An Edmonton Oilers Identity Crisis
This was originally meant to be a comment on thefullnelson's blog but my emotions developed this into something far too great for it to be a comment left ignored. If anyone followed along our twitter feed last night - @MyOilogosphere - you would know that I can be overly opinionated; and apparently 24 hours later the frustration still boils over.
The flaws of the first period of last nights game were dumbfounding; such amateur mistakes that would rival your local peewee team. I couldn't believe that from the guys wearing microphones in the press box, to the coaches behind the bench and the players on the ice none of them were able to communicate the slot was exposed and shooting lanes were left wide open. I was sickened to witness goal after goal that I brought out my friend the cap'n; spiced rum and coke it was.
After five quick ones there was no time out nor a change in goal. Danis wouldn't come in until six big ones lit the lamp and the red bulb behind Dubnyk needed to be changed. I hate to be critical on Kreuger so early but this first period cried an inexperienced coach behind the bench. I hope in the future decisions can come more quickly before games spiral out of control.
More blame can be spread further starting with Gagner and his inability to pick up his man on the back check. Hemsky returned to pond hockey and as typical for #83 he would do things like put line mates offside by making unnecessary moves at the blue line. Dubnyk left the entire top shelf wide open as Sharks picked corners from the slot. The Smyth line continued to make soft dump ins and lost puck chases – that line is just too damn slow if you ask me. The Nuge is still trying to shed some rust, Hall is going a million miles per hour not knowing what he's going to do when he gets there, and Eberle just lowered his ridiculous and insanely high shooting percentage (alright, the comment on Ebs wasn't necessary). You get the point, the list can go on and there isn't, nor shouldn't be, blame hung on one individual.
What really hurt me most about this past game is that all the short-comings that we already knew about this team were magnified ten fold. It's been too many years of the same old one dimensional type hockey with no identity or model. Management needs to figure out what this club is suppose to be because run and gun hockey doesn't work. This isn't the '80's anymore and the fans still clinging onto those glory days, and the big boys running this team, need to let go.
We can keep telling ourselves the window is in a year or two from now but I'd sure as hell hate to think only a small time frame of quality hockey will come and go. I expect this franchise to be competitive now and leading into the future, for many years to come. However, other than collecting some high end talent through the draft there is little indication that this team is building a finished product.
There needs to be a model that the Oilers want to represent. When I look at teams such as Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia and even San Jose, they have built an identity over the years. They are an on ice brand that fans have come to know. These franchises have iced similar teams year after year where names on jerseys change but the type of players remain the same. This is where the Oilers are stuck in limbo.
There doesn't appear to be a plan in place that screams Oilers hockey. When I look at a successful Oilers model; such as the one in 2006, this current crop of players don't resemble it at all. We may have to go back even further, and I mean decades, before we can see any resemblance – and this frightens me. The team they are trying to develop may be based on an extinct model of hockey that hasn't been played since the '80's. The problem is run and gun hockey can no longer be played, coaches are wiser, players are stronger, and goalies are better.
I do hope Tambellini has a formula on paper, however when his preference is Potter over Fistric I'm not totally convinced. I'm more in belief that we may very well have already seen the plan unfold and it's quite possible that it doesn't develop into anything more than simply collecting young talented players and a few years of waiting. Is there a plan b? I hope so.