GDB 82.0: Terminus


After a long and disappointing 81 games, we have finally arrived at the final contest of the Edmonton Oilers’ 2014-15 campaign. Saturday’s road game against the Vancouver Canucks is irrelevant to the larger story for the Oilers, which has long since been written, and may be irrelevant to the Canucks as well if Calgary loses its afternoon contest.

It’s likely to be notable only as the end of the line.

Final Showings

Viktor Fasth is expected to get the start for Edmonton, and this will almost certainly be his final appearance as a member of the Oilers. Injuries and disappointing play have limited the fiery Swede to just 33 games with the club. This is an awfully important contest for the player, who may have trouble finding an NHL job next season; he turns 33 over the summer, he’s undersized, he’s been hurt a lot and he hasn’t really been all that effective since a 25-game rookie season with Anaheim.

There are others potentially in their final Oilers games, too, though we won’t know the full list until next season. Derek Roy, Matt Fraser, Keith Aulie, Martin Marincin, and potentially Curtis Hamilton (if he plays) are the guys who would seem to be the most at risk of not returning next season.

Products of Environment


Robin Brownlee put a strong piece together on Friday, one I found myself nodding along with as I read it, a piece highlighting both some of the nicer stories and the ugliness that was the Oilers’ effort in their final home game of the season. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend it.

I’d like to go a little further than he did on the subject of passengers. Watching that game against the Sharks, Justin Schultz stood out in a negative way but for me the most culpable players were on the top forward line for the Oilers.

The trio of Benoit Pouliot, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle is of vital importance to Edmonton. All three are excellent hockey players, and despite my criticism here all three are guys who could play for my hockey team any day of the week. But in a game where the Oilers needed their veterans to carry the load against a veteran opponent, the three (and the latter two in particular) looked checked out mentally.

Pouliot made critical mistakes and was invisible offensively. Hall flew the defensive zone at the first opportunity and backchecked sporadically and halfheartedly, looking more like a 16-year-old winger trying to pad his point totals in a junior game rather than an NHL’er handling the defensive responsibilities that come with playing centre. Eberle’s game reminded me of a scouting report by Michael Remmerde back before he was drafted; Remmerde described him as a “casual player” and if I remember correctly (I can’t seem to find the report online now) suggested he wasn’t so much scared of going into battles as he was at times disinterested in doing so.

I don’t often critique effort level because I think there’s often a tendency to confuse a lack of effort with other things (style, injuries, matchups, fatigue, simply playing in situations a player isn’t capable of handling) but this was one of the rare cases where I strongly felt effort was the problem (and given the coach’s comments, he agreed). Maybe it’s forgivable that at the end of a long, brutal season and in a meaningless game these players gave less than their best. It would be easy to understand, too, if all the losing and long stretches of irrelevance at the team level have made it easy for bad habits to creep in. 

To me, though, these are tent-pole guys, and on any team those guys have to be consummate professionals, players who go out every shift and get their hands dirty.

Todd Nelson14

That’s going to be something that Todd Nelson (or his replacement, if it comes to that) needs to find a way to address out of training camp next season. I think it’s doable. Watching Hall backcheck and Eberle go into the corners back at the start of the year convinced me that these are players who care about winning, players who are willing to do the hard work to win games. My guess – and it’s only a guess, because I’m not in the room – is that mentally it’s much easier to do the hard things when there seems to be a point to it and that right now it’s hard for some players to see the point (which I would guess is also why AHL’ers fighting for their careers tend to look better at this point in Edmonton’s season than the guys who don’t have to worry about their futures).

Nelson made an interesting comment last year on how players respond to coaching. It seems relevant now:

They may [execute the system], but how badly do they want to do it when it’s May 20, it’s been a long year, the sun is nice, the girl you’re staying with says it’d be nice to get back home? You do it, but I call it ‘discretionary effort.’ Are you willing to go through the wall, or are you just doing it to do it?

A lot of times, that “discretionary effort” has not been in evidence in Edmonton. The players tend to get pilloried for it – and to a degree rightly – but to me it’s one of those things that tends to be there early in the season and that drops off as the losses pile up and the games stop mattering. I don’t really think there’s anything fundamentally unfixable about the players; I just think that this is the kind of thing that happens to young men who have only ever played for a lousy team.

I’m a total outsider here. I watch all the games, I listen to the interviews, I talk to some people who are more closely connected and I live and breathe this stuff but I don’t know these players personally or see them day-in and day-out so all of this comes with a big “for what it’s worth” caveat. 

For what it’s worth: My belief is that whoever is coaching next season needs to come in and convince these players that there is something to play for in 2015-16. He needs to convince these players to give an honest effort from the get-go, and then the team needs to have some success. We just might be surprised how much better Hall, Eberle, Schultz and the rest look if they don’t spend half the season playing meaningless games.


Our best guess at the lineups courtesy of 

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What They’re Saying


What a season it has been! When it all began, most of us thought the Canucks would be finding themselves or working their way back to credibility by the end of the season; boy were we way off! There still is one more key game left though, the Edmonton Spoilers are in town tonight. Spoilers…get it? they beat the Kings? Okay, you got it.

Edmonton will probably look to lose this game to try and lock in as good a chance as they can get to snag McDavid or Eichel. That’s fine with the Canucks. Vancity could use the win to solidify home ice to start the playoffs against the Flames. Not a ton of storylines in this one….OH YA, RYAN MILLER STARTS!!!! 

The tingly feeling of the playoffs is among us, let’s just keep this one professional today. Canucks go for the season sweep of the Oilers. Not surprising, but still important. #moralvictory



Game day prediction: 4-1 Vancouver.

Obvious game day prediction: Edmonton’s insanely inexperienced defence corps struggles to handle the Canucks, and the tough minutes pairing of Martin Marincin and David Musil isn’t a match for the Sedin twins.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Luke Gazdic has an excellent game. He’s physical, engaged and even chips in an assist.


      • chickenStew

        Please stop. Don’t let MacT and co. get away with their incompetence. They could have easily signed Petry to a longer-term deal a while ago. Instead, MacT wanted to “challenge” him to a one-year deal and they put their faith in the likes of Nikitin and Jultz. How’s that working out? They’re raving about Petry in Montreal right now.

  • hagar

    Hall could come to the games in his birthday suit and bust every stick on the bench for all I care as long as he gave a sh*t and back checked!!!

    His lazy play is my reason for being disgruntled with him. If this kid played hard every shift and gave a sh*t about his teammates he would be a superstar.

    Right now he is a selfish player. Some needs to kick him in the ass.

  • dougtheslug

    Gawd the only thing worse than cheering for the Oilers is cheering for a team even worse than Oilers. I’ m not sure the Sabres could even beat the OKC Barons. And I mean the real OKC Barons, not the version playing in Vancouver.

    Well played, Buffalo. Worthy winners of the McEichel cup.

  • hagar

    Looks like our #1 centre isn’t good enough to play in the worlds. Stiff competition i know, but… He is our #1 centre. Good to know are core isn’ t going anywhere, bold moves not needed. Hope its 10-1 nucks so we have to look at that. score all summer long here at ON

  • BubbaZanetti

    While I’m on a roll, how bout those Senators !
    Hell of a team there. Some nice young talent there.
    Mark Stone looks like the real deal, not bad pick at I believe 178 in 2010. Damn it’s fun watching these teams get into the playoffs, Winnipeg with their size and toughness, Calgary with their grit and teamwork and Ottawa with their hot goaltending and young talent leading the way. Curtis Lazar was the one Oil King the Oilers should of went after.

  • hagar

    I am not a monster, and it makes me feel bad for the guy having to put on these positive faces.

    Until Klowe is gone, I don’t know what anyone below him can really say.

    • hagar

      Next year will be no better then this year. Bank on it. I will be purchasing the NHL Center Ice for the first time ever next year. Maybe even find a stop gap team in the meantime to cheer for and follow. Try to enjoy this game once again.

  • Oilfaninvan

    MacT looks shell shocked. He had the look of someone who really has no idea what he is doing. Good news though. The “lengthy rebuild” is “in the rear view mirror” and the “decade of dominance” is set to begin. What a load of crap. That entire interview could have been spoken in Klingon since stopped listening to what he says long ago.

    • hagar

      It all comes from the “puppet Master”. I don’t think for a second MacT would be a good gm without Lowe making all the calls, but he is just another in a LONG line of fall guys.

      They probably won’t hire a Babcock, because he would not allow his name to be dragged down by lowe under the guise of it being his choices. No way.

  • Oilfaninvan


    MacTavish looks like he got dragged through a hedge backwards.

    What is he going to do for a goalie? Look what happened to Vancouver. They signed a veteran goalie, Miller. THREE YEARS AT $6 M PER YEAR. I thought it was a good move at the time. Tonight Miller looks like stir fried sh!t. Vancouver is lucky they have Lack. Why can’t the Oilers find a goalie like that?

    • Andy7190


      I am going to answer my own question. Jason Gregor told an interesting story on his show the other day. He ran into an NHL pro scout at a social event. The scout had attended about 55 NHL games this season. He told Gregor that he had not seen ONE Oiler scout at any of the games he attended. On the other hand, he had seen a Canucks scout at virtually EVERY NHL game he attended.

      The Oilers organization is a freaking JOKE.

  • Reg Dunlop

    It’s fitting that CBC interviews the flame coach during an Oiler intermission. The final insult to end the worst season of Oiler hockey ever, at least until next year.

    With regard to Hallsey playing in the WHC, how will he recover for next year if he doesn’t have 5 months to train?

  • nuge2drai

    Hall is the perfect third liner. Before you hit trash hear me out, because I also think Draisaitl is the perfect third liner for next year…

    Pouliot Hopkins Eberle

    Purcell Roy Yakupov

    Hall Lander Draisaitl

    Hendricks Gordon Klinkhammer

    Spend all the cap space on Defense. Trade for Anderson or Lehner.

  • hagar

    I will end this depressing season with a joke to lighten the mood.

    A guy walks into a bar with his pet monkey. He orders a drink, and while he’s drinking, the monkey jumps all over the place, eating everything behind the bar. Then the monkey jumps on to the pool table and swallows a billiard ball. The bartender screams at the guy, “Your monkey just ate the cue ball off my pool table – whole!” “Sorry,” replied the guy. “He eats everything in sight, the little bastard. I’ll pay for everything.” The man finishes his drink, pays and leaves. Two weeks later, he’s in the bar with his pet monkey, again. He orders a drink, and the monkey starts running around the bar. The monkey finds a maraschino cherry on the bar. He grabs it, sticks it up his ass, pulls it out and eats it. The bartender is disgusted. “Did you see what your monkey did now?” he asks. “Yeah,” replies the guy. “He still eats everything in sight, but ever since he swallowed that cue ball, he measures stuff first.”