had comfort in their system early in the year and often they are thinking rather than just reacting. It takes a long time to be comfortable in a system, and when you combine that learning curve with youth, inexperience and less talent than the top teams in the west, you end up being a consistent bottom-five team.

The Oilers were 5-1-1 heading into the Olympic break, but they were out shot in all seven games. I felt they deserved to beat Nashville, Vancouver and New York, but goaltending got them wins vs. San Jose and Buffalo.

They need to improve many areas of their game, but winning builds confidence more than losing does, so they should feel good about themselves when the puck drops on Thursday.


  • The trade deadline is next Wednesday at 1 p.m. MST. I believe Ales Hemsky will be dealt, and I outlined why here. We all read and heard the Gagner rumours before the deadline. I still don’t see a fit for him in LA, but a team like Nashville makes more sense. However, there is no guarantee he will be moved prior to March 5th. A summer trade might make more sense.
  • What about Ryan Smyth? I think he could help a team that is looking for a veteran to round out their 3rd or 4th line. He kills penalties, can play on your PP and five-on-five. It wouldn’t cost much to acquire him, a 3rd or 4th round pick, and for a team looking for depth I think he can help. Last year some wondered why the Hawks traded for a slow Michal Handzus, but Stan Bowman looked like a genius when they hoisted the Cup and Handzus was their 6th most productive forward in the playoffs.
  • I think there will be interest in Smyth, and if he is willing to leave his family for a run at the Cup I think he’ll be moved. If the Oilers are interested in re-signing him in the summer, we all know he’d come back. He bleeds Oilers’ colours.
  • After watching Anton Belov in the Olympics, I’m still intrigued by what he is capable of in the NHL. He has had a frustrating season, but I believe he is good enough to play regularly the rest of the season. Some nights he looks like he could be a solid contributor and then on other nights he looks disinterested. Do you think Belov can help the Oilers in the future, or should they look elsewhere?
  • Speaking of defence, how good were Drew Doughty and Shea Weber in Sochi? Outstanding. If you could only have one on your team, who would you pick and why? I thought about it for a long time, and either would be great of course, but if I had to pick I’d go with Weber. He is five years older, but he still has 10 great years left and his size and strength are why I’d lean towards him. He skates well, has a bomb of a shot, is solid defensively and he has a mean streak. If the Predators ever decide to move him, David Poile’s phone would be ringing off the hook. He’d command a huge return.
  • Do you remember when Dion Phaneuf and Ryan Getzlaf fought the first game after winning gold at the World Juniors? Andrew Ladd and Colin Fraser also fought in that Red Deer/Calgary game, just to send a message to their teammates that their focus was back on their teams. I doubt any of the NHL players will follow suit, but these players are ultra competitive, and they will quickly change their focus to securing home ice advantage for the playoffs.

    Getzlaf and Perry’s first game back is Friday vs. Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester.
    Subban and Price battle Crosby and Kunitz on Wednesday.
    Toews, Keith and Sharp play Nash on Thursday.

  • Only five teams, Buffalo, Edmonton, Calgary, Florida and the Islanders are out of the playoff hunt. Every other team is within four points of a playoff spot, so every game matters. It sucks not being in a city in the hunt, but as a fan of hockey I’m excited to watch the other games. They should be incredibly competitive.
  • The Colorado Avalanche are only five points back of Chicago with two games in hand. It is crazy to think the Avs are that close to Chicago and St.Louis. (The Blues are tied with the Hawks, but have three games in hand.) I’m curious to see if the Avs try and load up for the playoffs or if they stay patient and hold onto picks and prospects.
  • The Red Wings have made the playoffs 22 consecutive seasons. They missed the dance the same year as the Oilers’ last Cup, 1990, but I think their streak ends this year. Henrik Zetterberg is out for the rest of the regular season and Pavel Datsyuk isn’t a 100%. The Wings are currently in 8th place, but Ottawa, Washington and Columbus are only 1 point behind, while Carolina and New Jersey are 3 points back. I don’t see them holding off five teams.
  • If you have an Olympic hockey hangover and want to see a dominant team, you could check out the Edmonton Rush this Friday night. The Rush are 7-0 and trying to become only the 2nd team in NLL history to start a season 8-0. The Rush host the Toronto Rock at Rexall Place on Friday, and if you can’t go you can watch it on TSN2.
  • Jamie Benn was very good in Sochi, and I’d love to see him in the playoffs. Dallas is currently in 8th place with 64 points. Phoenix has 64, Vancouver 63, Winnipeg 62 and Nashville 60. Of those five teams, I’d say Dallas or Winnipeg would the most exciting to watch. Hopefully one of those two gets in.

  • Taylor Hall needs 24 points in 22 games to become the first Oiler to score 80 points since Doug Weight had 90 in 2001. Hall has 56 points in 53 games so far, so he is on pace to crack 80.
  • The Oilers haven’t had two 30-goals scorers in the same season since 1997, when Smyth (39) and Kovalenko (32) did it. The Oilers haven’t had three 30-goal men since 1990 when they had five: Messier (45), Anderson (34), Kurri (33), Klima (30) and Tikkanen (30).

    Currently, David Perron has 22, Hall has 20 and Eberle has 19. There is an outside shot they could all get there, but even if only two of them do it, that would be the first time in 17 years.


    • What will make the final 22 games interesting is the work MacT does before the trade deadline. If he makes solid trades then Oiler fans will have something to watch and comment on. If he is ineffective or stands pat then it will be a continuation of this years torture test.

    • Mantastic

      I too would take Weber over Doughty just due to the fact that Weber is just a lot more consistent. Doughty has game breaking ability but in my opinion, is too inconsistent most nights in the NHL. but I have to point out that 100% Doughty is better than a 100% Weber

    • HardBoiledOil 1.0

      I have not been one to call for Eakin’s head this year. However, I don’t buy the argument that he must be retained for another year so the players won’t have to learn another system. Hockey systems are not so complex that players should need more than a few practices or games to understand what is expected. Frequently players enter a hockey line up the day they are traded or called up. It doesn’t take a whole year them to understand what they are supposed to be doing.

      I am not giving Eakins a free pass for the poor performance this year. He should be judged on this year’s performance and MacT should act accordingly.

      • interesting point. It should be noted that no one other than MacT and Eakins know what they expected out of the team this year. behind closed doors, throughout the year, those 2 can re-evaluate the team, and re-assess what are realistic expectations.
        One the one hand, we have people saying the team underperformed. On the other hand, we have people saying trade this player, or that player because they’re not capable of doing the job we require of them. It can’t really be both. Either we have a good team that isn’t playing well, or we don’t have a good team. Which is it?

          • 1983 and This Year

            Worst goals against in the league, no Olympians, 29th place AGAIN. Does that answer your question?

            So Hemsky, Belov and Maracin don’t count as Olympians? Hall, Yak and Eberle were in the mix as well. Oiler’s still need quite a few moving parts but there are some pieces in place.

            • Randaman

              Ya right! Haha. How did Russia, Slovakia& the Chech,s do? Thought so. Being in the mix doesn’t fly either. You either have it or you don’t and we don’t. We need more than what we already have in my opinion because we are either not willing or too stupid to deal one or two key pieces for the benefit of the team. Fans are just as guilty in this as management.

          • well, to be fair, 3 Olympians. and No it doesn’t answer my question. I asked you if the Oilers are a good team that doesn’t play well, or are they a team full of lousy players? If it’s a team full of lousy players, what’s the trade market for an overpaid, ineffective player in today’s NHL? If they’re a team full of good players that isn’t playing to its potential, should they fire the coach, hire a new one next year, fire him the year after, and continue the cycle until finally they find a coach who can get them winning?

            • Randaman

              To answer your initial question, in my opinion we have some good players but we are a crappy team. As we saw at the Olympics, EGO’s must be checked at the door no matter how much you make or what your name is!! There are clique issues in this dressing room in my opinion. You can see it when Yak scores. Eberle won’t even crack a smile in celebration. Just one example that I have witnessed a few times. Takes more than talent to be elite

        • Randaman

          I don’t think there is much doubt that the Oil never had the players this year to make a serious run at a playoff spot. Goaltending was uncertain much of the year, weak center ice group, no top 1or 2 defenceman all would have prevented the Oil from contending. That doesn’t mean that they might have done better with a different bench boss. I’m sure Eakins didn’t tell Dubnyk to poop the bed in the 1st 10 games, and Gagner to hit new depths in his performance. But perhaps he might have recognized that Gagner is not ready (physically with the broken jaw) to play in the NHL and rode Arco for a while. I’m not saying Arco would have lead the Oil to the playoffs, but maybe a few more points would have been gained.

      • Randaman

        Eakins will not be fired for one simple reason and I agree that he should be held accountable for this years short comings.

        MacT cannot fire him because he hired him. it’s as simple as that. Especially since Krueger was fired and now Krueger has shown his value.

        It’s as simple as that.

        • **

          If you mean the Krueger’s imput at the Olympics has shown his value as a NHL head coach, I think you are comparing apples to oranges. That would be similar to saying KLowe have proven his value as POHO because of his involvement.

          • Rdubb

            Good point, but I still stick to my comment. I think their is no disagreement that Krueger’s dismissal was premature being the short season and all. I am happy that Ralph has improved his image and value and I just wish that the Oilers gave him more time to rectify the situation.

            Eakins must be great at the “chat” for him to impress MacT for the head coaching job, but unfortunately Eakins record is no better than Krueger’s. A rookie coach is not the answer to the Oilers problems. You need a seasoned credible NHL coach. Just look around the league to prove that point.

            I hate to see anyone fired but coming from the corporate world, I know how the politics work. It is definitely not fair and in my experience, the people who got fired, in most cases, it should have been the manager axed before employee. It all starts from the top.

            As for Lowe, I respect his career dedication and loyalty to the Oilers, but everyone has a shelf life.

    • Czar

      Dion Phaneuf vs Ryan Getzlaf and Andrew Ladd vs Colin Fraser happened right after the opening faceoff and they went toe to toe at center ice for about a minute. I’ve seen alot of fights in the WHL but that was something I’ll never forget.

      Good call on Benn prior to the Olympics Gregor.

    • #ThereGoesTheOilers

      Sure, we can tolerate the idea of coaching continuity, give the players more time to adjust to the new voice and new system.

      When we say continuity I immediately think of Eakins.

      Just to be clear here Mac T, are we talking about Eakins and Acton of 2013 or Buchberger and Smith of 2008 and 2010? Seems like an important differential here.

    • BC BOY

      I would take Doughty, guy can simply take over games with his skill and skating. It’s a shame he plays for LA and never gets to show it. Plus he has won a stanley cup.

    • I’d take any of Weber, Keith, Doughty, Pietrangelo. These are parts you build around. It’s great that we have such exciting high flying forwards, but I’d trade any one of them for a top end D like the aforementioned.. Especially Weber. If I were a GM, I think Poile would screen my calls I’d be asking for Weber so much.

      • Czar

        With the price of tickets I’d say the koolaid is far from free but I do get what your saying.

        I’m sure Klowe has increased security and installed a metal detector at the door, it could get real ugly.

      • HardBoiledOil 1.0

        ^that’s fine and dandy, but MacT needs to have something more than “we’re working on it” to give to them, unless he for some reason wants input as to how they would feel about Eberle being traded?

        @J.R. i must have misread.

      • vetinari

        Tier 1 fans must be excited… face time with ‘ol Six Rings who will undoubtedly remind people that he just came from the Olympics and helped put together a gold medal winning team…

        • wiseguy

          “Hot Stove hosted by Jack Michaels and Bob Stauffer featuring Head Coach Dallas Eakins, General Manager Craig MacTavish and President and COO, Patrick LaForge. ”

          Apparently ol’ 6 Rings is in hiding polishing his 6 rings and shiny new replica Olympic medal.

          • Randaman

            The perfect group for what is needed. They will be blowing so much sunshine up their butts it will look like a grow op. Not to mention the kool-aid that will be served. New building, building blocks are in place, blah, blah, blah!!

          • vetinari

            Three… you can trade them for some good vodka and some orange juice in the Olympic village.

            As for actually addressing my point– the Oilers app had a ton of articles about Lowe during the Olympics and it seems like the last two weeks has been about “spin-doctoring” Lowe’s image from “ineffective Oilers President” to “effective Team Canada consultant”.

            There are two different skill sets involved– and with Team Canada, there is no cap management and you have virtually every Canadian hockey player at your picking– and Lowe was only one consultant amongst guys like Babcock and Yzerman.

            So, no, I didn’t bring any medals home from the games but neither did you.

            • Randaman

              Your argument is weak and tainted by so much bias. It reeks of anger and resentment.

              How come you cannot give credit to KLOWE when its due?

              Klowe has earned praise for his participation with Team Canada. Not derision.

              My opinion differs from yours in that I give credit when credit is due.

              For the current Oilers team there is plenty of blame and factors that lead to our failures this season. We have to look forward and not rest on our failure’s like a 5 year old child.

              MacT has earned praise and criticism. Rightly so. So has the entire coaching staff. The players own part of this seasons failure too. Many will pay the price before the end of the season and shortly thereafter also.

              We have 22 games left in a season that has left most of us shaking our heads in disbelief. My own viewpoint is to focus on the positives. I look forward to the Oilers management this off season to improve this team at least on paper. On ice is another question altogether.

            • The Real Scuba Steve

              Hey Mikey you new? Kevin Lowe was a fixture on team Canada, Kevin Lowe pretty much runs the Oil, stats don’t lie about Kevin Lowe’s record behind the Oilers. It’s brutal! one of the worst teams in pro sports and I give him full credit for that.

          • oilerjed

            Same amount as Klowe earned.

            I hope someone throws a shoe at that jackass. Oh yeah, right, he’s been told to not show his face.

            Hard to fathom there are still people defending, the creator of the worst franchise in the whole league, (over the last 16 years.)

            Hell of a player. (Just what our D needs) The thing, or two he knows about winning, left when he turned in his NHLPA membership.

            Signed Tier Two fan tired of wondering the Desert.

    • Czar

      Weber can beat you on the ice or in the alley, he’s the guy every team wants. IF Poile ever decides to move him, the other GM won’t be able to sit for a month.

    • ubermiguel

      On the Oilers? Weber’s size and bomb from the point for sure. Justin Schultz strikes me as a similar player to Doughty (not as good, but similar in skating and wrist shot).

      If I was building a team from scratch, either will do nicely.

    • Randaman

      Gah, and so it begins, months and months of waiting to see how our GM will improve the team for next year. Not as big a shopping list as last year, but still some of the same items which is a bit disappointing.

      A dump truck of money or two could solve a lot of issues.

      Here’s hoping we can get average goal tending, a top 2 d man, and more size and two way play in the top six. I think we have the assets, prospects, and picks in order to make this happen.

    • Rick Stroppel


      Eakins was quoted yesterday in the paper he was going to ride the “hot” goaltender from now until the end of the year. So if Bryzgalov gets hot, he will get the majority of the starts. Does that make sense? Bryzgalov had his chance, he is much more of a known quality. Do the Oilers think that Scrivens is going to be another Johnny Bower and suddenly emerge as a legit #1 goalie at the age of 27? Do they want to “hide” him for fear he will attract interest as a UFA? Do they understand how risky that strategy would be? Wouldn’t it be better to play the heck out of Scrivens to figure out if he has “it”?

      How high up do you suppose they go to make decisions like this? MacTavish? Lowe? Katz? Lowe has made comments in the past hinting that Katz is involved in personnel decisions.

      • Scrivens got Blue & orange pads, and an Oilers goalie mask. He’s staying. He would have just gone with all white. For that matter, I expect the oilers to resign Bryzgalov. That’s our goaltending for next season.

        • 1983 and This Year

          First he was definitely going because he had a Kings mask. Now he’s definitely staying because he’s got an Oilers mask. Do you honestly think a millionaire professional athlete bases his equipment decisions on where he’ll be playing next season?

          • I think Scrivens came in with a King’s mask. I don’t think he was expecting to be traded back to LA. I can’t see why he’d go to the hassle of getting new gear if he only planned to be in Edmonton for whatever his share of the final 22 games is.

    • wiseguy

      The perfect storybook? The Oilers trade Smyth to a Contender, he then wins the Stanley Cup and returns to Edmonton in the Summer for a reasonable one year contract.

      I wonder which return players like Nick Schultz, Potter and Jones will fetch at the deadline?

      • Randaman

        Story books are for kids. Smyth has been a great Oiler but he is one of those heart & soul guys that will always think they have more to give when the tank is empty. Better to part ways and hopefully let him win his cup.
        Then sign a one DAY contract and retire as an Oiler.
        I think some Oiler fans are so used to losing that it has become acceptable as long as our favourites aren’t traded to benefit the team.
        Wake up people. Story books don’t win championships

    • **

      “It takes a long time to be comfortable in a system”.

      Team Canada had a few days of practice last summer, Jamie Benn didn’t even go that time.
      Then they had a couple of practices before the tournament, and yet, they mastered their systems and played to perfection.

      GRanted, they were the best of the best, but look at the AVS and Winnipeg under Maurice.

      It doesn’t take time to learn a system if it is the right system and if the players buy in.

    • oilerjed

      wierd. Anyone else experiencing the screen going black on them while reading the Quick Hits? For me it starts at “•Only five teams, Buffalo, Edmonton, Calgary, Florida ” and goes until I scroll past “as the Oilers’ last Cup, 1990, but I think their streak ends this year. Henrik Zetterberg is out for the rest of the regular season and Pavel Datsyuk isn’t a 100%.” Apparently my work computer is finally rebelling against me forcing me do Ugghhh Work.

      EDIT: not doing it anymore

    • wiseguy

      I’d probably want Shea Weber. There are a lot of young guys on our team, so we don’t lack energy which I think Doughty would really bring. But having someone a bit older with experience could always help focus the team.

    • Randaman

      Offer sheet Subban. Right after the Draft. 36 million over 6 years. Sign Markov. 10 million for 2 years.

      Hopefully Gagner and N64 get rolling for the rest of the season.

      Gagner won’t be in Oilers silks next year.

    • Spydyr

      Smyth should have been gone before this season.Even considering bringing him back is insane.Insane being described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

      It is time for a purge.Make some tough decisions and build a better team.

    • Rdubb

      Jason, in regards to choosing a d-man, I’d go with Weber, why?
      Because he is far more physical… He has put up decent numbers in NAS, and when compared to Doughty & who Doughty plays with compared to the guys Weber plays with, there is a HUGE difference leaning towards Doughty…his shot from the point alone could be a game changer, especially on the PP…I think Weber’s (& since I am not in the rooms, all I can go by is what I read and hear) leaderships qualities are far superior to Doughty’s @ this time, and this is perhaps the biggest thing EDM needs next to a hard hitting d-man who can shut down any person or line in the NHL…as you mentioned, a bit of a mean streak, again, needed on this blue line…

      I don’t think I mentioned anything over what you did, but these are my reason’s why I’d choose Weber…