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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  • a few years back, in the Horcoff/Moreau days, it was said there was a rift in the dressing room between the “old guard”, and the kids. They shipped out the vets, made this the kids team and now – a rift between hard working veterans and the kids. Sounds to me like the prima dona kids may be a big problem.

    • Andy7190

      I recall that too however, that was pre-Hall/Eberle/RNH. I believe Ethan Moreau was one of these commenting on this being the case. He was shipped out the year prior to Rebuild 2.0 starting.

      That said, I’m not sold on all of the current core being the solution, physically or mentally (as in cultural wise). As Ferrence stated, guys are “moping around” (my first guess is J Shultz followed by Eberle, by that’s just me). I don’t care who that is, get them away from/off the team because cancer spreads! It shouldn’t matter what the return is, cancer kills. Period. If they are doing more harm than good you get them out of there and take whatever you can. Something, anything, is better than have a ‘negative’component on the team. Team Building 101.

  • Chuck U Farley

    Ok. Things that need to happen for the Oilers to be good ever.

    Send Drai back to Junior. Let him play in the world Juniors and then go back to the OHL.

    Bring up Anton Lander. Because frankly.. why not. We are in dead last in the league without him.. You cant lose ground when you are at the bottom.

    Scrap this whole 3 scoring line thing and 4th D zone line. First 2 lines, youre top 6 guys. Whoever those are on any given night play there. Line 3 – Youre defensive line with boyd gordon. Line 4 youre hammer line, Gazdic, lander and find another mean S.O.B or put Pinzotto in there. This line has one job. If someone isnt in the top 6 and doesnt want to go play on the hammer line. Press box.

    Play Klefbom and Marincin basically everynight. Sit down with them and talk to both of them. Let them know it is time to see what you guys got. Get them ready to be a focus for next year.

    Buy Nitkinin a one way ticket back to Russie and send him a christmas card.

    Leave the goalies. Get a new one in the summer.

    This likely wont change the results all that much but from a moving forward stand point it is all we can do. Having that strictly energy line will up the compete level on this team. Make those top 6 spots a competition every night. If you are not one of the top scoring forwards you are sitting, make no bones about it this can be anyone. Change the culture of this team and do it now.

    Then draft McDavid and lets do something here.

  • Con-Air McDavid

    I posted this a while ago somewhere else, thought it was relevant again w/ the above conversation.

    Ever since Hall was drafted, we’ve been led to believe that the Oil had a true, offensively elite NHL top line of Hall-Nuge-Ebs. But on how many competitive teams would these three really be the top line?

    Nuge would be a third line centre in Chicago, well behind Toews and even Richards in terms of reliability, aggression, and other intangibles. Is he better than Getzlaf? Kessler? Probably not. He’s third line in Anaheim too. In LA, yikes. I’d have to think hard about giving him more minutes than Richards.

    Same story with Hall. Do you feel more confident in winning the game with him on the ice, or with Marchand and Lucic? The toe-drag is old, its not an advantage anymore. In LA, rookie Tanner Pearson has shown more offensive flair. Hall might be the one of the three closest to elite in his position, but honestly, thats just because the NHL as a whole is pretty shallow in LW (CHI, ANA).

    And Ebs? He’s third line in Anaheim, LA, St. Louis….

    Now I know part of this isn’t all about skill, just that they’re all so one dimensional. Pass, wrist shot, repeat. Not fast, heavy, strong or aggressive enough to play in the top 6 on more teams than we’d care to admit. That’s a big reason why trading Ebs and Hall in particular for a centre is so tough. No team is going to see them as legit top line players, because they lack so many other areas of their game. If I’m GM, I keep Nuge around as a second line centre, but those other two can’t be out the door quick enough. Get some defense and start building up a team, realizing that top draft picks do not guarantee top players.

    • ubermiguel

      I think it was a big mistake declaring Hall the future of the franchise so early. He may turn into an elite player someday, but today it’s debateable. I am also strongly doubting his leadership skills. If Ference takes him under his wing, and those two form a united front that holds everyone accountable (including themselves) we might be able to salvage an actual team from this mess of players.

    • Clarkopolo

      I tend to agree with you on Eberle…he is a very one dimensional player and if he isn’t scoring, then he doesn’t give you much. I think he could be a 2nd line scoring winger IF the rest of your top 6 was very good.

      However, while I agree that Nuge might be a 3rd line center on Chicago, I think saying he is a 3rd line guy on the best team in the league is a little unfair. Toews had 191 points in his 222 games (first 3 seasons), while Nuge has 148 points in his first 205 games. While Toews had a higher average, keep in mind there are two other factors – Chicago sent Toews back to Junior when he was 18 and Chicago was good enough to win the Cup in his 3rd season…meaning he was playing for a much better team.

      And comparing Tanner Pearson (who has a grand total of 20 career points in 50 games) to Hall is a bit ridiculous. Yes…he has some flaws in his game, but point-a-game players don’t grow on trees.

  • Andy7190

    Talk is cheap.

    The action should be Fire Eakins, and if MacT won’t do that, he can go too. He should anyway.

    As for Lowe, just remove him from the Oilers part of the Katz empire.

    Yeah, Fire Eakins. Quality is job 1.

  • Cain

    Jason,

    I am all for getting a high draft pick next year just like everyone else. Both top picks have been described as generational players and would probably be able to help the Oilers get out of this monumental abyss they find themselves in.

    A strong argument can be made that they would not be able to overcome horrendous management however, and could turn out to be like Marcel Dionne in the 70’s,who was a great player on a crap team for most of his career. How can we know?

    To throw in the towel on this season, play some prospects, fire everyone including the Zamboni drivers after this year, and hope for change next year makes some sense. I understand that side of the coin.

    Here is my biggest problem with “tanking the season” as you and Jim Matheson have both suggested in recent days…

    I am an Oiler fan. I hate that they suck, and have sucked for so long, but I am an Oiler fan. I like cheering for them, I like complaining about them when they lose, and I like reading other people’s opinion and debating what would be the best way for the team to improve. I watch the games and cheer some and get disappointed lots, but it entertains me to watch the games.

    To tank the season takes away any meaning in following the team this year,and that sucks more. There is no point in reading your blog,there is no point in listening to your radio program and there is no point in being on this website. We have 5 more months of winter to get through, and Oiler hockey is a big part of that for me.

    To know the team isn’t even trying to win, so that they have a chance to try and win more games next year, is a waste. I, as a fan, want to cheer now, for a team that is at least TRYING to win THIS year.

    Just my two cents…

  • ubermiguel

    “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…”

    I was hoping the Oil Kings could swing a deal with them to bring Drai to town at least. That part of Katz’s hockey empire is performing well.

  • “The Oilers need some guys in their top nine aren’t satisfied playing on the perimeter. ”

    I agree, why not throw Pinizotto or Gazdic up on the top two lines, have them rush towards the net and have Hall/ Nuge work the edges. The guy in front of the net will draw an opposing defensemen leaving a little more room for the two guys to work their magic and let the guy in front pound in a rebound. works for 29 other teams!

    At this point in the game it’s about experimenting, nothing to lose now.

  • Gordie Wayne

    I miss Dougie Weight…the way a captain gets his players going is not by whining to the media.

    Here is a quote from Doug Weight on a period of time which feels so long ago now:

    “It was my second year of being captain. We were struggling maybe five points out of a playoff spot. I held a 10 minute meeting on the ice. I was never the type of leader that was comfortable calling people out and I’m still not. I really challenged about seven or eight guys and I ended by really challenging myself. I’m proud of that moment, looking back, because we had 10 straight wins or something like that. We tied a record with the Oilers of the early 80s and making the playoffs. It was an amazing stretch for me to be a part of, to be a leader. I feel pretty proud about that.”

    I remember this moment distinctly and it is obvious that it affected the players based on the results it produced. This is how a captain leads!!!

    I miss you Dougie!!!

    Can we please get another Dougie Weight?

    • Andy7190

      Just loved this. Can we please get another Doug Weight. Or bring in Doug Weight to do something, he can be the manager maybe? Head coach? Goalie coach? chief of scouting? Just anything. Loved #39 back in the day.

      While we are at, whats Bill Guerin doing these days?

      • Derzie

        No more old boys. How can you get Katz to break the habit if the first thing you do is the same damn line of thinking. The past is the past, never to be repeated.

    • ubermiguel

      I remember that year so clearly, it was 2001 and it was a good time to be an Oilers fan. I respect Dougie so much his Cup win is the only thing that takes the sting out of 2006.

      It’s worth noting that was KLowe and MacT’s first year as GM and coach respectively.

      • Tikkanese

        Weight has always been nothing but class, has the respect of everyone and is a very intelligent person. Basically the complete opposite of the current braintrust.

        The Islanders turnaround also started pretty much the same time he became a part of their braintrust. Coincidence?

      • Gordie Wayne

        What I am wishing for is another Doug Weight on the ice…not in management (although I wouldn’t care if they did bring him in as POHO if it meant Lowe was shown the door).

        He was pure gold for the Oilers.

        Sigh…it’s pretty bad when I look back and would probably trade the entire 2014-15 roster for the 2001 roster.

        At least we saw major effort on the ice every night.

  • bradleypi

    “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.”

    Well as of last game, he hasnt done this. Hall should have been benched after the first penalty and DEFINITLY after the second. I dont give a damn if hes our best player. He singlehandely had a hand in 3 Phoenix goals in 10 minutes…..Accountability.

    Eakins has shown no signs of being able to properly manage these clowns. I dont see that changing tonight.

  • ubermiguel

    So brutal.

    Two players have said it’s not a coaching problem and you agree.

    I guess as long as 2 out of 28 say he is good than he must be the next Babcock.

    Accountability is huge and they has been now from top down or by this coach.

    To say he is not the problem for bad defence with the swarm is brutal. To suggest he is not at fault for a sub par power play and thus lack of scoring. You guessed it. Brutal.

    When ex oilers and ex oiler radio commentators are saying he needs to go. But you suggest it is the players fault. Wow.

    The identity of the team is the coaches responsibility. We have no identity and therefore we have no coach. Just that simple

  • Andy7190

    Sorry, but I’m going to say it.
    Taylor Hall needs to shut the f@%k up about the coaching as well as every other player who seems to have an opinion regarding the coach.
    Captain, best player or anyone else on the worst team in the league for 5 years don’t get a say in the matter. They all need to take a long look in the mirror.

  • WTF2

    Gregor.

    I agree with you comments. However, this group of players was not designed to play the way you have described.

    Lowe and Mac T have assembled this group, who do not complete and are oversold on talent. Not only that, but they have made huge financial and cap mistakes that limit the future ability to negotiate by over signing NHL garbage, which is functionally most of the team.

    This has resulted in the team being the laughing stock of the league and easy picking for agents to get a good deal for their bottom feeders (ie the agents least valued assets).

    Until there is a change in the management at the top by having Kevin Lowe and Mac T resign as the result of fan pressure, this culture of losing will only continue.

    So, don’t blame the coach or the players, when the building has not been designed properly, it is the architects problem.

    The Problem here rests entirely on the captain of the ship and his cronies. Kevin Lowe and Mac T.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    Go Jets! I’m on the Jets bandwagon for the rest of the season…and possibly longer if the Oilers don’t show up on my lawn in the rain with a ghetto blaster over their head.

  • Lumley

    Oilers 6 Jets 2. I just got the good feeling about this one, they worked out the kinks in these last 10 games and are ready to make a big push.

    EDIT – SARCASM FONT –

    • D'oh-ilers

      Brayden Schenn: 17 points in 24 games and can play a strong defensive game if needed.

      Luke Schenn: Shutdown defender with size, hits everything that moves.

      Nail Yakupov: 7 points in 25 games, sort of pays attention sometimes on defense.

      Justin Schultz: Avoids physical contact like the plague. Waves his stick around defensively like he just dropped E and thinks it’s a glow stick and he’s at a rave concert.

      Neither one are great at this stage in their careers, but they’re better than what the Oilers are playing with right now.

  • D'oh-ilers

    I like the line changes, though doubt it will have much of an impact. Scrivens will likely need a Vezina-level performance just to keep the team in the game tonight. Unfortunately, Scrivens is godawful against the Jets with a career 4.76GAA & .865SV%.

    This could get ugly. Uglier, rather.

  • Tikkanese

    Gregor predicted a loss, we all know what that means.

    2-1 Oilers OT win in a shoot out. GWG scored by none other than NUGE….

    Which sucks because this team might as well tank for mcdavid at this point.