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Treading Water

Doggy paddlers should play in the top four.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Spor
"I doubt Darnell Nurse does it. He of 0 NHL games experience is unlikely to play a calmer, steadier game than Andrew Ference in fall, 2014, or anytime this season."
--Zdeno's Cigar, in the comments of my article on Darnell Nurse.
Don’t count on a 19 year old defenseman to do anything more than tread water.
--Devilsrule, in the comments of my article on Darnell Nurse.

The Oilers don't have enough good players in the lineup. This portion of the story has remained unchanged since 2006. There was a brief period in 2009 when the Oilers iced an NHL-level defense behind an absolute mess up front, but since March of 2010, the Oilers have sent the worst defense in the league time and time again. In the three-and-a-half year period consisting of March 2010 through April 2014, the Oilers have had just four defenders "tread water". Last year's defense was more of the same. We should celebrate a defenseman that can just tread water like the Egyptians celebrated the Nile floods! In fact, treading water instantly makes Nurse the 3rd-best defenseman on the team!

Regardless of Andrew Ference's ability to stay calm while being run over and steady while pinned in his own end, if he's not good enough to help the team, or if another player is better able to help the team, what does his disposition have to do with anything? Singing the praises of a bad player's personality traits, or experience, or media presence is just a method of diverting attention from bad play. And the beat writers do it on purpose.

Just a year ago, slotting Martin Marincin in front of Ference may have seemed like madness, but not many predicted Ference's steep decline. Now, even the beat writers who shower Ference in praise have Marincin in front of him on the depth chart. Aside from experience, Marincin has few advantages, if any, on Nurse. If Darnell Nurse is unsteady or his play is unven, but he's a better overall player than Andrew Ference, Nurse deserves the minutes ahead of Ference. If any player, be it Oscar Klefbom, Martin Gernat, Dillon Simpson or David Musil is better than Ference, he should play no matter his proclivity for shaking.

Oilers fans have been forced to listen their team's management and beat writers sing paeans to heart, grit, professionalism, want, room goodness, and MVPness and none of it has mattered. The Edmonton Oilers have been the worst team in the NHL for 8 years. At some point, the team needs to put enough good players on the ice to win. Circumlocution isn't going to get it done.