Remember last season when the LA Kings couldn’t score goals? It was pretty dire–they scored only 26 goals in their first 11 games (one more than the Oilers have managed this season) and by game 35 they were on coach #3. We all know how that turned out.
The Oilers do have some good things–Dennis King’s scoring chances show us that much–but there are also a lot of struggles with this hockey club right now. What can they do in the short term?
- Don’t do anything rash. This is one time when Steve Tambellini’s measured approach (measure twice, cut once!) is very wise.
- Focus on the positive. Hall and Hemsky are pushing the river and getting chances, Nuge looked really good today and Schultz the younger is like a brand new fast car. The goaltending has been very good, even Methuselah looked good today.
- Take the pressure off those who are feeling the heat. My list would include Eberle, Whitney and perhaps Petry and Smyth a little.
- Back to basics. Oilers need more pucks at the net on the PP and cleaner and entries breakouts to my eye, I’m sure you have your list too.
- Don’t make things out to be worse than they are right now. Oilers have lost 5 in a row, but they’ve also picked up some Bettman points and even the poor rebuild teams showed an ability to go on winning streaks.
- Understand that this too shall pass. Those pucks will start going in, history teaches us that shots and chances are followed by goals. Oilers are on the good side of the graph in that way.
Finally, improve the team where possible. Which brings me to the Hordichuk and Peckham roster spots. Theo played last night and after this weekend should be at least ready to be a 7D behind Smid-Petry, Schultz-Schultz, Whitney-Potter. Which means the club either deals one of those 6, offloads Fistric (unlikely) or trades Peckham. If you make that move while also flushing Hordichuk there are two roster spots available.
Could the Oilers deal for a veteran defenseman like Lubo, who would take Theo’s roster spot? Or could they pick up Vernon Fiddler who could take the Hordichuk spot? If not those two, then players of similar ability?
I’m not talking Panic in Detroit. I’m talking intelligent roster makeup. If the Oiler management group wants to give this team every opportunity to make the playoffs, these moves should be made soon.