PACE IN PRACTICE..

Allen Iverson’s rant on practice is a classic. Iverson had sat out a practice and it became a huge story in Philly. When Iverson retired Gary Payton told the story how in the summer prior to this interview Iverson had asked him how he was able to keep his body fresh and play every game. Payton told him his head coach, George Karl, wouldn’t let him practice very much. Karl knew he was a smaller guard and he needed rest to keep his body healthy. Iverson took it to heart, but he might not have went about it the right way.

It is still a great rant, and it relates to the Oilers because of what Ladislav Smid and Ilya Bryzgalov said regarding the pace and intensity of their new team’s practices.

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After his first practice with the Calgary Flames, Smid said he was surprised at how intense the practice was, and last week Ilya Brzygalov said the Wild practices had “a much faster pace.

Do the Oilers need to practice harder? Can they practice harder?

I went looking for the answers to those questions and a few more. I spoke with Dallas Eakins, Sam Gagner and David Perron about the Oilers practices.

I spoke to Perron because he was in St.Louis the previous six seasons, and I was curious if he noticed a difference in how the teams practiced.

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Do you think it is up
to the players to control the pace and tempo practice?

I do. Dallas
mentioned it a lot. Do you want to be the guy driving the practice or do you
want to sit in the back of the bus and hope the day goes by, and that’s not a
way you get better. It’s up to us to bring that level higher. I think it has
improved over the season, but there is another level to get to for sure.

How can you make
practices more intense?

It’s pretty simple. Every time there is a rebound you try to
score. Every time you go by the net you stop. The hard work comes
with the habits. When you have good habits it brings your level higher because
you want to succeed.

If you’re not going to do it in the game, you have to start
doing it in practice and then it will translate in the game. You will go by the
net and it will be natural that you will stop. Early in the year we didn’t have
many guys going to the net, but I think it has gotten better and when we do
have one-on-one battles in practice we can be harder for sure.

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What differences have
you noticed from practices in St.Louis to Edmonton?

Here they are a bit longer and we have more explanation at
the board. I’m not sure if it’s because we are a younger team and having to explain
more system stuff.

In St. Louis it
(practice) was pretty short, because when you’ve been on the same team for a bit
you’re on the same page, and that’s why they are having success and that’s what
we are trying to get to here.

THOUGHTS…

The Oilers are younger than the Blues and Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, Yakupov, J.Schultz and Petry have had a new coach every season they’ve played. It makes sense that this team needs more teaching and likely why their practices don’t have a consistent flow as often as a veteran team like the Blues.

The Oilers still don’t go to the net as often as they should, but Perron was bang on that at least they are doing it more than they did earlier in the season. The issue with the Oilers top-six isn’t the individual talent of the players, rather that they are essentially all the same. Outside of Perron, the other five didn’t have a “drive-the-net” philosophy in junior. It is hard to completely alter a player’s game, and that’s why I believe this group needs a different mix of players. They are all too similar.

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GAGNER

89-Gagner-7

Sam Gagner has played his entire career in Edmonton. He’s had five different head coaches and I asked him his thoughts on the pace and intensity of Oilers practice.

Some former teammates
said the pace in practice was higher on their new team. Perron said your team’s
pace was lower at the start of the season, but it has improved throughout the
year. Have you noticed a difference, and if so in what way?

I think a lot of times when you are going to a new team you
are flying and stuff, and that first practice is going to be tough regardless.
For us, pace starts with puck movement and I think it has gotten better as the
year’s gone on. If you are going to be a successful team in this league you
have to be able to execute. That is something we are really focusing on, especially
in practice, and we have to continue to get better if we’re going to become one
of the top teams in the league. We still have a way to go.

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Do you believe if you
practice harder maybe they will play harder and grittier?

I’m a huge believer in it. I’ve always thought when you are
in a slump you break it in practice before you break it in a game. You’re not
always going to feel great in practice, whether you played a game the night
before, but you have to find a way to get the most out of yourself, execute
properly and move the puck properly and get your pace going. It translates into
a game hugely.

Is the pace of
practice set more by the players or the coach?

I think the coach is driving the practice and we’re the ones
pushing it. The coaches have a practice plan and they lay it out, but it is on us to
make sure we are pushing it.

Thoughts…

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Gagner was on to something about the first practice with a new team. Smid’s first practice in Calgary came after an off day for the Flames and when he was traveling. However, Gagner did admit his team still has room to improve in practice.

A few years ago I interviewed Nick Lidstrom and he told me that bad passes weren’t acceptable during Red Wings practices. Players would get on each other if they made bad passes. He firmly believed that if you accepted bad passing in practice it would happen in the game. Mike Babcock said those rules were put in place by the players not the coaches, because the players needed to manage and decide which passes weren’t acceptable. He said it carried more weight when a teammate challenged a player on his passing rather than the coach.

The Oilers don’t have something like that in place, and if they do implement a similar rule, it has to be initiated by the players not the coach.

COACH EAKINS

Dallas Eakins 18

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Do you have a response to what Bryzgalov said last week and Smid earlier in the
season about the difference in the pace and intensity of practice?

I would totally agree with them. In the Smid case, he traveled the whole day and his first practice came after a day off and of
course that will be a high-paced practice.

In Bryz’s case he is excited; he is going to a team that is coming off the
trade deadline where they made some moves to try and take a good swat at the
Stanley Cup. After that deadline I’m sure their practice was very exciting to
get the new players in.

Did they have great pace in those practices, absolutely? But
I will tell you this. I’ve watched a lot of teams practice in the NHL, teams
that have come into our building and a lot of times when your team is struggling
you go watch to make sure you aren’t missing something. I put our practices up
against anybody in the league and I’ve seen some very good teams practice that,
boy, there was no pace.

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It was more rest, move the puck and conserve for the
game. There are so many different ways you can skin the cat getting ready for
the game. But for our team right now, when it’s supposed to be pace, we go after the
pace, but a lot of time it has been about teaching.

How much do you feel
is on you to set the pace, or how much of it is up to the players to set the
pace?

I think it is up to everyone. It is up to the players to
push each other; it is up to the coach to make sure they are going. The
structure of the practice depending on the day of the week and how many games
they’ve played, what you need to work on, that usually dictates the real pace
of the practice is what you are trying to accomplish.

If you are coming off a day off and you don’t play for a couple days, that’s going
to be a tough, hard battle, very high-paced practice. When you’re playing every
other day you might be just working on your powerplay, which slows down the
practice. And for our group, especially this year, we’ve had to do so much
teaching that you are stopping practice and going into the details and trying to
hammer home these new concepts and new habits. You could go watch a team
practice five different days and each day the pace would be greatly, greatly
different.

Is the plan to have
less whiteboard time next year which will increase the pace of practice?

Exactly. The less you have to go to the board, but more
importantly, the less you have to stop the drill and make sure everybody is in
the right spots and re-enforce it, then you can get on to other stuff.

You have to be careful with pace in practice. We can go out
and do a whole bunch of shooting drills that look nice and shiny and everyone
will be skating fast, but they have little to do with the structure of the
game. There are days you want the pace high, and there are days where you need
the detail and the teaching. Our team right now, much less than at the start of
year, we are still in the teaching phase and we are not going to let the
details go.

WRAP UP….

  • The Oilers top players aren’t very physical or gritty, so I wouldn’t expect them to be in practice. They are also young and inexperienced and they keep turning over the puck in games, so I understand why the coach is still spending a lot of time on the whiteboard. I still don’t think they battle as hard as they should — Perron said the same — but I think that is also a product of the make up of this team.

    The Oilers don’t have a very big or aggressive blueline. Prior to Mark Fraser’s arrival, Andrew Ference was the only D-man who would play physical. I’ve watched Fraser in practice and he doesn’t go easy on the forwards. That will help them. If they are never exposed to playing against big, mean and aggressive defenders in practice, it makes sense that they would struggle against them in a game. Fraser at least gives them an idea of how hard it will be to go to the net or come out the corner against a big D-man. Petry, J.Schultz, N.Schultz, Potter and Larsen never presented that challenge.

    I remember watching Steve Staios, Jason Smith and Ethan Moreau practice. Smith and Staios practiced like they played, and they used to have some great battles with Moreau. I believe that helped them during games.

    The Oilers are starting to get a few more players like that. Hendricks brings an edge to practice as does Gordon and Perron, but until the Oilers get more skilled players with size I don’t see this issue being solved. You practice like you play and the Oilers aren’t blessed with many big, strong or aggressive players right now. They also don’t have a lot of “old man” strength in their top-six. The Oilers skilled players will be much better and stronger when they are all 24 years of age and older, but they currently they lack the size and strength to compete with other teams.

    I still would like to see a bit more intensity in the battle drills, but like Perron and Gagner said that has to come from the players.

  • I watched last night’s game from the lower bowl and the size difference of the Oilers and Kings was even more obvious. If you don’t believe the Oilers need more size in their top-six now, then I’m not sure what games you’ve been watching. I thought the Oilers overall effort was fine, they just aren’t as big, mature and experienced as the Kings. The Kings could manhandle the Oilers when they wanted to, and until this team matures and adds some skilled size I don’t see that changing.
  • Jordan Nolan sucker punches Jesse Joensuu and nothing happens to him. I didn’t see anyone even mouth him off when he was on the ice in the 3rd period. I’m sure Gazdic said something from the bench, but I don’t understand why he wasn’t put on the ice against Nolan. The score was 4-2 with 10 minutes to play, did anyone think the stingy Kings were going to relinquish the lead? For me it was another example of showing teams they can get away with anything against the Oilers.

    At some point isn’t it important to send a message, other than the one that says it is okay to take liberties on our players?

  • I’m looking for a travel agent or agency to team up with me for a great fundraiser. If you are interested please email me at [email protected].
  • Oscar Klefbom is a now considered a regular recall and will make his NHL debut in Minnesota tomorrow.
  • Is coaching on the verge of ruining hockey? One NHL sniper thinks it is. Read here.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR


  • Word to the Bird

    Guys not sticking up for each other on this team is going against one of the codes. Where did some of these softies come from? Individualists don’t fair well in a team oriented environment.

  • R U Kidding Me!

    Best way to fix boring defensive hockey.

    Give an extra point in the standing for every 5 goals scored in a game.

    Win 5-0 Winner gets 3 points loser zero points.
    Win 10-5 Winner gets 4 points loser gets one point

    Teams will try to score more. Fans will be happier and it would be prudent for the coach to think more offensive

    • R U Kidding Me!

      Don’t think I agree.

      There’s nothing boring about a team that forechecks and backchecks hard and plays a possession game (see Chicago).

      Do you think giving extra reward for more offense will make watching guys like JShultz and Gagner and Eberle (all of whom probably play better defense on NHL14 than in real life) better more entertaining players to watch? Right now all they think about is offense, and they are horrible to watch.

      • **

        I would argue that the point he is trying to make is that teams would put more effort in scoring tons of goals as opposed to closing up the doors and windows and holding strong when they get the 1-0 lead.

        Watching a 1-0 game is the most boring hockey for fans, so what he’s suggesting is giving an incentive for teams to try and open up and force the offensive side of the game.

        Now maybe a scaling of 1 point for every 5 goals is a bit ridiculous…but it is one possible solution to what is becoming boring hockey to watch.

        • nuge2drai

          The Canadian Men’s hockey team in Sochi did not score much and they played a possession game featuring heavy backcheck/forecheck (ie. every puck was challenged).

          Assuming you watched them, did you find them boring at all?

          I would give my left nut to have the Oilers break up the cycle, retrieve the puck and break it out of their zone like Team Canada did, just once per game at this point. It was poetry to watch.

          • **

            To me the most remarkable achievement of team Canada was how they played their systems to perfection without really practicing much and barely playing together at all.

          • **

            You’re watching the absolute best players in the game, who can break up the cycle, retrieve the puck, and work magic anywhere on the ice. They drastically out-shot their opponents and should have won their games by much higher margins. It was also exciting hockey for you because you’re used to watching the losing Oilers play. That is why it was “poetry to watch”.

            Watch the Minnesota Wild, LA Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning (under Guy), NJ Devils, and you will agree that a hard defensive game is EXTREMELY boring to watch for one simple reason: THEY SIT ON SMALL LEADS.

            I’ve been watching Tampa for years, and when they did their defensive 1-3-1 strategy it was the most boring hockey you would ever watch. Because they’d get their lead with a Lecaviler/StLouis/Richards/Stamkos go ahead goal and just sit on it.

            So if the NHL did something to improve this whether it be coaching or rules, I would like to see more offensive games.

          • A-Mc

            I see your point; that’s fine.

            But…I’m just sick and tired of how they Oilers come out and want to be like the Harlem Globetrotters on ice. It all has to be tic-tac-toe. No need to actually back-check and go hard to the net for a greasy rebound and heaven forbid, maybe initiate contact.

            I get the want to see offense. And I get that the team that scores most wins. But, I’m just a little tired of continuing to see guys like Gagner and Eberle only show interest in scoring and not give a rat’s ass when the puck is in their zone.

            Team Canada was a team for the ages, we all can agree on that. But it doesn’t take the best players in the world to contest every puck and backcheck. It takes will, which is something I’m pretty sure most if not all of us can agree that the Oilers don’t have nearly enough of.

    • toprightcorner

      I’m not sure your idea would ever fly with the hockey purest crowd but I do think there is some merit in your suggestion.

      We need to find some way to convince coaches that scoring goals is important. Give them a reason to score as many as possible and not just kick one in and then play shut down defense the rest of the game.

    • A-Mc

      I dont know if that’s the solution but i certainly appreciate the suggestion!

      Interesting… I must let my mind wander a bit to contemplate what that’d look like over 82 games.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Oh and I HATE the fact I haven’t watched an Oiler playoff game since I was 24, and I’m now 31.

    I HATE the fact I havent watched my favorite team play a meaningful game in almost a decade.

    I am starting to HATE myself for still caring this much- when most nights the team doesn’t seem to care at all…

    That’s the sad part.

  • Word to the Bird

    Thought fersur Gazdic was going to tune Nolan. Its amazing to me that Eakins who played that tough role during his hockey career doesn’t appreciate the value of sending those messages now that he’s coach.

    I was at the PDX Winterhawks game on Friday night against the hated Seattle Thunderbirds. As my friend and I were noting the size difference in teams (Seattle much bigger), one of their big guys hit our guys flush in the numbers into the boards. Who showed up? Dominic Turgeon – that’s who. Not a fighter but showed up for his team and team mate. He got pasted (and kudos to the Seattle player who recognized the mismatch and didn’t go all out) but was the first person on the scene.

    Where has that gone in this version of the Oilers? Why didn’t Ference, Hendricks, Fraser, Perron, Smyth, Jones, Joensuu, or are skill guys stand up to Nolan?

    Disappointing….

  • D-Unit

    In my opinion, Coaching isn’t on the verge or ruining hockey, it is well into the process of ruining it.

    The neutral zone trap wasn’t thought up by players.
    This is the type of thing that ruins a game.

  • Word to the Bird

    I know that we’ve had a bunch of different coaches over the years but how long does it take to learn a new system? I understand that there is always teaching to be done but we are 65 games into this coach and we are still hammering on the Xs and Os. Systems are important but bottom line is I want to see more passion out of this hockey club. Nobody sticking up for JJ after taking that sucker punch was a joke.

  • Zarny

    We have Nick Lidstrom stating it was the players in Detroit, not Mike Babcock, that held each other accountable and demanded more.

    And yet we still have drivel about the Oilers’ coaching.

    It’s the players, stupid.

  • #ThereGoesTheOilers

    It’s fair to ask if our practices compare to other teams, but with due respect to our writers, I can’t help but think that there’s no substance to this story surrounding Bryz and Smid.

    I read both interviews. Both said their new practices were more intense than they’re used to. I don’t see how this translates into ‘shots’ at their former organization.

    Maybe we’re all just a bit insecure as the losingest fans in hockey.

    Afterall, if I complement someone else’s baking, my wife doesn’t automatically assume there’s something wrong with hers.

  • nuge2drai

    Oiler Domination To Follow

    Great article.

    Now if you can set up an interview with MacT next and find out what he thinks of his current defense and how he plans on improving it.

    That should be an interesting read.

  • Edmonton has scored more goals than LA this year. I wonder why there is such a discrepancy in the standings? 😉 LA makes a concerted effort to not let you into the high scoring areas. You know, defense….

  • A-Mc

    Gregor, great write up , always appreciate you never being shy to ask the question. This was a topic that was bein kicked around by the fans here, without really getting into the in’s and out’s of the issue.

    Thanks. Well done.

    PS.. very disappointed Fraser or Gadzic didnt take care of Nolan… he is a bit of a punk that needs a lesson on sucker punching an opponent.

  • Word to the Bird

    JG – I (thankfully) didn’t see the game. Q: Did JJ return to the game after the sucker punch? If he did then there’s no reason for him not to stick up for himself when he gets back out. I agree that the team as a whole needs to be tougher and stick up for each other, but JJ’s a big boy and him going back out there to make a statement for himself can go a long way to getting the others to join in the fray and how the team gets viewed by their opponents.

  • A-Mc

    I do understand everyone’s frustration about the coach.

    But…. WHO HIRED the Coach?

    Who drafted the players?

    Who makes the trades and sign’s the overpaid contracts?

    This is where the problem lies.. It is not the coach. It is the leadership and management of the team.

    All you problems will not get better until Lowe et al. (including Mac T) are gone.

    The Oilers are a recycle plant for all the NHL garbage (a personal quote from an individual friend who is in management of another NHL club).

    The Oilers will not get better until they have new management to introduce a culture change ie not losing and then can gain some respect of the other teams management to attempt some decent trades.

    • A-Mc

      I want to agree with your statement, on a philosophical level, but i just can’t right now. MacT continues to earn more of my respect with each move he’s made since he arrived here.

      The players has has brought in are clearly better than what we were working with before.

      The coaching situation has been a revolving door since MacT left and it’s a total no brainer that it will take some serious time and effort to work out all the bad habits this team has perpetuated over the last 4 years.

      I don’t think Eakins has been afforded any real coaching time yet with relation to making the team better. I think this year has been more about putting out fires and breaking bad habits. Things always get worse before they get better. I expect a better team next year, based on coaching continuity alone.

  • OilClog

    Rules apply to everything.

    Practice the way you play.

    Best teams I was ever part of, also practiced their asses off harder then the rest. Everytime regardless of talent.

    No one on this team is improving under any of the assistant coaches of this team, can them all.

  • nuge2drai

    Gregor, give me your thoughts here:

    2014 1st pick (likely 2nd overall) for Sean Couturier and a second round pick. Perhaps Philly really likes Ekblad and can live with Giroux and Schenn as its 1-2 punch

    Gagner + Klefbom + a couple mid round picks for Yandle

    Then you take a run at Winnik, Goc and Kulemin this summer

    Hall/Couturier/Yakupov

    Kulemin/RNH/Eberle

    Perron/Goc/Winnik

    Smyth/Gordon/Hendricks

    Yandle/Petry

    Marincin/Schultz

    Ference/Fedun or Fraser

    I don’t know if Yandle is the guy we need but he is an improvement and has been rumored to be available for a couple years.

    • nuge2drai

      Oiler Domination To Follow

      I would rather overpay for a center like Statsny and keep the draft pick.

      Draft Bennett or Reinhert and we finally have some depth at center.

      Hopkins – Statsny – Bennett – Gordan

      Trade Gagner for a #3-#4 defenseman.

      Spend the remaining 30+ million in cap space on Defense, preferably on 2-3 year deals.

      • nuge2drai

        Also that centre depth would get crushed the same as ours right now. Statsny wouldn’t thrive here and Bennett is another young guy. We need vets, no more rookie.

        • toprightcorner

          Why would you think Statsney wouldn’t thrive here? What evidence is ther to back that up? He has been playing with young guys in Colorado and thrived so history would suggest he should do fine here. If your going to say he won’t thrive in Edmonton please use evidence to back up your claim.

          Not that I want Statsny, we would have to pay well over $6 mill for him (makes $6.6 now) and I would rather spend that big number on a #1 dman.

          If the Oilers drafted Bennet or Reinhart I would hope that either one would go back to junior. They are not elite playes like Hall, McKinnon, Nuge, Duchene or Tavares. They are closer to a Yakopov or slightly lower and Yak would have benefited from another year of junior. Just casue a player is a top 5 pick doesn’t mean he needs to play in the NHL, just look at Drouin.

    • toprightcorner

      It could take more than a 1st to get Couturier as he was a 1st round pick and has proven he is not a bust.

      Phoenix already has Ribero, Hanzal and Vermette for centres, they don’t need Gagner and may be more inclined to trade Hanzal to upgrade their wingers

      Your not playing Goc and Kulimen ahead of Gordon and Perron as these two are clearly better.

      Trade the 1st and Arcobello for Hanzal
      Sign Orpik
      Sign Brian Boyle
      Sign Winnik
      Sign Setagouchi
      Trade Eberle for Josi
      Trade Gagner, Klefbom,for Brouwer
      Trade Lander for Smith-Pelly

      Hall – Nuge – Brouwer
      Perron – Hanzal – Yak
      Winnik – Gordon – Smith-Pelly
      Gazdic – Boyle – Hendricks

      Josi – Petry
      Orpik – Schultz
      Ference – Marincin

  • I am not surprised at all that a lot of time is spent on the whiteboard and diagrams and the teaching aspect. A lot of the players are lost in their own zone. The breakouts are laughable.

    As much as everyone likes to talk about how bad our d-men are, I would bet $$$ that even if we had a hall of famer at every position in our top 6 defence we would still not be a playoff team.

    Why? Well, imagine the puck is dumped into our zone and YOU are the first d-man on the scene. You have 2 real options:

    1. Pass to your d-partner behind the net.

    2. Pass to your winger on the half-wall.

    3. Pass to your center in front of your own net.

    4. Try a stretch pass through many opposition players or ice the puck or put it hard off the glass and out and hope it’s not icing.

    5. Deke a guy.

    If you choose #1, then you are simply restarting this process, and THAT d-man has the same 2 choices.

    So pretty much, it is option #2 ALL DAY: move it along the boards to your winger.

    And here is where the problems begin. Most of the time the strong-side winger isn’t even there. Even when he is there he is usually at a stand-still and easy pickings for a forechecker, or worse the winger is on the wrong side of the puck and is cheating for offence resulting in an easy pickoff and odd-man rush against.

    But let’s pretend the winger gets the puck on the half-wall. He has 1 real option:

    1. Kick it square across to the center.

    2. Chip it past the opposing d-man and out, icing it or otherwise relinquishing posession.

    3. Try a risky stretch pass cross-ice to the other winger which even if successful will only result in a 1 on 2 attack.

    4. Deke a guy.

    5. Drop it back to the d-man in which case we repeat the first process all over.

    Not many choices are there? The solution? Puck support.The Oilers break out too far apart from each other, leaving the puck carrier with few options. These young forwards seem to think that the only way to score is on the rush and by leaving the zone early.

    Until these top 6ers, the core of our team, realize how to defend and support the puck together in their own zone, little progress is going to be made. Until that time, Eakins is going to have to spank these kids and put them to bed without their supper for not doing their homework.

    THIS is why teams focus on defense. All the firepower in the world can’t help you get out of your own zone. Ekblad or Ehrhoff or both won’t change that.

    • A-Mc

      I gripe about this as well.

      Often the forwards have blown the zone, leaving the 2 defensemen to pass the puck back and forth to one another. As soon as those defensemen are pressured for any reason, the likelihood of a successful pass up to the forwards takes a huge hit.

      The other part of this (and you touched on this a little) is that when a forward DOES get the puck, he has no real passing options because his line mates are perfectly horizontal to him. Moving the puck laterally doesn’t progress the play forward at all.

      Good teams design break outs where the puck carrier moves around to draw defenders and create holes in the coverage. The set play banks on these holes and dictates that another player be crossing over to get open in said hole. Currently, when the Oilers DO attempt to dart laterally and head for open ice, the play goes offside. I BELIEVE this is because (see Point #1) the forwards are getting the puck too far down the ice and now have no room to make a play. The Blueline is a brick wall until the puck crosses it, so 2 of the 3 forwards should be well back of the centerline so that most of the neutral zone can be used to create a clean entry into the offensive zone.

      The Oilers don’t seem to do this very well. They attempt it with a drop pass but with the puck carrier not really crossing over at all, the drop pass goes to a player that is still being covered by the same Defender that was covering the previous puck carrier. Ie: They are dropping the puck back to players that are already in lanes being covered by a player. The 1st part is being missed entirely – the creation of an open lane.

  • 24% body fat

    In that Parise article he says that forwards who are offensive and arent good defensively are critisized but forwards who are good defensively and not offensively arent.

    Lets look at this.

    1. Offensive players are paid more, therefore more should be expected from them.

    2. More often than not elite forwards who have no defensive game is from lack of trying. If you have a good enough knowledge of the game to be a top point producer can you not think like that in your defensive zone (wait for the Gagner comment)
    and make your coverage.

    3. Forwards that can’t produce offense but play very good defensively have usually made the effort to adapt their game. They can not be taught how to score so the work hard to stay in the league and have a role carved out for them. Giving up the glory of what you were in junior so you can stay in the NHL as opposed to the Robbie Schremp one dimension all or nothing shows that you will do what it takes to stay in the league.

    I get what Parise was getting at with coaching offense out of the game, but the way he backed it up was ridiculous. Me thinks he is mad that the States can’t get through a sound defense to win a medal.

    We expect more from people who get paid more! We applaud people who adapt to achieve! We don’t have time for talented over priced people who do not put in effort when they have been given everything to succeed while we work our but off for what we have and who we love.

  • toprightcorner

    Ugh, I mean I know the rest of the season will be spent again wondering what the Oilers do at the draft but are there no better story lines to follow? How far away is Nuge on his two way play from say, Datsyuk?

    This many years into his NHL career, how is Hall stacking up as an LW?

    Eberle or Yak, make a case to trade one and what could they net?

    Addition by subtraction, just how better off would the OIlers be if Arcobello took over the second line centre job?

    Free agent shopping list, is it time to overpay? And if so, who is going to shake lose, and how much money will it cost to gets them? Who are these players? Are they stop gaps until we can develop some of our D prospects or are they long term solutions?

    Given the small sample size, just how good is Scrivens anyway? Are we talking Schnider territory?

      • YAKCITY64

        It will be interesting to see what he can do with the team next year. I’m equally as excited about Fasth. I know he had a crap showing this year in five games, but last year the guy was incredible. We may have just nabbed the next Ben Bishop.

          • Zarny

            At the moment I am leaning that way as well. I would compare the tandem to the likes of Halak and Elliot, who were both pretty raw when they took over as the tandem for the Blues, but were certainly serviceable goalies.

            However, Reimer was also primed to be LA’s number one before the emergence of Quick, so you never know what can happen, especially when it comes to goalies.

            On the note of Lou, what is Gillies doing? I mean, I know TambLowelinni was bad, but he is finding new ways to be worse. Him and Garth Snow are reading from the same book. At the very least I feel as though our GM is trying to make our team better not worse.

          • ubermiguel

            Re: Gillis. I’m not sure if even Lowe would have messed up with Schneider and Lou as badly as he did. For arguably 2 of the top 6/7 goalies in the league he got a 9th overall (all looks good, but you never know), a big non-physical strong 3C/weakish 2C & a failing G prospect and he’s paying 15% of Lou’s cheque. Although he did get himself out of the horrible Luongo contract (so long as Lou doesn’t retire before he’s 47 or something), which Gillis gave him.

            Any remotely good player has an NTC. So now he gets to deal Kesler and the 4 or 5 teams he can talk to all know he’s over a barrel. Hey Van. it’s time to rebuild/retool! bring in youth! and we just resigned the Sedins for $7M per for 4 more years…at which point they’ll be 38.

            It’s no wonder he’s always the smartest guy in the room because I sure can’t figure out what the plan is. Who cares we get to enjoy the heck out of watching Canuck fans scream and cry.

  • YAKCITY64

    Man it’s like this is Russia and Eakins and his buddies in the media are Putin and the oiler fans are the Russian people. We have lived through all of your promises and propaganda and nothing has changed. The worst thing is like all regimes is you think the people are idiots and you can fool us with your propaganda sorry guys WE ARE NOT FOOLED.

  • CaptainLander

    You make a great point about the Oil D, never really thought about how having a weak d makes it harder for the forwards to improve as they do not get a regular opportunity to play against really good players.

    Same can be said for the d, when the Oil top player are not driving to the net on every play in practice how does the d learn to defend against the Toews of the NHL.

    Just a perpetual motion machine of suck.

  • Listening to this on the radio the other day, all I could think about was AI’s practice video haha…

    But on a serious note, Gretzky on his Friday breakfast said what made them the best was hard practice, how they all pushed themselves to be the best, I hope Eakins was listening to that.

    • A-Mc

      Eh… You just contradicted focus in your last sentence.

      “how they all pushed themselves to be the best, i hope Eakins was listening to that”.

      The players need to push themselves and each other. At the end of the day, they are the ones on the ice. They are the ones directly responsible for wins and losses. They are the ones making all the big bucks. Eakins is doing his part: the rest is up to the players.

  • toprightcorner

    I agree that the practices need to be pushed to instill those habits and love the Wings mantra of “no bad passes”.

    I understand with a new coach and system that there will be more whiteboard work on systems play. The fact that through training camp and 65 games they still require a lot of whiteboard time shows how the overall talent level, learning level and structure acceptance level is not good at all.

    Not sure if that is not buying in to the system or the system require high quality of execution to succeed that the players cannot provide but it again clearly states that the players are not good enough as a group to be a good team.

    To many playing as individuals instead of playing as a team.

  • YAKCITY64

    Please, can everyone stop saying the Oilers should be more like Team Canada. I mean we can’t even make the playoffs and you think our team should be more like one of the greatest hockey teams ever constructed? Oh, and if we could only play defence like a team who’s defence was so good they left off last year’s Vezina winner.

    Let’s make some more realistic goals for our team here everyone. I think being more like Pitsburgh isn’t out of the question as their defensive make up isn’t that unrealistic.

  • A-Mc

    I really like that tidbit about the Redwings no-bad-passes rule. It’s interesting because i think something like that could really help the Oilers.

    I think there are a number of games where poor passing is the real culprit to the criticism of poor pace. Every time a pass is missed, the play slows to a crawl or dies. There are many nights that the Oilers just cannot seem to make a clean crisp pass. Conversely, the games where the Oilers are “flying”, the passing is excellent!

  • ubermiguel

    A good team fire their coaches not because those coaches just suddenly become bad, it is just philosophy change that needed for team either on the verge of rebuild or on the verge of greater success. Coach also has different type as much so as players, some coach is mentor type that focus mainly of developing each individual’s ability to excel. Some coach is tactical type who focus on winning majority of games throughout the entire season. Some coach is strategy type who will adjust and tweak team on every single shift to get them the win for each and every game. What type of coach do you think that Eakins is?

    Here is a better question for anyone who think that Eakins shouldn’t be fired: other than the so-called “consistency” reason, any other reason regarding his coaching ability that he should remain?

    • A good team fire their coaches not because those coaches just suddenly become bad, it is just philosophy change…

      That sure is a lot of philosophy changes in the last few years. I sure wish they would play good hockey instead.

      • ubermiguel

        Unfortunately, that was management’s error for not realize what kind of coach is needed for this team. Renney to Kreuger was not much of philosophy change and at least it was slowly but steady working for Oil at time. Suddenly that is too slow for current management so they went to hire golden boy to coach this team.

        • Ahhh yes the golden years of Renney/Krueger. Man, those were some good years. We hoisted our golf clubs high above our heads then! Yes we did.

          How about this: Until you invent a time machine and we can go back and fix everything to those glory days where we were picking 7th overall, how about we put some blame on the guys holding the hockey sticks?

          Or, have you tried putting your pants on other-leg-first? That may work as well. You have to try it many times to see if it works. It may help to spin around 3 times while whispering ‘Avalokiteśvara’.

          What part of FIVE different coaches since 2009 do you NOT understand, man?

          • What not to understand? Do you like to break down one-by-one for each of the past coaches?

            MacT was having simply a bad team when he was the coach with no talent, no structure, no hope. 6lings let him go to hide his own wrong doing due to overpaying bunch of at best third line players and lost all core players through trades or FAs. At time I hope that you still remember all the ridiculous claim that Hossa, Jagr, and Heatley’s name were just throwing around in hope of a great future. Then MacT was replaced by Quinn who at time was supposed to be Renney’s job but 6lings wanted to have big name coach to lure FAs which didn’t work out and finish dead last. He realized that mistake and quickly hand the job over to Renney but it was even a more broken team from last year of MacT, Hall is not Ovi nor Crosby which he did not made immediate impact which is understandable. Along with Eberle that the team finish last place again was not a big surprise. After that, team added RNH to the roster which team was slowly getting out of basement on Renney’s second year. At time that Tambo was trying to save his own ass so he fired Renney for team has not been good enough and replace him with Kreuger, the firing of Renney was not justified and so was Kreuger. So, you were clearly being delusional believing that the team was ready for the big dance just like the current Oilers managements. Those coaches should not be fired at first place, it was just everyone trying to save their own ass by blaming it on the coaches. However, even from the beginning of this season, VERY BEGINNING OF THIS SEASON, that there was virtually no sign whatsoever that Eakins has a clue at all. I have never want Oilers to fire any of the previous coaches before because the realistic view of this team needs time to get better before they can compete. Then we have a crackpot believed he is the savior of franchise as HC, he should be fired not simply because this team is bad. He should be fired because he just simply can’t coach!

            Fire Eakins! Fire Eakins! Fire Eakins!