Not an Excuse, a Fact
A few months ago I was listening to Oilers Now, as I normally do. I don’t always agree with what Bob has to say, I feel like he’s too close to the team at times. Other times I feel like there is a little too much wishful thinking that goes into his thoughts on how to improve the team. But I still think he does a solid job and it’s a work schedule that I wouldn’t love and he seems to embrace.
Anyway, one day Craig Simpson started to lash out at Stauffer. Bob for a few weeks in a row had been bringing up the Oilers injury situation, and Simpson basically had enough of hearing about the injury situation. And Craig was right, it’s not an excuse for everything going poorly. You have to fight through with what you have. But at the same time, are we seriously going to pretend it shouldn’t impact a hockey club?
I don’t think anyone has accused me of being an Oilers apologist before, but I might sound like one today.
This is brought on by Buffalo News writer Mike Harrington, whom it likely isn’t a coincidence that he’s had it in a bit for the Oil since they won the Connor McDavid lottery. Maybe I’m reaching with that, but this was the same guy who took great offence to Mike Babcock ending up with the Maple Leafs instead of the Sabres. He isn’t too much of an apologist for the Sabres, but he doesn’t really hide who he has it in for and he seems to care about the Oil a LITTLE too much for a guy from Buffalo.
#Oilers lose NHL-high 40th in regulation. They're two points up on #Leafs in battle for 30th — and Toronto has FOUR games in hand. Wow.
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) March 23, 2016
It isn’t the first time Mike has spoke out his ass. Around the trade deadline I took him to task about this tweet:
Don't say dumb things then… pic.twitter.com/p9Fy9Cf1jo
— Soups on Hockey (@tjsoups) February 28, 2016
There was too much idiocy to contend with, but something that I forgot to bring up at the time in hindsight was the Gaustad 1st was the 2012 draft, a draft which scouts literally advised their GM’s to trade their 1st round picks (Bob McKenzie stated this after the CHL prospects game that season) because the draft was so weak.
Now in being completely fair to the man, it’s not as though I have any proof he’s saying the tweet from last night in a negative form. But having followed him for over a year now…I’m pretty safe in saying that’s how he means it. And look, I’m not defending how the Oilers have been run, I’m not defending the kids who have come along before this season, I’m not defending the previous 5 seasons. I’m going to defend this one season though that has the rest of the Canadian media and the American media piling on, it isn’t just Mike Harrington.
I pulled this yesterday from a site called mangameslost.com
1. The Toronto Maple Leafs (340), New Jersey devils (323), and Edmonton Oilers (323) have suffered the most man-games lost to injury. The New York Rangers (85) and Chicago Blackhawks (98) are the least injured teams. See Table 1 below for more rankings.
So the Leafs and Oilers are at the bottom of the league and they are 1st and 2nd in man games lost. Jersey is tied with the Oil for 2nd, I would GUESS there injuries have piled up in the 2nd half, when there declined began.
But, so what? That doesn’t mean that they have key guys going down, does it? Well…
2. Edmonton (1st) and the Vancouver Canucks (2nd) face the greatest cumulative impact of injured forwards or defensemen by the IIT-skater metric. The Colorado Avalanche and LA Kings have faced the least impact due to injuries.
Again, we see 2 of the worst teams in the league. Meanwhile the Kings are at the top of the Pacific, and the Avs are fighting for the final playoff spot in the West. But it gets even better!
4. The greatest injury impact for a lost defenseman (by IIT-skater metric) is Oscar Klefbom (44 games missed to injury and his relatively high ATOI). See Table 2 below for more skater rankings.
5. For forwards, Connor McDavid’s 37 games injured leads all IIT-skater metrics for forwards.
Add to this, Klefbom is number 1 out of all skaters, McDavid is 4th, and Nugent-Hopkins is 10th. So basically this is showing that the Oilers have been MASACARED by injuries this season! Should this team be better than 30th? I don’t know honestly because the injury situation is so bad that it would suggest they’re exactly where they should be. I thought with good goaltending, McLellan in as head coach, and just simply the culture change that proven winners like Chiarelli and McLellan are I believed would rub off more than it has. But people like Harrington act as though nothing has been done to change the misfortunes.
And this has been a lot more than McDavid and Klefbom missing half the year each. Just recently, Brandon Davidson was emerging as the Oilers number 1 D-man, and then he went down with an ankle injury that has ended his season. Eberle missed a month, RNH missed 6 weeks and if he has a concussion from the Connor Murphy hit last night he’ll likely be done for the year. Let’s not act like this team has just been the same old, same old. With good health this season, this team would at least be the top Canadian team, if not in the fight with Minny and Colorado for the final playoff spot in the West which isn’t saying too much, but people would definitely be talking about how they’re finally on the rise.
A ton of my stuff these days is aimed at the media for being so sloppy and piling on. I fully admit I need to get over it better because in this day and age everyone has a platform (like me, I’m one of these idiots) and we can all get out our best thoughts and idea’s but also put out a lot of our worst thoughts and idea’s. But I’ll never understand piling on. That rattles me and I don’t think it ever won’t. It just feels cheap, easy, cowardly, and in the case of a guy like Harrington…REALLY? You cover the Sabres bud. Let’s not pretend the Sabres are the better team between the two. The Oilers are 2-0 against them, and the East is a JOKE. So…glass houses Mike.
We all get so hung up in the old adage “we can’t use injuries as an excuse”. Well, right, the team can’t. We, as fans, or media, aren’t using it as an excuse if it’s a fact. And I think I laid out some pretty damning evidence that it’s a fact with the 2016 Edmonton Oilers.
I said it a month ago and I’ll say it again, Peter Chiarelli has a great chance this summer to turn them into a playoff team next season. He’s had a year now to examine the roster, he’s had a year now to get to know his head coach and figure out what’ll fit best with his system, he has cap space, most of the cap space is well used meaning he can get creative with the roster, it is a very good free agent class for the first time in a long time, and finally with McDavid, a new arena, proven GM and coach all in the fold it won’t be a tough sell for free agents or players with NTC’s.
Couple with all that…San Jose is reaching the end of their rope as a playoff team, Getzlaf/Perry/Kesler are about to be on the back 9 of their career’s, and the Kings face the same problem with a lot of cap tied up in guys like Brown, Gaborik, Carter, Greene, who are on the downside, not to mention the 1.57 mil for Mike Richards. I’m not saying these teams are all going to fall off the map, but I am saying next season logic would dictate the door will be open for a team or 2 to rise up in the Pacific and make the playoffs.
So as much as it’s been a combination of shitty luck in Edmonton this season, it is looking VERY promising going into next season from where I’m sitting. It just is a shame that they couldn’t have had a healthy season.
The rest of the hockey world should be smart enough to notice the shitty luck this team has had with injuries this season. The Habs will miss the playoffs because the reigning Hart trophy winner has missed most of the season. It’s a fact. The Oilers are back in 30th because of so many key players missing so much time this season. It’s a fact.
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