Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jason Gregor of the Edmonton Journal,
How much longer will fans continue to support an organization that can’t win, never mind be competitive?
Prior to the 2004-05 lockout, the Oilers had a financial disadvantage compared to the big spending teams such as the Devils, the Detroit Red Wings, the Colorado Avalanche and the Philadelphia Flyers. The fans accepted and understood the Oilers didn’t have the money to buy consistent, winning teams, and they seemed to relish the underdog role.
That changed after the lockout ended.
The Oilers no longer have one of the smallest payrolls in the league. Owner Daryl Katz has given president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and general manager Craig MacTavish, as well as MacTavish’s predecessor Steve Tambellini, the green light to spend money, yet despite the added payroll, they are still no closer to being a playoff team.
It is clear something isn’t right within the Oilers. Their plan isn’t working. They can’t keep blaming the head coach for all the failures of the franchise.
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
There might be 90% of the season left to play, but it doesn’t take much of a hole these days to seriously jeopardize a team’s chances.
Fall just a handful of points and a handful of teams behind the final playoff spot and before you know it, “It’s early” becomes “It’s too late.”
“You look at the teams that are gaining points on us, they’re really good teams,” said Oilers winger David Perron. “Sure, it’s early, but at the same time we can’t fall too far behind or it’s going to be too steep of a hill.”
Steeper than one would imagine this early in the year. As Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman recently pointed out, since 2005-06 (the year the NHL added shootout points) only three of 32 teams that were four or more points out of a playoff spot on Nov. 1 rebounded to make the playoffs.
Sportsnet's HockeyCentral at Noon discussed the post-game comments Dallas Eakins made last night.
The panel wasn't very kind to Eakins...
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Boasting a lineup with some of the most talented youngsters in the league -- Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz -- the Oilers seem like a team that should be on the precipice. After all, how many clubs these days have three straight years with the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft? Isn't it finally time for that talent to translate into results?
And yet, nine games into the season, Edmonton is toiling at the bottom of the Western Conference with a 2-6-1 record.
"Amazes me that, with that many No. 1 picks, they still can't get it right," one NHL scout said. "They don't have any hardness to their game. [They] only want to play from the red line in."
Granted, the team recently has been hit hard with injuries -- Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Smyth are questionable for Tuesday's tilt in Montreal. More importantly, the goaltending has been suspect at best. Even after turning away 72 of 76 shots in his past two starts, netminder Devan Dubnyk is among the league's worst in even-strength save percentage (.876).
Still, the dramatic turnaround has yet to take shape, and the development of the team's future hangs in the balance.
If you missed how Hall was injured, you can watch it below...
via Sean Farrell at NHL.com,
Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall left his team's game Saturday against the Ottawa Senators in the second period with an injury to his left knee. He will not return.
Hall was called for slashing after he was hit hard by Senators defenseman Eric Gryba at 11:04 of the period. He came out of the penalty box and stayed on the ice briefly before going to the dressing room with 6:42 left in the period.
Watch the play below...
added 6:09pm, from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
In the second period of the Ottawa Senators vs. Edmonton Oilers game on Saturday, Senators defenceman Eric Gryba knocked Taylor Hall out of the game with a knee-on-knee hit. Hall left the game with a left knee injury.
continued with picture evidence... and I have also added a 2nd video below, scroll to the :40 mark to see the knee-on-knee hit...
"Let me tell you something, Peyton won't sleep much this week because of the emotions and excitement that he's probably feeling. I can't speak for him, but I know what I went through. It's pretty emotional. I spent a lot of years there, like he did, and you become almost friends with the city."
"Indianapolis is similar to Edmonton in that it's not New York or Los Angeles. So you're at the stadium, and the places you go to eat, and the people you meet in the community are the people who are in those seats. So they become friends. They're not just fans, they become more like friends. So it becomes very emotional.
"I know that was a really hard day for me because in one sense I was looking forward to playing again in Edmonton, and in another sense I knew eventually they would start treating me as the enemy."
-Wayne Gretzky comparing his return to Edmonton and Peyton Manning returning to Indianapolis this weekend. More from Sam Farmer of the LA Times.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
Out of shape, out of practice, and already out of the playoff picture. That describes a Philadelphia team that is naked, searching for a blanket that can only come from two places this early in a season: within, or from some other flailing franchise like Buffalo and Edmonton. And that’s where the fun begins.
You have to go back, like, 25 years to find 10 impactful trades conducted in the month of October, but this year could be different.
In Edmonton, where the Oilers are similarly mired at 1-6-1, GM Craig MacTavish promised bold moves when he took the job, and has all kinds of roster needs. The Oilers have the scoring wingers that Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren seeks—Ales Hemsky, Nail Yakupov—and a shopping list that includes size and grit (Wayne Simmonds), a defenceman (Braydon Coburn), or a young centreman with some size (Sean Couturier).
In Buffalo, Sabres fans are literally showing up at games and chanting for GM Darcy Regier to be fired. Regier has a pending UFA in Tomas Vanek who could be the Flyers’ short-term fix, and his Sabres are 1-7-1. He’d take some youth, even if it meant taking a few more dollars back in the bargain.
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
“I remember playing Columbus last year at about the 20-game mark and they were a team that was well below .500 but you could tell they were a team that was playing well and about to make a charge,” said winger Taylor Hall.
“I feel like we’re on that verge. We’re sticking with teams that have a lot of skill and we’re working just as hard as them. I have a different feel with this group.”
They all do. They know more than anybody what a bad team looks like and they don’t see it in this year’s room.
“As hard as it is to see and as hard as it is to believe, I strongly believe that we’re playing better than we were last year,” said winger Jordan Eberle. “We’re out-shooting opponents, we’re out-chancing opponents, we’re out-playing opponents, but the wins aren’t coming.
“That’s when you start to doubt yourself, and we can’t have that. You can’t have that doubt that the system doesn’t work because it does, and I have full confidence that we’re going to start winning and it’s going to come in bunches.”
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal answers some emails...
Q: If the Oilers were to go after a new No. 1 goaltender, who would be better, Ryan Miller or Jonas Hiller?
A: Miller. Both guys are UFA in July. The Oilers aren’t giving up on Devan Dubnyk, certainly not after four starts. He’s a good goalie going through a rotten patch, looking like the Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury in the playoffs, when the pucks kept finding their way through him. Either Dubnyk is having some technical problems or he’s putting tons of pressure on himself to show he’s a No. 1 goalie in the last year of his contract so he can get a long-term deal like Corey Crawford in Chicago. This is the way it’s going to work: if Dubnyk rebounds and has a good year and plays 60 games, he’ll be looked upon as one of the Oilers’ core players to lock up long term. Personally, I hope Dubnyk gets it together. He’s one of the most honest, accountable NHLers I’ve dealt with. If they do want another goalie, Miller in Buffalo is better than Hiller in Anaheim....
Q: What’s up with the rumours out of Philadelphia — Yakupov for a forward and a defenceman?
A: It’s news to me. This seems like fantasyland stuff. What are they giving the Oilers? Sean Couturier or Brayden Schenn at centre and Braydon Coburn on defence? The Oilers and Flyers talked about Coburn at the NHL entry draft and afterwards as a second-pairing guy, but couldn’t come to a deal. Hemsky’s name has come up there, but he’s a $5-million player.
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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