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As soon as once more, Edmonton Oilers ready for somebody to bail them out

We’ve seen this film many, many instances earlier than, however by no means from a crew with this a lot promise, by no means from a crew that a lot was anticipated from, that anticipated a lot of itself

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There was a scene in the dead of night and disturbing thriller titled Seven the place rookie detective Brad Pitt turns to veteran Morgan Freeman at a very ugly crime scene and asks, “Actually, have you ever ever seen something like this?”

The reply was no.

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Similar to the reply isn’t any for the darkish and disturbing Edmonton Oilers, talking of crime scenes.

We’ve all seen shedding earlier than — this group has been discovering new and artistic methods to suck for the higher a part of 20 years — however the shock worth of what we’re watching proper now could be really chilling.

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A crew with two of one of the best gamers on the planet, with 100 wins and 5 playoff rounds during the last two seasons, bettered solely by the eventual Stanley Cup champions every time, was alleged to be armed, harmful and prepared for its long-awaited title shot.

As a substitute, in an unravelling that really boggles the thoughts, they’ve spent the primary 11 video games of this season kicking their monumental expectations perilously near the sting of an all-too-familiar cliff. 

We’ve seen this film many, many instances earlier than, however by no means from a crew with this a lot promise, by no means from a crew that a lot was anticipated from, that anticipated a lot of itself.

Each single side of this crew — from administration and coaches within the entrance workplace to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the prime of the roster to the big assortment of passengers on the backside — is underachieving.

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Nowhere are the issues worse than in web, the place Edmonton is lifeless final in save share with Jack Campbell at .873 and Stuart Skinner even worse at .856. On a crew that doesn’t prefer to concern itself with taking part in good, two-way hockey, these are deadly numbers.

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That’s why the primary determined measure of those determined instances occurred Tuesday afternoon with Campbell being jettisoned in the course of Edmonton’s three-game street journey.

Whereas each of Edmonton’s goalies need to spend just a few weeks within the minors, Campbell (who solely performed two of the final seven video games however let in 11 objectives) has the upper wage at $5 million a yr and there may be zero threat he’ll get claimed on waivers. It may additionally be excellent for him to see a number of motion within the AHL to get his sport and his confidence again.

The Campbell funding has been a catastrophe for Edmonton. He’s two years right into a five-year, $25-million contract to be their No. 1 man and in 12 months One he misplaced the beginning job in lower than half a season and in 12 months Two he’s packing for the minors after 11 video games.

In the meantime, the hope is that considered one of Edmonton’s American Hockey League goalies — Calvin Pickard or Olivier Rodrigue — will be capable to stand up and switch a floundering crew in the appropriate path. Whereas there isn’t any assure a minor league stopper can step in and make issues higher, this can be a fairly low-risk transfer on condition that there isn’t any method issues can get any worse.

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And this crew wants a jolt. As normal.

Calvin Pickard
Winnipeg Jets’ Jeffrey Viel (28) takes a shot on Edmonton Oilers’ goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) throughout second interval NHL preseason motion in Winnipeg on Monday September 25, 2023. Picture by FRED GREENSLADE /THE CANADIAN PRESS

Sleepwalking when it needs to be digging in is a trademark of the Edmonton Oilers, a long-standing character flaw that appears to indicate up each season. They’ll’t, or received’t, flip issues round on their very own. They want somebody coming in from the skin to do it for them.

In 2019-20 they have been a middling .500 membership in December after which Kailer Yamamoto got here in, injected life right into a second line and the crew, and the Oilers went on a 16-6-4 rampage.

In 2021-22 they have been melting once more (23-18-3) and sitting exterior of a playoff spot when the Oilers put the blame on head coach Dave Tippett. Jay Woodcroft got here in, injected life into the crew and so they went on a 26-9-3 rampage.

Final yr they have been coasting alongside in relative mediocrity when Mattias Ekholm got here in on the commerce deadline and injected life into the defence, pulling Evan Bouchard from the flames of his defensive stumblings, and so they went 18-2-1 down the stretch.

So can a minor league goalie be this yr’s wake-up name?

Is that this the one main transfer we’re going to see?

We’re about to search out out.

However this appears to be like like a crew within the course of of getting its will damaged, so one thing on the core wants to vary in a giant hurry.

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NO SURPRISE

Ought to we be shocked issues are this dangerous?

Sure. 

However it’s no shocker that the crew is taking a giant step backward this yr.

Whereas followers and analysts have been justified in anticipating massive issues from this crew, these expectations have been based mostly on what amounted to an ideal storm final yr. The facility play was one of the best in NHL historical past, 4 of their prime six forwards shattered their career-high level totals (by 18, 29, 30 and 35 factors), they obtained 10 or extra objectives from 13 totally different gamers and so they obtained a rookie goalie popping out of nowhere to save lots of their season.

The chances of all these issues taking place once more have been slim. True, no one anticipated all of it to fall by way of the ice, however that is what occurs when it does.

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