That’s the sound of time running out on the Edmonton Oilers season. With the loss to the Chicago Blackhawks the Oilers are now last in the Pacific and 4th from the last in the NHL with ten points in 15 games. TEN POINTS!! The Blue Jackets and Maple Leafs are all within one win of tying the Oilers or moving past them and the Avs passed the Oilers yesterday… At this moment in time the Oilers are definitely in the thick of things for the Auston Matthews lottery pick and the sad part about the whole thing is that they’d probably win it if the season ended today.
I can’t imagine this is something that Petey Chiarelli envisioned when he took the team over, yet the fact remains; the Edmonton Oilers are not a good hockey team and if one were to look at the standings right now they might feel hope fading.
Now it’s hard to accept this team as a failing team because the rookies are playing so well, the team isn’t getting blown out consistently, there’s pushback during the games, and well, they just look visually better. The problem is they’re not scoring or maybe the problem is one line is doing all of the scoring now that McDavid is out. They’re shooting like madmen out there but it sure would be nice to put one in the back of the net once and while, no? I mean it’s frustrating for me I can’t imagine how it feels for the players.
Another thing that isn’t getting better is the veteran personnel on defence. I couldn’t have imagined this team doing so poor that benching the vets and playing four defencemen with under 100 games in the
league would be an option. Now there’s a part of me that is happy to see the likes of Darnell Nurse, Griffin Reinhart and Brandon Davidson excelling in their spots and getting that much needed experience but there’s the other side of me wondering where the team would be if they just shored things up and upgraded on the back-end.
Are we at that point where we might be considering Anders Nilsson as the starter more often than not? Has Cam Talbot joined the likes of Ben Scrivens, Viktor Fasth, and Devan Dubnyk? I can almost guarantee we were saying the same thing about this time last year about Scrivens. Meaning phrases like, “No, we have to give him more time to prove himself.” or “His stats from last year indicated he was more than capable of being a starter in the NHL.” Really? How many goalies are the Oilers going to go through? Have they not established a trend yet?
‘Tis hard to crap all over Talbot right now but he’s letting in goals that are very reminiscent of the kind Dubnyk did a couple years ago and we know what happened after that. They’re not totally the same but some of the goals going in are the ones that suck the air right out of the team. The other thing that makes it hard to criticize him is he seems to make up for his gaffes later on whereas the previous tenants of the net didn’t. Would I like to see Anders Nilsson more often? I think it would be safe to assume that. Then again, this all feels so deja vu… With that being said, the same thing happened last year. Fasth started solid and soon enough he was leaking goals as well.
The 20 game mark is coming and that is the quarter pole (more or less). Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli will HAVE to make some decisions on the roster by then. If he doesn’t, what makes him any different than Steve Tambellini or Craig MacTavish before him? It’s his job to come in and show not only the fans and his boss that he’s here to pull this team out of the gutter but the NHL too.
There are far too many players on this team that aren’t pulling their weight and I think that perhaps it’s time to move on from them. Why not look at a few?
Mark Fayne: He’s struggling mightily in McLellan’s system. He couldn’t make a pass if his career depended on it (sadly it does). He’s also been scratched for 3 of the last 4 games which is a terrible sign for a 28 year old NHL veteran on a ticket the size of his.
Andrew Ference: Is there some handshake deal that I missed here. He’s got one more season after this right and he’s not playing now? How is he expected to play next season? Why hasn’t he gone to management and told them he’d be willing to waive his NTC so he can play hockey? He’s a hockey player right? Like, is his ego so big that he thinks he’s got something so valuable to the team that he doesn’t need to play? I can’t see that being the issue at all but why hasn’t he waived either of his clauses. Nikitin is a better dman than him at this point.
Anton Lander: Anton. Anton. Where are thou Anton? No. Seriously. Where the f*ck did you go? You looked ripped as hell during training camp, did okay in preseason but it’s all gone. The mojo has disappeared into thin air. Was Todd Nelson that magical with Lander’s game? And you know if the Oilers dealt him to the Red Wings he’d turn into the Swedish Mike Peca. Not sure why I chose Mike Peca there…
Mark Letestu: The man from Elk Point is getting eaten alive on a nightly basis and he can’t be trusted with the puck on a wide open shot… Ever! I wasn’t happy losing Boyd Gordon because that wagon line was amazing and he was a genius on the faceoff dot. So with Letestu eating dirt every night, it hasn’t been a good transition. Is there something he’s doing that maybe Bogdan Yakimov couldn’t? Apart from being a good veteran for the kids, is he doing anything of note for the team apart from being the opposition’s corsi pinata?
Nikita Niktin/Ben Scrivens: I guess the Oilers are just going to eat the dollars here and wait them out until the season is over? If the players know this why wouldn’t they looked have their contracts voided and seek work in Europe? Must be an NHLPA thing.
The rub with these players is nobody is going to give up anything of true value for them and Letestu was just signed BUT maybe there’s a Hendricks/Dubnyk deal hiding in the grass out there. We didn’t think much when the team brought Hendy in but boy are we happy he was.
As an Oilers fan, I’d like to feel happy again. How about you?