The Oilers need to make better decisions


The Oilers simply need to play smarter. They played decent for long stretches against the Flames, Canucks and Coyotes, but when they made a mistake it usually was a major gaff that resulted in a goal against.

Right now, the Oilers issues are more about a lack of focus and concentration than the system.

This is not simply a “systems” issue. I’m not making excuses for Eakins, yesterday I wrote about questionable coaching and management decisions, but last night’s loss was not because the Oilers can’t play the system, it was because they made too many egregious errors.

Let’s look at the goals they allowed last night…

The Coyotes have used that stretch pass before on the PP, so this likely was talked about in pre-game scouting, but even it wasn’t, there is no excuse for Petry to leave Boedker that wide open. That is not a system issue. That was a simple lack of awareness by a player who should know better. The other issue is that on the replay it sure didn’t look like there was a lot of chatter/warning coming from the bench. Petry should recognize that himself, but the bench should also help him out.

Scrivens needs to stay in the crease, make better decisions with the puck or have better communication with his teammates. That is the fourth time this year Scrivens has misplayed the puck and it resulted in a goal.

That is a shot your goalie has to stop. Scrivens’ reaction tells me he think he needs to make that save. I don’t see a significant system breakdown. They got the puck out of the zone, but Phoenix had an excellent transition game to get off a decent scoring opportunity, but for me, Scrivens needs to make that save.

Schultz has to protect the net better. That has to become a mantra of all the Oilers D-men. But I’m not sure what Purcell is doing on that shift. Skating around, but not going to any specific area or player. This is the one goal where they were running around in their own zone and making inefficient plays.

Simply a save your goalie has to make. I’m not sure what else you can ask your skaters to do on that rush. I didn’t see a glaring wrong read, or a system breakdown. If Scrivens makes that save, which he should have, that would be classified as a low-rate scoring chance on my chart.

Oilers were down two goals and Yakupov tried a fly by at the blueline. He took a swipe at the puck, but didn’t get it out. I’d hope in a one-goal game he stops and ensures he gets the puck out. It has to become a habit for the entire team, not just him. I think Yakupov has looked much more responsible defensively this year, but like many of his teammates he still needs to work on making the small, simple plays in the D-zone.

After that it was a bit of bad luck for Nurse, and overall I wouldn’t say there was a five-star error during this sequence, but Yakupov’s play highlights an issue with many of the forwards; they need to be more intense on the puck inside their own zone, especially when they are that close to getting the puck across the blueline.

The game was over, but the play by Schultz illustrates a bigger issue. Too often the Oilers don’t make the simple play. Get the puck deep, get the puck out at the blueline and be aware on the ice in all three zones.

Coaching has made some bad personnel decisions, and we’ve discussed those often, but when you have given up 22 goals in 4 games, the players have to look in the mirror. They need to play better, play harder, play smarter.

They should look at Taylor Hall.

Hall’s effort yesterday was outstanding. He has elite skill level, there is no debating that, but Hall plays with passion and a purpose. Sure, he makes some mistakes, but how many Oilers matched his passion last night?

They can’t match his skill, but they have to play as hard as him. If they do, this team will be more competitive, but if they don’t the ugly losses will continue to pile up.

You can’t simply blame the coach for all the failings of the Oilers. 

Recently by Jason Gregor:   

  • Quicksilver ballet

    You guys have to understand something before criticising Jason all the time. Jason is not free to speak his own mind without repercussions from the Oiler management group.

    Jason Gregor is towing the official Oiler company line in order to calm the pi$$ed off masses. If he doesn’t continually give them more rope/benefit of the doubt in his articles, he could very well find certain courtesies afforded him are no longer there for him. He knows full well which side of the slice of bread is buttered.

    Imagine how bad this could get if Kevin Lowe didn’t control the media with an iron fist like this.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We can place all the blame we want on Eakins, or system play, but I’m at the point where I think it just has to be a lack of NHL-level talent.

    Our best players – aside from Hall – really aren’t good enough to win games. We lack NHL talent and NHL experience, and that makes it tough to win anything no matter who the coach is or what the system is.

    Obviously this falls on the GM for player selection and management/coaching for player development.

    I have to think at some point MacT will have to realize that this roster is severly flawed, and start making trades. I don’t see anybody on this roster who isn’t tradeable aside from Hall.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    Is there a policy in place whereby mainstream media can’t criticize Oiler management? In Toronto or Montreal the knives would be out. In Edmonton it’s just one big happy fluffy pillow fight. Are media afraid of losing dressing room access? The swarm experiment to start last year failed. This year it’s the baffling defensive deployments. Any experienced writer should be calling out Eakins. Stop fluffing Eakins JG!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Btw, great post Gregor.

    1, maybe 2 of those goals were a failure to play the system the right way or with enough conviction (the 4th and 6th). Every other goal was basically a horrible mistake by an individual player (Scrivens, Petry, etc.).

    No coaching or system can make up for NHL players making mistakes like that.

    • Daddynuke

      Do you remember the “good talk” Eakins gave them after the opening night heartbreaker? You know, the one where he didn’t want them to start thinking “not this again…just like last year”? Good…you do. Here’s how that spins into this being EXACTLY a systems and coaching issue. When you refuse to ice your best players in their best groupings/pairings and insist on mismanaging the minutes because you are smarter than everyone EVER you set a dangerous process in motion. These players have been made much more mentally fragile because their preparation is substandard. The Flames game was a good effort with some glaring errors and a third period meltdown. Game two was three very fortuitous two-goal leads blown because they couldn’t stay out of the sin bin (and the reffing was atrocious). They were in those games at least but left with little enough reward to build confidence. Since then the mental fragility has been more and more obvious, so please don’t think the individual behaviour hasn’t been driven by the poor coaching and inability to communicate their systems. Not buying it.

    • Daddynuke

      . . . or another way of looking at it:

      Players are being instructed to implement another Dallas Eakins hare-brained revolutionary coaching system in high-speed/high-pressure situations while fighting back conventional hockey-sense that’s been drilled into them since TimBits hockey.

      That goes further to explain the confusion on ice than “horrible mistakes” on “every other goal” against.

      MacTavish, get rid of Eakins before he inevitably drags you out of town with him.

      • beloch

        Fair enough, and definately a possibility; however Scrivens giving away the puck and letting in stinkers has nothing to do with Eakins. Nor does Petry not paying attention and looking over his shoulder.

        But you have a point – I just wonder if it’s a case of the players thinking too much, or not thinking enough? I have no idea.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The more I talk about it the more I sound like Ferrero, the more like the echos from the wall. Except I stronly suggest the coaching staff to consider, with what they got right now, to put a big body in every line, to practice crisp passes in the offensive zones,to try and shoot at the net soon as they receive passes; To finish off checks at their own ends, and let their teammates worry about the biscuit; Start looking for a legitimate no. 1 goalie, no more rethreads! and last but not least, a top two ‘d-man’. And that is just to get to respectability! Is that too much to ask? If it is , then you should consider another line of work!

  • S cottV

    I once worked with a man that was easily the best leader that I have ever been directly exposed to.

    He was a retired Colonel in the US Army and had served in Viet Nam, commanding a mobile battery station in the jungle.

    We were having issues getting the vision and strategy of the company, implemented and executed throughout the ranks within the company.

    One of the many things he said about leadership, has always stuck with me.

    It doesn’t matter how much you look like a leader or talk like a leader or if you appear to be smart enough to be a leader. It all comes down to your ability as a leader to influence your group to do what it is that you want them to do.

    Influence them to execute. If you can do it – you are a leader. If you cant – you’re not.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      God Dam Spankin Rights!!!

      Captain! Oh,My Captain!!

      Semper Fidelis- Always Faithfull

      Sola virtus invicta- Virtue alone is Invincable,….

      Unus pro omnibus,omnes pro uno- One4all,All4one….

      This one is from me to the Oilers and all Warriors.

      ” – Always remaim Faithfull to the Truth you Share for Virtue is Invincable and shall forever bind you one for all,and all for one – ”

      If they are going to draw a line in the sand , dig in and form a Beach-head this might be a good place to begin.

      But who shall be brought forth to carry this Banner for the Oilers? They must tell us,and soon.

  • Bullets Hockey

    Another apologistic article from Gregor defending a coach that most fans see as the problem.

    Here is the thing Gregor, hockey is a game of mistakes, if no mistakes were made there would be no goals scored. We want goals.

    Pointing out the fact that the Oilers are making mistakes is stating the obvious. We keep brininging in players that have had success elsewhere and when they start playing for the Oilers they forget to make a simple pass, can’t skate, and forget how to shoot.

    I’m now sick of people suggesting that coaching has nothing to do with it………it has everything to do with it.

    Having your best defencemen benched is not and example of good coaching. Making line combinations during the season and not the pre-season is NOT and example of good coaching.
    Not being prepard from a player personnel point of view is not good coaching.
    PLayers learning a new system in the regular season is not good coaching.

    The coach is responsible for preparing a team and on that front our group looks disorganized, and concused……..the coach owns that.

    • Jason Gregor

      At least you are consistent in misunderstanding an article. I never defended the coach. I said the goals vs. Phoenix were not a direct result from not understanding the system.

      You and other trot out the term “system” but do you even know what the system is this year? DO you think the system says they should leave the front of the net, or when they are there they should just let guys bang home pucks?

      I wrote yesterday about the coaches mistakes in personnel, but that has nothing to do with the goals they allowed in Phoenix. Did you notice the guy you call the Oilers best D-man allow his man to get a breakaway on the PK. Was that coaching? No, it was a lack of awareness by the player.

      Understand the difference.

      Suggesting that these players are immune to criticism is laughable. They have been the worst team in the league for 5 years, with three different coaches. Blaming only the coach suggests you might not understand how the game is played as much as you think.

      • Bullets Hockey

        By blaming the players you ARE defending the coaches….I didn’t see any of the coaches communicating with Petry that a guy was behind him either.

        Justin Schultz playing 27 minutes….there’s no denying that’s bad coaching. If you can defend that move you are delusional.

        Obviously Eakins is trying to instill a ‘system’ that the players don’t by in to…..that alone proves it will never work.

        Maybe we are confusing ‘lack of awareness by the players’ with lack of respect for the coach and said ‘systems’.

        Eakins is losing this dressing room….how long until someone like Hall wants out?? If that happens it will all be about the coaching and management.

      • Jason Gregor

        Gregor, I get your point but I still stand by the notion that this team was ill-prepared to start the season.

        That is the main point I’m trying to make. Eakins should have had his roster dealt with in the pre-season, we are four games in and still trying to figure who plays, and what the line combinations should be. The defence has been a revolving door of players not suited to play in the NHL, while NHL defenceman either sit or demoted to the NHL.

        How do you feel Petry and Marincin feel………think they want to play for this coach now?

        Lines should always be set for the start of the season……..not during the season.

        The talking hair doll has to take some responsibility for this.

      • I’d also disagree with the suggestion that goals are only scored because of mistakes being made. It totally disregards the fact that elite players with superlative skill can score a goal even if everyone on the defensive side has done their job correctly. Some players can simply pick corners with good shots, and they don’t need someone to make a mistake to facilitate that.

  • Hemmercules

    Trade Jordan Eberle and Jeff Petry to the Bridgeport Sound Tiger for Rob Flick and Zach Trotman. Contingent on both players repaying all salary accrued to date. Sign every Pee Wee aged player in the City to personal service contracts through 2043. Screw the rebuild and just patiently wait for the Western powerhouses to grow, probably quicker than the rebuild anyways. Solved! Are there any Sound Tigers in Saskatchewan? Or did the Newfies club them to extinction after they were done with the Seal Pups?

    • hitchikerforajax

      How can Col. & now looks like Cal., start a rebuild & within 6 months, they have competitive teams?? The Oilers’ “rebuild”, has lasted for 6 yrs. & they look as bad tonight, as they have for those “rebuild” yrs. It’s about time, to get rid of the core players (RNH Eberlie Petry etc) to hopefully get players who have hearts & look like NHL players!! The same players, have done nothing to help this team, at least be competitive & quit making the same stupid plays as in Jr. Hockey. They can start with finally getting rid of Lowe, who has his hand all over this team. Until Lowe goes, this team will continue to struggle!!!

  • Bob Cobb

    “You can’t simply blame the coach for all the failings of the Oilers.”

    Blaming a different cast of players each year should indicate other major problems. Nikitin, Fayne, Ference, Shultz, Petry, ect need to play smarter… just like Gilbert, Potter, Belov, Larsen, Smid and on and on needed to?

    In two years we will be blaming Nurse, Klefbom, Maricin for not playing hard or smart enough and shipping them out of town, hopelessly poitning to the next can’t miss prospect we drafted.

    How many players can this organization chew up and spit out without developing a single reliable defenceman that we actually hope sticks around for a good chunk of years?

    Prediction: Nurse and Klefbom won’t reach their potential until the Oilers trade them away for 2nd round draft picks in five years.

    Fix management then fix coaching then fix players.

  • Daddynuke

    Last year, the Oilers had horrible goaltending to start the season and were basically out of the playoffs by November. They brough in 2 good goalies and finished the season more or less respectively. The top line consisted of -15, -12, and -11. The top D was -18 and -22.

    After all the signings and trades, the two starting goalies have 0.800 and 0.870 SV% so far.

    Do you really think that coaching can be blaimed for the team not showing up? Dubie was bad, but what happened to make him that way? Coaching or defense? Jultz and Petry making rookie mistakes, was it coaching or being played out of their element?

    The one thing consistent with this team is quitting in games. Not all players, but some of the “leaders”.

  • Daddynuke

    Does a good coach give a player like Yakupov (who has his shortcomings…sure) only 9 minutes or so in a game when it looks like his game is on? NO!!!

    But lets give Acton and the Gordon line a real shot in getting us a few goals to back in the ga,e… right……

    I am no NHL coach… But I think i know who i’d play to get us some goals…

    Additionally, I would never in my right mind play JShutlz for more than 20 minutes a game and never play him with a similar defensive liability…. Like seriously… He is experimenting with Nurse.. Like maybe Nurse is going to turn into Lidstrom over the course of a game — amist a 4 game losing streak…

    Way to lose the season Eakins.

  • Daddynuke

    @ Jason Gregor…

    Most Versatile Sports personalities…. hahahah

    I laughed and farted simultaneously when I read that…

    Versatile as in always calming the storm and giving the Oilers management and coaching a benefit of a doubt… You and Stauffer must get a nice christmas basket form the Oilers….

    Your versatility is looking compromised my friend… You should take after Brownlee and actually call like it is.

  • Daddynuke

    Jason, I agree to disagree your statement about the struggling defence! ‘The team defence’ to be exact. Sure individully players made gaffes from time to time, and for the Oil, well they made gaffes more often than not, and it usually translate into touchdowns for the bad guys! But, you can sit here and tell us that with a sound system, those mistakes can be limited to a minimum, and that’s why the good teams win more than they lose, not simply by luck, nor by pedigree of their players! For example, Sports writers in Toronto kept asking their readers to buy into their anual BS of believing which team’s success is due to the success of chemistry of a team. That is bull crap, and we know it! It’s the work of the coaches! It’s the plan they lay out at the beginning, whether be one, two three or even five years (re-building plan). And have the players buy in to it. Seemed familiar? But then, the plan has to be good fundamentally or otherwise it would blow up into your face, like what’s happening here to the Oil, They have been rebuilding for 8 years, and counting, has it all been the players fault? partly, maybe?! Get my drift?

  • Hey Gregor. Refer to comment #4 on the first page. “Joe Mamma” was pretty bang on with his rant. I would have preferred to see you explain youself by replying to him instead of “Rama Lama”, who wasn’t able to voice his opinion too well. (No offence Rama).

  • The biggest problem is that the Oilers have no “system” the D can’t stand up at the blue because the forwards aren’t coming back to help, the forwards are pressing to score goals cause the tending sucks. This is all stuff that IS controlled by the coaching staff so eventually falls on the head of tEakins.Hockey at every level is a simple process, the LA Kings play a very basic game that you can watch at any Bantam game so why is it that a pro coach can’t get pros to play it.You don’t need great skill you don’t need great size you need good goaltending(witch we had in Dubby) and the ability to motivate your players to ALL play the same way. There is no reason to create some magical way to play the game. The coach NEEDS to go

  • The biggest problem is that the Oilers have no “system” the D can’t stand up at the blue because the forwards aren’t coming back to help, the forwards are pressing to score goals cause the tending sucks. This is all stuff that IS controlled by the coaching staff so eventually falls on the head of tEakins.Hockey at every level is a simple process, the LA Kings play a very basic game that you can watch at any Bantam game so why is it that a pro coach can’t get pros to play it.You don’t need great skill you don’t need great size you need good goaltending(witch we had in Dubby) and the ability to motivate your players to ALL play the same way. There is no reason to create some magical way to play the game. The coach NEEDS to go

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Sounds like you think Dallas needs help making real-time read and reacts at NHL Game-speeds.

      Sounds like you think it is a System adjustment and management challenge,not a System challenge.

      I agree with you,but if you “could” whisper just one sweet nothing into Katzes ear as your best ever single solution what would you ask him to buy you before Christmas with one of his Paper Tigers?

      Money buys everything.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    What happens to goalies when they join the Oilers, perceived as capable NHL goalies when joining the Oilers their performance falls sub par, this suggests to me the Oilers goalie coach is not competent. Every Oiler fan can see that Scrivens should avoid going behind the net because his stick handling needs attention, yet this error is consistently happening in every game. Dubnyk of Arizona gets a shut out against the Kings. Calgary keeps on winning due to superior net minding. I don’t remember a time when the Oilers had a great goalie and that is due to lack of coaching.