Not one Edmonton Oiler since Doug Weight has netted 80 points in a single season, and that was the 2000/2001 season a mere 13 years ago. Now, standing at 77 points in 73 games, with 2 games to go, point per game winger Taylor Hall just might hit 80 in this his 4th NHL season, with a bottom of the league team.
I haven’t written much for a while now. I’d like to say that it’s because I switched jobs. I’d like to say that it’s because I moved cities. I’d like to say that it’s because I got engaged and planning a budget wedding is time consuming. I’d like to say that it was one of any number of excuses, but the honest truth is that I stopped making it a priority. It’s not that I don’t feel fulfilled anymore, not at all! What the real issue for me has been, is that that team that I have devoted so much time and energy to getting behind, getting excited about, and looked for stories to report on hasn’t given me much reason to be excited about these days. And I know that I am not alone.
To say that things haven't been going the Edmonton Oilers' way would be putting it nicely. Arguably this has been the worst season of the 8 year rebuild, and we still can't tell if the team has hit rock bottom. While we wait to see how far off rock bottom is, the rest of the league gets their laughs in, and the Oilers lose 8-1, at home to the Calgary Flames.
From Eric Duhatchek at the Globe and Mail:
Any signs of upward mobility seen in the last year of the Tom Renney era or the only year of the Ralph Krueger era have dissipated amidst another year in which they will finish last in the conference, after finally edging closer to playoff contention a year ago.
What the Oilers hoped would happen to their young team did actually happen - but to the Colorado Avalanche, a team with similar assets on paper that has been a far superior team where it counts, on the ice.
Read more here
Roughly three hours down the road from Edmonton, Greg Chase an Edmonton Oilers’ draft pick has played his best season yet. Drafted in the seventh round, some say Chase was a sleeper pick, some, such as I think that this was one of those rare occasions where he should have gone in a round much earlier, but somehow all of the teams thought that he had already been picked. Regardless of how it happened, Chase, an Edmonton born and raised player is playing for a chance to develop with, and one day play for the Oilers.
The Edmonton Oilers have had a few parting players make remarks about the team, the coaching staff, and the general state of affairs over the years. Generally, not much is said that isn't already known, or little credence is put into what is said. But this season, both Ladislav Smid and Ilya Bryzgalov have mentioned that their new team’s have a much faster pace to their practise, even alluding to the intensity. Jason Gregor of TSN 1260 and OilersNation.com investigates, talking to head coach Dallas Eakins, David Perron, and Sam Gagner. From his interview with David Perron:
Do you think it is up to the players to control the pace and tempo practice?
I do. Dallas mentioned it a lot. Do you want to be the guy driving the practice or do you want to sit in the back of the bus and hope the day goes by, and that’s not a way you get better. It’s up to us to bring that level higher. I think it has improved over the season, but there is another level to get to for sure.
How can you make practices more intense?
It’s pretty simple. Every time there is a rebound you try to score. Every time you go by the net you stop. The hard work comes with the habits. When you have good habits it brings your level higher because you want to succeed.
If you’re not going to do it in the game, you have to start doing it in practice and then it will translate in the game. You will go by the net and it will be natural that you will stop. Early in the year we didn’t have many guys going to the net, but I think it has gotten better and when we do have one-on-one battles in practice we can be harder for sure.
It was social media at it's best Tuesday in the city of Edmonton. The Oiler's GM Craig MacTavish had just made the Oilers second goaltender trade of 2014 and Viktor Fasth would not be able to make it to Edmonton in time to suit up with his new team. What about Canada's gold medalist Shannon Szabados? An Edmonton native and a gold medal winning goaltender, why not bring her in to backup Ben Scrivens? Twitter feeds soon filled with #SzabadosForBackup.
The Edmonton Oilers had lofty goals this season. Oilers GM Craig MacTavish was fairly certain that the team needed only minor tweaking. There was no way to know that the team may need a whole new overhaul, well at least according to MacT. Yet here the team is, bottom of the league again in a year where anything short of playoffs was to be a failure on the season. The goaltenders have both been swapped, and on trade deadline day, all that was acquired were more picks.
The Edmonton Oilers have made their decision with Ben Scrivens. Maybe. While the team has had quite possibly their worst year of their rebuild this year, goaltending issues had to be the cherry on the top of a mountain of troubles. The team had stuck with and developed Devan Dubnyk but ultimately decided that he wasn’t going to be the team’s starting goaltender. Now, it looks like he won’t be there for the Nashville Predators either. So, the team has moved on with Ben Scrivens but maybe only for 2 years, or even less.
The Edmonton Oilers are far from finished making changes. As seen time and time again at various other times, by various other teams around the league, simply drafting high, and acquiring young talent is not enough to make a Stanley Cup team. Steve Tambellini was never quite able to pull the trigger and make moves to make the team take bigger steps, and while new GM Craig MacTavish is making moves, we won’t know if it will be enough for quite some time. Just like we will never know if former goaltender Devan Dubnyk could have had a better season if the team in front of him was even just a little bit better.
Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas!
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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