As much of a dumpster fire as this season has been for the Edmonton Oilers, there was at least a hint of anticipation as fans dutifully filed into Rexall Place to begin the stretch drive against the Minnesota Wild after three weeks off for the Olympic break. Should have known better.

Rather than come back with some gusto and jump in a stretch that will see the Oilers play 15 of their final 22 games at home, they served up another feeble and indifferent display for the hometown faithful, collectively shrugging their shoulders in a half-hearted, half-assed 3-0 loss to the Wild.

Fans who arrived with at least a hint of hope the Oilers might finish off this mess of 2013-14 with enthusiasm and maybe a win here or there after a tidy roll before the break, were booing by the final buzzer at the Oilers were shut out for the fifth time at home this season, dropping to 10-15-2 at the Rex.

The power play has fallen and it can’t get up. There was next-to-no flow on the attack. Ben Scrivens didn’t look particularly sharp. Worst of all, the give-a-damn meter appeared to be as low as it’s been all season, save for some nastiness from Matt Hendricks and Luke Gazdic.

Played like their heads and hearts were still on the beach somewhere warm, did the Oilers. The only grit was the sand in their shorts.


When a team has been as bad as long as the Oilers have, virtually every angle involving personnel, team chemistry, coaching and the X’s and O’s has been exhausted. The power play, at least this 1-3-1 version of it, is brutal. There are holes throughout the lineup front and back. The defense isn’t good enough. All this we know. More fodder for these last days before the trade deadline.

One ongoing glaring deficiency – far from the only one — that stood out for me in this game was the lack of push-back from the Oilers, the unwillingness to back each other up. The all-for-one, one-for-all mentality most successful teams show consistently. Big problem.

That was illustrated best as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were getting knocked around near the Minnesota goal by Keith Ballard and Matt Cooke. Out near the blue line stood Jeff Petry and Anton Belov, two of the biggest players on the ice. And that’s where they stayed as Ballard cuffed RNH and Hall had a brief altercation with Cooke. They watched.

I’m not foolish enough to think having Petry and Belov wade in and kick some backside, or at least show up, in that circumstance comes anywhere near close to addressing the many needs of this team, but showing opponents they don’t get a free pass in that situation would solve one of them – the lack of will to play and stand up for each other.

I’m not suggesting GM Craig MacTavish go on a thug hunt at the deadline or over the summer, but while he’s looking for another defenseman or two and some size that can play in the top-six up front, find a player or two who isn’t so ready to turn the other cheek — as too many players on this roster now are.

Culture change? Let’s start with MacTavish getting some players who are as sick of losing as the fans who filed in to watch yet another no-show by a team that keeps talking the talk but refuses to walk the walk.

Enough already.

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

  • BigE91

    MEMO: From the Coach ^….

    Will the following players please turn in their jockstraps and cans: Belov, Petry, Gagner, Eberle,
    and Jones.

    You only need these if you have balls.

  • I can recall a time when coach mac t wouldn’t let his players engage in bru ha’ ha’s for fear of a stupid penalty…stortini,torres,and moreau weren’t allowed to go but Eakins has no soldiers and he gives the green light. maybe this is mact’s team vision after all.or maybe we used to care about wins. either way I long for a tough 3rd line let alone a 4th

  • BigE91

    ~To be perfectly honest, this is all on the fans of the team. The woes of the Oilers begin and end with the tier 1 and tier 2 people who allegedly cheer for this team.

    How can the coaches and players concentrate with all of this negative energy? Scrivens stop 60 shots, back up the Brinks truck. He lets in a couple send him back to St. Albert. Hall and Ebs are the best one day, the next day one has more turnovers than the Safeway bakery and the other needs a prosthetic set of seeds.

    Can’t people see? These guys are fragile 90% of them have never “worked” a day in their life. I’m sure training and working on puck handling skills is arduous but I’d give it a shot if someone paid me a couple of hundred grand to do it. Their fragile psyches can’t handle the pressure of playing in Edmonton. Cold winters, fan expectations, syphilis from the girls at the Ranch. My goodness, how do they cope?

    Our mortgages, car payments, kids clothing, braces, job stress pales in comparison to what these guys are subject too.~

    Seriously, I have a hard time blaming the coach here. It’s his charge to motivate and get the most out of these players but maybe he actually is and this is all we get.


    • Randaman

      The really sad part about last night is that neither Nurse or Ekblad would have just stood there while Nuge and Hall were involved by the net. That says all you need about Petry and Belov.
      Ekblad could play here next year and be our best defenceman with Nurse a close 2nd.
      Does Eberle, a draft pick & a good prospect get us a solid #2 to mentor these two studs? I sure hope so or we will be drafting McDavid which isn’t a bad thing if you can handle another season like this one! Thought not…

      • dunk7

        The scary part is that you are right in the fact that we’re going to need to acquire a top end defenceman (and give up an Eberle or Yak) to tutor the up and comers. I shudder to think that Ference is the only real mentor out of this group. It’s kind of like a blind man running a driving school.

  • dunk7

    Whats concerning is that when you look at the so called kids, we are talking now 2-3-4 years in the league. What I see is that their game has not changed, might even be worse in some cases. Why, they have experience with 3 different coaches, yet their game remains the same. Are they coachable.

    Its time for these top minute crunchers to drop their junior

    • Admiral Ackbar

      I see you’re still drinking the Kool-Aid. Enjoy, I rather go to the movies and actually smile. I’ll return when Ekbald makes the team in 3 years. Until then, pass.