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Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Friedman: “I think they’re too slow”

Yesterday, NHL super-insider, Elliotte Friedman, appeared on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver and said what we’re all thinking — the Oilers are too slow.

If there’s one thing that the Oilers are lacking apart from the general ability to score it’s the ability to rush the puck down the ice. If it’s not Connor carrying it then the puck is not moving all that quickly. When Peter Chiarelli rolled into town, one of the first things he said was that he wanted the Oilers to be a bit bigger and tougher. What he didn’t say is that getting bigger also generally means getting slower at the same time. For as fast as the Oilers once were, that may not necessarily the case anymore. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the lineup.

THE ROSTER

Here are the lines for tonight’s game that Gregor through down in the GDB. How many of these forwards would you consider fast players? Before you make your choices, I also want to know what percentage of the team you think the quick players account for? Is it more than 50%? Are you sure? (I’ve bolded my picks and italicized the ‘maybe on a good days’)

Maroon – McDavidDraisaitl
Lucic – RNH – Letestu
Caggiula – Strome – Kassian
Jokinen – KhairaSlepyshev

How about the defence?

Klefbom – Larsson
RussellBenning
Nurse – Gryba

When you really think about it, the Oilers have fewer than 50% of their current lineup that would be considered above average skaters. Sometimes that lack of speed is actually costing them points, as we saw in the 3-on-3 OT period in Pittsburgh. Lucic got caught in a foot race and that is not a situation that the big man excels in. Being slow with that much space on the ice can be a killer and it was exactly that on Tuesday night. So what does that mean for the Oilers?

BACK TO FRIEDMAN

So now that we’ve stated the obvious, what’s next? What can the Oilers do to fix this problem?

“I think they’re too slow. I really do.”

Alright, Elliotte, you said that already. I want to know what Chiarelli is going to do about it. Give me something here. We need a little hope to get us through this early season darkness. Lay it on me.

“A couple of teams that played them in the preseason — it was funny, one guy was actually laughing as he said it to me: ‘Take McDavid out,’ and he realized how stupid it was to say that, ‘And they’re really, really slow.’ We’re seeing that right now.”

Alright, alright the Oilers are down and now you’re going to kick them with quotes from unnamed players that make fun of them behind their backs? Salt in the wound, Elliotte. Not cool. Now, if you would please tell me what Chiarelli is going to do about it.

“McDavid is the fastest player in the league, but after that, they’re really slow.”

I KNOW, MAN, YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP SAYING IT! THEY’RE SLOW! ALRIGHT? I SAID IT. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED? S-L-O-W. SLOW. The Oilers need to get faster (which is ridiculous considering who they’ve traded away and gotten rid of over the past few years but that’s a different story) so what are they going to do about it? Please, sir.

“I think that they are going to look for speed. I think they are going to try to find some players around the league that have some hop to them because they need guys fast enough to play with McDavid.”

Now, if there’s one thing we learned last year it’s that a guy like Pat Maroon can play with McDavid because he’s figured out where Connor needs him at any given time. I’m not worried about a guy like Maroon playing with Connor. The problem is that there’s only one Connor McDavid on this team and the rest of these fools need an influx of skill if they’re going ever going to be more than just a one man band.

THE WRAP

So we’re eight games in and Chiarelli is already working the phones for trades? Depending on how you look at it, that could be a scary proposition. Everyone knows the Oilers are struggling and it’s not like the other GMs are going to be rushing to help If anything, they’re going to be throwing anchors at Peter Chiarelli with an actual chance that they’ll accept them. We’ve seen what a desperation trade looks like around here and I’d go so far as to say that I hope we don’t see another. I’ve had enough one-for-ones to last a while, ya know?

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    Well thanks for that. I’m now done with this season. Thanks Friedman, you hack. You’ve killed any optimism I had about this season. Throw in the towel, pack up your bags and just leave this team in misert

  • So why wasn’t this said about last year’s roster?
    Eberle is no faster than Strome
    Pouliot is a little faster than Jokinen
    Hendricks is not faster than Khaira

    And what if Yamamoto sticks? He’s pretty fast.

    Sorry, not buying Friedman’s comments–where was he last year? Oh, because the Oilers were winning, that’s why.

    • Hemmercules

      Good call. Media types always changing their tune to suit the situation.

      I does seem like some other teams got faster and the Oilers didn’t but its not as drastic as they make it out to be in my opinion. They have looked plenty fast in a few games this season. I think its more about them needing to work harder to win than them actually being too slow.

    • Ebs has played in ten games for the Islanders this season. He doesn’t have a goal. Six assists and a -5. Hallsy is doing a little better in New Jersey: 1g, 8a in 8 games, even +/-.

      Fast is great. Fast gets you open. Fast gets the puck safely to the other end of the ice. But fast doesn’t always put the puck in the net. Hands. We need some guys who can dangle and light the lamp. Maroon has a knack for the net and good chemistry with Connor. A big guy who can score is better than a speedster who can’t finish.

    • Hemmercules

      Looch needs to grind and pound and work the front of the net harder. He’s no good being the puck carrier on the rush, he should know that himself.

      Strome hasn’t looked terrible but he isn’t turning any heads either, I’m hoping its just adjustment time and he improves as the season progresses.

        • His results are 100% the result of his hard work. As long as he keeps doing what he does, he’s fine. Plus, as I’ve said elsewhere, His leadership is invaluable, especially as the lone guy on the roster who has won a Cup.

          • puckle-head

            I remember Andrew Ference’s work effort and cup winning experience having a similar effect. And who can forget Hemsky, Smitty, and Horcoff’s cup finalist experience really helping get those young Oilers to the next level?

        • Glencontrolurstik

          Granted,… but Looch has a knack of getting “timely” goals…
          He has to get back to parking himself in front of the net…
          Esposito made a “hall of fame” career out of that style of play…
          Orr did the work, Espo banged it home…
          Granted, a long time ago, but same scenerio.
          That’s where he is most effective. He’s definately not an open ice, neutral zone passer…
          Dirty, timely goals…. That’s what we need out of Looch…

  • Jordan88

    Oilers don’t need to be fast, they need to be quick. Quick passes, Quick releases, Quick transitions, Quick reads it has nothing to do with actual speed and everything to do with mental acumen for the game, most teams have challenges with this at some point. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook easily one of the best pairings in the game were FAST enough to stay with McDavid however they were not QUICK enough to adapt to his game.

    See the difference?

  • McJeetz

    Except the eberle for Strome and jokenin for pouliot, (10 mil to 3.5 mil) they are just as fast as the team that went to round 2 of the playoffs last year

    Maroon McDavid cagulla/RNH
    Lucic Draisaitl shleppy

    Is plenty fast. The 3rd line got unreal slow, but if there are players that are replaceable in the NHL, it’s bottom 6 Fwds

    We just have to stop trading with NYI!!!

  • Oilers8597

    wasn’t it less then a month ago everyone was on the oilers band wagon? Weren’t we just considered “favourties” to win Stanley cup only behind the champs this season?? And now cause the Oilers had a slow start which happens to every team, everyone including Friedman thinks we’re to slow? Or it’s the goaltending or the forwards or the blah blah blah, I hope some of these people stay off the bandwagon this time, it’s a JOKE how fast people turn on a team, the Oilers are built to play against ANY team now, it’s about having a good mix of fast players and big players and are still gonna be one of the top teams in the west this year, Lets Go Oilers.

  • Oilerz4life

    I could live with slow if they were strong defensively and could win half the time. Moving Benning up with Russell seems like a mistake, that’s gonna leak goals and the Oil can’t score. GDP special awareness IMHO.

  • LT-SKYWALKER8911

    They are a slow team, but it’s not the lack of foot speed that is equating to losses. Take away the Lucic in 3v3 (a coaching mistake IMO) and I can’t think of any games where I thought… we need more speed! What I’ve thought is, we just need to excecute!

    The oil are a good team. Time will tell. Elliot like most in the media are looking for story lines and talking points. Take it all with a grain of salt 8 games in.

  • other than chasing down guys on a back check because of a blueline turnover, or rushing the puck up the ice, how often does a team need lights out blinding speed? Cycling the puck, boardwork, setting up power plays aren’t a product of being the fastest skater on the ice. Sure, it’s helpful if you need to be the first to a loose puck, but NHL games aren’t just 60 minutes of sprinting to a loose puck. You need to be able to control the puck, and make quick, intelligent decisions more than anything else.