The Perfect Storm

I love George Clooney. Call it a man crush! The guy has got style. He is the only person I know that can make a tuxedo look casual at the same time as formal. He has got it going on. How about his hair! Wow. Sick loaf. That salt and pepper look seems to really work it way into the ladies hearts. Probably doesn’t hurt that he has a great place to take them to his house in Lake Como, Italy.

I admire his acting ability. He makes it look so easy. In my opinion one of his best is The Perfect Storm. This about a boat of fisherman who get caught in one of the worst storms of the century and how they try to overcome. Multiple storms converge on their location creating a super storm.

In many ways this Oilers season has been a similar story line. Multiple issues all seemingly unrelated that intertwine to bring Oilers fan pain.

Storm #1— Youth and inexperience throughout most of the heavy minute eaters.

This group which includes Hall, Nuge, Yak, Eberle, Petry and J. Schultz. They are near the top for ice time each night. Although Yakupov is not at the top for ice time, he is near the top for creating goals against by his mistakes.

Playing against the oppositions top lines most nights has put a spotlight on how much this group of players need to learn. They are starting to understand how to play away from the puck. Unfortunately the only way to learn is through experience.

Storm #2—Unstable goaltending.

The Oilers overall team defence is not good. This puts a lot of pressure on the goaltending to make big saves on grade A chances. The two goalies who started the season here are now gone as a result of that. Bryzgalov and Scrivens are now the two under the gun.

All four goaltenders, this season, are not starting goaltenders. The have been in the past and could be in the future. This Oilers team needs a legit starting goalie. Not someone past their prime or a goalie trying to find out if they can play sixty consistent games a season. They need a solid starter. That goalie is not in the organization today.

Storm #3—Inexperienced coach

For many people Dallas Eakins was the best of the up and coming young coaches outside the NHL. He had success in the AHL and some coaching experience in the NHL as an assistant.

Looking from the outside I believe Eakins thought this team was a lot closer to being competitive than it actually was. There has not been a part of the Oilers game or a player that has been consistent all year. He must feel like he has been running from place to place putting out fires.

The goaltending, specialty teams, forecheck and all four lines have at different points this season been way out of sync. So not only has he had to deal with every aspect of the team but also learn how to coach against the top coaches in the world.

Just like players learning to compete against top players, Eakins has been dealing with in game adjustments and curveballs from coaches with over one thousand games coached in the NHL. He learning curve has been a steep one this year.

Storm #4—Inexperienced GM

MacT took over as GM with very little experience in the position. I like him as a person and as I coach I really liked playing for him. Being a GM is whole different game.

He is well spoken and fired up the Oilers fans with his promises of making change and a "Bold Move". Great to say but as I believe he has found out very hard to deliver.

He has made trades but I don’t think any of them so far will be talked about years from now. He is learning the NHL GM job on the fly and maybe he has been dealing with curveballs from other super experienced guys around the league.

This is a lot of inexperience for a team to overcome. There are teams that deal with some of these "storms" but very few that have all four combine in the same season. It has put a lot of strain on the team. Strain they have not been able to handle this year.

Next year Eakins and MacT with both have a year under their belts. The skaters will also have another year of learning. The issue for me is goaltending. This team needs a goalie, a legit number one goalie. Not a goalie of the future or of the past, a "now" goalie.

A legit starter knows he is a starter. He doesn’t doubt himself after a rough night. He doesn’t get to high after an incredible game. He knows how to come back and be solid after a great or terrible night.

The Oilers need stability between the pipes. This goalie will let the odd goal in and at times will look weak unless the team in front of him improves their defensive play. But he will know how to handle both of these situations because he has been through them before. He isn’t going through it for the first time.

There is a scene in The Perfect Storm where the clouds thin out and the darkness lightens to the point where the sun shines down on the Clooney’s boat. For a second you pray that it is over and that everything will be ok. Just as quickly as the sun comes out it is gone again and the storm swallows up the boat.

We haven’t seen to many rays of sunshine this season. I hope when we do it doesn’t mean the end is near.

In Your Head

I watched the Flames/Canucks game Saturday night. It was an entertaining game. Five fights to start the game was something to see.

I don’t mind it at all. The Flames wanted to set the tone in the Canucks building. Torts decided to send out his line to counter at the aggressiveness. The fights followed and eight players tossed. No big deal. No one was hurt. Move on and play the game.

I know that Hartley did it to rattle Torts. He got more than he could have hoped for as a response for Torts. Torts went nuts. After the first period he walked down to the Flames room and tried to get to Hartley.

This was a big mistake by Torts. Big mistake. He was completely out of control. As a coach you set the tone for your team. Your team follows you. Hartley was right inside Torts head and he made it look so easy by ignoring him!

Hartley was coaching in Hersey when I was in the minors. He was always chirping other teams’ players saying he was going to send different players after us to beat us up. I would just laugh and say send them out. I can’t wait. He was trying to get in our heads. My teammates and I were around twenty one at the time, we could handle it but an experienced NHL coach couldn’t.

There is no excuse for Torts going to the Flames room. He now has an in person hearing for his actions Saturday. I would give him ten games, at least. He needs to be put in his place.

I wonder if long term this hurts the Canucks and Torts. I think it does.

  • I completely disagree about our primary need being a goalie, Struds. A 4×8 sheet of plywood wouldn’t be able to play good enough goalie for this team: they’d have to replace it every period to fix the holes from all the shots.

    I’d rather try to make a sub-par goalie look good by playing sound defense than make a sub-par team look good by our goalie standing on his head every night.

    We need committed 2-way players both on the front and back end. Until our inexperienced bunch realizes this, buys in and plays this way, I am afraid the good ship Oilers will continue to be lost at sea.

  • Zed

    Anyone else notice how small Torts is? Just this little angry Italian bag of hot air. Id probably still take him any day over Eakins though. Eakins could show some more fire and passion, might bring it out of some of his players.

  • Zed

    Struds, Could it be that Eakins was too busy run, swimming, and cycling this last summer? I question if he spent enough time preparing as a “Pro” Coach in the off season.

  • S cottV

    JS – you probably should have kept going up the line to include Kevin Lowe.

    Honestly – the perfect storm was predictable or at least something to be avoided out of a high level gut feel for what works and what doesn’t. Guy’s like Lowe get paid the big bucks for “getting it right” even if sometimes you get a little bit lucky.

    Lowe could have interceded to keep the boat from being exposed to so many variables, over the past several years.

    If it were a situation where the lead guy goes down with the boat, I doubt KLowe would have allowed this to occur, because these variables are just too risky on top of each other.

    No – he believes himself to be too insulated and if the boat goes down, no big problem – others will go down with it and he will get together with Katz to rebuild a new one.

  • Vaclav

    Hey Struds,

    Back in the mid to late 90’s when the Oilers would regularly squeak into the playoffs they were always regarded as one of the best close knit teams. Players loved playing for the organization but more importantly for their fellow teammates. If someone went after Weight or one of the other star players you knew they would have to answer to one of the other Oilers (or the whole line for that matter).

    First game this season Jacob Trouba, playing his first NHL game, tries to take Taylor Hall’s head off with a nasty hit. Not one of Hall’s teammates went after Trouba and they have continued to be everyone’s punching bag.

    What’s happened to the Oilers in this regard? Is there a rift amongst the players in the dressing room? Are they so deflated from years of losing that they’re only playing for themselves or their next contract?

    Of all the things that have been difficult to watch as an Oilers’ fan this season, their lack of support for one another is perhaps the hardest. It truly shows they are not playing as a team.

    I’d love to hear your take on this.

      • Vaclav

        So what you`re saying is that because Smid (a Czech bastard by your account) leveled Scheifele with a hit from behind earlier in the game that the Oilers shouldn`t have come to Hall`s defence after Trouba attempted to end his season?

    • S cottV

      They are doing a remake starring KLowe as the captain. Crewmen will be played by Buchberger, Eakins, Smith and Bill Murray. Its going to be called “The Perfect Groundhog Storm”.

  • A-Mc

    “In my opinion one of his best is The Perfect Storm. This about a boat of fisherman who get caught in one of the worst storms of the century and how they try to overcome. Multiple storms converge on their location creating a super storm.

    In many ways this Oilers season has been a similar story line. Multiple issues all seemingly unrelated that intertwine to bring Oilers fan pain.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the entire crew die in that movie and in real life?

    Hopefully, the storyline isn’t that similar to the Oilers season.

  • A-Mc

    Good read.

    I like your insight on the Torts situation as it seems to be the most clear cut, non bs opinion about the whole thing.

    It is also interesting to hear this perfect storm analogy for the first time this year.

    As everyone has been trying to pin point the problems of the Oilers, it hurts to hear that it might not be one isolated area, but in fact many areas throughout the team that are all compounding each other.

    I noticed you did not mention the defence as one of the storms, or a particular area of it. I’m not sure if this should be included or not, but it seems more like the lack of two way play from the forwards are hurting the defence.

    Anyway, should be interesting to see how the GM tries to get the team out of the storm.

  • A-Mc

    So hysterical yapping is bad.
    But instigating actual violence is cool.
    You must be part of Teh Code that I keep hearing about.
    No wonder pro hockey has the same amount of credibility as WWE.

    Also, the Oilers aren’t George Clooney. They’re Markie Mark. A phenom decades ago. Now exceedingly mediocre yet somehow still highly regarded by fans regardless of output.

    Otherwise, great article.

  • Yogas72

    Which goalie would you go after and when? Now or in the off season? Also, whom would you be willing to part ways with in order to get the No.1?
    If we get a goalie via trade how are we going to land a top D-man? Do the Oilers have enough goods to acquire both through trades?
    IMO, we can probably get one or the other, but not both. But what do I know.

  • Czar

    Now I recognize Tortorella. He’s the guy that cut me off, gave me the finger and then tailgated me all the way home.

    Nutcase. AND bad example for his team.


  • smiliegirl15

    Wasn’t Lowe one for talking about making a big splash when he was GM? Maybe that’s where MacT gets his “bold moves” ideas from. Word to the wise MacT, don’t do what Lowe did – look where it’s gotten us! I know he’s your buddy and all, but learn from his mistakes; don’t imitate him!

    Eakins’ mistake was not bringing in his own guys as assistants and keeping this loser group we currently have. How do they still have jobs is what I’d like to know, especially after their bosses have been fired time and again.

  • Czar

    Good read Struds. Only thing I’d like to mention is MacT is making trades we will be talking about for years to come, because of the past and future “NHL player for magic beans or oil kings” trade. Lots of things to talk about while we wait and wait and read Lowetide about their progress.

  • pkam

    To me it looked like Calgary instigated right off the draw (which he didn’t even attempt to win) and Hartley should be held accountable for his teams actions as well. (They had to get direction from someone)

    • pkam

      Hartley just took a chapter from Torts book.

      Torts set the precedence when he did the same against the Devils in March 2013.

      Did Torts get anything for that incidence? If not why should Hartley be held accountable for giving Torts a taste of his own medicine?

  • Czar

    The goalie is the LAST line of defense – not the ONLY line of defense. We definitely need skill, size and smarts on D (x3) and a bit more size at C. Oops, here I go again, trying the be an armchair coach/GM. Sorry