NEXT AUTUMN’S CHILL

As hockey coaches go, Dallas Eakins is a little more complicated than your average Orval Tessier. His rookie season as head coach has been a lot about friction, resistance, learning curve (his and others) and new words for the lexicon. Swarm. Character. Message. I’ve been struck by another word—communication—and how sometimes in life it can take awhile to open the channels.

Eakins spoke recently to two Edmonton media people: John MacKinnon and Derek Van Diest. Two bright fellows themselves, it gives fans like you and me a chance to hear the field general and his take on the first 60 games. And the future.

  • Eakins: “We’re trying to morph this team into a team that’s going to use their skill greatly, but be a defence-first minded team.”

I think the changes we’ve seen in-season—beginning with the Gazdic claim and then adding Matt Hendricks and Mark Fraser—give us an indication about where Eakins is heading with this team. When he (and Craig MacTavish) spoke in the off-season about the type of team we were going to see in Edmonton under their regime, I got the impression it would be more button-down. Give the offense room to flourish, button down homebase. I felt it would be a “possession” team, but most of the players added during this season haven’t been those kinds of players. The Edmonton Oilers flushed Lennart Petrell and gave the job to Matt Hendricks. Are they better?

nuge helmet

  • Mirtle: Eakins brings a decidedly “new school” approach behind the bench, and as a coach that players rally behind, is more in the mould of someone like Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma than the long list of veteran NHL coaches available right now.

There’s been a lot of talk about Eakins’ personality, but NHL history shows all kinds of people can be successful in the job. Communication may be an issue, but sandpaper worked pretty well for Scotty Bowman. If you tell me that Eakins met with more resistance to new ideas because of his personality, I’d buy that one. However, this group of kids needed someone with iron in his words and staying power, so MacT is right in staying the course.

  • Eakins: “We want to keep moving forward with our system play, we’d like to get a little more aggressive on it now. And coming out of the break, that’s what we’re going to focus on. We don’t want to come off what we’ve been building, especially in the last little while here. I want to come out of that break running, not walking along or stumbling.”

It sounds like Eakins is going back to the big hill that was training camp in an effort to climb it again. He has more settled goaltending, some additions to the blueline and a better understanding of the men in his charge. I think he’s a bright guy, and will follow closely his progress in the season’s second half. I’m encouraged by the coach’s forthcoming words in regard to Hall’s season and how they may have done him a disservice through miscommunication. I’m also heartened that he sees the good in new hires like Mark Fraser (whose adjustment to the Oilers have been chaos incorporated) and feels he can make it all work. I am discouraged by the distance between “possession” and the obsession with size over skill.

I’ve said this one thousand times, and I’ll say it again: NO ONE is saying big players are bad, but they have to be actual NHL players. Matt Hendricks. Luke Gazdic. Mark Fraser. Are these bets superior to Lennart Petrell, Darcy Hordichuk, Andy Sutton?

oilers

The Oilers began the season 39gp, 12-24-3. Since then, they are 21gp, 8-9-4 and are 60gp, 20-33-7 overall. If they can finish 10-9-3 their overall record will be 30-42-10. It would be a poor overall record, but the final half would come in 43gp, 18-18-7. After what we’ve seen, that would represent progress. Remember Eakins words: “We’re trying to morph this team into a team that’s going to use their skill greatly, but be a defence-first minded team.”

It is always the goal of this blog to reduce all things to black and white, but the Oilers and Dallas Eakins won’t cooperate. They are conflicted and inconsistent and frustrating and holy hell they’re going to drive us crazy.

I’m all-in on this MacTavish-Eakins pairing. They’ll be sending away Fraser unless he can pull an Ulanov, and Hendricks will be 4line by next autumn’s chill. Craig MacTavish is going to get this right. Find good players for Dallas Eakins. Keep good players for the deep run and the sweet, bloody marathon to Stanley and the promised land.

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53 Responses to "NEXT AUTUMN’S CHILL"

  1. Yeti says:

    “Matt Hendricks. Luke Gazdic. Mark Fraser. Are these bets superior to Lennart Petrell, Darcy Hordichuk, Andy Sutton?”

    I would say yes, Hendricks is better than Petrell in most facets (although for how long?); Gazdic may be a tiny improvement on Hordichuk on the ice; and Fraser is a downgrade on Sutton, who could actually put in a shift.

    That said: the defining trades / signings that make this team will be the two additions at the top end of the D and whatever happens to 2C. Punto. That’s the hill MacT lives or dies on and he’s got until the early Fall to deliver.

  2. Lowetide says:

    Yeti:
    “Matt Hendricks. Luke Gazdic. Mark Fraser. Are these bets superior to Lennart Petrell, Darcy Hordichuk, Andy Sutton?”

    I would say yes, Hendricks is better than Petrell in most facets (although for how long?); Gazdic may be a tiny improvement on Hordichuk on the ice; and Fraser is a downgrade on Sutton, who could actually put in a shift.

    That said: the defining trades / signings that make this team will be the two additions at the top end of the D and whatever happens to 2C. Punto. That’s the hill MacT lives or dies on and he’s got until the early Fall to deliver.

    Yes. Agreed. I framed the issue in the post in a certain way, but the counter is “Perron, Gordon, Ference, Scrivens and one more summer? Get NHL players, keep NHL players.”

  3. VanOil says:

    Sutton>Fistric>Fraser

    Fedun>Kelfbom>Potter>Simpson>Larson>Davidson>Musil>Germat>Grebs>Fraser

  4. PDO says:

    Andy Sutton is criminally underrated for some reason. He was a legit. If he was on this team, he would be our third best defensemen.

    Plus he brought the wood.

  5. jb says:

    If we’re keeping good players signing Hemsky has to be a priority.. What type of contract does he sign? maybe 3-4 million over a few years to play tough minutes on the 3rd line? Sounds good to me.

  6. steveb12344 says:

    PDO:
    Andy Sutton is criminally underrated for some reason.He was a legit.If he was on this team, he would be our third best defensemen.

    Plus he brought the wood.

    …And the dangles. Don’t forget the dangles!

  7. prairieschooner says:

    Recent activity was intended to make the team tougher to play against
    Fraser and Hendricks specifically
    There is value to being team tougher, it used to be David Perron but now he has some help.
    As fans we sometime value skill as the be all factor.
    If we keep doing that we will be following Burkies Leaf formula and truculence will be our watchword

  8. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    Sutton is a huge upgrade on Fraser. Massive.

  9. Lowetide says:

    prairieschooner:
    Recent activity was intended to make the team tougher to play against
    Fraser and Hendricks specifically
    There is value to being team tougher, it used to be David Perron but now he has some help.
    As fans we sometime value skill as the be all factor.
    If we keep doing that we will be following Burkies Leaf formula and truculence will be our watchword

    Get good players. If you want a big winger, get an NHL player who is also a big winger. The pile of shit we’ve seen in Oiler uniforms since 2009 could cover the earth and back again.

  10. G Money says:

    The Oilers are a skilled team without size.

    Players with size and skill are valuable and rare and everyone wants one. That’s why getting one (or more) is tough.

    So the Oilers (until their patience pays off) are left with choosing between size OR skill.

    With skill aplenty, MacT’s short term endeavours are obviously all about size.

    The trick now is finding size with lots of truculence and just enough skill to allow the existing skill-without-size to flourish on the ice.

    The Hendricks experiment appears to be working.

    Fraser not so much.

    Expect more of the same type of “size with hopefully just enough skill” tweaking until the Holy Grail of Lucic is achieved.

  11. Yeti says:

    Lowetide: Get good players. If you want a big winger, get an NHL player who is also a big winger. The pile of shit we’ve seen in Oiler uniforms since 2009 could cover the earth and back again.

    I fear that the Joensuu bet was a poor one, and MacT must take blame for that. If Joensuu was legit we wouldn’t be having many of these conversations.

  12. spoiler says:

    When are Eakin’s words on Hall’s season forthcoming?

    Hendricks isn’t given enough credit around here, IMO. He does a lot of the little things well… watch him on the ice. Gagner could learn a lot from him defensively, although maybe that’s a low bar. I would also consider Joensuu to be Petrell’s replacement.

  13. spoiler says:

    Romulus Apotheosis: Sutton is a huge upgrade on Fraser. Massive.

    Yeah. I was a pretty big fan of Sutton in Oiler silks. Which at least meant he wasn’t destroying half our team when we played him. I was sad when he couldn’t leave the game on his feet like the warrior he was.

  14. Glock9 says:

    I’m a believer that MacT will get the job donebut not a big believer in the granola cruncher. He’s not an NHL coach. Personality/communication issues for sure.

    Time will tell…….

  15. Glock9 says:

    Oh yeah,,, Find EEkins more tolerable if I mute the sound when being interviewed and skip over any printed quotes…..:)

  16. Yeti says:

    Glock9: Oh yeah,,, Find EEkins more tolerable if I mute the sound when being interviewed and skip over any printed quotes…..:)

    I imagine he might possibly feel the same way about you ;)

  17. WeirsBeard says:

    spoiler:
    When are Eakin’s words on Hall’s season forthcoming?

    Hendricks isn’t given enough credit around here, IMO.He does a lot of the little things well… watch him on the ice.Gagner could learn a lot from him defensively, although maybe that’s a low bar.I would also consider Joensuu to be Petrell’s replacement.

    Agreed on Hendricks. Saw him good in a board battle recently. Tied up his man, then kicked a pass to a teammate. Great understated play.

    If we are bringing in size, I’d settle for Moreau/Grier type size. Not punchers, but guys who played a rugged game. Not the type of additions that cost pieces of the cluster either.

  18. sliderule says:

    Come on LT let’s get with the tank.

    We should be demanding the tank

    Finish 9-11-2 and we have 67 points which should allow us to be top three in draft

    The rest of top ten are a crapshoot so let’s get with the tank.

  19. Halfwise says:

    Two themes from this season so far.
    1) That Gagner, what a one-dimensional hockey player, doesn’t know how to play in his own end. Doesn’t play like a smart veteran. Instead we get cluelessness and bad habits.
    2) Why is that rookie know-nothing coach so hard on Yakupov? Yak’ll be ruined if this keeps up. Eakins should let him play to his strengths.

    hmmmm….

    Seems to me the Oilers have always needed a coach that wouldn’t let players get away with loser habits. Finally they have one.

    Eakins could use some bench help and for sure some better D, but to my eyes he is making a difference to how this bunch of individuals plays like a team. If it takes tough love, it takes tough love. Hiring him may have cost the Oilers the season with all the confusion it caused but that’s yesterday’s news. I am actually looking forward to the remainder of the season.

  20. russ99 says:

    I’m still not sold on Eakins, but as long as he continues to adapt, it would be foolish to change head coaches yet again.

    The key to this offseason is just as much finding the right assistants to identify with and be able to get results from the players as it is to improve the roster.

    We need a really solid, experienced coach who has a firm grasp in how to run a successful power play and be able to spur our scoring forwards on during those times when Mr. Defense sounds like a broken record when it’s easy for our skill guys to tune out.

    Also, nobody is averse to getting bigger, but I’m holding MacT to his quote. We need better hockey players, regardless of size.

  21. book¡je says:

    Glock9:
    I’m a believer that MacT will get the job donebut not a big believer in the granola cruncher.He’s not an NHL coach. Personality/communication issues for sure.

    Time will tell…….

    Are you certain that you are an authority on communication and/or personality judging?

  22. Andy P says:

    PDO: Andy Sutton is criminally underrated for some reason. He was a legit. If he was on this team, he would be our third best defensemen.Plus he brought the wood.

    But his injury forced his retirement.

  23. book¡je says:

    Glock9:
    Oh yeah,,, Find EEkins more tolerable if I mute the sound when being interviewed and skip over any printed quotes…..:)

    I don’t really understand the point of your comment here.

  24. Lloyd B. says:

    Halfwise,

    Halfwise You have me confused. In one sentence you are suggesting that Gagner is a wreck because he did not get the coaching early in his career to be an effective two way player. You infer that the coach we have now is the kind of coach that Gagner needed earlier in his career to develop good defensive habits. Next you tell us that the coach we have is ruining Yak because he is trying to break some nasty habits and to teach him to be a two way player. So its OK for Yak to be one dimensional but not Gagner? As I said, you have me confused.

  25. Andy P says:

    book¡je: I don’t really understand the point of your comment here.

    I think he doesn’t like Eakins :)

  26. justDOit says:

    steveb12344: …And the dangles.Don’t forget the dangles!

    I can remember one Sutton dangle in particular, just over the O blueline – I think he eventually lost the puck, but it was a real beaut for a while. I was probably a little too sad to hear that he had to retire. I thought for once that the Oilers had found money in the couch with him.

  27. justDOit says:

    Glock9:
    Oh yeah,,, Find EEkins more tolerable if I mute the sound when being interviewed and skip over any printed quotes…..:)

    So I guess you’re a pretty good lip-reader, what with all the hearing loss from your Glock and all.

  28. Halfwise says:

    Lloyd B.:
    Halfwise,

    Halfwise You have me confused. In one sentence you are suggesting that Gagner is a wreck because he did not get the coaching early in his career to be an effective two way player.You infer that the coach we have now is the kind of coach that Gagner needed earlier in his career to develop good defensive habits.Next you tell us that the coach we have is ruining Yak because he is trying to break some nasty habits and to teach him to be a two way player. So its OK for Yak to be one dimensional but not Gagner? As I said, you have me confused.

    Lloyd, that’s my whole point…there is a big chunk of the fanbase that just wants to criticize. If Gagner had got the Yak treatment he’d be a better player today. Eakins is saving Yak.
    Lloyd B.,

  29. spoiler says:

    Lloyd B.: Halfwise You have me confused. In one sentence you are suggesting that Gagner is a wreck because he did not get the coaching early in his career to be an effective two way player. You infer that the coach we have now is the kind of coach that Gagner needed earlier in his career to develop good defensive habits. Next you tell us that the coach we have is ruining Yak because he is trying to break some nasty habits and to teach him to be a two way player. So its OK for Yak to be one dimensional but not Gagner? As I said, you have me confused.

    He’s commenting on the many Joe ‘Netters out there complaining that Yak is getting ruined but also bitch about Gagner’s defense. He’s saying you can’t have it both ways, that both players need tough love… a coach that will require defensive discipline.

    Edit: Oops, sorry there Halfwise.

  30. Lloyd B. says:

    Halfwise,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I could not agree more ! Eakins is also working on Hall this year. Just imagine when those two get it.

  31. spoiler says:

    I like all the verbal that comes out of Eakins.

    I have to stretch to find any criticisms. The powerplay has under-performed, sure, but powerplays have a lot of seasonal variance, and when you snapshot the data has some effect on how good it looks. We’re not that many goals/min off league average, IIRC. They’ve moved Hall to the back of the set up to create a bigger threat from the point. He tends to cruise in rather than walk the blue line, but at least it gives another threat the other team has to worry about. Schultz too seems healthy finally which might have been part of the suffering.

    I suspect the Oilers are looking for a big man with a soft touch inside very very hard. That would give their powerplay another weapon.. A lot of the Oiler forwards are built to score off the rush… fast, agile, shifty, and sick mitts. The Oil don’t have many assets that can bring zone sustain… working a cycle, holding a crease etc. They’ve tried Joensuu and Gordon and of course Smytty there, but we don’t really have that guy, because he also needs to be able to spin around a little higher up the slot and be able to shoot from there, which helps open up the backdoor play.

    Until the point and crease are resolved, I don’t put a lot of the PP woes on Eakins. They don’t stand around because he coaches them to. Some powerplays they’re firing broadsides of grapeshot there’s so much rubber coming at the net, and then some powerplays they want to pass it pretty as a picture right into the net. Most of their problems look like execution and personnel to me.

  32. mumbai max says:

    I think there is an inordinate amount of emphasis placed on the size of the player. There are SO many examples of big players playing butter soft (pancakes anyone?) and an equal number of examples of small or average sized guys playing like tigers. Look at Perron. It is not about size, it is about attitude. That should be the focus in the future, both drafting, signing and trading. Skill and grit, regardless of size. If they happen to be big, it is a bonus.

  33. RexLibris says:

    Gazdic, Fraser and Hendricks are far better players than some that I have seen another team pick up this year by a GM generally credited with building winners.

    Westgarth barely belongs in the NHL and T. Gillies even less so.

    I don’t mind Hendricks because even if his corgis don’t appear to be running in the right direction, by eye he seems like someone who is limiting the damage against based on poor matchups and blueline breakdowns.

    Gazdic has improved his hockey ability since the beginning of the year. He is a more positionally sound player and a useful player under limited minutes. This is one facet of what defines roster depth. It isn’t always a 3rd line LW that can score, sometimes it is a 4th line winger who can play either side and give and take a pass with minimal chaos. It isn’t ideal, perhaps, but it is a darn sight better than what came before.

    Add a David Moss or Daniel Winnik to this group and a 2nd line center who can cover his man in the defensive zone and make a breakout pass and things get a lot better.

  34. VanOil says:

    I am resigned to the fact that Bucky and Own Goal will be our assistant coaches forever. There spectacular, historic even, run of coaching ineptitude has not yet costing then there jobs. Nothing will. The silver lining is they have not been promoted to even more damaging positions.

    My recent thought is more players in the mentor roles is the best we can do. Horcoff was good at this, Hemsky is good at this, despite lacking talent Ferrence and Hendricks are OK at this. My recent hobby horse is adding Jagr to this mix. Jagr wheels are overdue to fall off but his work ethic is legendary, his puck possession skills are in the best ever category and he has more experience than Zeus.

    Plus he would garner instant respect from the millionaire kids and might pot 20 goals.

  35. Halfwise says:

    spoiler: He’s commenting on the many Joe ‘Netters out there complaining that Yak is getting ruined but also bitch about Gagner’s defense.He’s saying you can’t have it both ways, that both players need tough love… acoach that will require defensive discipline.

    Edit: Oops, sorry there Halfwise.

    I could use your editing talents, Spoiler.

  36. gcw_rocks says:

    Sutton had more skill and hockey playing ability than Hendricks, Gazdic and Fraser combined. You were on solid ground with Petrell and Hordichuk, but when you threw Sutton in you tipped the balance the other way.

    “I think the changes we’ve seen in-season—beginning with the Gazdic claim and then adding Matt Hendricks and Mark Fraser—give us an indication about where Eakins is heading with this team.”

    It would appear that direction is a goon AHL squad masquerading as an NHL team. But if you love growl, Edmonton is the team to watch.

    Based on MacT’s rhetoric this past summer, we all hoped for a possession squad. Considering the players MacT has acquired, he wouldn’t know a possession squad if it sat on his face.

  37. gcw_rocks says:

    WeirsBeard,

    Sure, the team is out shot badly with Hendricks on the ice, but who cares about those little details…

  38. Surly says:

    Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers 56s
    The Olympic Rings illuminated at night at #Sochi2014! Photo from #Oilers and #TeamCanada’s Kevin Lowe. http://instagram.com/p/kQyYCpmzEv/

    Pffft..even the Olympics are one ring short #SixRings

  39. spoiler says:

    Halfwise: I could use your editing talents, Spoiler.

    I had help — you had already given the context.

  40. gvblackhawk says:

    spoiler:
    I like all the verbal that comes out of Eakins.

    I have to stretch to find any criticisms.The powerplay has under-performed, sure, but powerplays have a lot of seasonal variance, and when you snapshot the data has some effect on how good it looks.We’re not that many goals/min off league average, IIRC.They’ve moved Hall to the back of the set up to create a bigger threat from the point.He tends to cruise in rather than walk the blue line, but at least it gives another threat the other team has to worry about.Schultz too seems healthy finally which might have been part of the suffering.

    I suspect the Oilers are looking for a big man with a soft touch inside very very hard.That would give their powerplay another weapon.. A lot of the Oiler forwards are built to score off the rush… fast, agile, shifty, and sick mitts.The Oil don’t have many assets that can bring zone sustain… working a cycle, holding a crease etc.They’ve tried Joensuu and Gordon and of course Smytty there, but we don’t really have that guy, because he also needs to be able to spin around a little higher up the slot and be able to shoot from there, which helps open up the backdoor play.

    Until the point and crease are resolved, I don’t put a lot of the PP woes on Eakins.They don’t stand around because he coaches them to.Some powerplays they’re firing broadsides of grapeshot there’s so much rubber coming at the net, and then some powerplays they want to pass it pretty as a picture right into the net.Most of their problems look like execution and personnel to me.

    Seasonal variance in power play shooting percentages does not account for the flip side of the coin. Specifically, the Oilers 5v4 has given up more goals against, shots against, scoring chances against than any seaon in recent memory. By eye, 5v4 zone entries and puck retrieval have also been subpar in comparison to the last couple of seasons. Is this a systems issue or a personnel issue? Is the PP Eakins’ responsibility or one of his assistants?

  41. Hammers says:

    Eakins isn’t going anywhere as that is not what McT wants or will do . Hopefully McT stops making small cocessions to him like Acton , Hamilton & Fraser . The manager should accept input from the coach on what he would like but not actual players like those listed . Really all 3 have been a mistake and don’t really cut it at the NHL level . My biggest complaint on Eakins in the first few months is the way he says they or them not we or us . It’s a team sport and both players & coaches are in it together . They win or loose as a group . The new bunch Gordon , Ference , Perron , Hendricks ,Gazdic , Brz & Scrivens plus Marincin have all helped change the team . For the better or worse is each persons decision but I feel 5 of them are an upgrade . What Eakins does in the last 1/4 of the season helps set up next year . For me your. 10 -9-3 doesn’t cut it especially with 15 games at home . I would like to see closer to 30 points than 23 .

  42. bassguy says:

    Hi, I know this might be off topic but I will vent on the afternoon(12 till 2:00) guys sight as well. What I heard today on that radio show, from the host, made me shake my head. He actually used the word “hate” and I couldnt believe this…especially, I would think, given the title as a sports broadcaster, I know you are entitled to your opinion, you also want to be broad in your scope of all things sports?..anyways from following posts here I know BS does not have everyone checking his back but I have quite enjoyed the show as he is very plugged in to everything oilers, if a bit of a homer..but ,I dont think I will support that show anymore..and its not that he doesnt like figure skating!..its the way he put it down..basically writing it off and other Olympic sports..these athletes dedicate their life to have 5 minutes of ultimate pressure to try and win for the country of origin..outstanding dedication..just really pissed me off what he said, bassguy

  43. gvblackhawk says:

    gcw_rocks:
    WeirsBeard,

    Sure, the team is out shot badly with Hendricks on the ice, but who cares about those little details…

    The same can be said for Gazdic. Last I checked he had the 6th worst Corsi in the NHL. Even if he improves his positioning, he will go from abysmal to awful.

  44. spoiler says:

    WeirsBeard: Agreed on Hendricks. Saw him good in a board battle recently. Tied up his man, then kicked a pass to a teammate. Great understated play.

    If we are bringing in size, I’d settle for Moreau/Grier type size. Not punchers, but guys who played a rugged game. Not the type of additions that cost pieces of the cluster either.

    He cheats for defense, something that few players on this team do. Looks decent on the forecheck, can cycle, goes to the net, skates back hard, covers the slot if no one else can, and brings a mean streak and a dirty bent. That distraction adds a minor weapon to the Oilers arsenal that they only had in Smyth and Perron previously. I liked seeing him messing with the Devils on one of the line changes.

    Sample size with the Oil so far is pretty small and he’s still learning his new team. I would like to see more before I judge him.

  45. justDOit says:

    gvblackhawk: The same can be said for Gazdic.Last I checked he had the 6th worst Corsi in the NHL.Even if he improves his positioning, he will go from abysmal to awful.

    So you’re saying there’s a chance?

  46. gvblackhawk says:

    gvblackhawk: Seasonal variance in power play shooting percentages does not account for the flip side of the coin.Specifically, the Oilers 5v4 has given up more goals against, shots against, scoring chances against than any seaon in recent memory. By eye, 5v4 zone entries and puck retrieval have also been subpar in comparison to the last couple of seasons.Is this a systems issue or a personnel issue?Is the PP Eakins’ responsibility or one of his assistants?

    Actually, only chances against (slight increase) and goals against have increased. Shots against/60 has not changed much from season to season. The biggest change has been 5v4 save percentage. The Oilers are dead last with a 5v4 save percentage of 0.795. Damn goalies.

  47. spoiler says:

    I should add to that too that for the beginning of Hendricks tenure, Hemsky was missing. And since he has returned, Hemsky has had one of the worst giveaway games I’ve ever seen him have, driving the Corgi wagon over the cliff for the line that night.

    One of the keys for Hendricks staying on the 3rd line will depend on how well he and Hemsky do together. If Hendricks just goes to the net and lets Hemsky take care of all the thinking, maybe he can find some success. But if they don’t work well together, Hendricks will find himself with a lesser role.

  48. FastOil says:

    I don’t think the choice is only between skill and size. This is the mistake the Oilers keep making. It’s about aggression. What makes players a pain to play is aggression. Quick aggressive players beat big tough slower players and dangling boy scouts.

    LA had a perfect luck, beautiful, dominant Stanley Cup run, full of timely goals, impossible goaltending, and fortunate opponent injuries. They also had trouble winning reg season that year, last year, this year. They are too slow and lack enough skill overall. Their awesome defenseman isn’t enough, it’s only a piece in the puzzle.

    The teams that keep knocking on the door are smaller, more skilled and as mean as the big Kings. The only team that actually fits the big heavy thing that is deep in skill might be the Blues. They have never scored like this before and it might not happen again. Their better D aren’t that big either.

    The Sharks have about 4 big players with skill, two proven. While they are bigger than the Oilers most of their players are average size. And they also struggle with consistent depth outside of their top 3. They are a great team but the hyperbole goes over the top with them as well. When Big Joe and Marleau fade they’re hooped.

    The problem really is that the Oilers have a lot of mild mannered players of who many are atypically small for the NHL and it makes “normal” teams look like marauding Vikings. Football players on skates aren’t the answer, nor is “dumbing” down the team. Get a few more ‘hockey players’ like Hendricks and all is well.

  49. book¡je says:

    My goodness, what has Dallas Eakins done to the Canadian Men’s Curling team. They were way better when Ralph Kruger was the coach.

  50. delooper says:

    Sutton would have never been confused by Eakins systems – he’s an expert.

  51. russ99 says:

    he problem really is that the Oilers have a lot of mild mannered players of who many are atypically small for the NHL and it makes “normal” teams look like marauding Vikings. Football players on skates aren’t the answer, nor is “dumbing” down the team. Get a few more ‘hockey players’ like Hendricks and all is well.

    Not mild-mannered, young.

    The average age of the core (Ebs, Hall, RNH, Yak, Marincin, Jultz) is 21.5 If you add Perron and Petry, then it jumps to 22.5

    That will come in time. You can’t assume these players will be “soft” when they reach their primes when looking at their play at their current ages. Which makes Eakins hardline stance forcing them to play like they were veterans look even more foolish.

    I’m sure even Sakic and Yzerman weren’t considered tough at the same ages.

  52. gagan54 says:

    Surly:
    Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers56s
    The Olympic Rings illuminated at night at #Sochi2014! Photo from #Oilers and #TeamCanada’s Kevin Lowe. http://instagram.com/p/kQyYCpmzEv/

    Pffft..even the Olympics are one ring short #SixRings

    This is gold!

  53. DeadmanWaking says:

    russ99:
    Which makes Eakins hardline stance forcing them to play like they were veterans look even more foolish.

    So I take it you’re not in the dress-like-your-boss to succeed camp?

    There’s some logic to your position, as the Woodstock generation proved. For anyone who survived the Woodstock party, 1970s boardroom politics was a piece of cake. Just goes to show one should never underestimate at close quarters a long-hair clad in sandals and a leather belt (with a fist-sized Mercedes belt buckle of relentless revolution).

    For some reason, though, a crew-cut is super-important to the cause of directing unrelenting firepower at anonymous huddled othersiders.

    The difference between relentless and unrelenting is how you grow your hair.

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