Rock bottom, bottom of the barrel, nowhere to go but up, all clichés but this team has become a tired cliché.
The Oilers were beat soundly by the Detroit Red Wings 5-0. Detroit’s back-up goaltender Petr Mrazek will never get an easier shutout and it was his first. The Oilers mustered 14 measly shots on net and none of them were of the difficult variety. They generated nothing in the way of offensive pressure. Detroit broke out of the zone with ease. Defensively the Oilers were a joke. They watched the puck all night and Detroit players were open all over the zone. The Oilers idea of defence was to watch Detroit play with the puck. In reality, the score flattered the Oilers. Detroit often toyed with the puck and often didn’t go full-bore.
To add to the debacle the Oilers lost goaltender Richard Bachman. In what seemed like an innocent play he slid across the crease and crumbled to the ice. Later Anton Belov got tangled up with Mark Arcobello in the centre ice region and they both went sliding into the boards. Instantly Belov grabbed for his knee and you knew that it was serious. While this adds to the Oilers M*A*S*H unit injuries could not be used as an excuse last night. The Oilers didn’t show up, didn’t compete and looked like they could care less.
Ask 1000 fans and they will come up with a 1000 different solutions to what ails the Oilers and how to solve it but, sadly, there is no easy solution.
Andrew Ference appeared on After Hours and said the problem was in the room. The players just do not compete every night. Normally this would be a sign to fire the coach but the Oilers have had 3 coaches in the last 3 years. Ference also said that the coaching carousel was part of the problem. I agree. How many systems can you ask a young team to learn and understand before they are completely lost? I think we have our answer. So firing the coach and bringing another one is not going to solve the problem and, in fact, would be detrimental.
Fire Kevin Lowe? While I agree that sooner or later he needs to held accountable for this mess firing him is not going to offer any immediate help.
Fire Craig MacTavish? It wasn’t Craig MacTavish that provided the Oilers it’s present player mix. While bringing in Dennis Grebeshkov was a mistake, adding Perron and Gordon were good moves. Fixing the Oilers is a bigger job than any one person in one off-season was going to solve.
The problem is in the dressing room. The players do not want to compete and don’t want to make the sacrifices in order to win. Hard work will beat the skill that doesn’t work almost every time: a fact that Oiler fans are seeing play before their eyes in a 3-10-2 start. Until the players understand this there will not be any happy endings. If they do, then there will be nowhere to go but up.