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5 issues (largely dangerous) concerning the bottom-feeding Edmonton Oilers

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When the Edmonton Oilers mentioned this season was “Cup or bust,” quite a lot of us simply assumed they had been leaning towards Cup.

It appeared like the higher of the 2 choices. Tougher, sure, however price it ultimately. And the gamers positive sounded convincing after they spoke in coaching camp about being probably the most decided model of themselves that we’ve ever seen.

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Seems to be like we guessed fallacious.

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Ten video games into this Twighlight Zone of a season they’re grabbing bust with each palms.

At a bottom-feeding 2-7-1, the second-worst group within the NHL nonetheless can’t discover the fortitude and hockey sense wanted to crawl out of this mess earlier than it’s too late.

That their effort is being questioned this deep within the disaster is pretty alarming as a result of 10 video games right into a season is when the ‘it’s early’ excuse melts away and it’s truthful to guage a group’s physique of labor. We needs to be seeing enchancment within the Oilers however in a pair of pressing, must-win video games they appeared worse on Saturday than they did on Thursday.

Because the Oilers gear up for Monday’s street sport in opposition to a hard-charging Vancouver group that pistol-whipped them 8-1 final time they visited, listed here are 5 issues (largely dangerous) to ponder:

IT’S HALF A TEAM

Ryan McLeod, Dylan Holloway, Derek Ryan, Connor Brown, Mattias Janmark, and Adam Erne have mixed for 52 man video games this season and have a grand whole of two assists, one among them approaching an empty internet objective in a 5-2 win.

It’s like they melted six guys down and poured the goo right into a Jesse Puljujarvi mildew. To make issues worse, it typically looks like they’re attempting to compensate for an absence of manufacturing by not being bodily.

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The powerful half is that Jay Woodcroft’s palms are tied. Holloway or McLeod or any member of the Slumbering Six ought to have been wholesome scratched by now, however the group doesn’t have sufficient cap area to afford subs. And when there isn’t a competitors for jobs, a participant can lose his edge in a short time.

This will’t go on. There must be some motion on this entrance — trades, demotions, something to shake some life into the third and fourth traces.

COACH KILLERS

It’s already beginning. As soon as once more, one other coach of the Edmonton Oilers has to marvel if he’s on the recent seat as a result of the group is underachieving.

Woodcroft may stand to be tougher on this group, however given this group’s tepid goaltending, full lack of depth, perennial lack of defensive consciousness and struggling superstars (Leon Draisaitl hasn’t scored in seven video games, Connor McDavid hasn’t scored in 5), teaching is nicely down on the listing of issues that have to be mounted.

However that’s not all the time the best way it really works, at the very least not in Edmonton the place they’re on their fourth coach in 9 seasons (Todd McLellan, Ken Hitchcock, Dave Tippett and Woodcroft).

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GM Ken Holland by no means canned a coach in mid-season in 1 / 4 century and now this crew is enjoying prefer it would possibly occur twice in three years?

Wow.

That’s the dictionary definition of a coach killers.

If it’s me in cost, I’m leaning on someone to waive a no motion clause and buying and selling a core piece earlier than I fireplace one other coach. But when it must be the teaching route, then I deliver within the baddest cop I can discover. A John Tortorella, solely extra abrasive. A cross between Darryl Sutter and Mike Babcock.

If the scenario deteriorates to the purpose the place someone else will get fired, then this group wants the whip greater than it wants one other excuse.

STILL WITH THE DEFENCE

For those who’ve ever seen drunk youngsters attempting to flee a corn maze you will have some thought of the Oilers capability to make fast, sensible selections within the warmth of battle these days.

Not saying defensive consciousness goes in opposition to this group’s pure intuition, but it surely’s been rather a lot like attempting to show a cat how you can fetch.

Forwards have been gliding to the bench for line modifications throughout impartial zone turnovers, coasting house on the again examine and forcing harmful passes throughout the offensive zone. Defenceman left on the mercy of the following issues are pinching after they shouldn’t, puck-watching in their very own finish and never being practically bodily sufficient round their very own internet.

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It’s all the identical stuff critics and coaches on this city have been harping on for years.

That is on the coronary heart of all that’s ailing them. This group can rating all the facility play targets it desires, however till they get it via their heads that defending their very own half of the ice is precedence one, they’re by no means successful a championship.

THAT’S A FINE MESS

The deepest minimize of the final week got here from none aside from former captain Mark Messier, who gave an sincere and scathing opinion of his former group in an interview with Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

“The expectations are going to be nice when you will have two of the world’s best gamers on the group, however sadly the 2 best gamers on the planet can’t win alone,” he mentioned, citing the group’s lack of depth and dedication.

“For those who’re not fully immersed within the journey of what it takes to win, you’re going to have zero likelihood. I simply don’t see the Oilers, at this level, enjoying with the sort of urgency defensively that you’d want or anticipate from a group that talked all summer time about how they’ve discovered all their classes.

“The (lack of) compete and battle in entrance of the online, the defence being pushed off pucks and getting out of place, I simply don’t see it.

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“They’ve quite a lot of work to do in Edmonton to have the ability to tackle a group like Vegas over seven video games. I don’t see it proper now, however possibly they’ll make some modifications as we go alongside and the perspective will change.”

Ouch.

THE MATH CHECKS OUT

First place within the Pacific Division is already out of attain. And if the Vancouver Canucks are something near actual, second is gone, too. The Oilers are enjoying to simply make the playoffs and keep away from Vegas within the first spherical.

It took 95 factors to make it final 12 months. The Oilers presently have 5 factors with 72 video games left. Meaning 45 wins and 27 losses (a 62.5 successful proportion) from right here on in.

It’s doable. The St. Louis Blues had been lifeless final within the NHL on Jan. 2, 2019, and received a Cup that 12 months. The L.A. Kings received a Cup from eighth place.

In the event that they get it collectively, they’ll be wonderful, but it surely has to start out taking place very, very quickly.

“There’s tons of hockey left, however each group is so good that it’s not straightforward to start out racking up eight wins in a row or one thing,” mentioned defenceman Brett Kulak. “So time is unquestionably an element.”

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