THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER THING

Fans overreact to wins. They overreact to losses. That’s not a criticism as much as it is an observation. It’s what they do. The last four games for the Edmonton Oilers have provided a prime example of the kind of emotional roller-coaster ride I’m talking about.

After back-to-back wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets — a 5-1 waltz highlighted by the return of Connor McDavid that included a highlight reel goal by No. 97 — and the Ottawa Senators — a rousing 7-2 pumping — the mood around Oilersnation was, well, what you’d expect. Optimism abounded.

#20 Raj February 04 2016, 09:37PM 

The Oilers have some winnable games coming up. 20-8-2 can get them to 91 points which likely should be enough to grab the 3rd spot in the division. If the team plays like this, nothing to say they cannot go on a streak.

I thought it was impossible to say a 19 year old will make a major impact but I under estimated what Connor’s return would do to the line-up.

Oh yeah lets not forget that the Oil will be adding Klefbom and Nuge as well. This could be an epic run boys.


The tone was distinctly different, again, as you’d expect, after the Oilers provided the plummeting Montreal Canadiens with a 5-1 parachute and then soiled the sheets completely in an 8-1 laugher at the hands of the New York Islanders that coach Todd McLellan failed to see the humour in.

#1 Carny February 07 2016, 03:23PM

Run Connor!!!! Run far away from this pathetic organization!!! Go somewhere that doesn’t have a narcissistic owner who runs his upper management team with nepotism and promotes incompetence!!! Don’t turn into Hall and waste your career playing for the oilers!!! We’ll understand!!!


I’m not saying the above comments represent the majority of Oiler fans, but they certainly are examples of how the emotional pendulum can swing. GM Peter Chiarelli, on the other hand, doesn’t have the luxury of such swings as he assesses the job ahead. While I’d love to have been able to read his mind and compare notes after the two wins and again after the two losses, I’m more interested in his take after 54 games and how much it differs from mine or yours with the NHL trade deadline approaching.

THE ROAD AHEAD

The Oilers aren’t going on an epic run. McDavid won’t be knocking on Chiarelli’s door any time soon to make a trade request. Somewhere in the middle is where Chiarelli will do his work, first leading up to the deadline and latter during this off-season, in shaping this team the way he sees fit.

Knowing what he needs to do and getting it done are two different matters because when you’re a bottom-feeder like the Oilers, sucker deals abound and every GM in the league is looking to throw you an anchor. That’s not an excuse for dithering and inaction, but it is an aspect of a process that always involves a lot of moving parts.

What’s been apparent for more than a little while — something that’s been written about multiple times — is that Chiarelli is going to have to dip into his core group of players to jump-start the significant changes this roster needs, specifically on the back end. Jettisoning Justin Schultz or turning the page on Nail Yakupov won’t get it done. I know, thanks, Captain Obvious.

I’m not sure who you list as core players, but mine is limited to McDavid, Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle up front, and Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom on the back end. As for my untouchables, my list is one – McDavid. While I said in a Mailbag answer I wouldn’t have any untouchables, including McDavid, I doubt the Oilers can win any trade involving him, so, barring an insane offer, he’s my lone guy.

CHANGES TO COME

In what was a tell for me, McLellan talked about his leadership after the stinker in Brooklyn. “For two nights we haven’t had anybody do it right,” McLellan said, talking about the entire team, not just the core. What’s obvious is this team hasn’t progressed as reasonable expectations suggest it should and that there’s a dimension missing. So how untouchable is the core? Not very, outside McDavid, in my books.

We already know the Oilers aren’t nearly deep enough on the blue line. We know they lack quality right shot defensemen and an established first-pairing guy. We know Nurse has been asked to play too much because of that. While Chiarelli has added some size and edge with Zack Kassian, this line-up as it stands remains too easy to play against on too many nights. Chiarelli damn sure knows all the above, too.

While it’s unlikely – though not out of the question – Chiarelli will make major moves by the deadline, I’ll be stunned if we don’t see him move this off-season based on what he’s seen through these first 54 games. We’ve had smoke on a couple fronts already — interest in Travis Hamonic of the Islanders, to name one — and that conversation will most certainly continue.

My sense is that Chiarelli’s list of untouchables isn’t any longer than the name Connor McDavid. He’ll pull the trigger. Given what you and I have seen around here for years now – one step forward, two steps back — not just over the course of these last four games, that’s a good thing. 

WHILE I’M AT IT

Megaphone

  • Kassian and Matt Martin did some jawing Sunday but never got after it with the gloves off. Kassian instead took a round out of Brian Strait. I wouldn’t have minded seeing a rematch of the tilt they had Nov. 29, 2011. That’s here. Instead, Kassian cuffed Strait, who hadn’t had an NHL scrap and had only two fights in the AHL.
  • Yakupov’s shooting percentage was 21.0 per cent in his rookie season. It sits at 5.6 per cent this season. Anders Nilsson has been above .900 in save percentage just once (.923) in his last 10 appearances, so if he isn’t destined for Bakersfield, the question is why?


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  • Anton CP

    Out of curiousity, for those who suggested that Hall is the problem then who is the solution (and you can’t say McDavid because he hasn’t play in Edmonton long enough to be hated, that day will come and you know it)?

  • Seriously Bored

    McDavid, Hall, Eberle, Draisaitl, Sekera, Davidson and Talbot aren’t the problem here, it’s everyone else.

    Still way too much setting for subpar players overplaying to the point of injury and rushing kids. Where’s the veteran support leading by example?

    That’s what we should acquire this offseason, not blow it all up fantasy-league style.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    If you want my vote for who to trade out of the supposed core it would be Leon Draisatl. He has built up his value with his play in a short amount of time this year and I think others in the league haven’t caught on to what you get with Leon. He is our supposed “big center” that we have been waiting for however, he is really not THAT big at 6’1. He doesn’t use his size in the corners and is not physical at all. When teams start to play with jailhouse rules he disappears…think back to the FLA game in EDM. Even in junior when coaches were asked how to combat his offensive prowess, they simply stated they would get physical and he would turn into a wallflower. I’m sure he is a good kid and all but come playoff time(IF THAT EVER COMES)he will fade into the sunset because of the intensity and physicality of the game at that time of year.

  • Seriously Bored

    I don’t mind if you guys want to trade Hall but maybe come up with some realistic trade proposals before you start throwing out the garbage that too many people don’t want to trade the core. It’s not basketball, 5 guys don’t carry your team to victory.

    Hall is not the best on the league but he is a pretty good player and is still young. If the right trade was there I could see them making a deal but the idea of running all our players that actually contribute out of town is not going to make the oilers better.

    You want them to start over upfront when they haven’t had a decent set of defence in over a decade? Oh wait isn’t that also the last time they made the playoffs?

    They lost 8-1. I guess Hall and mcdavid shouldve got 9? Everyone trashes our players then says let’s trade Hall or sutter or Jamie Benn like the rest of the league isn’t paying any attention at all.

  • ChillyPepper

    I have never said Hall carries the team. It doesn’t matter if you love him or hate him, trading away your top producer, in the hopes someone will magically pick up the slack, is probably the quickest way to tank this team even further. Oh right McDavid… How about before Hall gets traded away, McDavid proves himself for a full season. Crazy thought huh… Someone actually has to prove they can contribute on a nightly basis and help this team win…

    Washington and Chicago both have 6 guys with 30+ points, Dallas has 5… Edmonton has 4. Yet the Edmonton fan logic is to trade away your top producer… Some how, some where, this must be the fault of the NDP.

  • S cottV

    TSN did a mock draft as the standings are today. Edmonton gets the first pick. I’m embarrassed to be in this spot again. To draft Mathews would be just brutal. Great player but for this team to be in this position again is beyond a joke.

    WHAT THE &@$/- IS WRONG WITH THIS TEAM!!!

    • Jay (not J)

      TSN’s goading you. Don’t sweat it. Look at the national sites and the comments pages on them. A lot of fans have a lot of strong opinions about Edmonton’s draft history. TSN is just feeding that. The Oilers will never draft Auston Matthews. I will be very surprised if whoever ends up with that pick doesn’t receive an unrefusable offer from Phoenix anyway (which might not be a bad thing).

      We’ve all taken this weekend’s brutality pretty well when you look at the context. Can the team rebound at all and at least show up against the Devils? The next few games will help determine how interesting preseason baseball’s going to look this year, so hopefully there’s a sign or two of life. And hey, the deadline looms. On a roster this bad, any change is good so some manner of good news is coming in the next couple of weeks.

    • Zarny

      Right now, they have 1 top 4 D – Sekera.

      When Klefbom returns they’ll have 2 top 4 D – on most nights. On nights Jlefbom struggles they are back down to 1 top 4 D.

      25-50% of the top 4 D needed. That’s the problem.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    Not sure why Hall is the whipping-boy. There seems to a bunch of people on here who think they know Hall inside and out. The only place i see complaints about his so called “additude” is on Oilers Nation..hmmmm. You would think if he was a cancer, he wouldn’t get asked to let McDavid crash at his place, voted to go to the All-star game, do numerous charity functions, on and on. Even if we did trade him, who is going to replace those points when he’s gone(getting a #1 d-man won’t).

    Assumptions are for idiots, facts are for realists.

    • Spydyr

      Fact the Oilers have missed the playoffs for going on a decade. Fact despite having adding a generational player the team has shown little to no progress this year.

      Is that real enough?

      • OILFANMEXICO

        Is it a fact that it’s all on Hall’s shoulders????

        NO, so what’s your point?

        When fans stop blaming one or two guys on this team THEN, they might grasp what the problem is. It’s simple really, this team is not gelling together consistently and needs more new faces. A huge shake-up is coming, don’t you worry. And some of us will not like it.

      • Jay (not J)

        You’re fixating on too small of a sample size. Between the Ottawa win and the Montreal game it was fair to say that this team was showing progress versus last year. In fact it wasn’t just homer sites that were suggesting playoff possibilities. ESPN, The Hockey News both had ‘don’t be shocked if…’ articles after those first 2 games with McDavid. Then they got their asses handed to them then they got them lit on fire but in the scheme of things, it’s just 2 losses no matter what the score says. It was a reality check for all of us. The Oilers are not a playoff team this year but that doesn’t mean that they haven’t made strides this season.

        • Spydyr

          I’m not fixating on anything the Oilers are in 29th place right now. Just like last year and the year before and the year before ………going back a decade.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    Iv’e said it over and over, Chiarelli should be open to trade ANYONE not named Connor. If it’s equal value i say make the deal.Trade our #1 draft pick this year, even if it’s Mathews as it will get us our #1 D-man.

    It’s too obvious this team is not working and the stats across all areas, prove it. Chiareli wants a big, strong,mean team everything the current Oilers aren’t.

    I love the draft, trade deadline and trades in the summer however, winning lord Stanley still tops them all.

  • Seriously Bored

    There are no easy points in the NHL. I am so shocked that so many Edmonton fans have no idea about the NHL anymore. Having number one picks means your team is bad, that’s how you get them. It doesn’t guarantee your team will be better.

    Previous management missed out on trading eberle after his second season, they missed out on trading the yakupov pick. But guess what without all this losing we wouldn’t have mcdavid and I see a lot of you saying “I’d move anyone but mcdavid.”

    The oilers sucking is not entirely halls fault and suggesting the rest of the league sees no value in him is absolutely idiotic. Did you call all the gm’s this morning and ask them what they think of Hall?

    It’s not being a groupie thinking a guy is a good hockey player and is worth more than a bag of pucks. Try watching some other teams in the league play and see how many times their offensive players turn the puck over. But guess what? Their defence bails them out.

    I can see people not liking Hall and wanting to trade him but suggesting he gets easy points and is a terrible player really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  • S cottV

    The fact that Hall was never made the Captain in the past few years, is a tell tale sign.

    The temper tantrums and McClellan sending him to the end of the bench in public display.

    Ference calling him out and the Hall response.

    Ference advising that while he may have no say, if the Captaincy were to be given to someone else, that he had very definite opinions as to who should and should not get it.

    The fact that – no one has ever stood up for Hall on the odd occasion when he gets smoked. Nobody. That is really odd. You almost get the feeling the rest of the guys enjoyed it…

    The body language – the expressions.

    The turnovers, the lack of appropriate defensive response, the lack of common hockey IQ sense. The sense of entitlement.

    The calling out of others when he just finished screwing something up – himself.

    Montreal. Down 1-0 in a critical – winnable game to keep a nice win streak alive. It’s Montreal in Montreal – no bigger stage in hockey. The line attacks and the puck turns over. Drai falls into the end boards – right in front of Hall who is on the goal line. Hall shouldn’t even need to look, to know we are in deep s#it. Simple arithmetic – it’s 5 on 3, going the other way.

    So – what is the response to what should take a 1/4 second to calculate, or better yet – to anticipate the turnover and stay in a better position to begin with?

    A half @ss back check. OK – 1 recent play but a critical one and we have seen many examples of this kind of stuff from Hall over the years.

    The Oilers are about to face a leadership collision. Or – maybe, better described as a leader / anti-leader collision.

    Hall vs McDavid.

    While the getting is good for Hall, I think you avoid the collision.

    You cannot afford to blur the leadership of a hockey club.

  • Seriously Bored

    You guys should get together with jafo and become the new gm, coach and analytics for the oilers since you seem to know everything going on in the room and have all the answers.

  • OILFANMEXICO

    What points???? How about 9th in top scoring in the LEAGUE! To think other Gm’s wouldn’t want him is VERY short sighted(other Gm’s have went on record stating this). Don’t talk smack about ANYONE unless you have heard it first hand, is the morale of the story. Hall on the ice is in the Elite class period and has been for years despite he doesn’t have Crosby, Benn, or Stamkos on his lines. You can hate him all you want,but he is far from the problem on this team. And most definitely should not be singled out. When he’s on the 6 oclock news or CNN, drinking and swearing like most celebs then i will believe all the “rumors”. Until, then it’s all B.S.

    ED HOD,I see you deleted your comment, guess you came to your senses.