The Day After 7.0: Oilers face harsh reality after listless loss to Rangers: ‘Everyone’s got to look in the mirror and do a whole lot f–king better’
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing1 month ago
On a night when the Edmonton Oilers turned back the clock to honour franchise legends Charlie Huddy and Doug Weight off the ice, on the ice, the Oilers did much of the same.
But instead of turning it back to the electric ’80s when Huddy and the Oilers won five Stanley Cups or the ’90s when the Weight-led club fought and clawed their way to relativity, they turned it back ten years or so.
The product on the Rogers Place ice looked like the team stuck in the Decade of Darkness rather than one pegged by many as Stanley Cup favourites. Listless, the Oilers were shut out 3-0 by the New York Rangers.
“It’s easy to point fingers,” said a frustrated Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse after the game, adding that “everyone’s got to look in the mirror and do a whole lot fucking better.”
The comments were harsh, but it’s a look into the mindset of this Oilers team.
Forward Zach Hyman said, “Everybody in the room has to take a step and elevate their game like we know we can.”
His linemate, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, grumbled after the team got booed off the ice they “don’t have time to hang out heads here, and get frustrated, woe is me.”
“It’s time right now. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. It’s about right now, and it’s about looking forward to Sunday here.
“There’s probably a bit of frustration we need to get out right now. We got a couple days right now to regroup and it’s early, but we know how important getting things going now is.”
THE NHL NOTEBOOK IS PRESENTED BY BETWAY
The sentiment from the club is one of evident frustration after a bad start to the season got worse Thursday night with troves of storied alums in town to see Huddy and Weight honoured and for Sunday’s Heritage Classic.
Instead of playing uptempo, push the puck up the ice mentality that saw the club score at will last season, last night’s performance saw 19 skaters seemingly scared to play hockey. They didn’t have the work ethic that got them into the playoffs, giving the eventual Cup-winning Vegas Golden Knights their toughest competition. They didn’t have the killer mindset which allowed them to toy with the LA Kings two years in a row.
Edmonton’s first period, which saw them get outshot 10-5, wasn’t something that inspired confidence, but they got out of it unscathed. With Warren Foegele in the box for an errant high-stick early in the second, Adam Fox broke open the scoring for the Rangers. The Oilers had some pushback for give-or-take a few minutes, but New York sucked their life out with two more goals to end the frame. The third period was too little, too late.
“We’re in the mud puddle right now,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft, “and the only way out of it is to work your way out of it.”
The next opportunity to do so comes Sunday evening in a game that will look different from the seven before: this one will be outdoors. Woodcroft said the team is hopeful it can be the starting point of a turnaround.
“That’s two points on the table, and we’re in search of two points. Not one point, not zero points,” he explained. “We’re in search of two points.
“There’s going to be a lot of excitement in the city, it’s going to be something different. Our hope is that maybe that is something that jump starts us, that gets us all on the same page here.”
With captain Connor McDavid on the sidelines Tuesday in Minnesota and last night, Woodcroft wasn’t ready to rule his cheat code in or out of the game. Instead, almost all the coach offered was that McDavid skated earlier in the day Thursday, which was taken as a good sign.
“He knows his body better than anybody, we’ll see where he is (Friday),” Woodcroft said. “I think he had a good day today.
“I wouldn’t rule him out, but I’m not going to say he’s going to play or not play. We have some time here before Sunday’s game.”
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
Recent articles from Zach Laing