It’s an understatement in the extreme to say these qualify as tough times for the Edmonton Oilers, who will try to put the brakes on a confidence crushing 2-10-2 skid when the Florida Panthers come calling on Thursday.
Aside from @Brendan Perlini, who, all things considered, was an unexpected beacon of light and positivity in a chat with assembled media yesterday, the WTF factor has been growing exponentially with each loss. That was on full display after the Oilers coughed up a 3-1 lead in a 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators. That was a fold job, a real kick in the pills.
If we’ve seen captain @Connor McDavid look more sour in an availability with the media than he did after the loss, I don’t recall when. “I wish I had an answer,” he said. “We’ve talked it over and over again in that room, and obviously, we haven’t found an answer yet. That being said, we’ve got to show up and we have three practices here before our next one to get back to work.”
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The result even prompted former Oiler Ryan Whitney to chime in on Twitter. “Just sitting here waiting for the Edmonton Oilers to do something. Fire the coach or make a trade but for God sake DO SOMETHING.” Whitney, part of the @spittinchiclets podcast, has more than 372,00 followers on his @ryanwhitney6 account. I’m guessing many of them nodded in approval at that sentiment.

TURNING IT AROUND

Mar 29, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Dave Tippett speaks to his player in the second period against Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Most fans are far more aligned with McDavid and Whitney in terms of frustration than they are with Perlini’s positive spin at this point. Understandable. Perlini has taken a long, tough road to get here and he’s never had the luxury of pissing and moaning. Where would that get him? Finding the silver lining and putting in the work could have him on a line with Kailer Yamamoto and McDavid in coach Dave Tippett’s line-up Thursday. He should be pumped. Oilers’ fans? Not so much.
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While it might not be as drastic as what Whitney had in mind with his all-caps “DO SOMETHING” tweet, the Oilers have drilled this week on becoming tougher to play against rather than just tough to watch. At a time when many fans swore that they’d lose their poop if the Oilers lost to Ottawa – fire Tippett, trade fill-in-name here, sign Evander Kane – playing a more robust game can’t hurt right now. Most of the rest will have to come later.
“There are ways we can be harder to play against,” Tippett said after a Monday skate that was heavy with battle drills. “You can be in the lane, but you cannot be in the lane. You want to block a shot? Then put a lot of effort into doing that.
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“We’re there, but we’re not there. There are parts of our game where … we have a guy, but we don’t have a guy. There is another element that has to get done at a higher rate, that has to happen for us to be a harder team to play against.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

Sure, being harder to play against can help. It would also help if the penalty kill could get out of its own way and regain some of the form is displayed early this season. It would also help the cause if @Mike Smith could manage to get healthy and stay healthy or if Stuart Skinner would take the job. I’ve still got hope for Skinner, but he shat the bed in the third period with the rest of the team vs. Ottawa and now he’s out on COVID protocol. That means @Mikko Koskinen gets the net Thursday.
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I’m still not exactly sure what “DO SOMETHING” entails, but I’ve got a text into Whitney and I’ll pass along anything that might be helpful or at least funny if I hear back. Until then, making a point of being harder to play against starting Thursday can’t hurt the Oilers, even though I expect they’ll get rolled by the Panthers anyway.
Tough times.

Previously by Robin Brownlee