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Can You Hear The Drums, Fernando?

When you’re 0-7-2 in your last nine games behind the bench and you’re playing one of the worst teams in the league, you just gotta pull out all the stops and play Devin Shore for 17 minutes

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Toronto Maple Leafs Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

How’s your Sunday? Good? Good.

We’ve got to talk about Dave Tippett.

The Oilers are in trouble right now, and I’m not sure the coach is going to make it out of this one. Edmonton is 0-1-2 on their current five game roadie. They’ve given up leads after 40 minutes in their last two games, and the club has succumbed to overtime losses to the last place and second last place teams in the Metro division. It’s been over a month since Dave Tippett won a game, and we’re way beyond the point of asking ourselves if it’s time to move on.

I don’t want to pick on every little thing that Dave Tippett’s done differently than I would have, but all those little things that don’t add up on the ice (or on paper for that matter) have started to add up. The most recent incidence of insufferability? Devin Shore plays 16:50 in for an injured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in a 3-2 OTL to the Islanders.

What are we even doing anymore?

Playing Devin Shore on a line with Leon Drasaitl and Kailer Yamamoto (the latter who’s been finally getting some results after a pretty dry first third of his season) doesn’t make sense in any shape of the word. It’s also not the first, the fifth, or the fortieth thing that Tippett’s done that flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

A very incomplete, short list of things I just don’t understand:

  • Tippett’s aversion to young defencemen has put an enormous strain on the success of the club. Remember last year when Caleb Jones failed to clog a lane while on the power play against the Senators and it cost him the next three weeks on the bench? All for more Kris Russell?
  • Remember when the Oilers made the playoffs last season (wild, I know!) and Ethan Bear got benched for the near-entirety of a triple overtime game?
  • Just a couple of days ago, Dmitri Samorukov played in his first career game against the St. Louis Blues and straight up did not have a good time out there. He played just over two minutes and got exposed good on two goals. After one more shift, he was stapled to the bench for 50+ minutes. Meanwhile, Duncan Keith played 26 minutes and Slater Koekoek 20.
  • For whatever reason, we’ve seen more top line Zack Kassian than there are Fast and the Furious sequels. You’re killing me with this. Since signing his four year extension, Zack Kassian’s most common linemate has been Connor McDavid because you’re trying to get him going. This player is on the wrong side of 30, does not create space for anyone or deter anything. Tippett did not sign the deal, that’s Ken Holland (which, I think we’ll be talking more about in the not-too-distant future), but you’ve got a perfectly good Jesse Puljujärvi who creates space and puts up more points. Don’t overthink it.
  • I get that Tippett doesn’t sign the players, but by making a conscious decision to put Devin Shore on the third line, exactly what is the expected outcome? I get that Shore’s a great guy and good in the room and all of that, but the results aren’t happening. The bottom six is the worst it’s been in years, and putting Shore on a line with Colton Sceviour and Kyle Turris isn’t yielding positive results. Shore Island is where other teams come to get loose, there’s more than enough shots against when he’s on the ice.
  • I’m not trying to pick on Shore here, but Tippett putting him in the top six is a lot above his range. He was in yesterday’s lineup for an incomprehensible 16:50 in relief of an injured Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. So look, I get it - the Oilers have had several injuries, and they’ve had to deal with a boatload of players that have had to be held out due to Covid protocols. But how do you defend putting Devin Shore on the second line with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto when you’ve got either Warren Foegele or Tyler Benson on the roster?

Shore had zero shots in nearly 17 minutes.

The Oilers aren’t winning hockey games. Their power play has cooled off from an unrealistic 50% down to just over 31%. That’s still really good, but they’re still getting eaten alive 5 on 5. The Oilers were playing the second game in a back-to-back yesterday, but managed to put up just 19 shots on the Metro’s worst team. Edmonton took just two shots in the last 25 minutes of regulation.

With two of the game’s most talented players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl on the same roster, this club should be among the league’s elite. Instead, they’re fighting for their lives in the standings with the Sharks, Kings and Canucks all within a game or two of their wild card spot.

They’re not scoring goals with nearly enough regularity, and they’re not winning hockey with Tippett behind the bench. This is supposed to be an “all-in” year, and I’m not sure this club sees the playoffs if this continues for much longer.

He’s running out of daylight, and so are the Oilers.