The Oilers Rig

Is Practice A Problem In Edmonton?

Eakins practice

The Oilers have won two in a row and are 2-1-1 since the Olympic break. That being said, something negative caught my eyes on Thursday in the form of a tweet from Minnesota Wild beat reporter Mike Russo. Russo tweeted out how new Wild, and ex-Oiler, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov struggled in practice because “The pace was much quicker that what I was used to in Edmonton.”

That isn’t the first time we have seen something like this during the course of the season. Remember the Ladislav Smid trade to Calgary in November? He specifically mentioned how it was tough to adjust because the Flames held much quicker and more intense practices than he was used to.

How about Devan Dubnyk? Barry Trotz, one of the best in the game, mentioned how there were some “bad habits” in his game, and the conditioning of the goalie was questioned? That’s three players that have all spent time with the Oilers this season getting criticized or criticizing their former team’s practices.

Is this a problem for the Edmonton Oilers, and is there more than what meets the eye with this? Part of me wonders, and it’s time I got my thoughts out there.

I’m an old-school guy in the way I think. You set the tone for the game in practice. Yeah I know, Allen Iverson would tell me “Man, it’s just practice” but I think there is more to it.

The Oilers are a team known to frustrate fans with lackluster performances on more than just an every-once-in-awhile kind of occasion, and that’s been a major reason why things haven’t gone according to plan for nearly a decade now. Take Thursday’s 3-2 win over New York for example, that was a case of a team simply not ready for a hockey game. That happens far too often with this group.

That tone is set in practice. There isn’t a switch one can just hit to get their intensity up, it needs to be a consistent thing. This Oilers have seemingly lacked that consistency since the days of Chris Pronger, Jason Smith and a younger Ryan Smyth were working under Craig MacTavish. Those days however, are long, long gone.

The Oilers are a team that gets outworked quite a bit, and finds themselves being a step slower than other team’s in a fair amount of games. That’s a big time problem, and until it is fixed it will keep this team in the basement.

To me, one of the reasons Edmonton always seems to be behind the curve is because these practices are not being run the proper way. Sure, some of that is on the coach, but it seems like this is a theme that far out-dates Dallas Eakins in Edmonton. It’s another culture problem with the Oilers, and it needs to be corrected ASAP. Hard work ALWAYS beats talent, and that needs to be taught.

What do you say Oil Country, do you think practices are a problem for the Oilers?

2 Comments

  1. DJ

    March 7, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Its a thought id like to see explored more…you hear military folks say “Train like you fight”, but that leads to lots of injuries. As well, are we developing our goalies well enough? Worth a few questions to the coaches i would think.

  2. Joel

    March 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Alot of the reasons for the Oiler’s failures lately is due to poor player management and skill development. It has been noted many times that there is next to NO advanced skill development. Take for example Yakupov’s pre-game stickhandling ritual. There is nothing even remotely close to that done in practice. Its all basics, system work and scrimmaging.

    Strudwick, a former Oiler and currently a sports talk show host, has gone on air and said that at some of the practices he has witnessed this season, he has seen the same drills and routines done that they teach kids in their early teens. This is not acceptable for professional skill development.

    I remember when MacT was the coach, after the Oilers played a very slowly game, he would make them do windsprints and skating drills as reinforcement of how he wanted them to play.

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