The Oilers ended their 11-game losing streak with a solid 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks last night. It was a welcome change for the organization and the fans. The losing was starting to bother even the most pessimistic fan.
It is only one game, and the Oilers woes are far from over, but if this team is going to continue to improve now is the time for some tough love from head coach Dallas Eakins.
The Sharks didn’t generate many quality scoring chances last night, I counted seven, and for the majority of the game the Oilers played smart. They deserved the victory and earned it. Good for them.
The one goal the Sharks did score was a result of a major failure in one of the most simple parts of the game; pick up the high man coming in.
I noticed many people wanted to blame Justin Schultz, and he definitely deserved some flak, but there is much more about this play that needs to be discussed.
- When Draisaitl doesn’t get puck deep, he is in best position to slide over to his right and pick up McGinn, but he doesn’t. He just glides back in the zone.
- Schultz tells Draisailt to look to his right and pick up McGinn. Draisaitl ignores him. Schultz should have then done it himself, but Draisaitl was in the best position starting in the neutral zone to pick up McGinn.
- Watch at the :34 mark or at the :40 mark (better angle) and you will notice Draisaitl actually looks over his right shoulder, but then he just ignores the man and turns back to stare at the puck.
- Scrivens at the :41 mark is CLEARLY pointing for someone to pick up McGinn. And he had every right to be frustrated after the goal.
To me, Draisaitl is the main culprit, while Schultz is #2. I recognize that young players will make mistakes, but this one was horrific, and there should be consequences for these types of bad plays. The coach simply can’t allow those types of decisions to be made.
But once again, Dallas Eakins did nothing.
Draisaitl missed one measly shift, and didn’t get the message because his next shift he was on the ice for 1:04. He had ten shifts of :50 or longer. His shifts are too long. Last night his first eight shifts were :56, :54, :58, :52, 1:12, :34, 1:16, 1:10. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins averaged :45 seconds a shift, why is Draisaitl continually being allowed to take this long of shifts?
Schultz wasn’t benched, but he was on the ice for only one shift, a measly nine seconds, in the final eight minutes of the third period, but that’s because they were protecting a lead and he is not a stellar defender. It makes sense. A benching happens immediately in my books.
The major issue in Edmonton is that the team has consistently given too much rope to first and second year players, especially forwards. Tom Renney benched Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle for a period once and many fans incorrectly complained. When Eakins did that to Yakupov many fans incorrectly called for Eakins’ head, even though it was the correct decision.
It was only recently that Schultz was sat down for indifferent play, but for the most part Eakins and the organization aren’t willing to send these kids a message.
I don’t understand it. When Craig MacTavish was a coach, and his team was competitive, he made it very clear that young players either played the right way or they didn’t play.
Fernando Pisani shared a story with me this past Friday about his rookie season.
“As a rookie if I made a mistake I would be sitting on the bench. One
game I didn’t cover Steve Thomas in front of the net and he scored. I didn’t
tie up his stick. I sat the rest of that game and then sat out the
“I wasn’t given much rope when I was young. I knew that
and I learned quickly after that benching to make smart plays if I
wanted to stay in the lineup,” Pisani said.
Pisani was a very responsible player. He was beloved for his two-way play, and of course his magical run in the 2006 playoffs. Pisani was never an elite scorer, but he was a very good checker and penalty killer.
MacTavish sent a message to him and Pisani was wise enough to pick up on it. Play the right way and you will play, don’t, and you will sit.
I have no idea why the Oilers, and some fans, feel young players should be immune to learning how to play without the puck. The coach can’t just keep showing them video of their mistakes and hope they learn.
Eakins is finally showing some tough love with Schultz. Schultz didn’t play in the final five minutes of last night’s game because the Oilers were nursing a one-goal lead. If he wants to play at crucial times he will need to show he deserves the icetime.
It is about time Eakins coached this way.
Draisaitl is not producing enough points to overcome egregious errors like that. If you are scoring 60+ points a coach will let you get away with more, but if Patrick Roy can bench Nathan MacKinnon, like he did over the weekend, then why can’t Draisaitl sit?
If the Oilers want accountability from their players, then the coach has to set the level of expectations.
Draisaitl has one point in his last 11 games. Marc Arcobello could have easily slid up to the 2nd line for the rest of the game, while Eakins sent a message to Draisaitl.
If the Oilers actually believe it is best for his development to be here, instead of in junior, then at least coach him to play the right way. He has six points in 27 games. He isn’t producing offensively, so he at least should be responsibly defensively.
CHALLENGE EACH OTHER…
I like seeing Scrivens get fired up after that play. You could tell he was mad, but he didn’t embarrass a teammate. If the Oilers are going to improve they need players challenging each other to be better.
Pisani shared this about being competitive and developing a strong work ethic within the team.
Work ethic has to be the foundation if the Oilers want to become a good team.
The players need to demand it from one another, but Eakins can’t be hesitant to send a message to young players. This season is over. The Oilers aren’t making the playoffs, but if Eakins and management want this team to avoid a similar fate next season, now is the time for some tough love.
It will make the team better in the long run, and hopefully end this decade of losing.
Trading Hall would be asinine. Just ask the Boston Bruins. For the sake of Oilers fans I truly hope the Oilers are not seriously considering it.
MONTH OF GIVING…
Thank you to Dave, Sasha and Frank for their generous bids and to The Ranch Golf Course and River Valley Health for the great packages.
We have raised an amazing $26,950 in the first four days! Let’s keep it going this week.
A signed Paul McCartney guitar courtesy of Greg Christenson from Christenson Developments. This is an awesome authentic piece for the music lover. (Includes letter of authenticity.)
Package #2... A fun-filled surprise package that includes good food, good chirps and maybe, depending on who wins it, some romance…Tune in on TSN 1260 today at 2 p.m. to find out.
Thanks in advance. All proceeds go towards the Christmas Bureau
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