MacT and Nelson face many challenges


When you are a 30th place team every aspect of your team game is below average. This season the goalies, defence, forwards, coaching, scouting and management have all been underwhelming. Today, Dallas Eakins paid the price for the shortcomings of the team and was fired, but he is far from the only one who needs to improve.

Which area needs to be addressed the most?

It is a good question. Willis wrote a solid piece yesterday suggesting that goaltending is the major problem.

It is hard to argue those numbers. It illustrates how much of an impact a goalie can have, positively or negatively, on your team.

Craig MacTavish will transition Todd Nelson into the role as interim
head coach. It is a strange set up, and there is no time table on how
long MacTavish will be in a “supervisor” head coaching role.

said he wants to go eye-to-eye with the players and get a feel of the
dressing room. One area he needs to improve is the offence.

Oilers don’t score enough. They don’t generate enough quality chances,
and when they do, rarely does the opposing goalie have to deal with
traffic in front of his net.

If you lose a game 7-1, the save% of the goalie is much worse than if you lose 2-1 or 3-1, except for extreme outliers, and if you win 7-2 the shooting % for you team is much higher than if you win 3-2. On a game-by-game basis how do the Oilers fare?

I wanted to break down how often the Oilers score three or more goals and how often they surrender three goals or less.

This year:

They have scored 3 or more goals 11 times, which is 35.4% of their games. They are 6-2-3.
They have allowed 3 or fewer goals 17 times, 54.8% of their games. They are 7-8-2.


They scored 3+ goals 33 times, 40.4% of their games.
They allowed 3 goals or less 44 times, 53.6% of their games.

2013 (shortened season only 48 games)

They scored 3+ goals 20 times, which equals 41.6%.
They allowed 3 goals or less 30 times, 62.5%.


They scored 3+ goals 35 times, which equals 42.6% of their games.
They surrendered 3 goals or less 53 times, 64.6%.


They scored 3+ goals in 32 of their 82 games, 39%
They allowed 3 goals or less 46 times, 56%.

The Oilers have had the odd game where they explode for six, seven or eight goals, but over the past five seasons they have consistently not been able to muster more than two goals per game. You won’t win many games scoring two goals, especially when your team defence is far from stellar.

Nelson and MacTavish face many challenges, and getting the offence going will be equally as important and challenging as it will be trying to solidify the goaltending.


The Oilers have had 83 skaters on the team since the beginning of the 2010/2011 season. They have had little continuity, and often too many of the same types of players. The biggest issue with the Oilers is that they don’t have a strong enough work ethic, and management has given the coaches too many of the same type of skilled players. They simply don’t have enough size and weight in their lineup to compete offensively.

With MacT on the bench, I’m curious to see if he can get more out of this group. The one thing MacT did well when he coached the Oilers for eight years was that most nights they tried hard. I don’t see him being in the transition role very long, but I sense he wants to be here to find out how many of this current group is worthwhile keeping. Of course, MacTavish might not be the one making that decision in the summer, but for now he is.

Rk Player GP G A PTS S S%
1 Jordan Eberle 305 102 137 239 747 13.7
2 Taylor Hall 271 100 143 243 875 11.4
3 Jeff Petry 266 16 49 65 369 4.3
4 Sam Gagner 258 57 107 164 543 10.5
5 Ryan Jones 239 39 32 71 360 10.8
6 Ladislav Smid 221 7 24 31 131 5.3
7 Ryan
211 48 103 151 461 10.4
8 Ales Hemsky 209 42 82 124 413 10.2
9 Ryan Smyth 201 31 51 82 392 7.9
10 Magnus
163 26 32 58 334 7.8
11 Shawn Horcoff 159 29 44 73 242 12
12 Justin
152 21 50 71 236 8.9
13 Nail Yakupov 142 32 31 63 264 12.1
14 Theo Peckham 129 4 12 16 68 5.9
15 Nick Schultz 128 1 16 17 73 1.4
16 Tom Gilbert 126 9 34 43 156 5.8
17 Ryan Whitney 120 9 51 60 114 7.9
18 Corey Potter 111 7 23 30 150 4.7
19 David Perron 109 33 39 72 285 11.6
20 Eric Belanger 104 4 15 19 149 2.7
21 Boyd Gordon 101 12 16 28 114 10.5
22 Andrew
99 4 16 20 106 3.8
23 Lennart
95 7 11 18 59 11.9
24 Anton Lander 94 2 6 8 83 2.4
25 Ben Eager 84 9 7 16 87 10.3
26 Andrew
82 11 24 35 129 8.5
27 Luke Gazdic 77 2 2 4 38 5.3
28 Kurtis Foster 74 8 14 22 182 4.4
29 Mark
73 9 18 27 118 7.6
30 Colin Fraser 67 3 2 5 57 5.3
31 Linus Omark 66 8 22 30 100 8
32 Jesse Joensuu 62 5 4 9 59 8.5
33 Dustin Penner 62 21 18 39 137 15.3
34 Jim
62 2 12 14 57 3.5
35 Matt
60 5 3 8 88 5.7
36 Anton Belov 57 1 6 7 54 1.9
37 Martin
56 0 7 7 38 0
38 Teemu
52 6 7 13 66 9.1
39 Andy Sutton 52 3 7 10 41 7.3
40 Jean-Francois
51 4 1 5 28 14.3
41 Darcy
47 1 2 3 27 3.7
42 Liam Reddox 44 1 9 10 85 1.2
43 Jason
43 0 2 2 9 0
44 Gilbert Brule 41 7 2 9 72 9.7
45 Mike Brown 35 1 0 1 17 5.9
46 Steve
34 0 1 1 6 0
47 Will Acton 33 3 2 5 20 15
48 Zack Stortini 32 0 4 4 16 0
49 Leon
31 2 5 7 42 4.8
50 Mark Fayne 31 1 4 5 36 2.8
51 Teddy Purcell 31 4 10 14 45 8.9
52 Philip Larsen 30 3 9 12 47 6.4
53 Ryan O’Marra 28 1 5 6 16 6.3
54 Chris
28 1 2 3 24 4.2
55 Oscar Klefbom 27 1 3 4 22 4.5
56 Cam Barker 25 2 0 2 35 5.7
57 Mark Fistric 25 0 6 6 9 0
58 Colten
24 0 1 1 13 0
59 Mark Fraser 23 1 0 1 5 20
60 Nikita
22 2 3 5 41 4.9
61 Benoit
20 3 5 8 28 10.7
62 Steve
19 1 3 4 11 9.1
63 Tyler Pitlick 17 2 0 2 16 12.5
64 Taylor
15 1 3 4 14 7.1
65 Keith Aulie 12 0 0 0 10 0
66 Jerred
10 1 0 1 7 14.3
67 Brad Hunt 9 1 0 1 8 12.5
68 Alexandre
8 1 1 2 13 7.7
69 Denis
7 0 1 1 3 0
70 Josh Green 7 1 1 2 14 7.1
71 Alex Plante 6 0 1 1 5 0
72 Shawn Belle 5 0 0 0 7 0
73 Iiro
5 1 0 1 9 11.1
74 Taylor Fedun 4 2 0 2 6 33.3
75 Brandon
3 0 0 0 0 0
76 Philippe
2 0 1 1 0 0
77 Ryan Hamilton 2 0 0 0 0 0
78 Roman Horak 2 1 0 1 2 50
79 Darnell Nurse 2 0 0 0 2 0
80 Richard
2 0 0 0 1 0
81 Milan Kytnar 1 0 0 0 1 0
82 Bryan Rodney 1 0 0 0 0 0
83 Bogdan
1 0 0 0 1 0

I don’t believe this group of players is good enough to win on a regular basis, and I’m very curious to see if Nelson and MacTavish can get any more offence out of this group. Tom Renney, Ralph Krueger and Eakins were unable to, which is why I believe personnel changes on the ice and in management are needed more than a simple head coaching change.


  • I was very honoured to have the opportunity to write this story about Wendy and Derek Keenan. I wanted it to be respectful, but also honest. I thank them for allowing me to write it and wish them both the best. Keenan has stepped away from his coaching/GM duties with the Edmonton Rush for the time being so he can be with his wife. 
  • I asked MacTavish about Lander and Marincin and he said, “I won’t comment on personnel decisions at this point.” Nelson knows both players well, so you can expect he will have some input into whether they would be upgrades over the current roster.
  • I like Todd Nelson, but my one concern in this decision is that the Oilers will once again just promote from within. MacTavish only gave Nelson the interim title, but it will be almost impossible for him to have a worse record than Eakins the rest of the way, which could lead to the Oilers foregoing the proper hiring process once again.


Thanks again to Hughes Petroleum and Nail Yakupov for their donations on Friday and to Arnold and DJ for bidding on them. After nine days we have raised $55,200.


    • Pair of Edmonton Rush season tickets. Silver seats, lower bowl.
    • Behind the scenes tour during one home game. You’ll meet the coaches, players and the cheer team.
    • You and three friends will go for dinner with team owner Bruce Urban and assistant coach and former player, Jimmy Quinlan. Urban will pick up the entire tab so feel free to order the best food/drink on the menu.

    You can bid by calling 780.444.1260 or text 101260 between 2-6 p.m. today.

    Thanks in advance. All proceeds will help out Santa’s Anonymous.

    Recently by Jason Gregor:     

    • Salty

      I believe that Brian Burke put it best when he stated “Lowe would run this team into the ground” and now they have hit rock bottom once again. As in X 2 now. Replacing an AHL coach by another? All the while an ex-NHL coach, that is now a rookie GM is behind the bench?

      What is MacT smoking? I need some!!!!

    • Salty

      Thank you MacT. I don’t know if this is the right move or not, but SOMETHING had to be done. Good luck to Dallas, and to Todd who sure has his work cut out for him – as you do. Oilers’ team take note, you now have 4 ex coaches on your consciences, as well as their wives and kids who go to school in the city – smarten up please.

    • Salty

      Have to feel for Nelson taking over coaching duties with MacT. hanging over his head telling him how to coach like Eakins – whom Mact. would probably still rehire for our coach if he had a say to keep him .

    • WTF2

      Just a thought, last time we made the playoffs we wore the navy and copper jerseys, then we changed to Orange and blue. Perhaps THAT was the jinx on us Hell, I’ll try anything to make it better.

    • Anton CP

      Listen to those Eakins apologists on TSN is very annoy. Yeah coach is not the one to blame because of yada yada yada…

      Well, guess what, everyone would love to have the rosters of Pens or Hawks but you don’t always get what do you want right? Unless they are seriously thinking that Sabres or Yotes have better rosters or better goalie that Oilers should have at least respectful record better than those 2 teams. So the roster is weak but still shouldn’t be the excuse for a record of a single win against the entire Western Conference after 31 games.

      It is understandable why TSN would defend Eakins so much because they were those who projected Eakins will be an impact once he came up from AHL to NHL, rank him as one of the best coach available 3 years ago. As matter of fact that every time that Dreger was talking about Eakins almost sound like a little girl having a crush.

      We need less Toronto bias from the Canadian sports media. They are part of reason why Leafs have sucked for this many years.

    • S cottV

      Even though I have felt (like many others on this site) that Eakins needed to go a long long time ago, one shouldn’t assume that getting a lot more out of this group right now – is going to be easy.

      MacT and Nelson are probably in for a rough ride and I believe it will invariably cost MacT his job. Nelson? Will end up back in Oklahoma at the end of the season.

      This group is headed into the mid and later part of the season with no hope to make the playoffs. They will be playing tough Western Conference opponents – most of whom are in the playoff mix.

      No way you can match collective will with teams in the hunt and the Oilers who are too far gone on the outside, to see much of anything looking in.

      Save for maybe – a 2 or 3 game bump up in performance, due to the emotions going on – I don’t see too much changing – for this season.

      The Oilers need the very best Coach that comes available between now and next season.

      NHL Experienced, NHL Proven, Strong Leader, Tough, Charismatic, Systems Oriented, the Credibility to run his show – etc.

      I am sure that Nelson is a good guy and will one day make a good NHL Coach. Just – not here – not now.

      Oilers need to stop underestimating things.

    • ubermiguel

      Gregor you have a way of keeping persepctive; that Wendy and Derek Keenan story is heart-breaking. You know what really bothers me about the Oilers top to bottom and it relates to the Keenans?: we have a limited amount of time on this earth, where is the urgency or the desire to do and be the best from the Oilers? They’ve been given this amazing talent and skill and opportunity and so many of them are wasting it. We see the guys that are trying (Ference, Scrivens, Hendricks, Davidson, Marincin, Arcobello, Gordon, RNH, Fasth) but maybe don’t have the skill to turn the team around. The skilled guys (Hall, Eberle, Schultz, Yak) too often look like they’re half-assing it and it’s a waste of their gifts. I wonder how often these young guys say “I’d better skip the bar tonight, I have to give 100% in tomorrow’s game” or “I’m going to stay after practice to work on some things” or “Can I get more video to study so I’m prepared for our next opponent?”

    • bazmagoo

      Staying away from the arena and voting with your wallets is starting to affect change Oilersnation, keep up the good work! Let’s keep it going so we can get Lowe out and actually have a team worthy of our loyalty.

    • nugeformayor

      We need Connor McDavid hope we win a few then bomb out for rest of season enuf to get the pick of its just a waste of a season Eakins what a joke thought worst coach in the history of the nhl this guy is from Florida! Wtf was Mack thinking! He never even won a championship with the Marlies the actually got better without him last year

    • nugeformayor

      As per the norm, what alot of folks here fail to realize is that no matter how many high draft picks a team has over a period of time, if those are weak draft years, what is the team selecting high supposed to do. Pittsburgh lucked out several years ago, we didnt.

    • Zarny

      So now that Eakins is gone, Hall is the new goat?

      I said months ago that Hall or any of the 3 golden boys should be available for trade to improve the team.

      The sooner everyone starts looking at everyone as expendable, the sooner this sh’t show can get pointed in the right direction.

      Who care if Hall is our best player.. if we can improve by trading him and Eberle, then so be it.

      Man I hate the sentiment with anything oilers. They suck, so do what it takes to make them better.

        • Zarny

          I get that point, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing to trade him for a top pairing Dman and a second line center?
          Sure we might get the short end of the stick, but one less Hall might be trumped by two more league average players to fill the holes?

            • I guess short end of the stick can be looked at in a couple ways. It’s possible to trade something of higher market value, for something of lower market value that you could use more, and improve.

              And I was very vague on the D-men for a reason. I consider a top pairing D-man someone better than everyone we currently have, possibly save for one.

              Hall won’t bring a top 5 number 2 center, as well as a top 5 1-2 dman, I am not crazy. Just looking for some overall improvements to the team. The oilers lack solid foundation based players. All teams need them.

    • I believe Todd Nelson will be an upgrade but by the start of next year he will be an associate coach and MacT (if on the job still) and Nicholson will find a veteran coach to take over head coaching duties. Nelson is good with young players (which is what the entire oilers team is pretty much) and has a good powerplay in okc.

      As for the Hall rumours, I dont know what to think. Im torn cause he is one of the top wingers in the league but also has done zero winning since joining the oilers silk. Personally I wouldnt trade him.

      Wish list:

      Yakupov traded in a package to get a solid player (Quebec/Colorado traded all their 1st overall picks and look how that worked out) Yak is a very poor all round hockey player. Eakins didnt ruin him, he actually tried making him an all around better player. Yaks has failed so far and anyone that wants to argue with me there is no need. A player drafted 1st overall for his offensive abilities has 4 goals in his 3rd year and doesnt have a clue about defence is horrendous.

      Shelter Jultz and give him some time to breathe. He could be extremely useful on a good team with structure, lets wait for the oilers to get there. If a trade involving him in a package to get better immediately is offered however, then that must be considered. Im not saying he is untouchable but dont sell him low.

      Petry is brought back but only for Kevin Klien dollars. Petry offense isnt top pairing but he is a very solid 3/6 defencemen on a good team.

      Keep Marincin in the minors and let him as Detriots Ken Holland would say “over ripe”. Next year look at bringing him in so he can have an impact. The Oilers wont need to overpay for free agents.

      Fire all the amateur and pro scouts. Countless bad off season signings and a lackluster draft pedigree should be more than enough.

      Fantasy wish: Get the All Mighty Bob Nicholson to bring in Mike Babcock.

      For the record Im also torn on MacT. I liked the teams he coached they we hard to play against and very gritty/fought for every inch. When he was fired I wasnt mad, I felt it was time. But as a GM he has made a number of mistakes with only one real check mark in the Perron trade. You cant say he isnt trying to fix this team. He has done alot of tinkering to try and find the winning formula (something Tambs didnt do), but as we sit here now it hasnt worked. Im torn on if I want him here still.

      KLowe needs to leave.

    • Oiler Fan 16

      To score goals in the NHL is not easy. But it can be simple. Go to the net. The Oilers have steadily moved their game away from the net. Simple fix, but not easy to do. You need strength, stamina and determination. The guy in front doesn’t always score, but it creates space and chances.