The Edmonton Oilers have spent an entire NHL season chasing the puck. Each game plays out like a power struggle between coach (who must get this team to be more aware defensively) and players (young hearts, run free). If this was another team, it would be hilarious. As it is, this is a crushing season in the time of the Oilers.
There are three possible avenues for rage:
- Eakins is ruining his team with ‘this isn’t an offensive team’ and crushing creativity
- The Oilers don’t have the horses on defense, so it’s difficult to see the fruits of all this defensive labor
- These kids won’t listen! They’re stubborn as mules
No matter what category you subscribe too, the Edmonton Oilers are barely watchable and fan enthusiasm is non-existent for a reason. These are crushing games, games that look like the Oilers are lost, have given up or simply cannot understand the basic rules of winning. It’s incredible. Really.
- Bruce McCurdy: Coach Dallas Eakins, 1. Enough, already. His team was unprepared for the start of the game, getting badly outplayed and grossly outshot for the brief time the score was actually close. His charges were disorganized and undisciplined, careless with the puck and lax in defensive coverage. The powerplay was terrible. His club got shellacked on home ice yet again. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
McCurdy’s words ring true. The last good possession team iced by the Oilers came via Craig MacTavish as coach and Kevin Lowe as GM. Why can’t things go back to those days?
Well, MacT’s teams were known to be demons at 5×5 and housed a lot of men who could the play the two-way game. Jason Smith, Steve Staios, Mike Grier, Todd Marchant, Rem Murray, those sorts of men were key to winning at even strength. Now, they didn’t have a power play and that’s for sure, but lordy they could play the even strength game very well.
DELLOW’S OILERS CORSI 1997-2006
I can’t find the post Dellow posted this into, so can’t link but it’s his work and credible. The Oilers are 43.1 this season, were 43.5 last year and 47 in 2011-12 under Tom Renney. Among Steve Tambellini’s many gifts to the Oilers, flushing Renney surely ranks up there.
So, what’s the answer? Should we expect Eakins to turn Hall into Grier? No. However, all of the Oilers kids need to improve their positioning without the puck. They need to be in more battles, win more battles, and make intelligent passes. Howie Meeker used to say ‘kids, don’t play like the Leafs!’ and then back up the telestrator to show in-game lapses of good decision making. Meeker could fill several hours of television with the current Oilers.
Who gets the blame? I think the answer is all of the people involved in the Edmonton Oilers. Let’s take one thing that might be part of the problem. I’ve said many times that Eakins’ arrogance isn’t a big deal, and believe it to be true. The Oilers don’t need to like Eakins in order to perform for him—Scotty Bowman’s Habs would have backed over him with the team bus given half a chance.
However, I do think there’s probably room to discuss the possibility that Eakins has handled this season poorly in some areas.
- Eakins: “My bad. I assumed that we knew what traditional d-zone coverage was and it was clear that we didn’t. So we took a slight step back from our double up system.”
Comments like that one suggest some maturity issues with the coach. I can read that as “I honestly didn’t think these guys were this stupid” and if I can do it God knows someone involved in the situation can do the same. (Source).
Last night, Dallas Eakins said the Oilers are not an offensive team and haven’t been for some time. I understand his point—these are not the 1980s Oilers and this team is going to have to work harder and smarter to win games. However, it’s also true that (as McCurdy suggests) we’re 75 games into the Eakins era and his charges still appear surprised by the pace of the other team during the first few minutes.
Who’s bad is that? The players? Again? I think there’s maybe a little to much ‘them’ from the coach. Maybe a little more ‘us’ and he’ll feel more involved in the process. Sometimes, lack of results have less to do with the message and more to do with how it is presented.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
10 this morning, TSN 1260. Scheduled to appear:
- Scott Burnside, ESPN. We’ll talk playoffs, awards and Oilers.
- Travis Yost, Hockeybuzz. Senators trying to sign Hemsky? Is he the key to an effective Spezza?
- Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey. I think the Oilers are trying to kill him. Film at 11.
- Chris Peters, United States of Hockey. Frozen Four, Dillon Simpson, can UND win it all?
10-1260 via text and @Lowetide_ on twitter.