Two days ago I wrote about the Oilers home record and how they had to start making it difficult for visiting teams. The Oilers have shown that home is not where the heart is. They continually save their worst for the Oilers faithful. The Oilers continued their record of futility at home by getting doused 6-2 by the Phoenix Coyotes. Devan Dubnyk was atrocious and he received no help from the Oilers defence, who were simply awful in every respect. Craig MacTavish responded by making a myriad of lineup changes. Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Belov and Will Acton were assigned to the Oklahoma Barons, while Martin Marincin, Corey Potter and Anton Lander got tickets to Edmonton. All three will be in the lineup tonight. Jeff Petry will sit out tonight as Philip Larsen returns to the Oilers lineup.
None of the above moves are surprising. The Oilers defence has been abysmal and MacTavish will try a different mix to try to turn things around. Does anyone really think that these moves will help? To me, it looks like shuffling some deck chairs on the Titanic. Marincin has not played a game in the NHL. Potter is slightly better in the defensive zone than Belov, but I don’t think anyone will notice a remarkable difference. Lander deserves another look, but changing the centre on the 4th line isn’t going to turn the Oilers fortunes around. It is a sad fact that it is December 5th and the Oilers are already looking to next year.
Still, MacTavish has little choice. He has to try something to send a message. As coach Eakins said, 4 of the 6 defencemen on Tuesday night had terrible games. The Oilers have little choice but to play Dubnyk. The other option is Jason LaBarbera and he hasn’t shown that he is a capable NHL backup. It is becoming increasingly obvious that Dubnyk will not be on the Oilers next year. At this point you have to wonder if he is going to have an NHL job at all.
The Oilers have won 3 games all season at home and the fans are starting to send a message by not showing up. It should be alarming to Oilers ownership and management that fans who have paid for their seats are showing their displeasure by being disguised as an empty chair. They can’t even give their seats away. The Oilers will try to get back on track tonight as they host the Colorado Avalanche at Rexall place. The Oilers need to give their long-suffering fans something to cheer about. For we all know that home is where the heart is!