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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:     

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • YFC Prez

    Even if the oilers get a magic Mcdavid, it’s not like we will be able to afford everyone when it comes together anyways.

    Our scouting is horrible, and the team is loaded with high priced “superstars”. What’s going to happen if we get mcdavid, wait for Nurse to become Weber, Leon to become Malkin?

    The entire team is based off “what ifs”.

    If all the oilers high picks fruit, there will be zero money left for a good goalie, or anyone beyond a million a year to fill the entire rest of the roster.

    Start trading and making things happen you idiots.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    For the road games away from home I need to get my tinfoil hat with the antenna ready to go. I get my computer laptop and iPad along with 2 TV’s in the same table with 2 keyboards. Then I sit in my underwear and shoes with 3 big gulps and my tinfoil hat.

  • 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!

  • 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 ?

  • To correct Gregor – The Lecavalier report was that he may retire after NEXT season, not this current one. He is owed 4.5M next season, and then 3M his final two years (which he may be willing to walk away from). Cap hit is 4.5M.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Andy7190

    If the Oiler lose tonight the only thing changing amongst Oiler management will be their underwear. Does Winnipeg have any ex-Oilers that are going to score short handed tonight?

  • Andy7190

    HALL IS REALLY NOT THAT GOOD

    It is relatively easy to be the best player on a terrible team. That player gets major PP time, usually doesn’t have to do PK, always plays with the best players on the team. If he plays crap defence, if his plus-minus is terrible, people say “that’s just because he’s on a terrible team”. Ollie Jokinen had 88 and 91 point seasons in the middle of his career in Florida. Stephen Weiss recently went from being the dominant player in Florida to a healthy scratch in Detroit to a short stint in the AHL. At the end of his career, people in Toronto thought they would get five first round picks for Mats Sundin.

    On a good, disciplined team, Hall would be forced to play sound defence and use his teammates. His point totals would plummet. Hall is NOT a “franchise player”. I am pretty sure every other team in the league has figured that out. If Edmonton decided to trade him, I think everyone will be shocked at how little they would get for him.

    • YFC Prez

      Hall is part if the problem no doubt, he needs to cut the giveaways and quit trying it alone. He’s got some habits, But to say he’s not good is rediculous. Hall is the best players to wear the oil drop since Pronger. Let’s not scapegoat him. Of all the problems with this team hall is at the bottom of the list.

      This is why oiler fans can’t have nice things.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Pretty well the stupidest thing I have read on here. If you are basing his career on the last few games after coming back from injury that is just wrong. I think he is still hurt and he will get back to being the exciting player that he is. He is a point a game player on the worst team in the NHL that is my take on it.

    • Andy7190

      I think he just needs a true NHL coach.

      I don’t know if he can be what they hoped he could be, but I do think he has a lot of unmet potential.

      He needs to play for someone like Babcock or Sutter (Darryl) or Vigneault.

  • moosewacker

    Ryan Smyth comeback as player coach, old time hockey, like Eddie Shore, Toe Blake. Or hire those guys even if they are dead.

    Eakins replaced by deceased Hall of Famer, I can see the headline now, and do not disapprove. Anything at this point is an improvement, my liver can’t take no more.