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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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  • smith

    The Oilers have been the worst team in the league for a while now. There is more than one problem. Bad management, bad players, bad drafting, bad scouting AND bad coaching. Fire Lowe and Mactavish and bring someone in from the outside to begin cleaning up and trying to fix ALL of the issues. No more little fixes. They are not working.

    I personally think that every manager, scout and coach should be relieved over the next 6 months as well as a few CORE players. Fix the problems already!

    • This is probably the best post I have read with regards to fixing this team. Must start with the biggest egos that seem to think they know more about hockey than anyone else in the world.
      Well stated, goodbye to the old boys club

    • moosewacker

      I remember a story from Ron Low about his Washington Capital days in the 70’s. They paraded a garbage can around the ice after breaking a very long losing streak. Wonder how that would go over now days ?

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • “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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Can’t wait to hear more unique ways for this trio of gutless apologists to positively spin the utter lack of an NHL organization this city holds. You three make me want to puke. Your constant grovelling and protection of this abomination is enough to make me attempt to rip the car stereo out of my car so no one can ever find 630 Ched on the AM dial.

    All Stauffer looks forward to is sitting on the plane and watching Taylor Hall as he sleeps. Rob Brown can’t even distinguish reality from fantasy anymore, and because Mario Lemieux earned him a few pay cheques by bouncing the puck off his skull and into the net he believes one single player will turn this sleazy old dime bag motel into a Hyatt. Then we have Reid Wilkins, c’mon man form your own identity. Rob Brown is a moron who plugged out a lackluster career into a radio gig with an awful organization. Note to you Reid don’t be like him. Stand up for yourself and form your own opinions you spineless twit.

    630 Ched, you have outdone yourselves with your embarrassing shills you call radio personalities. The Team 1260 outclasses you in every facet imaginable. Better talent period.

    P.S you 3 freaks should all get on horses, ride into the mountains and never bother anyone again.

    • mlachockeycoach

      Don’t get me started with Stauffer that guys picture is front and centre when it comes to the word coward. Katz shows up with a wheelbarrow of money to shut up bob and he pulls the steak out of his mouth and stuffs in a wad of cash. What a sellout this guy has absolutely no credibility don’t even listen to him.

      • Stauff and Rich Winter were both actively campaigning for Katz to own the team 1-2 years before it happened. Stauff, presumably because he knew he would get to be a pitch man for the team, and Winter because agents know that nobody hands out crazier contracts than individual owners who treat teams like toys.

        And it’s cost us a million losses, and hundreds of millions in taxes that Katz will profit from. Thanks guys!

  • Slapshot

    Lowe goes over to Katz’s house …

    “Daryl I just need six more years to get this right”

    “Kevin as long as I get to play with your six rings,you can have all time you want”


    By the way,Who hired this Eakins fellow”

    “Its all Mactavish fault!!!!”

  • Zarny

    It was good that Ference confirmed the message from the coaches is the correct one. The systems are the right systems. The X’s and O’s are the right X’s and O’s. Eakins is far from perfect but coaching isn’t the root problem in Edmonton. Never has been.

    It was also good that without naming names, he pointed the finger at the core. Nothing discussed is foreign to the vets from other teams. Too bad players like that weren’t around sooner.

    And yes, Draisaitl should have been sent down to Junior. I chuckle most at “he has nothing left to learn in Jr”.

    As for tonight…win. There should be a desperation in this team beyond the 7th game of the Stanley Cup final.

  • charlie manson

    I would love to see Doug Weights’ number 39 retired.I know it won’t happen,but the guy is top 10 in goals,assists, and points all time for the Oilers.and some of those years were pretty bad ones.(well,not as bad as these bums)

  • bwar

    Jean Béliveau won 10 Stanley cups as a player, in a 20 year carreer. That is insane! The Oilers would need a team player like that! Farewell Gentleman Jean.

  • SpaceBacon

    Mac T loved the mic and camera on him when he first became GM (mind you, he was passed up by the other NHL teams for a coaching position) letting the whole hockey world know of his so called master plan. Well he has failed miserably and the fans have spoken of his actions. He isn’t for the job. Where are these cowards hiding now though? Arrogant pieces of bullcrap is what they are.

  • 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.