The Edmonton Oilers saw their two game pre-season win streak come to an end on Thursday evening, dropping a 3-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks over at Rexall Place. While it may be a little early to press the panic button, the fact remains this team has now gone one for twenty-nine on the man advantage and given up shorthanded goals in back-to-back games and that is something which simply cannot be ignored.
After watching Tom Renney and Ralph Kruger put together what had become one of the premier power plays in all of hockey over what was a two year period, we have now seen that same group regress to the point where they a mere shadow of their former selves. As ugly as their fall from grace was during the 2013-14 season, the hope was it would only be temporary blip on the radar screen and correct itself during the upcoming 2014-15 campaign.
While that may be all well and good, nothing we have seen during any one of the Oilers pre-season tilts would indicate this power play is heading in the right direction. Outside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finding the back of the net in their opener against the Calgary Flames on September 21st, Dallas Eakins’ crew have been unable to light the lamp on the man advantage since. Not exactly a positive sign for a group that, at the very least, will need to have a top ten power play in order to have any hope of winning games with any sort of consistency during the upcoming season.
In fairness, Eakins has yet to dress his “A” lineup in any one game but they have been facing opponents who are in the exact same boat and yet the Oilers have been incapable of producing anything of note on the man advantage. Exhibition hockey doesn’t exactly lend itself to teams using their best players on a nightly basis but Edmonton has had more than enough firepower dress in each and every one of their seven exhibition contests to produce something and yet they have come away empty handed.
They are currently in the midst of an 0-for-27 slide with an extra skater on the ice and have now started to cough up shorthanded chances on a far too frequent basis. Sound familiar? Anyone who watched this team with any sort of regularity in 2013-14 know the answer to that question and it is rather concerning.
Should their struggles continue over their final two exhibition games and carry into the start of the season, at what point does Craig MacTavish push that panic button? On a team which has talent like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, David Perron, Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov to throw out on the power play, there is absolutely no excuse for the Edmonton Oilers to be in the situation they currently find themselves.
By the sounds of what we were hearing during the off-season, this power play should have Craig Ramsay’s fingerprints all over it in 2014-15 and unfortunately form him…he will need to find a set-up that works and do so rather quickly. While the organization might be able to get away with using the “patience” and/or “process” card for one more year when it comes to winning hockey games, they will not be afforded the same luxury when it comes to producing offence during year two of the MacTavish – Eakins era.