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Random Thoughts: Ken Holland, Dave Tippett, the goaltending, and more

We’re working our way through another COVID break, and I thought it would be the perfect time for another dose of Random Thoughts to offer up some fresh takes on what’s been happening over the past week.

COVID POSTPONEMENTS

Anybody else look at the Oilers’ schedule for the rest of the month and just feel bummed out by how many games on the schedule are postponed for a later date? Earlier today, Zach wrote about another list of players and staff that were placed on COVID protocol and it’s just so incredibly disheartening to have this keep happening without any real end in sight. Despite the team being in the midst of another tailspin, I was legitimately excited about watching tomorrow’s game and it’s endlessly disappointing that it’s unlikely to happen… again.

WATCHING THE CAR CRASH

I would love to know what Ken Holland is thinking right now as he watches his team lose 11 of their last 13 games while being heavily outplayed by every calibre of competition in nearly every facet of the game. To put it mildly, the Oilers have looked like a burner dumpster of a team over the last month or so and it’s almost nauseating to see them crumble the way they have without seemingly getting any support from up top. Seeing as Holland had millions upon millions of dollars in cap space to work with over the summer, you have to think that his work is being scrutinized within the organization, and if it’s not, then we have a much bigger problem than I ever could have imagined. Either way, now that the Oilers have basically pissed away their entire hot start, I wonder how long Holland will feel comfortable to wait and see how things play out before stepping in and making something happen? Does he even have any interest in stopping the bleeding or will we wait to the point of this team being past revival before something gets done?

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DAVE TIPPETT

It’s been days since the Oilers last played and I still can’t wrap my head around why Dave Tippett thought it would be a good idea to play Kyle Turris and Zack Kassian over Jesse Puljujarvi on the power play and as the extra attacker against the Leafs. I know the argument is that Puljujarvi hasn’t played all that well lately — I can buy that to a certain extent — but it still doesn’t make any sense why he’s being passed for these opportunities by two guys that have fewer combined goals than he does. If the lesson here is supposed to be that Jesse needs to play better before getting the extra minutes then why is it those two guys that are getting that spot before him? It’s all well and good that Leon Draisaitl told the media that the team isn’t tuning their coach out after Wednesday’s loss to the Maple Leafs, but I lean towards taking what is said in those post-game pressers with a grain of salt, especially when you have to imagine some of these deployment choices are making eyes roll in the room. Obviously, that’s just me guessing since I’m nowhere near the Oilers dressing room, and on my first episode of Better Lait Than Never, Frank Seravalli said he’d suspect that Tippett finishes the year with the Oilers and that a trade is more likely to happen before any kind of managerial move.

THE GOALTENDING

I’m not going to spend a bunch of time ripping the Oilers’ goaltending but I will absolutely say that neither Mike Smith nor Mikko Koskinen has been anywhere good enough in net, and unless that changes, we’re in for a rough ride down the stretch. At the time of writing this, the Oilers have a 5v5 save percentage of only .909, which ranks them above only the Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils, and Seattle Kraken. Take a minute to check out where those teams are at in the standings and really think about what I’m saying here. I know that there’s a lot that goes into even strength save% — the Oilers give up wayyyyy too many high-quality chances from in close that their goaltenders don’t have much chance on — but there also comes a point when you need your guys to make a save. And before you get at me in the comments section that goaltending has been average on most nights based on the analytics, the counterargument I’d present would be about what being down by a goal in the opening moments of a hockey game does to the psyche of the hockey team that’s already battling confidence issues. I know that for myself as a fan of the team, I feel the wind get knocked out of my sails when I see the Oilers chasing the game from the get-go and I can’t imagine that’s much different from what’s happening on the bench regardless of whether the spreadsheets have a metric for that or not.

MIKE BABCOCK

Just say no. For real. In fact, I don’t even want to hear about this name being tied to the Oilers.

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