AREA 51: NO SECRETS HERE

Today is Hockey Day in Canada for the rest of the country but it’s Groundhog Day for fans of the Edmonton Oilers as they were treated to more of the same song and dance in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Familiar stuff.

After playing 30 decent minutes of road hockey and building a 1-0 lead through 40 minutes, the Oilers spent the final 20 minutes of regulation time and overtime on their heels and looking over their shoulders waiting for something bad to happen.

Sure enough, it did — rookie Jacob Trouba notched the winner with his second of the game, sending the Oilers packing for home with a charity point from a four-game road trip that saw them go 0-3-1 and drop to 15-30-6 for 36 points through 51 games.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

How did this one get away? Let us count the ways.

. . . Up 1-0, the Oilers survived a Winnipeg power play early in the third period and then went on a man-advantage of their own with a chance to put the Jets away. Instead, they gave up their NHL-worst ninth shorthanded goal of the season as Trouba got his first of two to make it 1-1.

. . . . The Oilers spent most of the rest of the period on the ropes as the Jets picked up their fore-check and poured it on, outshooting them 13-2 at one point and 13-5 overall. Edmonton got to overtime when David Perron’s deflection made it 2-2.

. . . In a game where Edmonton’s defense again lost too many battles of the body and for the puck, Trouba, a rookie, outmuscled Belov for ice in front of the net – depositing him behind Ilya Bryagalov with a cross-check – on the winner. For his part, Jeff Petry couldn’t get a handle on the puck or his man, Blake Wheeler. Belov and Petry both had forgettable games.

Coach Dallas Eakins, via the team Twitter feed, summed it up this way:

Previously, the team feed tweeted:

RINSE AND REPEAT

What we’re seeing, and have seen since this season began, is an overmatched group on defense with players like Petry, who played 24:49, being pushed into minutes and roles they aren’t capable of handling. That isn’t going to change until the personnel does.

Be it turnovers, slack play on gaps or the inability to withstand any kind of physical onslaught by opposing forwards, the options Eakins has on defense aren’t getting it done – locking things down with a lead, handling pressure on the fore-check or withstanding, let alone initiating, physical play.

Bryzgalov stopped 36 of the 39 shots he faced. Goaltending wasn’t the problem against the Jets. The weakness of the defensive corps assembled by GM Craig MacTavish and utilized by Eakins was, and is.

As long as this group stays the same, the results won’t change.

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

  • camdog

    So in other words this team needs a guy that can play in front of our own net, a guy that doesn’t get pushed around. A player that can help Petry do the dirty work. A guy that block pucks with face type…

    Too bad Eakins/Mact didn’t realize that they needed this type of player when they traded Smid!!! At the time of course it looked like Belov would be able to handle some of the SMid minutes. Mact jumped the gun here and it has hurt this team a lot.

  • We could build a brick wall in front of our net and still lose with the defensemen we have on this team and the lack of commitment from the forwards to do what’s necessary to win hockey games. Goaltending was never the problem this season and how many goaltenders later have come and gone and we’ve seen the same results. I suppose they’re all just really terrible goalies and were it not for them, we’d totally be in contention for the SCF.

    At least, that’s what the Oilers brass seems to think. It’s honestly embarassing at this point that we’ve gone this long and had this many transactions all season long and the only defense related one we’ve made was to ship OUT D rather than bringing them in.

    Can’t wait to see what MacT does at the deadline line to bring in more 4th line players and draft picks.

  • You’re absolutely right robin!….Petry on the last two goals was just awful!… He’s got to learn to play the man and not worry so much about the puck. He is truly out of his element being a first pairing defenseman!

  • Kr55

    Just need to be patient. I know we have a bad team, bad coaching and bad management. Don’t worry though, one day all of the other teams in the league will just stop trying and let us catch up to them. 29 teams will do a “Kevin Lowe Rebuild” at the same time and decide trying to win is a bad plan. Just need to wait a little bit longer.

    Too sarcastic? Sorry, but that’s pretty much what Lowe and MacT are asking the fans to do. They have no idea what they’re doing. Our only hope with them in charge is for the entire rest of the NHL to falter and let us jump to the front of the line.