The loss in New York against The Islanders was again, one of the worst team efforts I have seen from The Edmonton Oilers thus far. There was no team defense, no puck control or possession, and definitely no effort. It looked like a deflated team just going through the motions. Not to mention Ben Eager’s propensity to feed the Islanders goals. I’m sure there aren’t a lack of excuses with the early morning start, The holidays in full effect, the travel, middle of long road trip, etc…etc…
Then the Oilers traveled to Chicago to play The Hawks last night and cam out looking like a play-off ready team! A complete 180 degree turn-around from the previous game on Long Island. It was the perfect road game. The kids were flying, Andy Sutton was playing as Kevin Quinn put “like a 50 goal scorer, on that one” when he scored a beautiful goal on a pretty pass from Eberle. Ben Eager, after an atrocious game on New Years Eve, came back and scored a nice goal on the backhand on the fly.
Tom Renney has been criticized a lot lately in this town. From calls for his job, to criticizing his coaching style. I for one was glad to see Tom make his critics eat a little crow when he went back to Dubnyk and Eager for the Hawks game. Let’s be honest, Dubnyk struggled against the Islanders, but Renney showed the young Goalie that the Coach still believes in him. Dubnyk responded wit a 39 save performance. The same can be said for Eager, he took 4 penalties in the game in New York. At least 3 of those were unnecessary, and cost the Oilers on the score sheet. Renney went back to Eager yesterday, and he scored a beautiful goal. Renney also got out the blender and changed the line-up to what some have suggested is a more balanced scoring look. Whatever, it worked, we got the win.
Then…the inevitable happened. RNH lost and edge along the boards while skating fairly quickly. He went heavily into the boards and was wincing while finishing his shift. He did not return to the game and will not play tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. Tom Gilbert was also hit from behind on a very dangerous play by Dan Carcillo, who got a game mis-conduct for the hit. Hopefully there will be a suspension for his hit as it was dirty and unnecessary in my opinion. (**Update** Carcillio suspended indefinitely today) Tom Gilbert will not be playing tonight in Buffalo either. Colton Teubert has been re-called, along with Josh Green to cover the injuries.
The win last night snapped a 7 game losing streak and it came against one of the best teams in the league and certainly in the Western Conference. I don’t know about you, but this gives me a little hope that we still have the ability to be a contender down the road. Last year the Oilers would’ve caved and played like the defeated team they were come the end of November. I have to give the Oilers credit for pushing back and not letting losing swallow them whole.
I promised the Oilogosphere on Twitter that I would write a little bit about the media’s responsibility to pressure management about the lack of defense and what they are going to do about addressing it, and I’m a man of my word. Everyone knows that the Oilers are severely lacking on the blue-line. Yet the media isn’t asking why. I get that Steve Tambellini said he was going to roll with the young guys and let the people on the roster play. It is time to get something done on defense. The Oilers have to address the lack of shot from the point on the PP. I get that Cory Potter has been good and that Whitney has struggled coming back from injury, but Potter, Whitney, and Gilbert just aren’t enough. Not to mention we need someone to replace Cam Barker.
Hopefully we can get another win in Buffalo to get on a roll here.
GO Oilers Go!