Thoughts on the Oilers – Losing Streak

img003Last season doesn’t seem so bad now, eh?

The Oilers have lost 10 straight. The positive trends of the underlying stats had me feeling optimistic about the club. I figured the team would turn it around eventually, but there haven’t been any signs. Had last night’s loss been a one goal game, or if the power play scored at least once, we could at least have something to build off of. Instead, it was a blowout on home ice against a beatable team. And it featured two short handed goals againts (on the same powerplay!) by an ex-player.

Tobias Rieder

When the Oilers dealt Rieder for Kessy, I didn’t really care. It was a prospect swap that sent away skill for size. Thankfully there were some very intelligent people out there who dug deeper and found that this was a terrible deal for the club [Copper and Blue] [Cult of Hockey]. Following last night’s game, it was revealed by Sarah McLellan of Arizona Central that it was Rieder who initiated the trade as he felt that the Oilers had enough forwards similar to himself.

Why would a prospect feel he has no chance to make the club? This team does not have any superstar prospects. What this team does have is the ability to hand out roster spots based on pedigree rather than an actual competition. It wouldn’t surprise me if Rieder felt that as a 4th round pick, he had less of a chance to make it to the big club.


Something I came across recently were the negative tweets directed at Tyler on Twitter. Many are targeting him as a point of ridicule as he was hired to provide the coaching staff with analytical expertise. With the season down the drain, and the advanced stats under a microscrope, many appear to be directing sarcastic tweets at him rather than the players who, you know, actually play the game.

I’m sure Tyler was prepared for the snarky comments when he took the job. It’s just unfortunate that he’s unable to respond back to people and defend the work that he’s done.

Draft, Develop, and (hopefully) Deploy

One thing that always bothers me is how fast the Oilers push their prospects to the NHL. I’m glad it’s a point of discussion since the club is at it again rushing Leon Draisaitl. There is no harm in letting a player stay in junior or refine their game in the AHL. To this day, I firmly believe the Oilers should’ve given RNH, Yak and Schultz an additional season to develop before making the jump.

And just based on MacTavish’s belief that Schultz could be a Norris trophy winner some day, I looked at the number of junior and minor league games played by Schultz compared with past winners.

Number of games played
Player Juniors College AHL SEL/FIN
Justin Schultz 0 121 34 0
Duncan Keith 37 56 154 0
PK Subban 234 0 77 0
Erik Karlsson 49 0 12 82

Players need time to develop, especially defencemen. Both Keith and Subban were fortunate that their clubs had long-term plans, and got to ease their way into the NHL. Only because of the lockout was Schultz able to play in the AHL, where he finished with 48 points and won the Eddie Shore award for best defenceman. The guy has tremendous upside, no question about it.  He just needed some time in the AHL to workout some of the basics. The Oilers have yet to fully embrace a true model of drafting and developing and until they do, the club will continue to struggle.

Mental Health

One final thought: The current losing streak, combined with the playoff drought has put a real damper on the fan community, especially online. A quick scan of the #oilers hashtag last night during the game found a lot of sarcastic tweets, but many that were about just feeling depressed or down watching the club. It’s understandable. The losing is awful for a fan, and it can be difficult to escape the negativity of others. There’s a lot of negative content about the Oilers right now, and even seeing a headline with “Oilers” in it is typically a downer. In all seriousness, if the team’s performance has you really down, reach out to your personal network and try to unplug from the game. There are also  many resources in the community that are easily accessible and can get you the help you need.

Recommended Links

From Fan to Fat? Vicarious Losing Increases Unhealthy Eating, but Self-Affirmation Is an Effective Remedy – Psychological Science

Many things need to change – Oilersnation

A Golden God – Black Dog Hates Skunks

The Process – Oilers Rig

The Oilers are better than their record and will likely rally the rest of the way – Cult of Hockey

Rieder and Weep – Cult of Hockey

The Losing End – Lowetide

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