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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  • Admiral Ackbar

    Eakins gone tomorrow. Can’t wait for MacT to get behind the bench so we can see how senior oiler management know a thing or two about winning. In case you were wondering.Since we never win anymore maybe instead of the stick wave at the end of the game they can just sh$t on the ice post game?

  • WTF2

    Walking the talk is a real challenge for the Oil.

    If you look like a loser, act like a loser, sound like a loser and play like a loser, believe it or not 9 times out of ten, you are a loser.

  • 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

  • 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

    • 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

  • 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?

  • Slapshot

    SportsnetSpec: Three of the six longest losing streaks of the past 5 seasons belong to Edmonton.

    @therealjfeaster: YEHHHH BABY!!! You can put it in the LOSS column, #Oilers! Entire time I was in Calgary all I heard was how far ahead they were of #Flames

    Feaster’s comments pretty much sums it all up.

    • RickT

      I would actually like to see Feaster back in Calgary in an advisory role.

      No role with any power to pull a trigger on a trade, but he restocked the cupboards pretty well… picked a decent coach. Instilled a work ethic and knew what the city could get behind.

  • Smobocop

    If you want fear, hire Torterella, at minimum on an interim basis. He’ll scare the crap out of em. And at bare minimum take some of the media attention away.

  • Hemmercules

    I will believe it when I see it. They have said the same thing for years now – “we know what we have to do to win, we have to play for the whole 60 minutes, we need to sohot more, we need to stop SHG going in, we need to blah, blah, blah”

    Game after game, the same lame excuses. Guys, if you KNOW what you have to do to win then why the f**k don’t you bloody well do it? Or are you too busy being individual celebrities that you don’t want to be part of a team?

    I am sick to death of this, you are humiliating the city, the fans and yourselves.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Randorf says the “Jet’s aren’t much of an offensive juggernaut”.

    Buf scores. Don’t need to be great offensively to beat this Oilers squad. You just need to be an NHL team.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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).

  • 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?

  • 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…

  • Hemmercules

    What the Hell?

    Eakins is not the problem? It’s his job to get players playing and win games, if the players are not playing well, Eakins is the problem right?

    If a family with young kids doing drugs, getting drunk, bullying other kids at school. Shop lifting and mugging people in the street. It’s not because of the parents responsibility to raise them right and stop them from doing those things?

    So what the hell is the coach for then?

    Get a real coach in and see this team turn around.

    Unless they are tanking for another 1st or 2nd pick next June. It looks like it each game.