Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal,
Through 30 games, they have only managed to secure a first-period lead three times. They haven’t won a game yet where they’ve been behind after the first 20 minutes, which has been the scenario in 11 games.
Scoring first? That’s happened just 10 times since the season opened.
“I firmly don’t understand it,” head coach Dallas Eakins said after preparations for Sunday’s home game against the New York Rangers had wrapped up.
“Believe me, we have talked about this a ton.”...
“It’s a very easy thing to say let’s have a good start,” he continued. “It’s quite different to have the DNA to go out there and understand that we have to out-start the other team.
“I don’t know if it’s a maturity level ... Of being in the league for a long time and understanding that that first shift is going to be just as important as the last shift of the game.”
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
With the Edmonton Oilers dead in the water again, the last 17 weeks of their season rendered meaningless by the first eight weeks of it, fans of this woeful organization are left to suffer in all too familiar misery this winter.
No playoffs to chase, no games to get excited about, no standings to follow. Virtually nothing to cheer for between mid December and yet another draft lottery.
It’s all over but the crying… and the last 52 games.
Crying is the easy part. After enduring nine seasons of wheel-spinning failure at Rexall Place, Oilers fans have shed more tears than Ryan Smyth at a trade deadline press conference.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
It was early in the second period when the video clip of the night in the National Hockey League and yet another freeze frame of a ninth-straight season out of the playoffs for the Edmonton Oilers transpired.
Starting goaltender Viktor Fasth was pulled after the Anaheim Ducks had scored at the seven-second mark and again at the 50 second mark to make it 3-0.
The furious Fasth came back to the bench and fired his mask into the stick rack.
Then, with a great deal of animation, the former Ducks back-up goalie screamed at the Oilers players on the bench at some length.
There was a scene in the Oilers dressing room as the media headed to the goaltenders corner.
continued and below watch the "furious Fasth"...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
With 19 points in 29 games, a 1-13 record in their past 14 and coming off two losses in a row on their California road trip, the Oilers have zero chance of making the playoffs. They are 15 points out of the final spot and would need to leapfrog seven teams to get there. It isn’t going to happen.
Luckily, the consolation prize for being really bad is really good. One could argue that the last true generational players to play in Canada were Wayne Gretzky and/or Mark Messier. To have a McDavid or an Eichel land in Edmonton would create symmetry, if nothing else. But to think MacTavish’s hands are completely tied is a false premise too. There are two steps he could take – one likely obvious to him, the other maybe not – to make the final two-thirds of the season productive on some futures level.
The first would be to shop for a lateral trade.
This is a strategy that has fallen out of favour in the 21st-century NHL for reasons that are difficult to explain.
from Jason Gregor of the Edmonton Journal,
They are tired of hearing excuses. They’ve seen this organization fail year after year after year, but just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger suggested Taylor Hall might be available in a trade.
“If the untouchable label has been placed on the fortunate few (Oilers players), that’s going to change in the off-season when teams have more flexibility to make bigger and more meaningful deals.
“It’s unlikely RNH (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) will become a target given his play and value as a top-line centre. But Hall, Jordan Eberle, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz and David Perron will be high on any list of players in play at the Draft when they shift from being Oilers to assets,” Dreger wrote.
Dreger has a close relationship with many inside the Oilers organization. For him to include Hall’s name as potential trade bait after the season suggests he heard it from someone within the team.
The Oilers have made some less-than-smart moves over the years, but if they are contemplating moving their most dangerous player, that illustrates they truly have no idea how to improve their hockey club.
via Chris Wescott of the Oilers' website,
The Oilers worked on their conditioning today at practice, skating sets of lines.
“It’s on the calendar,” Head Coach Dallas Eakins explained. “When we sit down at the start of the year, I sit down with our strength staff and our exercise physiologist and we break the season down into places where we’re going to do some hard work. Then there are parts of the season where we pull right off. We haven’t had a stretch so far where we’ve been able to get some extra work in. The conditioning day was on the calendar, and it ended up being a little tougher because of our numbers out there. Usually you have eight D or an extra forward or a couple of extra forwards out there. With the bare minimum of four lines and six D, it taxes them fairly quickly.”
In addition to their conditioning, the Oilers ran battle drills all practice.
“Our practice showed today that we’re upping our compete level, upping our intensity and upping our work ethic,” Jordan Eberle said. “Like we’ve spoken about before, it’s not on the coach, not on the GM, it’s on us in here and we know that. We’ve addressed that in the locker room, guy to guy and we’ll be better.”
from Chris Ryndak of the Sabres' website,
from the CP via TSN,
Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish says everything in the organization is under evaluation as the last-place team continues to underperform despite an influx of high draft picks and young talent in recent years.
MacTavish told a news conference today the coaching staff, led by second-year head coach Dallas Eakins, and the players are "under scrutiny."
Eakins' future has been called into question several times already this season as the Oilers have managed just six wins and are currently mired in an 11-game losing streak.
MacTavish, who has also been on the hotseat in Edmonton, says the players need to take more responsibility.
He blamed "execution on the ice" for the team's struggles.
via a press release from the Edmonton Oilers,
Craig MacTavish will address the Oilers performance through 26 games and take questions from the media.
Watch below, it is scheduled to begin at 11:00am ET.
added 11:32am, Conference is over.
added 11:46am, Video of the press conference can be viewed below...
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
The trade winds are kicking up with Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli making stops at other NHL arenas to scout players for potential trades for a Boston team that’s in a serious offensive drought. Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos is reporting that there’s “strong speculation” the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers are revisiting trade talk that goes back to this summer when Johnny Boychuk was one of the names being mentioned before Boston’s deal with the Islanders.
Those past discussions also involved third line center Chris Kelly and perhaps either Niklas Svedberg or Malcolm Subban for an Edmonton team in dire need of quality goaltending, and it’s believed that right wing Jordan Eberle has always been the desired top line target for the Black and Gold....
One thing that is a fact: Edmonton management covets power forward Milan Lucic and would be extremely interested in netting the punishing left wing in a deal with the Bruins, but don’t count on that one happening with the B’s looking to get heavier on their sticks rather than lighter with any moves that they make.
Stay turned on this one as Chiarelli is obviously highly motivated to make moves that help his team after watching the Bruins grind it out for the last two months.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Again, it’s All’s Quiet on the Western Front (Oilers version). While Anaheim’s Bob Murray is wheeling and dealing (because of injury concerns mostly on his back-end) and fellow GM Marc Bergevin is making trade noises in Montreal to get defensive help and dumping players like Rene Bourque and proactively signing Brendan Gallagher to a six-year contract, the sounds of nothing happening in Edmonton is deafening.
Again, just say something MacT? Tell us you’re TANKING the season, not in those words (that’s an NHL no-no) and you see absolutely no need to put bandages on all the open sores on your hockey club now.
Eakins, who is in Year 2 of a four-year deal, doesn’t look or sound like a haunted man who’s going to lose job any time soon. As he said Wednesday morning after practice in Winnipeg, “this is not going to break me ... bring it on.” He did not look after the OT loss to the Jets like he was at the end of his rope. Frankly, he looks a lot more wrung out, stripped of his tie and jacket, shirt unbuttoned in his post-game pressers as he describes losses at Rexall Place, the NHL’s softest landing for visiting teams. Eight straight losses.
via Darren Dreger tweets,
I suspect the next few days will determine direction Oilers will go. Full forensic analysis from top to bottom will take place...
A culture change is required, but does firing coach and gm do that? Not if the team is fundamentally flawed. Tough decisions for Oil brass.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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