GDB 26.0: Time for action…

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In the past week, Taylor Hall, David Perron and Andrew Ference have all publicly stated Dallas Eakins isn’t the problem. Hall took it a step further and went to general manager Craig MacTavish to defend his coach.

After Monday’s 5-2 uninspired loss to Arizona, Ference said what we’ve been saying for weeks. The Oilers play “is a joke.”

Is this just more talk from a team mired in a 10-game losing streak, or we will the players display the emotion, passion, determination and smarts necessary to win an NHL game tonight vs. the Jets?

By saying the coach isn’t the issue, the players have put the responsibility squarely on their shoulders. It’s about time. Blaming the coach has become the motto in Edmonton.

Allow a goal from centre. Blame the coach.

Turn the puck over at the blueline. Blame the coach.

Don’t go to the net. Blame the coach.

Don’t hit the net. Blame the coach.

Don’t cover your man in front of the goal. Blame the coach.

It is accurate to suggest Eakins needs to be better. He hasn’t shown enough coaching creativity during this losing streak, or injected enough fear or accountability into his players, because they continue to make bad plays. 

My one fear when I hear players defending their coach, is that they are doing so because they are too comfortable with him. Their on-ice play suggests they are comfortable losing. They haven’t shown a willingness to do the little things necessary to win games.

If the players want Eakins to remain their coach they must play better. It is that simple.

Actions speak louder than words, and if they don’t want him canned by the end of the month they have to start winning. Not playing well and losing, but actually WINNING games.

They have to start taking responsibility for their atrocious start. They are not playing better than their record. They aren’t. Stop trotting out meaningless statistics to try and suggest otherwise.

They give up too many goals. They don’t score enough goals.

They don’t defend well. They rarely produce second and third scoring chances.

They don’t work hard enough on the powerplay, which has them 26th in PP efficiency and 1st in shorthanded goals allowed.

If they actually believe Eakins is a good coach, then go out and show. Play better. Play smarter. Play with determination.

If they don’t, then their words mean nothing.

If Eakins is as good as they say, then he will start holding players accountable. If he doesn’t then his words will be equally as hollow as his players.

LINE UP

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Some line juggling, which is to be expected when you lose 10 games in a row. Give Pitlick more than one or two periods to get comfortable. I’d have mixed in Gazdic or Pinizzotto on the “2nd and 3rd” line.

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I’d play Fayne more than Schultz.

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Oilers will need Scrivens to play like he did vs. St.Louis.

Who will they be matching up against? Check out the Jets lineup at Dailyfaceoff.com.

QUICK HITS…

KaneMoney

  • “Everything I achieved throughout my career, and all the rewards that followed, came as the results of team effort. If they say anything about me when I’m gone, let them say that I was a team man.” Jean Beliveau wrote in his autobiography. I strongly recommend reading it. I never met Beliveau, but reading and watching all of the tributes in his honour, it was obvious he was a great man first, hockey player second. RIP.
  • Vinny Lecavalier has hinted he will retire after this season. He could retire and there would be no salary cap penalty to the team. He is owed $3 million/year in the two remaining years of his deal, but he is a $4.5 million cap hit. The Flyers sit in 28th place and he was a healthy scratch last night in San Jose.

    He does have a NMC, so that could limit trade possibilities, but I wonder if a Brayden Schenn deal to the Oilers could happen if Edmonton agrees to take Lecavalier?

  • I thought Luke Gazdic played well when he averaged 10 min/game vs. Nashville and St.Louis, but wasn’t much of a factor when he averaged 5 min/game vs. Arizona and Dallas. The stats guys should love him because his shots for/60 is 12. The Oilers need some guys in their top nine who aren’t satisfied playing on the perimeter. Eakins needs to recognize this and sprinkle in Pinizzotto and Gazdic up there for a few shifts. What they are doing now isn’t’ working. Try something different, rather than hoping that eventually the outside shots will start going in.
  • I hope Eakins had dinner with his good friend Paul Maurice and asked him what he did to finally get the Jets to play better team defence. Based on ice time, it looks like Maurice simply said, “If you don’t play good defence, you won’t play.” And he stuck to that. If Eakins doesn’t recognize he needs to do this, and should have done it from the start of last season, then he simply can’t remain the coach in Edmonton. This team needs tough love from a head coach.
  • I still smile at those who ripped me for saying Draisaitl should have been sent to junior, because he wasn’t ready, especially his skating. The part that makes me chuckle the most is that some of them stated sending Draisaitl to Prince Albert was a bad idea because THAT organization was unstable… 

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

Over at JetsNation, Kevin McCartney breaks down tonight’s game:

I have to begin with a confession I’ve made before – I was born in Edmonton, and I grew up an Oilers fan. Regardless of that fact, I think the misery of the Oiler predicament has moved past funny and into the territory usually reserved for when your friend is in a bad relationship and can’t seem to get out – it’s awkward and uncomfortable and comes with equal parts sympathy and fatigue. “Have you tried changing your opinion on corsi and analytics? You have? I mean… maybe you have to get a new goalie? You were saying your goalies have been bad. You have to do something. You can’t keep going like this. I know, I know it’s hard.”  

So, any Oiler fans or sympathizers, I promise not to pile on in this preview. Edmonton has a better hockey club than their record states, and it’s just a matter of time before they finally beat a Western conference opponent. It could even be the Jets tonight, with injuries to Tobias Enstrom and Grant Clitsome forcing Ben Chiarot into this second NHL game in front of Ondrej Pavelec. (But, I mean, probably not…)

WHAT WILL WE SEE…

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers play okay for long stretches, but make two soft plays and lose 3-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Pavelec is able to see most shots. He doesn’t face much traffic in front of him and rarely has to make a 2nd or 3rd save in one sequence.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Pitlick scores, but unlike when he scored his first NHL goal he finishes the game. Pitlick’s success makes the Oilers wonder if they might be better off calling up Lander and loaning Draisaitl to Germany for the WJC and then back to the WHL. A thought directly related to help the long-term development of a player…hmmm…

DAY 2…MONTH OF GIVING…

Thank you go Jared for bidding $2,100 on our Fireplace package from Dinette & Patio Furniture yesterday.

Today’s item…

A CHEF’s dinner courtesy of Von’s Steakhouse and Oyster Bar. It will include all your beverages as well.

You and three friends will dine with Eskimos GM Ed Hervey, quarterback Mike Reilly, Eskimos Wall of Honour inductee, current head coach of the U of A Golden Bears Chris Morris and a special guest. I‘ll also be there, but mainly to fill up your wine glasses.

You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

Thanks in advance. All proceeds go to Santas Anonymous.

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  • R U Kidding Me!

    This article is missing the point……..Dallas created this problem on the team by creating two camps. Those who get benched and those who don’t.

    The veterans on this team have long figured out that only the “kids are allowed to make mistakes”, all others are benched or play reduced minutes. You can’t all of a sudden change and decide now that you are going to bench the kids……..they are the ones that have come out vocally in support of the coach, not surprising.

    If you want to see what good coaching looks like look south……….Calgary’s top six is so weak but yet they just keep on winning.

    It’s the coaching, even if you desperately want to think otherwise Jason.

    • GlennH

      While I largely agree that coaching in Edmonton should be taking more of the blame, there are two things in Calgary that make them 1000% more competitive every game. TJ Brodie and Mark Giordano. They are among the league’s best defensive pairings – we simply don’t have anything close to that in Edmonton.

      • Andy7190

        Two years ago no one knew who these guys were……..now everyone knows who the are.

        Guess what they were developed. The Oilers cannot seem to develop anyone, not even first round draft choices. This all comes back to Management and Coaching.

        We had a good coach, and instead Mac T brought in a pretty hair doll……kind of sums things up!

    • MorningOwl

      Calgary’s top six are weak?

      what would you base that on… feelings? “on paper”? because Calgary’s current top six are killing it, even though they are missing (I think) four of their original top 6.

      So, I’d love to know what you mean by weak:They are all back-checking like hell, going every shift, scoring goals more then anyone else in the west and winning games.

      WEAK????? explain….

      • Andy7190

        Our top six are pretty well all first round draft choices……..with three of them being number 1 overall.

        Most of Calgary’s top six are a rag-tag bunch but make no mistakes……….I love the way they play and admire their work ethic. No slight on them, I wish we had them over here.

        Curtis Glencross on the first line?? We threw him away…….just saying.

        • MorningOwl

          So their weakness is draft pedigree? I don’t think Geordano or Brodie, either of them, were even drafted, were they?

          Strong in 1st overalls, weak in execution. I just would use a different term to describe the flames then weak.

          As for Glencross; anyone ever wish he wasn’t discarded? he’s been a good soldier down south for a while, but he looks slow this year.

          • Andy7190

            Brodie was drafted in the 4th round 114th overall, by the Flames.

            Giordano was undrafted and signed by Darryl Sutter right from Owen Sound.

            The main problem for the Oilers is, and I didn’t know it until last night as I listened to Ray Ferraro among others, that only 2 players on the Oilers were drafted by the Oilers 2nd round or lower.

            That is simply and starkly not good enough.

            Nothing is good enough. The General Managing isn’t good enough, the coaching isn’t good enough and the scouting is most certainly not good enough.

          • Lumley

            Here’s an interesting illustration of Oiler drafting futility since 2009, courtesy of Bruce McCurdy at Cult of Hockey:

            Oilers have drafted 38 players outside of the first round in that time. They have scored a grand total of 7 goals in the NHL.

            Tobias Rieder has scored 4 of those goals.

            Stu has gone from MSB, a few years ago, to plain old B.

          • Andy7190

            That is a damning indictment of the Oiler scouting department and the General Manager(s) in that time.

            Lowe may not run the day to day operations (or so we are told), but he’s responsible for whom he employs.

            Insult to injury…. 2 of the 4 and indeed 2 of the 7 goals scored are against the Oilers…

          • everton fc

            This above says a lot. Maybe it says it all. None of the first round picks would have been passed by with most organizations. So there’s no skill in picking the #1 picks the Oilers have.

            Why don’t they punt Eakins and scoop Bylsma while he’s still available. If he’ll move to Edmonton, that is. And Lowe has to go. Really.

            Krueger should have been given another season. Maybe. And I like what Ference did. Some may not. I do.

        • Slapshot

          OK thanks for the explanation. I guess draft pedigree equals top quality players? Explains alot about the Oilers. Although most people would agree with that at the Junior hockey level, that often doesn’t translate to the NHL. I’d much rather have top NHL-level players…

    • WTF2

      Calgary keeps winning because the coach has implemented a system and the players play that system. Any player that decides to take a shortcut, will be sitting for a while. Any player that decides to not put in the effort required, will be sitting a while. When Baertschi was playing well a few games ago, he was on the powerplay. His play dropped, he was on the fourth line last night.

      If Eakins implemented that system and sat out some of the core forwards for a period or two, it would get their attention. Most likely, he would be fired in short order too, but that is a different conversation.

    • Andy7190

      Exactly. The Oilers should not be this bad. Nor should the Flames be this good.

      I expect the Flames to end up in the top 16, but if Eakins remains, the Oilers will end up 30th.