There is no quick fix for Oilers


The Oilers and their fans had to endure a heavy dose of reality last night. After two games decent games, albeit both losses, the Oilers reverted to their old ways in Dallas. They lost battles, they spent too much time in the defensive end, they made wrong reads, they made bad passes and wrong decisions and the Stars fired 51 shots at Anders Nilsson in a 4-2 loss.

Fans watched in horror thinking “here we go again.” The wise hockey fan will realize this is not a coaching issue. It is on the players to play better, and until the are committed to making the right play more often than the wrong one this team will continue to lose.

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Last night the Oilers showed they can still be one of the worst defensive teams in the league. The Stars were open in the middle of the ice far too often. The Oilers didn’t pick up the correct player in the slot or along the boards and it led to many scoring chances for the Stars.

When McLellan shows them the video this group needs to realize they have to play better. It isn’t about the coach or his system. Stop using that as an excuse. I recognize mistakes will be made and sometimes a misread will occur due to learning another system, but last night’s breakdowns were from a lack of focus and commitment.

It was one game.

Outside of Nilsson, no Oilers played well enough. None. They all need to be better, but last night I saw some players revert to their old habits.

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Taylor Hall forced too many passes. Forwards who have the puck more will turn it over more, it happens, but Hall needs to cut down on his turnovers. The onus is on him. He can’t average over one turnover a game. He made some nice passes to McDavid, Klefbom and Hendricks that didn’t result in goals, but he made more bad plays than good last night. This type of game has to be once every 15-20 games from Hall. He is doing some of the things McLellan wants, especially shooting from anywhere in the offensive zone, but he, and his teammates, can’t let a lack of success make them frustrated and lose consistency.

Justin Schultz wasn’t aggressive last night. He reverted to being lackadaisical on the puck, especially in the defensive zone. On three different shifts he made “soft” plays on the puck or a Stars player and it led to a scoring chance. He didn’t do this in the first two games, so we know he is capable of playing better. He needs to find consistency.

Nail Yakupov has to make better defensive reads. After being stoned on a breakaway, Yakupov puts himself in perfect
position to check Spezza on the backcheck. However when Spezza cuts to middle Yakupov just keeps going and checks no one. Spezza slides to the middle, takes the pass and scores the game winning goal. Yakupov has to think better without the puck. His effort is fine, but you need to work smart, not just work hard.

Yakupov and Schultz have shown signs of improvement, but they, like Hall and the rest of the team, have to find consistency in their decision making and effort.

It was one game in a new season.

Nugent-Hopkins needs to be better. Benoit Pouliot has to show the same determination and spunk he showed last season. Every player has to play better, but the ones who have been here the longest need to find consistency.

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It won’t happen overnight. This has been an issue for years, and McLellan is patient and experienced enough not to panic. I believe he expected some growing pains and there will be more bumps along the road this season. I sense most fans accept there will be some tough games, but after nine years of losing no fan is willing to accept a lack of effort. McLellan and Chiarelli both told me 20 games is  time to get a sense who a player is

The crazy part is they were one shot away from taking the lead. If Yakupov scores on the breakaway they might have won, but he didn’t and then Pouliot lost a battle in the corner and Yakupov made a horrible read and the puck is in the back of the net. The Oilers make it hard on themselves by making it so easy for the opposition to score.

The five-star mistakes/giveaways have to stop.

The players have to avoid feeling sorry for themselves. 

It was only one game in a new season.

They have to show some character and prove they are sick of losing. They need to recognize that consistency wins you hockey games.

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Both of their goals came from simple hard work and directing shots on goal. The Stars didn’t hand them easy two-on-ones or breakaways. The Oilers have to earn their goals, and it is time the realize they have to make the opposition earn their goals as well.

The Oilers will have off nights, every team does, but they can’t have them every third or fourth game otherwise we will be talking draft lottery again.

None of us, especially the players, want that, so let’s hope they realize consistency is their friend.

It was only one game, and a win tomorrow will ease a lot of angst within Oilersnation, but the players have to ensure it was just one game and not the beginning of a streak of “bad” games. I expected some speed bumps this season, and feel they will be better in the second half, but they also can’t afford a lengthy losing streak to start the season. They can’t be out of the race by the middle of November.

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  • offshoreoil

    Outside of Nillson, I thought McDavid had a good game. If it wasn’t for his big mistake, there wouldn’t have been any/many negatives about Yakupov’s game. Hendricks was trying and looked good for what it was worth. Letestu did not make any noticeable mishaps in the little time he had even strength.

    Not fair to sh!t on the whole team and write them off for reason unknown. But, I guess the Sun don’t shine if the Son don’t shine. So, just because Jay Cutler was hungover and didn’t do anything for three games straight, nothing the Oilers did was worthy of praise.?

    *my favorite part of the articles was the mention that Hall “made some nice passes to McDavid, Klefbom and Hendricks that didn’t result in goals”.*

    If you were to go back and review film, those would probably be the only passes Hall completed. As for them being gimmies or for sure goals that his teammates just couldn’t finish, I would classify that as a fable.

    Oilers can improve, and they can do it sooner than later. There is no reason to still advocate for patience when it comes to Hall’s game, it is time to come to terms on what Hall is.

    Any of the following: Schultz, Eberle, Hall and the 1st and 2nd round picks for the next 2 years could be used to boost the Oilers line up in necessary areas.

  • Dirtski

    “The Oilers will have off nights, every team does, but they can’t have them every third or fourth game otherwise we will be talking draft lottery again. ”

    -Speaking of – who are the big names this coming draft? Too soon?Really though no writers here thought the oil would make the playoffs this year, and many chalked it up to Crosbys first year where the pegs missed them as well – chances are we will draft high next year and when we do – I hope for a trade for sure for a true 1 D-man. Maybe some big names are coming off contract next season? Still so early in the season but if it’s true it takes 20 games to feel out the players – perhaps a big move comes by the trade deadline and we see our blue bolstered in some impactful way by a veteran d.

  • BubbaZanetti

    Waiting for the “core” to develop is fallacy , these players are in their 4,5, and 6 th years in the NHL. What you see, is what you will get.
    {McDavid excluded at this point}

    These guys never transitioned from their junior style of hockey, running around chasing the puck all night long, doing the one man show, waiting for draft day.Leave the team play to someone else.

    Team play and chemistry are vital for NHL success, “shiny marbles” alone will not win you the cup. Just ask the Capitals.

    Maybe its just me, but in my mind we seem to be playng boys against men most nights.

    • offshoreoil

      Steve Yzerman re-invented himself 10 years into his career to become a winner and exceptional leader.

      He was always a talented scorer, but when Scotty Bowman came in and fostered Yzerman into a less selfish player, Yzerman transformed his game into a more effective 2 way player.

      10 years after he was drafted.

      There was a great article on it, but I couldn’t find it, so read these two:

      Even if you’re dead set on disagreeing with me, I still suggest reading those articles because they’re awesome hockey stories.

      Here’s a quote relevant to Oiler fans:

      “If I’m not mistaken there was a stretch in there for about 15-20 games where Steve maybe scored a goal or two and I wasn’t sure if he would ever score again,” Holland said. “He was going through the transition of being a great offensive player and now he had to really think about what areas of the ice he was supposed to be on. During that work-stoppage year, the second half, the last 10 or 15 games, he started to be a real good offensive player and a great defensive player. He found that mix that defense led to offense and we went on to the (Stanley Cup) Final that year.”

    • BubbaZanetti

      I would be surprised if the “core” don’t improve (and by improve I mean do things that help your team win not just scoring more points) many will not be here in a year. Chia has no particular emotional or reputational investment in them.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Gregor wrote:

    “They can’t be out of the race by the middle of November”

    This is at least the 3rd season in which many have expressed this sentiment. Implying that if this does occur there will be some consequences. I wonder what Gregor predicts will happen if the Oil are out of the race by mid November. Given the house cleaning this off season and difficulty of making significant player move in season, I suggest it will be business as usual if this comes to pass.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    As has been the issue since the 1st or 2nd or 3rd “rebuild” (I’ve lost count as to where this organization is considering itself), we have been without legitimate #1 and #2 defensemen.

    Even to fill the #3 and #4 spots has been somewhat suspect, yet they have continued to deploy #5,6,7,8 guys into the #1,2,3,4 roles. Isn’t it obvious that the entire team is set up for failure when you don’t have legitimate NHL players in their proper positions.

    We have outstanding young forwards that have the ability to generate offense….IF they get outlet passes on the tape, at the right time. We recently have been given stellar goaltending. Yet the achilles heel strikes again, and NOTHING has been done to rectify it. I say nothing because all management has done is replace the same coming in, that was going out. The hole at #1/2 is still glaringly there.

    The elephant in the room has been neglected for far too. We can pick #1 overall forever, but never address the root problem, and still be brutal. Just look at the last 9, coming on, 10 seasons!!

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Yes I understand #1 or #2 stud dmen don’t fall from the sky. But if you can’t even come near landing one in a decade, with all the young talent and draft picks and prospects available, they aren’t trying hard enough.

    That or they WAY over-value their own property. Something has to be done, because clearly the rebuild was constructed back-asswards and a major shakeup is long overdue.

    It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that the organization is spinning its wheels for what seems like an eternity.

  • Dirtski

    How many more years do we hear the same story, this is really embarassing, we need a no 1 defencemen but they wont trade anymore with value ie “THE CORE” These young guns, are not young anymore, they are now the real core veterans on the team, and if aint working by now, then change it up.

  • albertamann

    I truly believed the Oilers had made a fresh start with Chiarelli and Nicholson. A friend has pointed out Lowe is always with the team, draft, practice, on the road trip. He supposedly doesnt work for the hockey team anymore. Mark Messier is an advisor and Paul Mssier a pro scout??? No one really got let go except Pat Laforge, everynody else just got shuffled and i am really worried and wondering if katz runs to Klowe before anything gets done?

  • BubbaZanetti

    One word…”Blockbuster” Trade, no two words ?
    Time for one of those old school type ‘Eight player swap” ? Shake the foundation of this team down to its CORE !

    • offshoreoil

      Haha. I love it. But just think about how difficult a move like that would be in today’s hard cap NHL.Trades and trade speculation always exciting.I’m sure we will see some deals through the season.

  • offshoreoil

    Once again a lot of you need to settle down. Another high player turnover means it’s going to take time to get this team up to full speed. Yes we all know the D needs to b better. Tough start to the schedule. ..let’s have abother look after 20-25 games.Hey we just won a couple on the road. The wins will come , but we’re far from being a heavyweight this year.