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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.

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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.

NEED A TURNAROUND

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. 

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“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.

If not now, when?

WHILE I’M AT IT

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  • 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.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  


  • 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 !

  • McRaj

    Imagine having these lines:
    Maroon – McDavid – Drai
    Hall – Nuge – Ebs
    Tkachuk – Barzal – Slepyshev
    Cagguila – Letestu – Kassian

    Klef – Demers
    Sekera – Benning
    Nurse – Gryba

    Talbot

  • 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.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    It totally sucks,… but the marquee players just don’t have to play any more, it seems?
    They seem to have it made,… it’s human nature… It sucks…

    • BobbyCanuck

      Yes, it is human nature and it sucks…I am waiting till the end of November to see if I should push my indifference button (some have panic buttons), you know that button? The one you push when have stopped caring.

      If anyone is interested, I still believe we could package up our non-performers into a meaning full trade. THese are the players everyone is deriding.

      McDavid/Lucic/Russel for future considerations, fire Chia, get rid of TMac…there is your clean slate, start all over, and get ready for another DOD….no thanks…

      • Glencontrolurstik

        No team could afford those 3 for “future considerations”.
        They’d have to send some $$$ out…
        Heck, what are we even doing, considering a McDavid trade????
        I’ll have another coffee…

  • Simba99

    As the coach you damn well better be sure they have the energy but it awfully seems there is a problem with these coaches or maybe it’s just the fact they’ve paid to much for unproven accomplishments

  • 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.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      You know, if he’d give us a year in the 6 – 7 hundred thousand range, you might be onto something???
      Way better option than Chris Kelly….. If Chia does that, he should be ran out of town…
      Sutter for head coach is what I’d do……

  • Craiger

    Chia has built a flawed roster and neglected to make improvements in the one year we have left with any kind of cap flexibility, and McLellan hasn’t gotten them to play consistent, hard hockey. Who is more to blame? No idea, but they both need to be better, or we need to find options that are. Only the Oilers could take a team with the best player in the world and [email protected]*% it up so badly that we’re still fighting for dead last. Players haven’t been good enough this year, but neither has coaching, and ultimately management is responsible for the whole thing. Unfortunately, I have zero faith left in Chia to fix things…

    • 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.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    You think they would try to win one for Yamamoto?
    He played OK yesterday? Too bad he never got his NHL goal….
    Great future ahead,… don’t trade him Pete!!!!!

  • This.Is.NHL

    I just watched the condensed game and it looked like the oilers got out played, also to much tiny break downs by being defensive and not protective, its time to start sleeping with your hockey sticks Oilers.

  • CRONENBERG

    The scary part is that we’re seeing no signs telling us things will turn around. Even the worst NHL teams will have a good win once in a blue moon, which seemed to be the case against the Devils. We can’t say, “once the bounces start going our way we’ll win more games.” This is a step above Eakins-era. We’re not going to pull a 180 when Sekera gets back. Let’s say, at best, he helps us prevent one goal in a game. Well then hurray! We just lost 3-0.

  • Ed De Hod

    The way I see it, Kassian is the reason the 4th line started the 3rd period. He was by far the best and most engaged Oiler in the game. Instead of carrying Letestu along, Kassian should have been promoted up line up and try to get something going. Bad move on coaches part, seeing as he noticed that his stars weren’t going early on.

    Another bad move by the coach is the use of Letestu on the PP. Letestu hasn’t shown much for offense and puck battles this season, so on what merit is he on PP is beyond me.

    Why is Draisaitl, as the 2nd best centre(arguable) playing 1RW on 5v5, and then not on the PP? Wouldn’t vice-versa make more sense if anything.

    Why hasnt RNH been given a chance on the 1RW and Drai put on the line with Slepyshev and Lucic?
    Why hasnt Strome been given a chance on the 1RW but it was gifted to Yamamoto?

    There is a lot more questions to be answered on the bench than in Peter’s skybox.

    What coach in their right mind would put Gryba and Russel on the ice together, with McDavid? It just doesn’t spell success to me.

    Nurse by far was the worst and most selfish Oiler yesterday.

  • EThom04

    It’s not the coaches responsibility to get the guys motivated. The players need to come to play. TMac can’t babysit these guys to get them going. As a professional athlete that’s your responsibility to make sure you’re ready to go every game. I don’t think Todd is the problem, they just don’t have the parts. It’s clear they’re weak on the wing and they are slow, but at some point guys need to step up and bring a better effort. They need to fix the wing at some point soon if they’re going to salvage the season. I’m not worried about the D once Sekera comes back.

  • Consultant

    Fire Chia today.
    The package Sakic got for Duchene, compared to his return for Eberle confirms that he is the worst trading/ signing GM in the league. The difference is patience, Chia makes his knee jerk deals in July and August with no leverage, he doesn’t even seem to care about maxing the return. His record with Oilers and the Bruins for big name player trades is nothing short of atrocious. Talbot was a gift from Slats. Drai was overpaid so now they can’t even afford to keep Maroon, which was Chia’s only good deal (of substance, Kassian deal is not that consequential) in the last SIX years. McDavid had to talk his salary down!!!! Think about that from a negotiation perspective. This guy must go today. I fear his next deal, I’m having Nuge for Brian Boyle nightmares. We can’t wait, our time is now, this clown is destroying the Oilers during their McDavid years. My god where would this team be without those lottery balls? Shocking.

  • Harry2

    Ive been the biggest Chiarelli supporter I know but picking up Jokinen over Pitlick and Strome over Ebs is looking like a disaster. If the Oilers miss the playoffs no chance Chiarelli is around to start 18/19

  • Roberto

    In the Duchene trade, every team got what they wanted, and pieces that should help their team (although Turris at 6×6 may be a bit high). Chia has given away so much more than it took to get Duchene (Eberle, Rienhart picks). Lots of his decisions are adding up to be a big problem. Todd is also a problem. Lowe remains a problem. Mickey Mouse organization…. I hope some dominoes start falling soon.

    • Derian Hatcher

      I agree with some of the points here. The question is this. Does the oraganization pull a groundhog day and start replacing the coach and/or the GM? here we go again. WTF is wrong with the players? Why are they not competing? Why do they consistently lose puck battles? It’s literally like some of them don’t give a crap. Would a new coach change this? Maybe they have quit on their coach. I am not going to go on and on about the trades, but suffice it to say that during the playoff run last year when the team showed the stones and grit they are lacking this season, it was NOT Ebs and Pouliot who were leading that charge. Just like signing Chris Kelly is going to make a big defference. The want and desire has to come from the players. Until it does, more of the same.

  • the reasonable person

    This season is starting to piss me right off. We all know the questionable trades by now. Chiarelli is guilty of egregious asset management any way you slice it, but at the same time the team we have should be a lot better and we all wanted Chia to turn things around immediately and in my books he gets some credit for trying.

    We have all seen that the Oilers aren’t buying what Todd and Wood-cock are selling.

    Something is clearly wrong in the room, the team is not playing together anymore, or for each other, they don’t have each other’s backs and it seems like they plain old don’t even care.

    I’m at a loss about what a solution would be. Is this season really over? If it is, do we indeed need to once again try to get a GM in who is willing to rationally utilize assets from now on, given that the pieces to compete in any given year now appear to be in place, and yet another coaching staff to fix whatever it is in the room, and stop making boneheaded decisions that most of us on here would know better than to make in the game personnel decisions?

    This is unbelievable. Is this of all seasons really over at this point just like in 2013-14, 14-15, and 15-16 ?