Sunday, November 23, 2014

Edmonton Oilers Postgame 21: Numb


30 SOG
25 SOG

Only by the quirks of the NHL tie breaking system do the Oilers find themselves out of the darkest, deepest pit of NHL hell. On the night after I reaffirmed that I thought the Oilers had shown stronger underlying numbers, they serve up the seasons most lopsided loss. If it was a test of my resolve, I will say that it took a lot of effort from damning the Oilers to the darkest pits of hell and completely abandoning logic to the warm, seductive embrace of hardcore hate. In some twist of irony, the Oilers actually out-corsi'ed the Hawks 5v5. The hockey gods have a sense of humor after all.

Rather than dissect every nuance of the Hawks hammering the hometown heros, here are some bits:

  • The reffing was garbage, for the most part. The call on RNH to put the Hawks up 5v3 made me think the ref had sports select riding on the game. Otherwise, it was uneven, and just non-situational reffing.
  • The Oilers didn't lose the game on goaltending, not when you consider either goalie gave up enough goals to lose. I will say, Scrivens could have stopped the first goal but it would have been a tough save for any goalie, even the leagues elite. When the Oilers have been playing as awful as they have recently, they need the spectacular, goalie-probably-shouldn't-have-saved-it level of stop.
  • Hall looked frustrated, and since return from his injury, he hasn't been able to stand out like the superstar left winger he is. I think it's mostly the product of a team without confidence and with serious problems in defensive execution. If you are afraid that any stray pass will lead to goal against, there's no question it will affect your game.
  • Jeff Petry had the most ice time for the team (23:33), and it's about time Eakins realized that he's currently the teams best defenceman. He's the only defenceman who looks like he can handle the role properly, certainly better than any of the other current Oilers. Justin Schultz played 16.5 minutes, and if the switch between top pair and second pair happens between Petry and Schultz, sign me up.
  • The Oilers got burned by virtually every mistake they made. How many times have you seen the Oilers - or in fact any team - make a mistake, and have the opposing team shoot the puck two inches too high, or have their seam pass hit a rut in the ice before a 20 goal scorer can smash it into an wide open 6x4. The Cosmic Curse that's deep-dishing the Oilers ass can't seem to get the hint. At some point, all these laser-precision top corner shots taken moments after an Oilers turnover aren't going to hit toonie sized spots in the sunlight behind the stoppers.
Now what? Some thoughts after the hop.
1) Minor league moves: You could possibly call up Klefbom and/or Anton Lander. Both have some NHL experience (Lander has 94 NHL games, ~ 400 as a Pro), and both could possibly make marginal contributions to breaking the Oilers out of the dreadful slump.

2) Trade for another goalie: You could swing some picks and prospects to try and poach a #2 guy with some upside and youth. Philip Grubauer from the Caps farm, Malcom Subban has some pedigree and Boston has Rask. Maybe Jean-François Bérubé or Jacob Markstrom if we are just picking early 20 something goalies we hope will become the next Broduer. Or none of the above, and try to pick a teams #2 (Khudobin?) if they feel their guy in the minors is ready for a backup role.

3) Make the "Big Trade": Some package of picks, with or without some combination of Eberle, Yakupov, Marincin, J.Schultz, or whomever else you deem expendable. The Oilers have valuable assets at almost every position (except #2 above) and if they want to trade them, don't believe in their ability to carry the team forward, they could try to swing a Tyler Myers or a Kulikov or a Johansen. Unless the Oilers are willing to part with their truly elite guys, they will have to look at players with warts or without long track records.

4) Fire Eakins: There is plenty of precedent in firing a coach after 100 demoralizing games behind the bench, and if the move was made there would probably be a lot of support from virtually every non-Oiler employee around. As someone who has been concerned about Eakins decisions for most of this season, my only caveat would be that we would have to hire someone who learly has the chops to pick up the team and attempt to make something happen. Dan Bylsma is basically Eakins with 5 extra seasons of experience, brought into the NHL to turn around the Crosby-lead Penguins. Would he coach here? I don't know. I do know that if you wanted to pick a replacement that would have the puckheads nodding, that would probably be it.

5) Do nothing: You could stay the course. You could trust the numbers and hope that the Oilers aren't as bad as they seem, that their luck won't stay as rotten as it has been. It costs you nothing but time, and maybe there's no coach available, no trade worth it, and no secret Martin Broduer to be plucked from an unsuspecting team.


The Oilers are fast approaching the point of no return. If they truly are going to be completely out of the playoff picture, do they run the youngsters to get them experience? Do they enter in the - god forbid - McDavid discussion?

Right now, I'm in favour of both 1 & 2 right now, and if this streak continues, then probably 4 as well. One thing I do know is that the Oilers are now sporting the worst goaltending numbers in the league, and that just has to change somehow, no matter what it takes.

Or else the rotten season last year will seem like a stroll through candy-land.


  1. You know I have been hard on the coach but I dont think its just the coaching, Its the whole management team, First you bring in a Rookie GM then you can tell he is a rookie GM by the moves he makes.
    He Fires Kruger after 1/2 a season,
    He brings in a rookie coach so both GM and coach feel like they are a gift to hockey. They sit there in the beginning of the season acting like they see hockey like no one else does, they are on another level of hockey genius. FYI say what you want of Kruger but at least he had the respect of the players and had the team moving in a somewhat positive way
    Then the GM gets rid of our second line center for an even softer winger because he has size which he doesn’t use. Then the GM signs 2 career backup goalies thinking he is again outsmarting the league in his knowledge. The GM goes out and signs (overpays) for Nikitin like he is a rough gem that just needs a bit of polish and throws that useless dman on to a rookie useless coach. That’s when the coach in his rookie-ness, takes the club, plays the wrong players in the wrong positions for them to succeed (because he is above the law and sees things us simple minded people don’t see), plays Nikki like 25 min, plays Aulie over Klef or Marincin. Anyway sooo many mistakes were done by a management group and a coaching group that don’t have a clue that I could go on forever. This season was lost before it even started and for the first time since I started following the OIL back in 1988 (I was 8 then), I find myself not excited to watch the oil and now I am even spending unwanted family time instead. Thanks Oilers.

    Hey Kevin L, tell us again how you know a little bit about winning and the fans have no clue?