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Pointing Fingers

Before the game against Philly, I was optimistic about the Oilers. They had won three of their last four and were heading into a game against a struggling Flyers team. This was going to be the streak they needed, I just had a feeling.

Now, I look at a team that came out flat in a very winnable game and my optimism has disappeared. They’ve lost two of their last three and now go on the road to face a red-hot Canadiens team and a highly skilled Leafs squad in back-to-backs. It’s not getting easy and given their play against the Eastern Conference this year, there’s little reason to believe they’ll find success on the upcoming three-game road trip.

I don’t want to look ahead though, I want to reflect on the last three games and find somewhere to place the blame. They had a chance to put together a winning streak and they blew it, so I want to point fingers.

LAURENT BROSSOIT

Dec 2, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit (1) stops a shot from the Calgary Flames in the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Oilers won 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Low hanging fruit? Maybe, but the reality is that Brossoit’s performances have been frustrating, to say the least.

Against Toronto, he made some huge saves but when you look back at that game you can find more than one instance where he allows a goal that had no business getting past him. The frustrating part is that you can also find multiple instances where he made remarkable saves that kept them in that game. But in the end, you look back and see the weak ones and can’t help but think that if kept just one more of those out of the net, they grab at least one point.

Of course, the debacle that was the third period against Calgary has been dissected to no end but the theme was similar.

Then we can look at last night vs Philadelphia. Brossoit made some solid saves, some at key moments but still, he gifted the Flyers a goal late. If LB could have avoided the softie, then once again, we could have seen the Oilers bring the game to overtime.

KRIS RUSSELL

Oct 28, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers defensemen Kris Russell (4) and Washington Capitals forward Alex Chiasson (39) chase a loose puck during the second period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Brossoit hasn’t been the only Oiler guilty of making one critical error in each of the past games. The man who wears #4 has been playing some of the best hockey of the season as of late, but he’s also made three brutal mistakes that have cost the Oilers goals in close games.

Of course, the own-goal vs Toronto has been beaten to death, but the reality is that contributed to the Oilers not getting at least a point.

Against Calgary, he blew a tire and allowed the Flames to continue their rapid comeback. Then against Philly, he made a more subtle but just as impactful error when he made an errant pass at the offensive zone blue line that the Flyers capitalized on. The Oilers essentially lost by one goal, just like against Toronto and it’s hard not to remember the big mistake by Russell.

POWER(LESS) PLAY

While the powerplay is only 0/4 over their last two losses, I’m less concerned about the overall percentage than I am about the execution and timing.

Against Toronto, they missed back-to-back powerplays when they were down by a goal in the second period. Now, they did come back and eventually tie the game you can still point to those two missed PP opportunities as great chances to gain momentum and take control of the game, and they couldn’t get it done.

Against Philadelphia, their powerplay couldn’t get a result at a prime spot in the game. With less than five minutes to go, in a one-goal, you need to find a way to get one especially when you roll out a power play with the firepower that the Oilers have.

The lacklustre play with the man-advantage is puzzling because this was a unit that did win them games last season and it’s more or less the same five-man unit on the ice. Do they need a shake-up? Time to play through this? Who knows, but the reality is it’s costed them hockey games.

MY POINT

Those are just a few of the things that have hurt the Oilers recently, but the thing is that they’ve made multiple mistakes that have cost them in what have essentially been one-goal losses.

If they could have figured out the powerplay or avoided the bone-headed mistakes, then they likely would have grabbed points in their last two losses. That gives me a little bit of hope going forward simply because of the fact that there are multiple factors costing them games.

The point of me writing this was not to place the blame or point my finger, solely at Brossoit, Russell or the powerplay. 

My point was, and I know that sounds a little off, if they could solve just one of the above issues (bad giveaways, weak goals or the powerplay) then they’ll put themselves in spots to win games and that’s encouraging to me. They don’t need to solve all their problems to start winning. They are proving that they can stay in games without playing perfect, or even good for that matter, and that’s the sign of a team that’s honestly better than their showing.

  • madjam

    Winning culture from last season fractured by poor off season tinkering from GM . Cherry pick any stats you want , but this years club and winning culture has turned to a losing culture with little to suggest it will not continue down that road . Just watch the club with your eyes and you see they are not nearly as good as last season . That is a dynamic negative/shift culture change we are witnessing , reminiscent of how same thing happened to Sharks destroying the culture of season by poor moves in off season by Wilson . Last season Todd was able to put together a winning culture , but Chia changed that dynamic this season with tinkering to that culture that became negative or lost . Our low standing and inconsistent play show that to be the case this season .

    • Odanada

      Team unity and a winning culture are directly related to the pregame dressing room music choices.
      Playing the theme music from the original 60s Spiderman will light a fire under these guys. Guaranteed.

  • KenBone18

    Sometimes crappy teams are crappy and it’s no ones specific fault. That’s life. Human tendency is to place it all on one person and it seems the Oilers fans have a culture of doing that as well (Eakins, Mac T, Schultz, Hall, Yak, Eberle, now Russel? Chia? The Coach? McDavid? Nurse? Draisatil?).

    The team sucks and that’s just the way it is. Better luck next time.

  • Deported to Ottawa

    Improvement can start by simply refusing the PP. with the amount of skill the oilers have the lack of movement and simply passing the puck is terrible.

  • camdog

    Penalty kill at home, powerplay and goaltending. These have been the teams problems the entire season, these are the reasons for their poor record. Hanging their shoulders at practice and coming out flat or some players trying to hard and making bad mistakes that’s a result of a team that has confidence issues from not being able to have a goalie you can count on, not having a powerplay that is scoring and not having a penalty kill above 60% at home.

  • ed from edmonton

    I think that your points about LB is completely correct. No team in the NHL can win consistently when the goalie lets in at least one weak goal a night. You sero in on the PP, but the PK is even worse. PK is trending to be perhaps the worst since this stat was kept. PP is a problem, but not as bad as the PK. You can petty well guarantee 1 goal against a game on the PK. So to win the OIl need to score 3 at least and with poor PP, 3 even strength goals on a consistent basis is hard to do. There been plenty of criticism of PC lately. I suggest the goalie situation is clearly on him. He had plenty of cap space to do something here but gambled on LB.

  • Odanada

    Time for Gretzky (with maybe, Messier) to walk into the dressing room pushing a dolly with 7-8 cases of beer. The old guys can regale the pups with the glories of past battles while everyone ties one on. Later on the talk will turn serious and Gretzky will remind them that it’s not the individual games, seasons, records or feuds you remember: it’s the Cups. The pups will look hard at those Cup rings while listening to some solid (and possibly drunken) talk from people that have been in the trenches and raised that silver mug up over their heads. Getting stared down by guys twice their age will give these greenhorns a deeper insight into what makes a team a TEAM. Time to man up!

    Just don’t do it on a game day, eh?

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Maybe it’s time to stop trying to relive the glory days and look forward. Get rid of the guys that think they know a little something about winning and move forward. Carve out a new direction and future. Figure out as a group what is holding you back and fix it. If goaltending is the problem, trade a pick for one. If the defense has a problem, go out and trade for one. If it’s lack of forwards past the top 6, make a trade for some decent depth players.

      Chia has to stop hording picks and use them to compete now. The window only remains open for so long. Next season will be harder to improve the roster with $21m used on two players, ELC’s needing new deals, and the increasing cost of UFA’s. As the cap goes up, so does the cost to sign a UFA.

        • Old school

          Ok Ed yes brilliant coaching .. put out your 4th Line to win the game .. that’s creative .. here’s an old coaching maxim from 50 years ago that Todd hasn’t learned yet ..the most important situational coaching moments .. first and last minute of a period .. first minute after a goal is scored .. watch who is on the ice at these times with the competition and a good coach behind the bench .. watch how often Todd has the wrong players on the ice in these situations and often he gets bitten

  • Rebuilder

    Why can’t we discuss firing assistant coaches anymore? Is it because we can’t remember their names? If Jim and Jay can’t get the special teams going then they have to go. If TMac insists that they are a package deal, then I’m sorry he’ll have to go too.

  • Spydyr

    The GM knew Sekera would be out until at least Christmas. He did nothing. He knew his backup goaltending was weak. He did nothing. He traded a top six right winger. He did nothing to replace him. See a pattern here?

    • ed from edmonton

      it has been suggested that “going the extra mile” so to speak to sign Russell was in part motivated by the Sekera situation. So to say he did nothing might not be accurate. At last year’s year-end media conference PC said that this year would be a year for young players to grow. Other than Nurse, none of the younger players has really grasped the opportunity.

        • ed from edmonton

          I would suggest PC was counting on younger player to fill the gap. In this case Nurse has grasped the opportunity. Unfortunately who could have predicted that Klefbom would have forgotten how to play hockey over the summer.

          • Bp123

            Planning for regression is exactly the job of the GM. I don’t understand how Chiarelli could feel comfortable going into a season and planning on both having one dman step up into a quality top 4 role, and having every single other dman play as well as last year. He made a dumb bet on none of the defense having a worse year.

            And if that wasn’t enough, he did the same thing on RW. He took a handful of 3rd line wingers and just hoped two of them would grab the spots. Instead, they all just look like 3rd line players playing in the top6.

          • Spydyr

            It is the GM’S job to assess his team’s shortcomings and address them. To constantly improve their team. Most times this is done in the summer. Chia thought standing pat was the way to go. Many of us here thought that was a mistake. The season so far has proven it was a mistake.