by Lisa McRitchie on 03/13/13 at 12:00 AM ET
No one knows what this Oilers’ team is capable of, not even the players themselves. After embarrassing losses, 3 – 0 to Detroit and 6 – 0 to Nashville, the Oilers pulled up their socks and were the first team to beat the Chicago Blackawks at home Sunday night, and to finish off the 9 game road trip, the Oilers shut out the Colorado Avalanche and scored 4 goals from 4 different players. So what is it going to be, a good or bad season?
After a weekend of fans and media calling for heads to roll in management, the front office and for a long list of trades, two wins and tempers have cooled.
But two wins aren’t enough to signify much of anything, except that fans can be fickle.
So now what about the team itself. What needs to be changed? Because no matter how you look at it, this can’t be the right mix of players, not if they are going to drop horrendous losses and put up lacklustre effort in games such as those against the Columbus Blue Jackets last Wednesday.
The team has been trying to add size to its lineup with the addition of Mike Brown and has now moved Ryan Jones to the first line. But what if it isn’t just about size, what if this has more to do with the team’s attitude in general.
When Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish and even Steve Smith played for the Oilers, the players needed no other motivation; the sense of team and pride were enough. But listening to their press addresses you can’t help but notice their cool, calm and collectedness. They never lose their tempers with the media the way that we see John Tortorella do, and it’s easy to believe that they couldn’t possibly lose their tempers with the team, or show much emotion. The same can be said of head coach Ralph Kreuger. All of the Oilers’ front office are ‘nice guys.’
And the same can even be said of the team that Steve Tambellini is building. Ryan Nugent-Hopkings, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi are just a few of the nice, quiet guys that will get along with anyone that the Oilers have acquired. But when you have a team built up of mainly players like that, where does their ferocity and intensity on the ice come from?
Oscar Klefbom, another nice guy, high profile draft pick
Sure there is a desire to win from the three first overall picks, you don’t get selected first overall in the NHL entry draft unless you are a fierce competitor. But what happened once they got to the NHL? Have they lost their desire to win and compete? Has the acceptance of losses simply infected each and every player?
Adding size to the team won’t be a bad thing, even if that means trading a valuable player in the offseason, since the chances of getting a player the Oilers need to fill in the gaps by trade deadline are slightly unrealistic. OK, a lot unrealistic.
But in the meantime, the Oilers can look at the attitude in the dressing room. They can look at how they motivate their team, they can look at their results at this point in the season.
While a couple of wins may make the losses easier to take, ultimately things have to change. Players have to be moved, gaps need to be filled, size and grit needs to be added. But most of all, the team cannot lose games by 6 goals, especially when they struggle to score themselves.
The wins are nice, they take away a little of the pain, but the pain felt if the Oilers finish last, or near last once again, that's enough to make you think that the team just isn't going to improve. Ever. Hopefully these guys aren't a team that is never going to get any better. Hopefully this team is going to find a way to sting together some wins, but at this point, that doesn't seem like a certainty.
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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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