The Oilers Rig

What’s Wrong With The Edmonton Oilers?

A lot. There is a lot wrong with the Edmonton Oilers hockey club this season, so much wrong where there is a real chance that the team is realistically out of things by the end of October. That’s ugly, and actually might be the worst fate Oilers fans have suffered during the rebuild of torture and pain. The team is 1-4-1, and things aren’t going to be getting any easier anytime soon. Buckle up friends.

Let’s start up front. Taylor Hall is the face of the Oilers, and is a terrific talent. He is the franchise forward and should play in an Oilers jersey his entire career. That said, he’s been bad this season, and is trying way too hard to make the pretty play. He’s been very frustrating to watch and simply isn’t producing. Jordan Eberle? He’s invisible, honestly I’ve barely noticed him. That’s a big issue.

RNH? He’s been good in the games he’s played in, ditto for Ales Hemsky, Boyd Gordon and Mark Arcobello. Arco is struggling finishing wise, but overall he’s been a pleasant surprise for the Oilers.

David Perron? He’s been good some games, invisible other games. Overall, he’s been fine. Jesse Joensuu had a great opening night, but has battled injury since and hasn’t really had an impact in the two games he’s played since returning to the lineup. Ryan Smyth? He’s been arguably the leakiest Oilers forward chance wise that hasn’t been on the 4th line, and has had one good game to this point.

Nail Yakupov has been trying way too hard to make it all happen on his own, and to this point simply hasn’t played a good game. He’s been selfish, hasn’t adapted to the new system, and isn’t playing the two way game being asked of him. He’s sat out the last two games, and sadly it’s been for good reason.

The fourth line? Look, I know people love the big hits, love the great fights, but this line is absolutely pitiful and doesn’t have one legit NHL regular on it. Will Acton was terrible in Washington, and has been very leaky when on the ice. Mike Brown? I have to close my eyes when he is on the ice, it’s scary to watch. Luke Gazdic hasn’t been much better.

As a whole, this line has been crushed when on the ice. They are almost always playing in their own zone and giving up chances to the opponent. I really don’t care if these guys throw hits, they struggle playing hockey and that is a huge problem. Are you really going to tell me Ben Eager isn’t a better option than Mike Brown? Come on now. That whole line is a total mess.

Defensively? Jeff Petry has been really good, and has by far been the Oilers best defender. Anton Belov has moved the puck well, and has been getting better every game. He’s showing legit improvement and I like what I have seen there. Andrew Ference has been okay, and is handling himself well out there.

After those three though, the Oilers have issues. Justin Schultz is a great offensive talent, but I’m starting to get worried about him on the blue-line. He’s been terrible defensively, and was the worst Oilers defender by a mile on Monday against the Caps. He’s constantly out of position and way too many times is pinching at the wrong times.

Ladi Smid hasn’t been himself, and Nick Schultz doesn’t look much better from last season. He has been far from impressive this season, and has been a weak spot on the back end.

I think both Nick and Justin Schultz deserve games in the press box, and Phil Larsen deserves a shot in the lineup. At least try and change it up.

Goaltending? It’s been awful. Devan Dubnyk has been one of the worst in the league so far, and that has been a huge disappointment. He gave away two points on opening night, and gave away a point Saturday in Toronto. That’s two wins that Oilers lost. Jason Labarbera hasn’t been much better either. His record is 1-1, but he’s given up eight goals in two games, at least four of them weak. That’s a problem.

The Oilers have gotten NHL level goaltending ONCE in six games. That’s terrible, and that is the biggest issue plaguing the Oilers right now.

Another issue? The defensive play in general. It hasn’t been great. The Oilers haven’t been nearly aggressive enough in their own zone so far, and far too often look lost out there. That needs to change if this team wants to have some success.

The Oilers also lack passion. The team doesn’t play with nearly enough urgency, and far too often they look like they are going through the motions. There is far too much pretty play going on out there, and there isn’t enough urgency and desperation. Again, you won’t win at this level playing without those things.

The Oilers were clearly the better team through 20 minutes in Washington Monday night, but gave up a weak goal (On J. Schultz and LaBarbera) and folded like a cheap lawn chair. That’s another problem. When the going gets tough for this team, they fold and it’s a major problem. No team in the NHL will win when they quit as soon as the going gets tough.

There’s a lot wrong with the Edmonton Oilers right now. The team isn’t bringing enough intensity to the table, and isn’t getting NHL level goaltending. Add that to below average defense, and things aren’t pretty. The Oilers are a top ten offense right now, and in my mind are a better team than they are showing.

That being said, something is wrong here. The Oilers could very well go on and lose these last four road games and be out of it by the time the trip ends. That would be a total failure. The Oilers need to sit down and watch the Calgary Flames play hockey, because at least they work hard and bring the intensity that is needed.

Something needs to change in Edmonton, because there are a lot of things wrong with the Oilers right now. We have to hope this is rock-bottom for this Oilers team and that things pick-up from here, because if they don’t, we might be looking at the worst year yet of the rebuild from hell.

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