As bad as the Edmonton Oilers have looked over the past six weeks, one couldn’t help but wonder if this group had hit rock-bottom. Following last night’s devastating 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators, we now officially have our answer.
The mistakes were plentiful and continue to rear their ugly head. Be it yet another underwhelming performance from a netminder, (this one coming courtesy Stuart Skinner), a terrible penalty kill or the fact this group continues to prove incapable of defending when it matters most, the struggles are real and it’s only going to get tougher from here.
Some fans don’t want to hear or admit it but this team was poorly built and the results speak for themselves. Yes, this is a bad stretch but make no mistake, the roster is flawed. Can it be fixed in season? Not a chance and at this point, the best anyone can hope for is a Band-Aid solution.
In this sport, there is only one thing that can mask the Oilers shortcomings…a legit top flight netminder. Unfortunately, those are not easily found and typically come with a hefty price tag, both from an asset and cap space standpoint.
Mike Smith can’t stay healthy and is just a few weeks away from turning forty-years of age. Mikko Koskinen has put together another inconsistent campaign and lost the trust of his head coach in the process. Many had been pleading for Skinner to get an extended look but after that third period against the Sens, don’t count on it.
Ken Holland spoke last week about his unwillingness to move future pieces for a so-called rental, which is understandable. However, during the very same press conference he also said Edmonton was “all-in” and it has left many scratching their head.
The fans want answers and if the best the general manager can offer is “we are going to start to win”, the coming weeks could become increasingly uncomfortable for the organization. He may not want to play but the ball is in Holland’s court and he has to do something.
He tried during the off-season by bringing in the likes of Duncan Keith and Cody Ceci, in hopes of elevating the Oilers backend. It hasn’t worked and the argument could be made, which many have already done, the defence is actually worse than last season’s group.
To make matters worse, Dave Tippett’s fascination of using his two best players on the same line and feeding them a ridiculous amount of ice-time on a nightly basis is hurting the collective group’s performance.
At times, it genuinely feels as if the Oilers bench boss is doing everything in his power to avoid the creation of so-called chemistry between the team’s star and role players. Seems counterproductive but we are here nonetheless.
As good as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have been this season, they look frustrated beyond belief with the team’s recent struggles. Losing a bunch of games will do that and on top of all it, both guys seem gassed. They have shown on multiple occasions to have another gear but it has been absent for some time now.
It could be a trade (not his strong suit), firing the head coach (something he doesn’t believe in), convincing that same head coach to use players in different roles or something else altogether. One thing is clear, the status quo is no longer acceptable and the general manager has to come to that realization.
Contrary to what some will have us believe, Ken Holland’s fingerprints are all over this Edmonton Oilers roster. The job the previous regime did or didn’t do is a narrative that no longer carries any weight. He is the one who put this mess together. It is on him to fix it and the clock is ticking.