If you’re a Seinfeld fan like I am you’ll know that December 23rd is Festivus, a day where you’re encouraged to air your grievances and celebrate feats of strength. Given the fact that we’re Oilers fans, I’m sure that we’ve all got a few items that we’d love to get off our chests.
Before we get started with this year’s Festivus festivities, I wanted to remind everyone that airing your grievances does not make you any less of an Oilers fan. In fact, I’d suggest that complaining about the team you love because you only want them to get better is the ultimate form of fandom. It’s a dedication that the Oilers are lucky to have, and the grievances held within are only trying to help them get better — we’re basically providing a service. With that out of the way, let’s get to it.
The Secondary Scoring
Heading into the Christmas break, the Oilers have a major issue of relying on a few guys to produce enough offence for everyone. At the time of this posting, the Oilers have scored 102 goals after 36 games with 47% of those goals coming from three players (McDraiNuge). That number jumps to 62% if you add in Alex Chiasson’s 16 goals and 69% (nice) with Drake Caggiula’s seven. Needless to say, it’s really truckin’ hard to win in the NHL if four or five guys are producing nearly 70% of your total offence, and that’s an indictment on the rest of this roster. At some point, the other guys on this team have to either start chipping in or get moved out of here because every day of Connor McDavid’s career is too important to waste and he can’t be expected to do it all by himself.
Is Chiarelli still a genius orrrrr? pic.twitter.com/QuynuPB6v2
— Baggedmilk – Oilers Beet writer (@jsbmbaggedmilk) December 23, 2018
The Special Teams
I don’t know what’s going on with the special teams right now but they have Gord awful in December. Even with a couple of goals going in last night against Tampa, the power play has been mostly useless, the penalty kill hasn’t fared much better, and both of them are costing us points all over the board. Most recently, the games against Vancouver and St. Louis could be used as case studies for how terrible special teams play can lose hockey games, and I’m demanding rectification for these issues in 2019. I don’t care if you have to throw five forwards on the first power play unit or play two goalies on the PK, something has to change here. The springtime punishment of our livers depends on it.
McDavid Getting Mugged
One of the weirdest things I’ve seen this season is eastern fans and media complaining about how much we complain about missed penalties on Connor McDavid. To many of them, they think Oilers fans and media are being biased and there’s no way the refs could be missing as much as we’re making it seem, but unless you watch every Oilers game as we do then are you really allowed to comment? I find it hard to believe that anyone that watches every single Oilers game could see the hooking and holding that Connor battles through on a shift-by-shift basis and not think it’s weird how few of them get called. Certainly, I know that there are calls that will get missed but this is getting crazy. Every single night, I’d guess that there are two or three blatant penalties against Connor McDavid that go uncalled and, over the course of an entire season, that adds up to hundreds of swings and misses by a referee group that clearly needs an upgraded vision plan.
The Playoffs as a Finish Line
I’m particularly annoyed about the idea of the playoffs being a finish line for some people. A couple weeks ago, Bob Nicholson said that Peter Chiarelli’s job would be safe provided that they made the playoffs, and I think that’s crazy talk. Firstly, I know that there’s not much Nicholson can say to that question so I don’t blame him for the way he answered it, but instead of giving a definite answer he could have gone a little bit more into politician mode without committing to anything. The easy out would have been to say that everyone would be evaluated regardless of the results, but instead, he inadvertently set making the playoffs as some kind of finish line.
IF the Oilers make the playoffs then this will happen. IF they make the playoffs that will happen. IF. IF. IF. Now that Peter knows what he needs to do to keep his job, my concern is that he’ll be a little bit more likely to try to force another move through to give the team a bump if it needs one come deadline time. I mean, when the coach is calling out the depth of the roster after the loss to Tampa Bay then it doesn’t exactly give you confidence in the guy that put the roster together to try and fix it. Obviously, I want the Oilers to make the playoffs, don’t be ridiculous, but I also think that we should be at a point right now where the playoffs are expected and not a hope. In year four of Connor McDavid’s finite career, should we really be thinking that scraping into the playoffs is anywhere close to good enough? I don’t think so.
Ken Hitchcock the salesman
I’m going to need Ken Hitchcock to go ahead and shut up sometimes. Let me explain… Ever since Hitchcock replaced Todd McLellan back in mid-November, he’s been giving these press conferences and media scrums that are basically a masterclass in how to handle the fans and media. His seemingly endless positivity, last night notwithstanding, in any situation is absolutely intoxicating and I don’t know if we’re ready to handle it. I feel like the guy can take any question in the world regardless of subject and spin it into some kind of beautiful music that has us all eating out of the palm of his hand, and frankly, I’m sick of it.
I’m sick of his seemingly endless wit, analogies and stories that can even make me smile after a loss, and I hate the way that he could probably convince me to sell a kidney if he really put his mind to it. Hitchcock has been here just over a month now and I don’t think I’ve disagreed with basically anything he’s said. The man’s ability to control the narratives is incredible and I think we should all be wary of his seemingly endless power. Be wary of the Hitch, friends, he could have us helping him move a body if he really wanted and that’s a dangerous man to have around.
Oilers Fans and Taking the Bait
If there’s one thing that annoys me about Oilers fans is how easily we can, at times, get lured into a social media bear traps. Whether it’s Leafs fans saying Matthews/Pettersson/whoever is better than McDavid or that he’s only a few losses away from jumping ship, Oilers fans have a real problem with taking the trolly bait laid out by opposing media and fanbases. I don’t know what needs to happen so that we can avoid walking into these no-win situations, but I think we should all work on some kind of solution in the new year. Besides, we know Connor is the best player on earth anyway so why would we even care what someone else thinks?
FEATS OF STRENGTH
Since no Festivus is complete without celebrating some feats of strength, I looked back at the last 12 months to find some of the best things that have happened around here. Here are a few feats of strength that come to mind when I think of this past year:
- Connor McDavid gets back-to-back Art Ross Trophies
- For as much as the Oilers need to find some secondary scoring, they’re getting exactly what they need from their three centres (McDraiNuge).
- Alex Chiasson is on an absolute heater right now and I hope he never ever walks away from the table.
- I am happy to admit that I’ve been wrong about Mikko Koskinen. I still don’t like the idea of giving NMCs to unproven free agents but I will definitely eat my share of crow on his this signing has turned out so far.
- Even with the Oilers picking 10th overall at the NHL Draft this past June, the Oilers were able to flex their draft day muscles by landing Evan Bouchard even though it seemed like there was no chance that they would get him. How many times have we said before? Incredible.
- Even though I just complained about how slick a salesman Ken Hitchcock is, I’m going to go ahead and say that I’m thankful for having him behind the bench. It’s not that I had necessarily had anything against the Todd McLellan but the way Hitchcock has handled everything from the roster to the media to communicating his message since being here has a breath of fresh air.
- Despite the ups and downs of another rollercoaster season, the Oilers are right in the mix for a playoff spot and that’s all we can ask right now. We can argue about roster construction and whose fault it all is when things go wrong, but the bottom line is that there are meaningful games left to play and for that I’m grateful.
With that, I have aired my grievances for another year and I feel better about it. If there’s something I missed, hit me up in the comments section. If there’s something that’s been bothering you about the team all year long, I want to hear about it. It’s on this most special of days where we can look at the team we love and mercilessly complain about them, not because we want to but because we have to. For if we do, a Festivus miracle could be in our future.