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Is This What “All-In” Looks Like?

Leafs make quick work of hapless Oilers, losing streak now at six

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Six games without a point.

The Edmonton Oilers have gone six straight games dating back to December 3rd, a 4-3 loss to the expansion Seattle Kraken. Some of the games on this losing streak have been more tolerable than others to watch, but what we watched last night was a pretty good Leafs club win their 20th game of the season. They’ll try again on Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

You and I have seen some really bad Oiler clubs. Remember when Ben Scrivens made 59 saves en route to a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks in 2014? That was something. Or, the time that Taylor Chorney and Jason Strudwick were on the ice for more than three minutes without a change? If you’re here, you remember.

It’s easy to remember those times. At least, it is for me. After a Cinderella run to the Finals in 2006, that’s the kind of Oiler club some of us have gotten used to seeing over much of the last fifteen years.

Goes without saying, but here we are in year 7 of Connor McDavid. I don’t think the Oilers are as bad as their last six games suggest (they’ve scored 9 goals over six games), but what we’re seeing are the flaws of this roster exposed in a big way. Power play has cooled off considerably from the 50% success rate we all had fun watching. Goaltending has cooled off. And, the bottom six is getting some noise made about it from people outside of the Edmonton media bubble. You and I see that it’s not good. Other people see it’s not good. The Oilers? This is their team.

Last year was supposed to be different. This year was definitely supposed to be very different.

This year’s Oilers club was supposed to be all-in. You can’t go all-in every year, says Guide And Record Book Enthusiast. You’ve got to pick and choose the years you go all-in, or at least that’s what we’ve been told by recent Hall of Fame GM Ken Holland. This is your year, Ken. The year you got all the cap space you could find and made moves! Lots of moves! Zach Hyman was a good bet, and he’s made a positive impact since joining the club. Those other moves? Still waiting on those returns.

You had the opportunity to pick and chose what you wanted. Greybeards, you said. You went out and plucked Duncan Keith from the Chicago Blackhawks in a deal that had exactly zero competition. Took him on at full board, gave up an NHL player and a draft pick. Placed 5.5 million in cap space on the second pair, only to find out over the weekend that you’re still looking for another defenceman to come in to play on the left side. The defence isn’t any better this year. Barrie plays top pair one night, twelve minutes the next. Nurse’s new 9.25MM cap hit kicks in with almost zero increase in the cap ceiling next year. 23 minutes for Duncan Keith last night.

For a while now, we’ve heard how you want to make an upgrade on the goaltending. They’re the same two guys you’ve had since July 1st, 2019.

The bottom six is getting shellacked when on the ice. Colton Sceviour scored a goal last night, which is great success for a dry-as-a-desert bottom six. Never mind the pair they surrendered. We’re back, baby!

Are the Oilers bad? Nine goals in six games bad? Probably not that bad. What’s happening now? Every weakness is being exposed when the top two lines don’t score four goals. Six losses after a 16-5 start has the Oilers teetering at the second wild card position, just one point ahead of the Jets and Sharks.

If this is the year the Oilers were supposed to be all-in, they’re going to need a rebuy, and they’re going to need it fast.