There’s no end in sight for the Edmonton Oilers. The team hasn’t been to the playoffs since losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals. Sure there are some benefits to a lack of success, mainly getting the top draft pick for three straight years. But, when you still can’t put together a winning season after all those lottery victories, its not exactly a point of pride.
There was optimism in Alberta coming into this season. The talent at forward was deep, and they had a new coach taking the reins in Dallas Eakins. Two months into the season, though, it doesn’t look like much has changed. Sure they have talent, like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and David Perron, but the wins aren’t coming. They only have 25 points this year, which is only better than the Buffalo Sabres. Their constant focus on forward upgrades also highlights the lack of attention they’ve paid to defense and goaltending. In fact, they’ve had four different goalies start this season. Only one of them, Ilya Bryzgalov, has a GAA below 3.00. At the same time, he’s won only one of his four starts.
It may sound like a broken record at this point in the year, but the bottom dropped out again on the Oilers last night. They were absolutely shelled by the St. Louis Blues to the tune 6-0. The team was in the middle of a five game losing streak, their third of the year, and after last night the skid is up to six. If we’re basing things on post-game quotes, it certainly sounds like Eakins is pretty sick of all of this.
“I’ve had enough misery already,” Eakins said. “There has to be a change in the commitment level and accountability.”
One would love to be a fly on the wall in the Edmonton locker room these days. Sure, nobody pegged the Oilers to contend for the Cup this year, but good lord do they look bad. The fact that Eakins is already calling out his roster for accountability in the second month of his NHL head coaching career says a lot. Team confidence has to be at an all-time low, and you have to wonder if players are starting to tune their coach out.
Technically –and I mean technically in the loosest term– the Oilers aren’t dead just yet. They are, however, on life support. The turnaround would have to be mammoth if they expect to make the playoffs. Eakins better hope his message resonates, otherwise it’ll be another year of crossing fingers during the draft lottery.