Slow but steady

When Craig Mactavish took over as Oilers GM he said the Oilers needed to be harder to play against. Move by move he is slowly grinding this Oiler team in that direction.

Since taking over he has added Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, David Perron, Luke Gazdic and most recently Matt Hendricks.

This is a group of players that should make playing against the Oilers less enjoyable than it has been. Nearly every game this year, teams play against the Oilers and their teams trainers don’t even bother turning on the ice machine. There is no need for ice bags. These games are not physical.

That had to change. The Oilers inability to challenge teams physically or even match it has been a big issue. Take a look at the Pacific Division! These are big heavy teams, with skill, that most nights push the Oilers around. I don’t even want to think about the oilers matching up in a seven-game playoff series against the Kings or Blues! They would lose in three.

Hendricks is a player I thought the Oilers needed to bring in last summer. I have no issue with his cap hit per year. The cap will continue to go up and the Oilers are not in a cap crunch. The issue is the term. I wonder what Hendricks will bring in year four.

He is a physical player that should, I hope, help the oilers connect emotionally with their games. You can’t win or have success in the NHL without passion and emotion in your game. This Oilers squad is vanilla basically to a man. There are a few exceptions but not enough. I hope Hendricks comes into the dressing room and stirs up the pot. On the ice, I expect him to chirp and drag other guys into getting pissed off!

Think back to when Yakupov got into it with basically the whole Winnipeg Jets team. It was beautiful! That is one of the few times I saw the Oilers bench on their feet and passion on the guys faces. There is no stat to measure the value of passion but I know it is so important to team moral and confidence. Without it, a team sleep walks through games.

There is still work to be done for MacT. He needs to find a way to bring in edgy players to the top six forwards. These players are hard to get. Sorting out the bottom six is the easier job but slowly the team is starting to get some heart.

Old Goalie out, New Goalie in

Does this even matter? NO. It doesn’t.

The overall team defence hasn’t changed for the Oilers. Why should we expect Ben Scrivens to come in and have more success? This isn’t me saying Scrivens can’t be a decent goalie. The facts are that any goalie with an Oilers jersey will see shots and chances against that he will not believe.

Scrivens has been playing behind the Los Angeles Kings and that group controls shots against as good as any team in the NHL. Scrivens is in for rude wakeup call here. He will need to be on his toes the whole sixty minutes.

I like the test drive that the rest of the season brings for the oilers to watch Scrivens up close. I am not convinced he is an upgrade on Dubnyk but we can all watch him close up and form an opinion. Keep an eye on his glove had. He holds it to high which makes most saves a downward motion instead of up. That is the harder way.

I see no reason why Scrivens shouldn’t start the bulk of the games the rest of this season. I would expect that Bryz will not be back with the oilers next year. So far he has done nothing to suggest he is the man for the Oilers. I think the team will look to a potential UFA like Jaroslav Halak or Jonas Hiller or make a trade for a guy like Cam Ward. The backup will most likely by Scrivens. In other words: two new goalies to start next season.

I believe Dubnyk is a good goalie. He is the luckiest person in Edmonton right now. He probably skipped all the way to Nashville. The Predators have a history of building goalies. The Preds play a pretty good defensive game. Dubnyk will get a chance to work with Mitch Corn, the Preds goalie coach. He has had success with tall goalies.

Public Breakups

I witnessed a breakup at Starbucks this morning. In fact I had a front row seat and decided to live tweet it! Surrounded by 20 or so people this lady gave her man an outright release.

I don’t normally get into other peoples nightmares but I was literally sitting right beside them. Once it started I couldn’t stop listening.

This poor guy was dropped like he was hot over a double chai latte. I will give him credit he did fight for it but she wasn’t buying his "I will change" or "You deserve better from me" lines.

She shut him down and was convinced a breakup was the right way to go. This is where it got painful to watch.

Judging by their conversation I would guess they hadn’t been together long. But this guy was determined not to lose her! It was embarrassing to say the least. At some point shouldn’t you just take your lumps and move on? Not this guy! It wasn’t like Jen Aniston was breaking up with him.

In the end they both got up and gave the most awkward hug I have ever seen. she says "We will be in touch soon". From what I saw there is no chance that will happen.

What is the right way to break up with someone these days? I know for sure doing it at Starbucks at 9:30 AM is a very cold way to do it.

I guess it is better than by text.

  • outdoorzguy

    I love the ringing endorsement Ben Scrivens gave Eakins………it was like yea I played for him, when asked what he thought about Eakins.

    Struds, you said that players never tell the media anything…….totally true, but if you read body language, or the subtle nuances of language delivery, Scrivens bascially told everyone he is not a fan of Eakins.

    I know one thing, the whole BPA strategy the Oilers follow is pure poison. It guarantees you will have a bunch of similar players, all trying to be stars. Most teams take what they need, if the skill separation is close, not us. We take the same type of player over and over again. Now we have a bunch of Hobbits that can’t win a game and have collectively tanked their value.

    While Mac T keeps shuffling the chairs on the Titanic, Lowe keeps polishing his six rings!

    • pkam

      Kureger was out of Edmonton. I don’t know where he was at the time. I heard he might be in Toronto or Switzerland.

      So what other options does MacT have? Text Kureger, call Kureger, ask Kureger to fly back to Edmonton to tell him face to face that he is fired, or MacT flied all the way to tell Kureger face to face he is fired, or Skype him? Any other option that I miss?

      And which one do you thing is the most appropriate choice?

      • reaperfunkss

        You show class and treat the man with dignity and fly out to meet with him. MacT said coaching wasn’t the problem then fires him after talking on the phone with Eakins.

        Talk about bad karma.

        • Joy S. Lee

          That’s a really interesting point, and an actual problem with this teams’ management, to be blunt. They’ve had how many of these bad karma situations over the years? Too many to go into here, because why relive the pain, right?

          But that bad karma ‘bug’ seems to haunt these guys. You might be closer to the truth in this, buddy, than even you realized. Perhaps it’s a part of the fundamental belief system that’s not serving them so well. Whose belief system and whose belief or beliefs, I don’t know, and it’s not for me to speculate, actually. But, the publicly embarrassing gaff’s this team has endured, to go along with the product on the ice, well…there’s something stinking up the henhouse.

          Ok, maybe it is time for me to speculate, just like all you other speculators on here. I think it has come to the point where they need some new direction at the top, sorry Mr. Lowe, but you can’t say you didn’t have a fair shot. New thinking is required to fix the old thinking, and the only way to get new thinking is to change the thinker. Good luck in your new endeavours, though. I still think your jersey should be hanging in the rafters, too. You were a very valuable contributor to the success of the greatest hockey team in history. Despite all those Stanley cup rings you want to brag about as if it makes you impervious to criticism, you did earn them, and you helped bring a lot of joy to Edmonton. I’m appreciative of that, but quite honestly, maybe not so much of what you’ve managed to accomplish in a management role. You were supposed to be pre-ordained for management, according to one of your predecessors, I believe it was, along with some media types, but maybe that’s not where your talents lie.

          Jeez, couldn’t help myself. I’ve been hearing so much about it for so long, it just got to me. And, I guess I’m finding myself on the side against Mr. Lowe’s continuing role with the hockey team. I didn’t really know that going in, either, as I’ve been on the fence, liked some of the things he’s done. But I’m not going to argue with my own logic. That’ll be for someone else, here. Wouldn’t be first time I was wrong, either, if that’s the case, because the hard truth is, I have no concrete idea how much the guy actually contributes to the organization. I’m not working with him. You don’t know, either. But we can guess, and that’s all we’re doing here, even those of us who claim to KNOW, and state it in such ways as to supposedly remove all doubt. Like life, the business of hockey has become a fluid thing. Those who keep up with that fluid change are the ones who flourish. Actually, even more so, those who create it are. Meanwhile, those that remain as they are, thinking the way they’ve always thought, pretending past success dictates future results, well…they get left behind. And their hockey teams go with them. And, finally, that’s all I’m saying…

          • gus1000

            Well said Joy S. Lee. I think your last comments summarize the what has been driving this team for quite some time now and why it is so flawed. The leadership group of the Oilers still firmly believe they are ahead of the curve because they won cups as players. However, time and time again they are showing they are well behind the rest of the league and are not able to evolve fast enough to come anywhere close to catching up, especially when the only new minds we bring in are friends of Lowe, some who have been employed by Lowe another time in the past.

            This leadership group is doomed in its current state. Katz needs to poach a smart hockey mind from a successful organization and let that person take the reins as president if he ever wants this team to compete the NHL again.

        • Rick Stroppel

          CLASSY GUY

          I heard an interview of Kreuger where he talked about the firing. He was in Switzerland, at home. His wife was in the next room. Krueger was asked how he reacted and he said something like “I was OK but my wife was swearing a blue streak”. By now Krueger has probably figured out that he is well out of this endless cluster-fug.

          Krueger is a classy guy, unlike those arrogant braggarts Lowe and MacTavish. Edmonton is a SMALL POND. You might be arrogant too if fans and media were pumping your tires FOR YEARS despite your obvious failure. Posters on this site continue to praise MacTavish. Using big words (often I appropriately) does not make you an intelligent person. Somebody please tell me what MacTavish has accomplished in the last seven years. How many decades do you propose to give him to turn the team around?

        • pkam

          I disagree with you. I think it is very rude to call Kureger in to tell him the bad news. And it is unnecessary to fly all the way just to tell him the bad news. Text is totally lack of respect. Skype is better than a phone call.

          MacT never said Kureger was the problem. He said he found a better coach that he believed could help the team more so he made a hard decision. He already said it was unfair to Kureger.

          Are you suggesting that he shouldn’t make any change that he thought would improve the team? Why would we want a GM who will not do what he thinks will improve the team? You can question his ability or judgement, but how can you blame him for trying?

  • Hemmercules

    I really would like to know what Mact thinks of the coaching right now. He was coach for years and he’s upstairs watching this fiasco every game. I hope he has enough balls the clean that bench when the Oilers finish with their worst record ever.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    Interesting you make mention of a painful breakup, after telling us about the deckchair shuffling that MacT is doing with the Oiler roster.

    Thats about how I feel with the Oil. I don’t think this is going to work. We both deserve better. It’s not you, it’s me.

    No, it’s actually you. I want to date a real hockey team. Maybe we should see other people.

    Thanks for the memories. (Awkward hug)

      • Hemmercules

        Except in Jason’s story the guy was actually trying to hold on to the girl.

        In our case, I don’t even think the object of our affection cares one way or the other what we do. They just want us to pick up the tab.

        I don’t know if that makes the breakup more painful, or less.

  • The Real Scuba Steve

    It’s not working, I’m sorry but I see teams like Colorado making more progress that the Oilers have done. The Oiler brain trust made this rebuild a joke, Oilers need to be gritty like sandpaper but need to play the swarm.
    Let’s put Taylor Hall at centre and see how that goes Messier did it 30 years ago so Hall should have no problems. They wait to the off season to signing UFA’s only to be shot down every year. Why would Jaroslav Halak or Jonas Hiller want to sign here? I bet you they will take less money to go some where else, all this patience and wait till the off season to regroup is killing the Oilers, we are going to break that 10 year without playoff appearance record.

  • vetinari

    I agree that we need a better mix and balance of players but we stubbornly are trying to re-create the Flyers, or Chicago, or the Maple Leafs without success.

    Basically, play to your team’s strengths. Krueger seemed to do that better than Eakins. We have a small, young team so use your speed to drive the zone and take control of the centre of the ice for possible one-timers, dekes and shots off the rush– be content with being outshot if you could make your chances count. Not ideal but a necessary evil given the type of team that we had. Yes, they needed to be better defensively, and they needed bigger bodies in some parts of the lineup, but at least they were heading in the right direction.

    Eakins is coaching a small team to try and play like a big, physical team, and you can see our results. Yes, we’re hitting more and yes, we’re blocking more and yes, we have reduced the shots against by a bit, but the offensive pop is gone from our game, the players look like they are on a death march, and our defence is in shambles– a young Marty Broduer couldn’t backstop this team to success. So why do we try the same tactics over and over if they are not successful?

    We seem to be assembling the team that Eakins wants to coach and not use the team that we have properly (which, I would argue, Krueger did with better success).

    As for the breakup— that was cold! In a public place– what’s a guy to do. The only thing worse is if the staff suddenly turned into a Glee flashmob and helped her breakup with him in song–

    “We’re so happy to see you, but sad to say, she’s going to dump your a$$ today!” [jazz hands…]

    • Visually McDavid

      I was reading the Hockey News People of Power and Influence issue and Patrick Roy was ranked somewhere in the top 20 I believe. What struck me about the piece was Matt Duchene’s glowing comments about Roy and the system that he implemented in Colorado this year. At one point he says something like “it is impossible to overstate Patrick’s contribution to the team’s success this year.”

      Of course I can’t link the article, but I did find this old story from the Denver Post where Duchene says many of the same things:

      I thought it was interesting that Duchene felt that the old system implemented by Sacco didn’t fit the team that they actually had, whereas Roy has them playing in a way that utilizes their obvious strengths – speed and skill.

      Anyway I’m not saying that the Oilers don’t have glaring holes that need to be addressed or that coaching is the sole reason that they are flirting with dead last once again. However, I also don’t remember the team looking this disengaged in the past and it makes most games utterly joyless to watch. As an Oil fan I know a thing or two about losing and I don’t think their dismal record alone explains why I can’t bring myself to watch the third period most nights.

      Maybe Eakins is a coaching prodigy and he will eventually revolutionize not only the Oil, but the NHL as a whole. Maybe not. I do think these Duchene interviews suggest that from the perspective of a young, elite player, on a team full of young, elite players, the right coach and system can make a huge difference to a team’s success.

    • pkam

      I listened to almost all the post practice and and pregame interviews, all I hear from Eakins was to beat our opponents with speed and skill.

      He didn’t tried to coach to team to play like a big team. You can argue that he is not very successful, but you can’t say that is his intend.

  • outdoorzguy

    I hope the 4 idiots don’t make it to Winnipeg. But when we lose on Saturday afternoon, that should be their last game behind the bench. If it’s not, this once proud franchise will have become an abortion of a supposed professional sports organization.

  • papler

    Gagner is a black hole. He can’t play center and since moving to the wing he has proven unable to accept or make a pass, his decisions are those of a rookie lacking confidence, his positioning is poor and his results have been non existent.

    If he is not traded at the deadline then the Oilers are doomed to another season of futility. Oilers have to draft a good center at the draft in June. Even a raw rookie will contribute more than Gags (particularily apt nick name).

    As for trades, even if the Oilers have to overpay they need to upgrade their defensive top 6. The pro scouts should be able to identify a player (or two) to be realistically targeted. If not, why are they being paid?

    • Puck JammeR!

      My friends say I have Gagneritous….and its nice to see that Im not the only one with this contagious disease…this guy is the #1 problem and like the comment said…he cant take a pass and is so scared to accept one that’s the others teams are even passing to this idiot…send him back to a Midget B and bring in a Saskatchewan farm boy…ha

  • camdog

    “He is a physical player that should, I hope, help the oilers connect emotionally with their games. You can’t win or have success in the NHL without passion and emotion in your game. This Oilers squad is vanilla basically to a man. There are a few exceptions but not enough. I hope Hendricks comes into the dressing room and stirs up the pot. On the ice, I expect him to chirp and drag other guys into getting pissed off!”

    Basically we replaced Brown with Hendricks, just looks like musical chairs to me…

    • papler

      Exactly. And we switched a 3rd round pick for a fourth rounder.

      Dubnyk, Brown and a 3rd out
      Scrivens, Hendricks and a 4th in

      Going sideways and it is called progress… mind boggling

      • paul wodehouse

        … so I get TWO trashes and thankfully ONE prop for shooting out for my friend Q…who’s been LIVING with cancer for quite some time…

        dunno if barry.moore23 really does miss OUR friend but…iffen yur OK Q please check in at your earliest convenience…

        OH>>>and God Bless

  • Big Cap

    These “minor league” trades and “tweaks” to make our roster a little deeper are fine.

    But, there is NO way I trust our current management group to pull off the Big Blockbuster that involves one of our “A-Listers”. You only get one chance and I’d bet my last dollar the wouldn’t end in out favor!

  • Big Cap

    Jason – do you think that the Oilers have a ‘structural’ problem in their organization when it comes to teaching team defence?

    Is there some aspect of whatever’s going on between the ECHL/AHL/NHL assistant and head coaches that has resulted in this team-wide inability to identify basic D-zone coverage?

    Trades aside, what do you think is the best way to improve this team’s defensive play?

  • Jason Gregor

    Harder to play against? Fistric was our one hard as nails D man who apparently can play for the best team in the league…..but not the Oilers. We didn’t need to get softer on D but did. This team is in a spiral. Sycophantic apologists aside.