First off, I love this team. Anyone who still watches this team has to.
But there’s trouble. We’re in deep again.
Last night’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings is a bitter pill to swallow. Not just because the Oilers were held to zero goals, and certainly not because it was another loss. If you’ve followed this team for more than a dozen games, you’re used to all of that.
Last night was another carbon copy of the same loss we’ve seen for fifteen times this season. And to a lesser extent, it was the same game we’ve seen when the team wins. And no one among the brass seems particularly worried about it.
A BRIEF RECENT HISTORY
Everyone knew that this roadtrip was going to make or break the season. 9 games out of 48 is just about 20% of your season, and if you’re pulling one win through six games, you’d better make magic happen fast. The one victory on this roadtrip was in Dallas, where the Oilers exploded for five goals. Combine the goals of the other five games, and you’ve got 9, or less than two per game.
So there’s trouble with scoring goals. Let me write that down.
Now, let’s talk about defence.
This team allows a wall of shots. On this road trip, they’ve allowed 207 shots in six games, or thirty four and a half shots per game. You’d think that someone would want to do something about all that (that is, if the team is going to “compete” for a playoff berth). So when Roman Hamrlik was on the waiver wire this week, maybe the Oilers would’ve found the 750K it would’ve taken to grab the guy for a few months.
Nah. We’re good.
The fact is, no, we’re not good. At all. I don’t think it’s a knee-jerk reaction to want to make an upgrade to your defence when you’ve been outchanced in 21 out of 23 games in the shortened season. But hey, what do I know? I just watch the games.
The team has won four of their last sixteen games. Something’s not working.
WHERE MY HAND IS FORCED
I’m less outraged over the whole Hamrlik thing as I should be; I’ve accepted that the team doesn’t usually make meaningful moves during the season.
What really fires me up is the day after the team amassed zero shots in an entire period against the Minnesota Wild. Amazingly enough, the Oilers were tied going into the third period, outshot something ungodly like 35-8, and they still had a chance to win. The Wild scored two third period goals and won the game 4-2, but that whole zero shots in the second period thing resonated with me in the worst way possible.
Something had to be done. Changes had to be made. Someone had to accept responsibility for this.
So what happened? The next day, the Oilers traded for an enforcer. There, that’ll do it. Finally, the element that’s been lacking from the game since Darcy Hordichuk was banished to Oklahoma City. That’s the reason, right there. Brown will get in there, play eleven minutes, punch the hell out of Jordin Tootoo, and things will be different. (Spoiler alert: things haven’t changed yet)
So here we are today. The Oilers taken on the Predators tonight in their seventh game of the nine game roadtrip. You’re going to hear a bunch of buzzwords like “compete level” and “poise” and all of that, and it won’t mean anything more than it did last year, the year before that, or the year before that.
The team is doing the same things, over and over again. Nothing has changed. The team isn’t even ‘competing’ for a playoff spot right now, they’re getting beat by Columbus (who took out the Canucks last night too).
If this team had average goaltending, it wouldn’t be nearly as close as it is already.
Let’s say by some Divine miracle, the team wins tonight. That puts them at 9-10-5, good for 23 points. That works out to a 46 points in a shortened season, or 78-79 points over an 82 game season. That’s not enough after drafting first overall for three consecutive years. It’s still a solid 12 points out of a playoff spot, and that’s ridiculous.
Without the addition of Justin Schultz, this team would be an exact carbon copy of last year’s team. And, we all know how that ended.
Why does it take Ottawa one year to rebound, yet it takes Edmonton seven?
Hell, Winnipeg’s at least in the mix right now. What gives?
Does anybody have one ounce of faith in management right now?
If so, why?
We already talk about 2006 like it was twenty five years ago.
Pretty soon, it will BE 25 years ago.
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