The scene at the end of the Oilers game against the Hawks was one of despair, hopelessness and misery. The camera panned to Eakins as the final buzzer went. He looked at the ice, said something to his assistant and then made his way to the tunnel with the rest of the team. 7-1 loss. At home. On Hockey Night in Canada. At this point, I thought back to last March when the Flames absolutely destroyed the Oilers 8-1 on national television.
CBC then cut to the final minute of the Flames-Devils game, where the Flames were down by one. The crowd in Calgary was buzzing as the home team pulled their goalie, rushed up-ice and, with seconds remaining, tied the game. The building went nuts. And sure enough, the Flames won the game in a shootout.
I had a few thoughts leading up to the game and throughout the beatdown. Twitter became a pretty dark place after that shutout loss to the Devils on Friday night, so I stayed away for the most part.
- Leading up to Saturday night, the Oilers didn’t stand a chance against the Hawks. But sometimes the Oilers can surprise you. Like when Sam Gagner got 8-points. That was a fun time.
- Absolutely, the worst part about being an Oilers fan is the rampant and unnecessary speculation that pops up when things are going bad. Trade rumors, coaching changes and “team culture” suddenly become the hot topics.
- At the start of the year, I predicted that Perron would be the most likely to be dealt. Not because he’s a bad player. But because he’s a veteran forward that can produce consistently. Basically the type of guy that a team would want to acquire and be willing to send a player that the Oilers could use (like a centre!). I thought his comments after the Devils game were fantastic. I just hope he doesn’t get traded for this reason.
- Eberle has got to be deployed differently. He’s a talented forward, but his defensive capabilities have been exposed for a couple of years now. The club needs to move him away from the other team’s top lines, but he doesn’t seem to have chemistry with anyone else but Hall and RNH. I’m not saying to trade him. Just deploy him better.
- When Devan Dubnyk struggled with the Oilers last year, MacTavish mentioned that he was given some data that showed that many goalies go through rough patches but tend to get back to their playing level. (This was Tyler Dellow’s work, before he joined the club, which isn’t available anymore unfortunately). In each year before his nightmare season, Dubnyk had a 0.916 SV%, 0.914 SV% and 0.920 SV%. At the quarter way mark of this season, Dubnyk is sitting at a 6-0-1 record, with a 0.926 SV%. I wasn’t a huge fan of the goaltending carousel that landed Scrivens and Fasth. And now it looks like the Oilers’ goalie coach is taking the fall. Bizarre.
- I really thought the Eakins hiring would’ve gone better. I figured a young coach, with experience in the AHL, would bring some new ideas and tactics to the Oilers. Following his rookie season, he added Craig Ramsay and Rocky Thompson to his coaching staff. He reached out to other professional coaches for help. He brought on Tyler Dellow to provide analytic support. But he has yet to have a complete roster. The last thing this club needs is a new coach. Are they even sure another coach would even want to come here?
- All MacTavish had to do was fill out the roster, give his coaches some free reign and not put Norris expectations on Justin Schultz. Everything would’ve been just fine.
- I don’t see MacT making a coaching change. He’s preached the importance of consistency. He’s been in the coaches situation before and knows the benefits of sticking with a coach. It would not surprise me at all if MacT sticks with Eakins until the bitter end.
- Side note: I had no idea people loved Ralph Kreuger so much. He seemed like a likable guy, but I don’t remember him getting a lot of support during his stint here.
- It’s pretty obvious since the off-season that the team needs help at centre, on defense and goaltending. This is clearly on the management group, who have yet to give their coaches a complete line up. There are no excuse for having this many glaring holes in the roster.
Norris – Black Dog Hates Skunks