Oilers need to be better

The Oilers aren’t playing bad hockey overall, however, they are making major mistakes that lead to goals. Last night the Maple Leafs rarely had any contained pressure. The Oilers didn’t spend much time in their own end, but they gift wrapped the Leafs’ two goals, and both mistakes occurred below their goal line.

The focus and attention to detail has to be better. There are no excuses. This group has to play smarter and be consistently more determined.

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I’m sick of excuses. There is no excuse for the continual five-star mistakes made by numerous players on the team. It isn’t just one player. It a different player every game.

One game it is a veteran, the next a rookie or a sophomore.

The Oilers are beating themselves on most nights.

They have either an unwillingness to play smart in their own zone or they simply don’t have the ability to play well. It isn’t a lack of effort, it is a lack of smarts and positioning. It is the D-men and the forwards collectively. Almost 50% of the roster is new, or have been here for less than a full season, so blaming one individual is pointless.

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The entire group needs to be more accountable. Maybe they call each other out behind close doors, but I never see it on the ice or even in practice. I can’t recall the last time a player challenged a teammate to make a better play in practice. I don’t expect it to happen daily, but at some point someone needs to stand up and rip his teammates. Like I said, maybe it has happened in the room when only the players are there, but even if it has, it hasn’t made a difference on the ice.

Mistakes are part of the game. They will happen. Every player makes them, because the game is so fast. But over the past 16 games, the Oilers have committed far more egregious, obvious mistakes. You can lose a battle, that happens, but this group is continually losing their check at the wrong time.

“If you look at our team and where it has gone from October until now, I think we need everyone to start stepping up,” said Milan Lucic. “When everyone was contributing we had success. I think the work ethic has been there, but the killer instinct and determination needs to be higher and more consistent. That is what makes us finish plays, put teams on their heels and us on our toes. We have to be more determined,” continued Lucic.

OFFENCE HURTING TOO

97-McDavid-7

Many of their offensive players are in a funk. They can’t score. Some are creating chances, like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but he can’t finish. The odds suggest eventually he’ll score, but the Oilers aren’t good enough to wait for him to come around. He has to find a way to put the puck in the back of the net.

He isn’t the only one. The list of offensive players not struggling includes Connor McDavid, Leon Draisailt and recently Milan Lucic. Jordan Eberle isn’t in a major slump, but they need him to finish more. He, like RNH, has to be more productive. The rest of the forwards are producing very little recently.

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You can’t rely on McDavid all the time. The Oilers have scored one goal in the past three games without him on the ice, and that was Adam Larssson with Eberle and RNH on the ice. One goal from three lines in three games. It is simply not good enough. It borders on pathetic, actually.

And even their best player has to improve one facet of his game. He has to start shooting on the powerplay. Craig Button pointed out last night that McDavid never had to shoot from far out very much in junior. He was so much faster, he could just skate the puck in close and create an opportunity. It is a skill he’ll need to add, and I’m certain he will.

Of course, I have no concerns with McDavid starting to shoot, but he does have to start firing on the PP. His unwillingness to shoot on the PP hurts them, because he has the puck the most and he’s been reluctant to shoot from great positions.

He has played 70:25 of 5×4 PP and he has six shots. He has seven assists, and no PP goals. He’s been on the ice for 6:24 of 5×3/4×3 and has no shots.

I asked McLellan about McDavid’s hesitancy to shoot on the PP and he said, “We are working on it, we are working on it.” Of course they’ve had the discussion. I’m not naive enough to believe me asking the coach about it was the first time it was addressed, but it is the one small area of McDavid’s game he needs to improve. When he does, watch out. He’ll score more, and teams will have to respect his shot, which will create more openings on the PP.

Despite his low shot totals, that doesn’t excuse the overall success of the PP. Jay Woodcroft, the PP coach, needs to try something different.

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The Oilers have only scored a PP goal in two of their last eleven games. They had two goals in each of those games. They went 4 for 37, 10.8%, but they are 0 for 27 in nine of those games. The PP has cost them points lately, and you can’t score in two of eleven games and expect to win.

The Oilers are 5-9-2 in their last 16 games, and only once were they victorious without scoring a PP goal. You won’t score every game of course, but the PP has been struggling for three weeks, since November 8th, so Woodcroft and McLellan need to tweak something.

Post-game McLellan said this about the powerplay, “It was poor. Flat out poor. Too fine. Too cute. Too slow to shoot.” 

ENERGY AND NASTY

McDavidQuote

The Oilers aren’t a soft team anymore. They have size, they have skilled size and they have some aggressive players. However, when was the last time the Oilers added some nasty in the game? Kris Russell and Matt Benning had some big, clean hits recently, which is great, but when was the last time an Oilers forward got under the skin of an opponent or in their face?

Where has the aggressiveness gone?

“It definitely could be there a little bit more,” answered Lucic when I asked him last night. “And as the season goes along it gets harder and harder to do it, but that is just an excuse. As the season progresses the team has to come together, guys playing for each other and having each others back creates a winning environment. We need more of it. Playing smart is very important, but so is being aggressive and unified.” Lucic said.

The Oilers have different dimensions to their game, and for the past 16 games they haven’t used them often enough. There is no acceptable excuse. They are simply not performing to the level they are capable.

Play smarter. Play hungrier. Play better.

PARTING SHOTS

29-Draisaitl-6

  • Many stats will show the Oilers aren’t being dominated like in previous years. Opposing teams aren’t sending wave after wave of offensive zone pressure. The Oilers 5×5 Corsi is 6th in the NHL at 52.10%. Their 5×5 score & venue adjusted is 7th at 52.31.

    However, those stats don’t reflect the major gaffes they’ve been committing. That is their issue. It isn’t sustained pressure that is killing them defensively, it is their inability to stop committing horrific turnovers or misreads. Either they can’t do it or they aren’t willing to, and right now I’m leaning more to the latter. They have enough talent to compete.

  • I asked McLellan about Pitlick and Slepyshev being out and if he’ll change his lineup for Thursday in Winnipeg. “Yes. We will look at our lineup for sure. It is okay to not score sometimes, but it is not okay to neglect your responsibilities defensively and that’s how I look at some of our guys right now,” said McLellan.

    There will be changes tomorrow and there are many forward candidates who are deserving of a night off. Draisaitl skated with McDavid and Lucic today, so Caggiula will likely be the third line centre. Puljujarvi only played eight minutes last night, so he might be one guy coming out, but he wouldn’t be my first choice.

  • Mark Fayne was recalled today and Eric Gryba was placed on the IR. He has only played two minutes this season, but he practiced today and we could see him versus Winnipeg tomorrow.

Recently by Jason Gregor:    


  • Jason, would like to know your thoughts on why it is that despite all the roster changes and coaching changes, the Oilers continue to make the same mistakes as they have for the past ten years of the rebuild?

    Leaving guys wide open in the d-zone for grade AAA chances has handicapped our team for years, and despite all the talk and all the ‘we have to be better’ coming from the players, this part of the game has never been cleaned up… It seems to pervade all lines and players, and transcends all coaching and management regimes.

    • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

      Looking at the last 2 games the Oil have given up 6 goals. If we discount the 1st goal vs the Yotes (a bounce off which one can attribute to bad luck), the next five were virtually tap ins from grade A++ areas.

      Losing goal vs the Yotes A rookies Dman and an almost rookie Dman (Benning and Nurse) lose a puck battle) and RNH and Ebs blow the coverage in front of the goal.

      Goal 1 vs the leafs Klef and Larssen look asleep. Nylander and Mathews are highly skilled players, but you need to make it harder that that.

      Goal 2 vs Buds. Like a replay of the Yotes goal. This time Russel and Klef can’t handle a single leaf, Nuge can’t stop the outlet pass and Hendricks abandons the slot.

      Goal 3 – The same rookie and near rookie dman get crossed up and we have a 2 on the goalie

      Goal 4 – Our old friends Nuge and Klef decide for a career change to soccer and try kicking the puck out of the danger zone.

      Maybe that’s the thing, inexperienced Dmen and the same guys making the same mistakes.

    • Jason Gregor

      It is perplexing to say the least.

      This year it seems the 10-bell mistake is more prevalent than ever. For many years the Oilers simply got overwhelmed in their own zone and we’d wait for the inevitable mistake.

      Lately, they aren’t being overwhelmed, but they make a horrible read or play and the puck is in the back of the net.

      It is most frustrating now to watch, because this team has enough talent to be better than they’ve played over the past 16 games.

      A lack of mental focus and a unwillingness to do make the right play is killing this team. Before they never had the ability to make the right play more often than not, but this year, for the first time in a long time, I’d argue they are underachieving. It has to stop.

      Maybe it is a mindset, and the organization simply has a loser mentality, but it is concerning for sure.

      • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

        As I suggested previously, I think there are common threads as in previous years. Very inexperienced D and the same culprits doing the same things.

  • On another note, the problem is epitomized with the Lucic quotes. He talks the talk better than any of them, but has not walked the walked in terms of attention to detail and limiting turnovers.

    With Connor as the captain, and clearly the only one pulling his weight night in and night out, he has to challenge his teammates on the ice and off. I know it’s tough for a 19 year old kid to do when you’re playing with men, but in my opinion it must be done. The players certainly aren’t getting any motivation from the coaching staff to be better.

    • Derian Hatcher

      Totally agree…but in listening to Connor being interviewed, he seems laid back personality wise (he certainly isn’t on the ice) but I feel it’s a lot to ask of a 19 year old to challenge his teammates.

      In a perfect world, Lucic, Eberle, RNH, Hendricks would be all over anyone who gave less than full effort. Clearly that is not happening as some of those players are the crux of the on-ice problem.

      My fear is that this continues on with little change and McDavid’s magic is wasted here.

      So frustrating..

      • Completely agree, but to be a leader and an effective one, he can’t brush off his teammates under-performing. Internally I’m sure he’s frustrated with them.

        It’s for sure a lot to ask, my hope is that as he gains experience and gains comfort he will be able to challenge his teammates and call them out.

      • CaptainLander

        Sadly it is hard to call someone out when you know that your game is not where it needs to be. ie Ebs, Nuge

        Right now only McD has the right and to a lesser extent Lucic.

        So Ya frustrating indeed

      • CaptainLander

        Sadly it is hard to call someone out when you know that your game is not where it needs to be. ie Ebs, Nuge

        Right now only McD has the right and to a lesser extent Lucic.

      • chickenStew

        Lucic’s M.O.:

        Look down incredulously at your feet for the puck (only to have it snatched away by the opposing team) after a “surprising” pass from McDavid.

        During a scrum, swear at an opposing player over the linesman’s head from 4 feet away, then skate away shaking your head like he was a fool to mess with you.

        When somehow you do have possession of the puck, immediately pass it to a random area of the ice
        (usually somewhere near an opposing player).

        On the powerplay, stand at the side of the net with your back to the play.

        In interviews, talk about playing smart and aggressive.

        Collect obscene paycheque.

  • CaliforniaOil

    Does anyone else feel like Slepyshev has kind of eaten Pouliot’s lunch?, The guy is a bloodhound for the puck, he definitely isnt as good as Pou in his own zone, but i feel like the Oil are too focused on making the right decisions in our own zone and have completely forgotten that you can’t just play 60mins hoping we can defend long enough for Connor to win us the game, I think we need to put Pitlick and SLepyshev in so we can put that big and fast size on the right and Left wing instead of Pouliot’s o-zone penalties and Hendricks or Lander’s slow skating. we need to push the pace not slow it down

    • Oilfaninvan

      The frustrating part of what’s happening with the lack of goal scoring right now is that Slepy was clearly in a groove, skating well and starting to be creative with the puck, which lead to some points for him. And what happens? He sits – just when his confidence and playmaking skills were taking off – and who knows how that will affect him when he comes back into the lineup.

      • Gaz

        I keep wondering why the lineup was changed between the Denver and first Arizona game.

        I can understand that Letestu and Pouliot, as veterans, deserved the opportunity to come in after three games scratched to prove the coach was wrong to do it…but (a) they, and particularly Pouliot haven’t proved anything to that effect, and (b) I don’t really care about any player’s hurt feelings if they’ve been scratched but the team is putting together wins.

        I know it isn’t the swapping of two players that has led to this recent four-game funk, but it keeps nagging at me. I think it was a bad call by the coaching staff, and I wouldn’t hesitate to pull Pouliot again.

        Curious to hear Jason’s thoughts on this.

  • Boom or Bust

    You know what pissed me off last night? When Larson took that hit and constant cheap shot from Kadri…and Benoit poulet just slowly skated passed them staring…not helping. That’s the crap I thought we were over with. We need to hit back. We need to come to guys aid. Kadri should of been smashed up all game by our guy…so sick of it

    • McRaj

      As concerning as it was to see Pouliot do that, Nugent-Hopkins did the exact same thing. Over the years, the one person who the fan’s have refused to say anything negative about is Nuge. But this is the second season in a row that he is not contributing like he should. He’s as soft as Eberle, only difference being that he actually back-check’s.

    • Same crap we have been watching for a decade. Also remember when Pouliot first arrived and he was being mugged by 4 St Louis Blues and looked around for his teammates, the vast majority of whom were already in the dressing room or skating to the tunnel. As I have stated before, when vets come in they look good for the first 10-15 games, watch the unaccountable draft picks figure skate their way through a few games, and then decide they are not gonna bust their b*lls for this franchise either. Cycle has been repeated too many times to deny it. Lucic , Maroon, and Kassian were brought in for that exact reason and they are not getting it done, in fact they are starting to resemble the players that have been with us the longest. I doubt T-Mac has told them to tone it down, that leaves the obvious choice that the players have decided this on their own, yet again.

  • Oiler Al

    You cannot expect to win too many games, when you have only one and I mean only ONE player,driving the play.
    The rest look like they dont care or dont know how?

    Guys seem to be going through the motions,without passion or aggresive hockey. I dont get it.

    If this slide continues for another 4-5 games,Mclellan should be gone. Woodcroft should be gone today.

  • 24_McClelland

    Lucic could start by showing the way on the ice. The Oilers’ top 9, outside McDavid, is populated by 8 forwards who have been noticeably good for the Oilers in maybe 4 of 24 games, and in some cases, less than 4 games. Not good enough, not nearly good enough. If you can’t make a play that reflects on the scoreboard, make one that might start to turn things around. Too many ‘big bodies’ are playing pretty small.

  • smiliegirl15

    Someone remind me, was San Jose’s power play this bad? Did Jay Woodcroft slip on the mosaic tiles and get a concussion? They shouldn’t be this bad, especially when they’ve been so much better.

      • giddy

        This is what I have been thinking for awhile now. Woodcroft had the privilege of being able to ice on the powerplay one of the greatest passers of this generation in Thornton, a long string of great goal scorers that start with Pavelski and Marleau, and some seriously lethal offensive defensemen with guys like Burns.

        Sometimes you wonder if they even had a system or if Woodcroft just told them to go on out there and do there thing.

  • ziyan94

    Agreed. The Oilers have been playing to the level of their opponents.

    We play like a playoff team against Washington and Chicago, yet we disappoint against the Leafs, Sabres, Coyotes.
    We need come consistency

  • freelancer

    For those on the panic train. The Oilers play 14 games in December. I think a reasonable goal to set for this team to remain in the playoff hunt is to go 1 game above .500. The November schedule should be the roughest for the entire season. Still plenty of games left.

    • TruthHurts98

      They couldn’t beat the worse team in the Western conference… twice. Couldn’t beat the Leafs (worst road record in the league coming in) at home who are farther ahead in year one of rebuild that the Oilers in year 10. So it’s a fantasy to think they’ll ‘magically’ start winning in December and be in the playoff hunt. Not with players like Nuge, Poop and Ebs lazily floating around while the opposing team fills their net. They’re a few points away from being the worst team, again.

      • Looking at the schedule I would be surprised if they win a single game in December the way they are playing. Best guess by the end of December we should be firmly entrenched as one of the bottom two teams and will stay that way until the end of another lost season. Major shake up is required or this season is done already.Another new record for the Oilers. Most consecutive years without playoffs.Pathetic, but not really a surprise anymore.

  • TruthHurts98

    Every game Woodcroft is behind the bench, one more necessary win to make the playoffs gets flushed down the toilet. Lucic is full of excrement and part of the problem, half his points are gifted because Connor does what no other teammate will do. What will it take to get him to play like he did in LA or Beantown?? TM talks a good game but can’t seem to motivate the team and his system isn’t resonating. My theory is he rewards lazy players that make big defensive gaffs, so why try hard if your roster spot is gifted next game while someone like Pitlick who brings the much needed in your face grit sits out??? The Canucks are only 4 points back now and playing far better. Ouch!

    • Seriously Bored

      Your frustration is noted but theorizing that a coach rewards players for making huge defensive mistakes is pretty stupid. How good did people really expect this team to be?

      I am just annoyed by the lack of compete after making said mistakes. Sure you might give up a bad one or two but where the heck is the muckers and grinders we supposedly picked up to get the team going?

      Kassian has been invisible lately, Maroon does nothing, Lucic seems more worried about his hands than hits. I feel like Sunday at Arizona could have been so much different if a spark had come from someone other than a top 6 or 9 forward.

  • tileguy

    Spector and DeBrusk last nite said the Oilers have been outworked the last three games, JG says it is not a lack of effort (I presume that is the same as outworked), who to beleive? I had flash backs last night to the Eakins era with some of that Dzone coverage, so mistakes are sure a part of it, but I have seen 14 coast more than once backchecking.
    Mistakes and effort are both coachable items, perhaps it is time that our coaches coach, instead of throwing guys out there willy nilly hoping for chemistry.

    • Jason Gregor

      Hendricks making wrong read isn’t hard work to me. Benning coughing up puck wasn’t. Those are just mental errors. And we’ve seen too many egregious one for me.

      I would agree they aren’t battling hard enough for loose pucks in the offensive zone, but defensive mistakes lately have been mental errors more than physical.

      • whateverhappenedtoearledwards

        Didn’t TMAC say this last night. Lots of effort in the O zone. but not enough in the D zone.

        This lead to lots of Ozone time and shots, but many A++ scoring chances in the Dzone.

    • “The Oilers are not playing bad hockey overall”? It sure isn’t good hockey , in fact it looks like a repeat of the last decade. They are all except Connor , playing horrible hockey. Eberle needs to go, the sooner the better, along with every other misfit player or manager who had their hands on this debacle.I believe Wayne Gretzky now also works for us, I would love to hear an honest assessment from him.

  • Natejax97

    Jason, I agree with 99% of what you say. I value your opinion about this team because you are unbiased.

    But…I believe the Oilers problem is, in fact, about effort and compete right now. They are relying on skill, instead of grinding out victories.

    Look at the difference between the Dallas game last week and the Toronto game last night. I would bet that Dallas players and Oiler players woke up sore the next morning. Edmonton engaged physically, and pushed the game.

    Last night, it was dipsy doodle, pass pass pass until they got funneled into the corner. Skate by…puck watching, not moving feet, reaching in, etc. I would bet there was not even a broken fingernail on the leafs bench. Skill gets t puck to the net…grit, determination, willingness to engage and battle level push the puck over the line. We are all skill and 0 grit right now.

    Pitlick and Slepy have grit…let them play.

  • Word to the Bird

    Maybe Mclellan put Pouliot in to showcase his ability for either trade bait or the upcoming expansion draft. Thats the only thing that would make sense to sit Pitlick/Slepyshev. Idk why Mclellan would change a working formula.

  • No.9

    Garbage team, led by garbage people that’s still in charge. Hiring garbage that other teams throw out. Signing, retaining and icing garbage players. Hiring over rated garbage coaches that hasn’t won a f&^king thing. Garbage bloggers and hacks spewing garbage to misinform and placate the mass. The Same garbage that attributed to over a decade of garbage will sadly remain. I’ve called it and unfortunately for Captain Macdavid he has to try to sort out all this garbage on his own. What a f&^king shame!

      • No.9

        Eakins, you wanna go there? lol…Lowe and Mactavish’s love child? That is the “garbage” I’m talking about. How about trying interviewing the help other than one sit down. Other teams do it why can’t these geniuses?

        • Sir Dudeinstein

          Lowe and MacT is still in the pressbox watching the game and you can say “advising” Yes they took a step away from the spotlight but they are still advising.

          Why for so many years the Oilers went for rookie GM’s and Coaches? If you were given a head coach job in the NHL but be a “puppet” as in ‘you play who i tell you to play.’ Take the heat but you get to put I was an NHL coach in my resume. Would you upset your boss by ignoring him?

          Basically what I am saying…the coaches and GM prior to chia and McL seemed to being a puppet on who the play and when. Kruger seemed to get the most out of everyone and was skidded (to what I believe was to not listening to Lowe and MacT) hense why they did it so randomly and bring in a coach who proved not much other than a stacked Marlies team to the calder cup.

          To back my statement up, take a look after Quinn (who called out the kids quite a bit), Renny had a weird blender line mixing formula when he left mentioned about being tied on some decisions. Krueger didnt last long, Eakins, very similar line mixing as Renny. So yes Lots of coaches were being told and be held as a figure head to the upper management which honestly hasnt changed much other than some roles be reassigned. (Kevin Lowe/MacT still there and still have say in that boardroom)

  • dsanchez1973

    Gregor, any thought at looking a little harder at what the coaches are doing?

    1) Giving up many early goals
    2) Power play a disaster
    3) Lines constantly being juggled, to the point where neither Nuge or Drai have even played half their minutes with one consistent winger
    4) Defensive zone continued disasters

    At what point does someone ask the coach “Why do the players keep making the same mistakes? Are they tuning you out? How are you going to get through to these guys?”

    • Jason Gregor

      The early goal issue has been solved. I don’t blame coaches for that. Players are on ice and if they are making miscues early more on them.

      They have scored the 2nd most 1st period goals with 26, and they allow a lot as well, 23.

      PP for me is a few things. They don’t have a point shot and McDavid needs to be more selfish and shoot. The one thing I don’t agree from the coaching is moving Eberle further away from net. He has never been a guy who scores from outside. Don’t ask him to be that guy. He can’t do it, even if they want him to. It isn’t his forte, so put him closer to net where he succeeds.

      Most teams mix lines. RNH has played 305 EV minutes and Pouliot has played 178 with him. If he wasn’t struggling likely doesn’t sit out three and is close to 70% with him.

      The D zone disasters, I’m not sure what coaches can do. When a player has control of puck and loses it, not much coach can do. When a player makes wrong read or goes to wrong guy, in split second, not much coach can do. They spend time in video showing them, once games starts players have to make those reads. Frustrating thing is the Oilers have had vets making wrong reads, so can’t use inexperience as an excuse.

      I don’t think guys have tuned out coach. Most haven’t been here long enough, and if any are then I’d be shipping those players out.

        • Jason Gregor

          18th most goals in NHL the past five years, but you say he doesn’t score. It is mindblowing how many fans can be clueless on fact Eberle scores more than 95% of league.

          You can dislike him all you like, but don’t make statements that are 100% false. It makes little sense.

      • dsanchez1973

        -> I don’t blame coaches for that. Players are on ice and if they are making miscues early more on them.

        -> PP for me is a few things. They don’t have a point shot and McDavid needs to be more selfish and shoot.

        -> The D zone disasters, I’m not sure what coaches can do.

        -> When a player makes wrong read or goes to wrong guy, in split second, not much coach can do.

        soo….what do the coaches do exactly? Drilling good habits and reads are supposed to be what they do. I think we all gave McLellan a pass last year as he was new, there were bad habits, the roster was in flux, but this should be his team now.

        As for the lines, I’m less concerned with RNH having a rotating set of wingers than I am with Drai. He hasn’t even played 1/3 of his EV time with one winger. That is not a great way to break a player into the league who is still not very far removed from being a rookie.

        My biggest worry is that the team is doing better, but 95% of that improvement to me is Connor + Cam just being so much better than last year. If we’re going to move forward to being a legitimate Cup threat, the team needs to have the capacity to go to another level from where they are now. In theory, Ebs, RNH, Pouliot, Lucic, Sekera should all be at their peak. It’s hard to imagine any of them are going to suddenly get a lot better, and several have the potential to start getting worse.

        If that’s the case, then we’re relying on Connor to get even better (when he’s already likely a top 3 player in the league), plus the D (primarily Larsson, Klefbom, and Nurse) to get stronger. That’s a pretty dicey proposition, and I am just not sure how I see that resulting in a Cup ready team.

  • PlayDirty

    Still too many fly-bys and no one finishing their checks. I don’t think teams get physically tired from playing the Oil. With the size we now have, we should be pounding teams. Once their D are tired and start worrying more about the freight trains and less about the puck, they will be more prone to mistakes. Right now we are gifting them easy break-outs, one after the other.

    The Jets play a hard-hitting game and hopefully it will wake us up or rub off on us somehow.

    • Reg Dunlop

      A game in Winnipeg is just what the oil need. We own the jets with those wimpy players like Doug Smail and Teppo Numminen. Luckily they have nobody like Byfuglien to grind our bones into powder.

      @freelancer thinks the oil could be above .500 in December. I think the oil will be dead last by the time Vancouver embarrasses them New Year’s Eve. Crummy, don’t-give-a-$hit hockey is back in town!

  • NZOF

    I’d like to see McDavid shoot more on the PP too, but it’s tough for him to do so when he often finds himself positioned down on the goal line.

    Who’s idea is that? Having our most potent offensive threat in that low slot seems like a huge waste to me.

    Same with that 5v3 last night. We had one right handed shot (Ebs) yet he was playing the right side for much of the 5 on 3, meaning that we had no one timer option from that left side. Whether Ebs would actually use that one timer is another matter…

  • Randaman

    I don’t know if this makes sense and this is purely conjecture on my part but could Nuge and Eberle be put out by the Hall trade to the point that maybe they have both had enough and want out?

    Their play certainly looks that way. I don’t care if JG thinks Eberle hasn’t played particularly bad because my visuals tell a very different story.

  • IRONman

    Ebs aside. I would like to see a Maximum Effort.

    If the team was petal to the metal then I would not be upset

    They just do not put out. Except you 97. You rock

  • madjam

    Time and time again the players efforts are there , but the results are not . Trying to play Chia type hockey for this group still does not work . Although we are playing heavier hockey than in the past , we are getting out muscled in the puck battles at an alarming rate still . Players tunnel vision for heavier hockey has done nothing more than diminish their skills and effectiveness trying to create offense . More defence less offence is the result .

    • russ99a

      That’s really not the case.

      Our offense primarily comes from the rush, and outside of that we’re taking lots of shots from low percentage areas.

      What would cure the offensive trouble we’re having is good old fashioned hard work, get to the tough areas, make plays under the pressure, create chances off the cycle and when passed the puck don’t flub on it,,take a good hard focused shot, instead of just winging On my way! towards the net,

      We don’t have to abandon our defensive structure to score more, and reverting to firewagon hockey will cause us to be ourscored.

      Stay the course and pay tougher and smarter, and we’ll be fine.

      • fasteddy

        I swear I’m going to kick the couch the next time I see one of them come from one side or the other and try to score high; shoot the funking puck at the pads so there’s a rebound!

      • madjam

        We also do not have the personnel to effectively run a run and gun offence . Our personnel overall is rather low grade in comparison to other teams and very sporadic no matter what style we try to play . I think that is pretty evident .

      • S cottV

        We’re stuck between two worlds and not very good at either.

        We’ve changed some personnel to move away from a dependence on rushin roulette. Hall – Yak – Purcell for Lucic – Maroon – Kassian.

        We have high end guys that are more grounded in rush, finding it difficult to round out their games to use guys like Lucic, Maroon and Kassian more effectively. Guys like McD, Drai, Puljujarvi, and Eberle.

        We’ve delved into more heavy o zone possession hockey thru cycling, puck protection and use of the points however, as madjam points out – the execution is not near good enough.

        McL cant keep the team between two worlds. He has to influence the change process and make the heavier game happen.

        The guys have to buy in and execute as a group. You cant half ass the process and expect any real benefit from it.

      • NealH

        Agree 100%. By my eye this is an effort issue. I even think some (not all) of the stupid giveaways stem from recovering from a lack of effort on a teammate’s part. guys standing around.
        They have enough talent, size, structure to do much better. We have fewer of the smaller talented guys floating on the perimeter, but there’s still enough of that going on to lose games.
        They have to play harder.

        And c’mon guys – fire the coach, again? Seriously? After what we’ve been through for 10 years? The problem is on the ice.

        • S cottV

          It’s more than just effort.

          It’s a team buy in, commitment, practice, execution, review, adjustments and staying with it.

          Sutter says that being good defensively is best accomplished by keeping more possession – particularly in the o zone and I certainly agree.

          You have to understand that even if you don’t manage to pull out of a cycle formation and take it to the net, there are benefits.

          Sure – at some point you would like to take it to net, but the mere act of playing keep away in a save haven 200 feet from your own net, provides value.

          Like less time in your own zone, butchering d zone coverage – for one of several key benefits.

  • You just got LITT up!

    I think the real problem is that the first 10 games or so this season other teams honestly believed that the Oilers had this “depth” that we keep talking about, however, those teams have now realized that after McDavid … there is NOTHING! Stop McDavid (ie double team him) and the Oilers fade away. No one is gonna do anything, nuge and ebs are $6MM bums, Lucic is already an anchor contract (in year 1 – WTF?).

    we are so screwed!

  • A) So, The Flamers come out and put a 3 spot on the Maple Leafs w/in the first 4 seconds. Nice.
    B) McDavid needs to be a bit selfish, especially during the power play. Too many cute passes (not from him, everyone)
    C) The Oilers are in desperate need for a pure sniper to play on McDavid’s Wing…Eb’s isn’t the answer.
    D) Send Jesse to the American and let him develop for Goodness Sakes. Let him play 15 or more minutes per game and in every situation. Powerplay, PK….DO NOT BRING him up at all this year unless their is a rash of injuries. (knock on wood 1,000 times)
    E) Find a Sniper. Did I mention that?
    F) I love RNH, but he is a lost puppy right now. Make a Trade to the Panthers (they seem to like Little Guys according to their new stat guy nerds) for Trocheck (I butchered his name) Find anyone who might be interested or the Oilers will face a Yaks Part II..Hello New York Islanders.
    G) Not time to panic, but this Club is so damn close…

  • RJ

    I’ve watched 90% of their games since they were in the Finals. The most frustrating thing is they seem to believe that you can just turn off and on their compete level.

    They’ll beat _______in rousing fashion, and then play the next four teams like they will just let them win. They’ll come out sloppy and think they can win just because there are a lot of young highly drafted players. The Coyotes are a brutal team, but they out-compete the Oilers, and have for years. Happened under Eakins, under Nelson under McLellan.

    Probably the other thing that’s a problem is that the Oilers media loves to anoint certain players as better than they actually are. Klefbom is a perfect example of this. The guy has 131 games under his belt, and has never played a full season. But to hear the ON bloggers and media sell it, he’s a #1D. There are maybe 15 #1D in the NHL, and nobody outside of Edmonton has Klefbom in that top-15. He doesn’t score enough for one. He’s nobody’s pick for an elite shutdown guy. He’s a quality young player who maybe could take that next step if he can actually play a season or two in a row without getting injured and learn how to score more. (Though one of the reasons he was drafted later in the first round is that he lacked that elite offensive game. Score one for the scouts.)

    • Seriously Bored

      I cant really think of any media people claiming klefbom is a top 15 d man in the league. Some have said they hope he develops into one, i would be happy with drafting and developing a number 2 though.

  • The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

    Hope Drai sticks with McDavid. Been waiting all season for this to happen.

    Nuge needs to be on the first PP unit. Replace Ebs or Lucic.

    Lowe must go.