Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The way I see it

Edmonton Oilers’ coach Todd McLellan started the trio of Mark Letestu, Zack Kassian and Iiro Pakarinen to open the third period against the Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Place Sunday afternoon because they’d been his best line in the first 40 minutes of a must-win game. It that’s not a problem, I don’t know what it.

In a game where the Oilers absolutely, positively had to take two points, or at the very least look inspired trying to before a four-game road trip through the Eastern Conference — call it a statement game if you want to — they instead came up with a whole bunch of nothing in a listless, indifferent 4-0 loss. A great big chunk of that zippity-do-da came from the big names on the marquee.

Maybe the statement, with the Oilers floundering at 4-8-1 through 13 games, is, “Hey, Pete Chiarelli, it’s time to pull the trigger on something because this isn’t working.” It was an effort so hopeless and lacking anything resembling resolve or will to win — stating right at the top — I expected to see Dallas Eakins behind the bench. While Letestu, Kassian and Pakarinen didn’t manage to get anything done, they at least looked like they gave a damn.

With stops against the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals coming up, there was no such gusto from the likes of Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon and the top-end of McLellan’s line-up against a far-more-determined Detroit outfit. “I didn’t think we had a lot of energy,” McLellan understated. Sure, that happens to even the best lines and the best players, but talk about lousy timing.

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Feb 3, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his second period goal against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

McDavid, who had a 17-game points streak on home ice snapped, Draisaitl, playing in his 200th NHL game, and Maroon, who had points in seven straight games, managed to combine for just three shots. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic and rookie Kailer Yamamoto, who played his ninth NHL game, weren’t a whole lot better, combining for four shots. Yamamoto, at least, had maybe his best game. Whether that keeps him here remains to be seen.

As usual, the Oilers lost the battle of special teams. That’s been a constant storyline that isn’t getting markedly better. Same thing for an attack that still isn’t close to clicking consistently. This was not the game to add to those woes by having the go-to-guys go away before fueling up the jet for that swing east. It was a textbook non-effort that begged for a shake-up by the GM.

Maybe that shake-up takes the form of calling up Jesse Puljujarvi or Ty Rattie, although I can’t see how a couple of kids being summoned from the AHL is going to make a difference. What happens with Yamamoto? We should know more on both fronts today. Something more substantial? Sure, but that’s always easier said than done. You’d have to think Chiarelli is at least contemplating going outside the organization to make a move or two — moves some have said he should have made during the off-season. 

“We just weren’t good enough,” offered McDavid, who played just 15:55, easily a season-low for him, and was perched on the pine with his linemates for most of the third period. This was one of those games, with a deep hole already dug and a road trip that could bury the Oilers in the standings for good coming up, where the circumstances begged for “good enough.” It just wasn’t there Sunday.

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If not now, when?


  • I admire Kris Russell for the way he sacrifices his body blocking shots and battles and scraps to make plays, but he’s spent way too much time of late on his ass or lurching around the ice like he’s lost control of his limbs. A case in point was the 2-0 goal by Gustav Nyquist. Get your feet under you, man. You can’t be break-dancing on the freeze like that, especially when you’re paired with Eric Gryba.
  • Bitching about bad officiating is a loser’s game, but that phantom interference call against Maroon on Frans Nielsen in the first period was an absolute joke — they inadvertently touched skates. Yes, it’s a fast game in real time, but if you’re guessing about whether there was an infraction, as was the case here, pocket the whistle.


  • morsecode89

    The way I see it is the blame for this rests on the shoulders of Peter Chiarelli.

    Virtually every move he’s made over the last few seasons is starting to blow up in his face big time. He gutted this teams secondary scoring and replaced it with grit and size that is being out skated by quicker teams. Every player he let go of this off-season is greatly out performing the ones he bet on replacing them. Thinking guys like Cagguila, Strome, and Slepyshev could out produce the plays he lost was a bad bet. And he’s losing that bed bad. On top of this, the team can’t kill a penalty or score a power play goal… Again, who did we basically give away and buy out?

    On top of this, Peter Chiarelli has saddled this team with some brutal contracts. I was skeptical about 4X4 for Russel… My lord, he’s played the lowest ice time of most D this season. Offense dies when Milan Lucic touches the puck. And for 6 million dollars, yeesh. People complained and complained about the players we all seemed happy to jettison for a lack of effort… Well, now we’ve got 6 more years of Lucic offense in our top 6.

    Maybe we’re getting what we deserve? We’ve basically been given a one line team built around Connor Mcdavid and Leon Draisaitl. And that’s essentially what Peter Chiarelli and Todd Mclellan banked on getting this team to the glory land.

      • Craiger

        Literally the three best moves he made fell into his lap. He needed size. Kassian was on the outs for obvious reasons in Montreal, as was Maroon in Anaheim after they added salary and had to drop a contract. Oilers needed size, so made logical sense. Neither of those was GM wizardry by Chia, more like right place, right time, right needs, although to his credit he bought low for once. Talbot was an absolute gift from Slats, even though we were outbid for him and by all rights should’ve lost him due to using our 1st/2nd to acquire Reinhart, thankfully Slats did us a solid. There were rumors of Dadbot to EDM long before Chia was even hired. Larsson? Great player and love him, but that was a trade he lost, just accept it already. Caggiula solid signing. Unfortunately, the lack of depth on wing and on farm means once again we have to put a young, inexperienced player in a position they are not likely ready for, which is why RW has been a revolving door all season, including 91.

        And those were his best moves. Should we talk about the really bad ones now???

    • btrain

      I absolutely agree. Chia has created himself an unnecessary mess. I will maintain that I believe Chia was the GM we needed to make a few bold moves off the start but once the team established itself he should have been fired. He is a gambling, impatient GM, that clearly hates the negotiation part of his job. Just throw enough assets/cash at it and get it done approach. I could easily point out a dozen moves Chia has made that illustrate this approach but I think Pouliot’s buyout perfectly puts in perspective how this GM approaches his job. Pouliot, a serviceable, big bodied veteran, who excels on PK, gives you another PP option, can literally play throughout your entire lineup, and has plenty of speed, is bought out. Now, if this didn’t come with a 4 year 1.3 million dollar cap penalty, perhaps I wouldn’t care so much. But its this careless approach that drives me crazy. He clearly decided he didn’t want this player on the team and wasn’t going to chance not being able to move him and took the path of least resistance to send him packing. I doubt he even put much effort to shop him as in a retention deal, I don’t know how a half dozen other teams wouldn’t be interest in Pouliot at 2million/season for his utility alone.

  • McRaj

    I remember a lot of people were laughing at how me and some others gave criticism of the Reinhart trade. Saying things like “Barzal ain’t even in the NHL” and “Reinhart is more proven”. Well sadly, I’m laughing now. I want to see everyone who said things like that, tell me you were wrong. He has 13 points in 14 games this year, hes RIGHT HANDED CENTER. To me, that trade (not the Hall or Eberle trades) is the worst of PC’s tenure.

    • BobbyCanuck

      When he did the Reinhart deal, he was new here and depended on the scouting group to provide accurate descriptions on Reinhart…bet that was the last time he listened to the scouts, I believe hardly any of the ones from back then are with the Oilers anymore

    • Rock11

      Can we please, please, pretty please stop mentioning Barzal when talking about the Reinhart trade. I know he was the guy drafted with the pick and all but please just stop. There was absolutely no way Chiarelli was drafting a smallish skilled forward with that pick. He was still in we need to get bigger and tougher mode. The Oilers could have had 6 straight picks there and I still don’t think they draft Barzal. Yes, we all know the Reinhart trade was a disaster but not because we lost Barzal.

  • Total Points

    It certainly looks like the players don’t want to play for the coaches or they don’t want to play for each other. Something is going on it isn’t a lack of skill on the team.

  • moosewacker

    Oilers have a lot a lot of bets that have gone bad, not just Jokinen. He has been completely invisible. The scariest thing about this is that I’m starting to think the Matt Henderson is right about everything !

    • MrBung

      Absolutely. There is no way this team is making the playoffs this season. They have way too many issues and the special teams are awful and will not be fixed in time this season – if at all – to get them in a position to get into the ultra-competive playoff race.