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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  • vetinari

    C’mon Winnipeg, you may take the 2 points but you will never take our dignity! Oh wait, there goes our dignity…

    Jets 3 Oilers 2 Katz $5,000,000.00 Fans 0

  • Guy Lafleur

    Why do anything this season , wait till after we draft Connor or Jack then clean house , start the rebuild over see what Hall,Yak City , JUltz and Ebs can fetch us this summe r. Give 5 mill to Babcock and go from there .

    • YFC Prez

      The Oilers are in the unenviable position of having to make wholesale changes to the team before Mc David comes in or risk wasting his talents as clearly as they have wasted their previous 1st round picks, kids don’t develop in isolation, they need support and mentoring, most teams don’t rebuild from scratch, they are always stuck with some older NMC players that provide ‘the kids’ with proper habits, kick a little arse when needed ( like now).
      What they need are some of the easiest things to aquire in the NHL, older players reaching the end of their expensive contracts that bring stability to a younger team for a year or two.
      That the management has taken so long that the team can’t afford the cap room to do this is staggeringly incompetent.

  • Andy7190

    Gregor you know less than I thought if your position is Eakins is the answer.

    Of course ferrence likes him, they are buddies and he gets tons more ice time than deserved. Hall loves him as well, he doesn’t have to change, improve,or be accountable…no wonder these guys like Eakins.

    If the oilers want to show any sustainable improvement they need an NHL caliber coach.

    As everyone knows as well many problems exist with the oilers other than the coach but the organization is not serious or intelligent enough if they don’t punt Eakins immediately.

    Gregor I will assume you actually are smarter than this garbage and you write crap to get the nation reading…..

    FFS fire Eakins, without that step no one is serious about any improvements.

      • SSB1963

        One question if it was a mistake to go hard after Eakins, then there were several other teams willing to make the same mistake. If he was having a winning season we wouldn’t be having this conversation would we.

        • Andy7190

          Other teams are more established in their leadership groups and their “evolution” as a group.

          For instance, Vancouver was interested. Eakins may have had better results with some elite players, if they bought in and gave it a chance.

          But I’m not sure he’s turned out to be an NHL coach.

          Don Hay wasn’t an NHL coach either in his two stints.

          Sometimes it doesn’t translate between AHL and NHL.

          Perhaps Eakins should have spent time in Toronto as an assistant with Wilson or Carlyle after becoming the next hot thing in the AHL.

          Because it sure looks like he got thrown into the deep end of the pool without swimming lessons. And he certainly isn’t having a winning season.

          If. If I had a million dollars. If I were king of the world. If Dallas Eakins was having a winning season. If.

    • Clarkopolo

      “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.”

      Where exactly in the article does Gregor state that “Eakins is the answer”. I think the point of the article is that the players need to be better and take accountability for their crappy play rather than blaming everyone else…including the coach.

      And I agree that the coach and management has been brutal and needs to be changed, but the players have to play better too.

  • Clarkopolo

    I do agree with playing Gazdic & Pinizzotto more! When they play you can clearly see it throws the other teams d-coverage out of whack because that’s just not the way the Oilers play. Actually, the best Leon has looked is when he had Gazdic & Perron on his wings. You could see Leon let his game out with those guys there. Should have been like that from the start of the season!

  • Sean17

    Another Eakins mistake is he should of had an early morning practice after the Arizona game. First up – battle drills. Let the captain’s word still be fresh and maybe have the guys it was directed to take a few pops from teammates to wake them up or even those players in question prove to their teammates they are ready to battle. Turn down the suck boys!

  • Andy7190

    so what happens if the oilers decide to tank and they finish 29th and some other team wins the lottery meaning the oil pick 3rd? Was it worth it? The oil need to start worrying about what they can control (games) and stop worrying about what they can’t control (the draft).

    • Mason Storm

      You clearly aren’t watching very closely. No passion from the players is easy to see. They don’t backcheck hard enough, they don’t stick up for one another, they try too many individual plays instead of simple ones. This isn’t so much a team as it is a collection of shiny new things that Katz is collecting. Let’s wait and see what we get this year. Oilers Christmas at the draft in June

    • i’d like to see some puke on the ice at the next oilers home game. none of the jersey tossing, no one leaving early. I want to see severely drunk people vomiting on an NHL ice surface. I want the oilers to understand that they’re ineptitude is causing people to willfully poison themselves in public.

  • S cottV

    Not for one moment do I think coaching this team would be easy for anyone.

    Managing the young gun egos and pulling the team together with all that is involved (some good / most bad) with the organization and player group – would be all that even the most seasoned veteran coach could handle.

    The strongest of leadership will be required of the coach staff and player group, if this thing is ever to be turned around.

    The fact that player group leadership is comparatively weak, as compared to most successful hockey clubs – makes highly effective coach leadership, all the more important.

    The strongest of coach leaders would have a lot more control over what his player leaders are yacking about, including any kind of side show circus involved in saving his @ss when the going was tough. A real coach leader would have clamped it down, advising anyone with those thoughts to show it on the ice – as an example to the others.

    What we are seeing in the actions of player leaders, the actions of the coach leader, the lack of player group execution, the lack of player group passion, and in general – the poor record, is coach and player leaders that are in over their heads for the very tough task at hand.

    Eakins – is no where near a top end NHL leader coach.

    MacT – thinking Eakins would work, has grossly underestimated the difficult task at hand.

  • WTF2

    Someone mentioned Hall should quietly request a trade out of E-town.

    I would be very surprised if his agent has not already asked about such a move. He would be an idiot not to have made an inquiry. Perhaps that explains it.

    Any player that belongs in the NHL does not want to play for a perennial losing team. Even with a limited education they are smart enough to realize their time in the show is a narrow slice of life.

  • Spydyr

    Jean Beliveau was a true gentleman.May he rest in peace.

    Jean Beliveau won 10 cups as a player.The Oilers will be hard pressed to win ten games before the new year.

    My question is this:

    Imagine if the Habs had been run like the Oilers for the last nine years.Would Bell Centre even still be standing?

  • Eberle4MVP

    Probably smart to have the dinner with Eskimos instead of Former Oilers. Better to talk about the successes of a franchinse than the failures of one.

    Jets 6 – Oilers 1

    And im being generous and somewhat delirious giving the Oilers a goal.

  • The Last Big Bear

    “Winning is a process.”

    Yep, and sucking really REALLY bad for a really long time is a process too.

    And I’m pretty certain which process we’re looking at.

  • Clareman

    I remember watching Mac T when he was a commentator on TSN, he was commenting on the Olympic Team selection. He stated to the panel that Horcoff should have been included because he was the best 5 on 3 player in the game. Another commentator responded to him, and asked how often does a 5 on 3 happen in the Olympics. Again this summer he mentioned to the media that J Schultz could be a Norris trophy candidate. This is the guy that now decides who they draft, and trade for. Pretty easy to see why we are in the place we are.

  • WTF2

    In my opinion it’s management:

    No second line Center? Nashville has tonnes.

    Need top four D? Boychuk and Leddy were available and scooped up by the Islanders.

    Need a Goalie? Lindback and Harding on waivers. Halak, Broduer and Niemi were all available. Not to mention drafting Nurse instead of acquiring Cory Schneider.

    Need a coach? Dan Bylsma is available.

    They’ve made their bed.

    • SSB1963

      But nobody knows what the asking price is? You know every other GM is going to try and fleece MacT because of the situation he is in. Maybe standing pat for now is not that bad.

  • Hemmercules

    Jason : Did not Perron say “coaches and players ” , as I recollected . Did he retract his statement later and say Eakins was not part of that statement ? Maybe Perron was also ticked at the number of gaffes of even Hall and Ference . I think you overstated your first comment putting Perron in there .

  • Andy7190

    After the opening puck drop the first offside winger needs to stop up hard at the blue dots further swinging right. If neutral zone forecheck swig play is an option he can move to the lateral side of centre and get deep, exposing the left defencemans short gap. This will allow for the centre to push the puck into the short zone by the glass, the other winger is an option for a stick exchange with the trailing Dman who should have the puck by now from the neutral winger, after this is established its a simple give and go and a pass and a shot with the rebound. 1-0 Oilers.

    If the face off is lost then the full body torso check is needed immediately for the swing play. Then it’s a D to D pass after the turnover by the stand up lateral play on the blue line. Then an icing is needed for the face off unit to create the turnover which is followed by a simple shot off the glass to the streaking far winger with speed and a drop pass with a neutral lateral regroup to the strong side winger.

    It’s all basic hockey and all the western eastern teams use it as a simple way to break out and forecheck to the strong post but on the weak side. If followed it should be 3-0 Oilers after 4 whistles on the right side.

    • WTF2

      What a treat it would be if you became a hockey analyst on T.V. one night . Maybe that’s your calling ? You could put Howard Cosell and B.Hall to shame . Split screen with your comments and telestrater , while other half the game itself . Got to be better than watching us lose anyways .

  • taz115

    Alot of things add up in the Oilers management approach over the past few years but I was likely too blinded by hope to see it at the time. Hopefully I get the order of events correct…

    Oilers hire Tom Renney the year after management declares a ‘rift’ in the dressing room and they trade Moreau, demote Souray and fire the training staff. I recall the media speculating that the older Oilers did not get along with the younger players.

    So instead of making the younger players conform the management deems that a culture change is required. Tom Renney later states that he was fired for his views not alinging with Oilers management desire to sell hope and play the younger players more despite merit not being there.

    So it appears to me, very early on that Oilers management sided/went with with their young superstars, and if you spoke out or got in the way, you were shipped out of town.

    This clearly aligns with what appears to be going on now. Clearly Hall, RNH, Eberle, Shultz are given very long leashes, ‘forgiven’ for their mistakes and put back out the next shift. Some players not so much, Yak, Maricin, Smid seem to have a much, much shorter leash. No benefit of the doubt for them.

    Now Ference speaks out saying some of the younger guys are moping around. It sounds to me like special treatment may have bred poor attitudes in the room and I think it easy to guess and see who this may apply to.

    If you spoil your kids all thier life, its tough to expect them act like adults when they hit 18. And it appears we are still doing it. I’d like to read Dallas’ auto-biography once he is done with this mess. I’d guess he may not be happy with some of the management meddling going on.

    • S cottV

      That’s funny. I was thinking yesterday about what Eakins is gonna do when MacT finally fesses up and has to let him go.

      The severance package is pretty good with a couple of years left on his deal.

      NHL Head Coach is probably out of his deal after this, but I too – thought that he could always write a tell all book about this ordeal and make a bunch of money that way.

      I would buy it…

  • Hemmercules

    Today’s report is finished and should be well for the Oilers opening parallel attacks in the neutral offensive zone by the blue dots along the glass.

    I’m getting into a detailed report of how the Oilers breakouts and stand the line defence should be. Its been sent to Winnipeg so Dallas can review it.

    It’s like this all 5 skaters stand still in the defence blue line and have active sticks and knock the luck away. Then use full body torso checks and plant the skater through the boards. This is called the active torso swinger play, Dallas needs to call it from the bench by waving 2 water bottles in the air like an airport runway guy. I’m saying too much here.
    The breakout is a hard pass by whoever has the puck right up the middle to avoid board pressure then skate laterally through the neutral zone and horizontally into the offensive zone and using the back side winger defenceman as an option A with the centre winger as option B. Option C is the trailing puck carrier. He has the option of a swing play or just a routine regroup into the boards by the net. This way we get neutral pressure diverted by the trailing 3rd Dman on the boards by the blue dot. This will initiat all access to the middle left slot for an easy tap in backhand onetimer play. All the big western conference division teams use this play.

  • ubermiguel

    The process is so long now they forgot where they placed the secret formula to make it work ? Is Lords of Six Rings gone senile and forgot where he last put it ?

  • ubermiguel

    Eakins was the “it” coach and was being courted by more that just the Oilers. He has done some odd things as coach, but how many coaches have been run out of town by some variation of these sad sacks? Most of the players need an attitude adjustment.

    • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

      The funny thing about him being the “IT” coach is that the stories were coming from him and his agent.

      From what I hear through my legitimate, though admittedly limited, connections is that many of the teams that were on the cusp of signing him (Vancouver for example) were actually not interested at all. Moreover, with the Vancouver interview his agent called them to request a meeting, not the other way around.

      Kind of like telling your high school crush that you have a date with someone else to see if it will get them to respond…

  • rnj

    Nothing is going to change with the Oilers organization because Katz has Lowe’s balls hanging on one side of his face and MacT’s ball’s hanging on the other side of his face.

  • tileguy

    From Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

    My suspicion is that he will be let go after a loss on Wednesday in Winnipeg, and MacTavish will take over behind the bench with assistant Craig Ramsay. Eakins was never ready for this job, and like his predecessors, has let the young players run amok, with leashes so long that the rank and file players simmer every time they suffer another minus on yet another egregious Taylor Hall giveaway.

    • Hemmercules

      Man I hope he’s right but with Eakins getting the vote of confidence from the captain and the golden boy I have a feeling it aint happening. If Mact was in fear for his job he would have fired Eakins 5 games ago.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    The Oilers are like Nascar now. I just like to watch and hopefully get to see a few spectacular/airborne crashes during tonights tilt.

    Hopefully nobody gets fired though. Keep everyone of those management types in hiding so our imagination can continue to run wild.

    • O.C.

      Good analogy. Also, no matter how fast they go, it’s always in the same direction, and it always ends up exactly where they started. Again, again, and again.

      I’m disillusioned now. Are we destined to cheer for competitively losing by one goal for all games going forward?