I have wrote way too much about the Oilers this season. BUT, this is Alberta I live in. The people that do read my stuff are either Oiler fans or at least know the team very well. And it is what I likely write best about. Jim Rome has a saying “give me an A or give me an F”. Well the 2013 Edmonton Oilers are giving him that “F” and then some! This is a team that Sports Illustrated (Adrian Dater) had ranked 3rd in the league heading into this season. The Canadian media was sky high on them too. Oiler fans and local media were actually a lot more subtle about the expectations. Well….the team has somehow managed to meet nobody’s expectations. And now the train has completely gone off the rails.
This actually should have been wrote after Tuesday’s game against the lowly Blue Jackets. The worst team in the West owned the Oilers in a 4-3 shootout win. That’s bad. What’s worse is that had the Blue Jackets simply started Sergei Bobrovsky the Oilers would have lost 3-0. None of the goals were of high quality. That’s bad. What’s worse than all that is they were coming off an absolutely pathetic performance against the Minnesota Wild 2 nights prior to that! A performance that seen them have a total of 0 shots on goal in the 2nd period of the game.
This team is eroding and has been for a month now. I made mention of this when writing about the Taylor Hall hit a few weeks back. This isn’t new, you could see it coming. The team had no passion, no desire, they were a total mess on the ice 5 on 5, and they have no power play entry which at the Bantam level is unacceptable. At the BANTAM level it’s unacceptable. This is what I was seeing, and since then it hasn’t improved at all. I’ve learned to be a level headed fan over the past 4 or 5 seasons. But anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I’ve lost my mind this season and gone back to “crazy fan boy”. There is no way a team THIS talented should be the worst team in the NHL, yet that is exactly where they’re headed and in a hurry.
There are some flat out disturbing stats this team is producing. One is that they’re 0-6-1 in games where they’re tied going into the 3rd period. 7 games where they’re tied going into the 3rd and they have 1 point to show for it. That’s unimaginable. This might be worse. In their last 3 games, in regulation, they’ve drawn….3 penalties. Usually teams draw penalties when they’re out working the opposing team. Now, you can wear blinders and blame the refs and cry conspiracy…its not the case. They’ve flat out quit. It just says to me that things are much too comfortable under the “keep things positive” Ralph Krueger.
Two post game interviews in a row now he has shown large signs that he’s almost in denial it seems. After Tuesday’s loss everyone watching saw the Oilers just get brutally out worked. After the game Krueger said (I’m paraphrasing here) that the team played good and that if they play like that on most nights they will win. I was shocked. Last night it was perhaps just as bad when he said “We tried to get the 1-1 goal instead of continuing to play the good defense we were playing”. So he basically didn’t want them to attempt to score. The man who sold himself for not coaching the way he did in Switzerland is now coaching the way he did in Switzerland.
And a good trade by Tambellini to get a spark plug has done literally nothing. It’s only been 2 games, but Mike Brown has looked like…well….Mike Brown. He’s hitting everything, he’s flying around the ice, and in last nights game he completely speed bagged Jordin Tootoo who as we all know is one of the best pound for pound fighters in the league. This happened the shift before Detroit got the 1st goal of the game. In other words, what sparks 29 teams doesn’t do a thing to this team. Again, disturbing.
Its already obvious to fans that Krueger has been a horrendous hire. I’ll be the first to admit it, I got sold on him. A lot of hockey people were raving about the hire. But it seems that he is in over his head. Hell even some members of the media such as Dan Tencer are starting to have their questions, which I honestly don’t know how it’s not painfully obvious to them already. Pretty tough to screw this situation up. Fans would have been happy with seeing exciting hockey and simply in the playoff race until the end of the season. They didn’t even have to get in, just be close. And yet Krueger isn’t even going to come close. Oh I know they have 25 games left this season, but they’re schedule for the rest of the month is grueling to put it nicely.
Tonight in Nashville, loss. Book it. Sunday in Chicago…need I say more? Last game of the trip in Denver to play the Avs….MIGHT win, but they struggle in Denver. First game back off a long, difficult roadie and they get the Wings. Loss. Nashville again at home, loss. San Jose and St.Louis they matchup horribly with, both losses. Nashville and St.Louis again both on the road back to back….2 more loses. Columbus at home MIGHT be a win, but the Jackets have dominated them this season. Then they end the month at home vs Vancouver, easily a loss.
The lowly Blue Jackets, who actually have very little talent on their roster but try to make up for that by actually working hard (what a concept), are now just 1 point back of the Oilers. This organization is in very serious danger of entering the world of the NY Islanders. Oiler fans are outraged at the moment but you really get the sense listening to the call in shows and reading message boards that the anger is about to turn into apathy. You can fix hate, you can’t fix apathy.
Darryl Katz might finally want to shake things up before its too late…if it isn’t already. They had the right idea with the direction they took the team to do a full on rebuild, but they’ve somehow managed to mess it up by not making proper coaching hires, failing to acquire more veteran help to shelter the kids, and making the gutsy moves that need to be made so the pieces fit. Right now it is trying to fit square pegs into round holes. Fans are complaining about a kid like Yakupov being put on the 3rd line, well that is actually one case where I don’t blame Krueger. He only has 6 spots in his top 6. His GM has 8 forwards who are the same. That GM now needs to go, and he needs to take his coach with him. The puppet master of this whole operation known as Kevin Lowe has reached his time to go as well, but I fear he is untouchable in Katz’s eyes.
It is a crazy/diehard fan base, but they will turn on the team if they continue to see such failure. They’ve been lucky to have a fan base so understanding of such a large rebuild that has required a lot of losing. All they asked was that the team show improvement. They’re not anymore, so it’s time to pay the fans back by shaking up the organization and bringing in people that can get them to the next level.
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