Saturday, February 21, 2015

Time To Take A Step Back

As painful as last night’s 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild may have been to get through, there is one thing fans of the Edmonton Oilers simply cannot lose sight of. This team is not very good. They were not very good under Dallas Eakins and the same holds true under Todd Nelson. 

While there is no question that this group of players have responded in a far more positive manner to the former Oklahoma City Barons head coach as opposed to Eakins, it does not change the reality of the situation. In all honesty, from a talent standpoint, this arguably is the worst this lineup has looked at any point over the past two seasons. 

Yet many within the local media and a good chunk of this fan base seem to think what we saw unfold last night at Rexall Place had to do with a lack of effort or this team not showing up. With all due respect, anyone who honestly believes that to be the case, my suggestion to you would be to take a step back and come to grips with what we are currently watching. 

How anyone could have sat through that game and looked at it as anything other than a pretty darn good hockey team imposing its will against one that has frankly been playing over its head for the last month or so but is still among the worst in all of hockey, is beyond me. Let us not forget that most had the Wild pegged as a playoff team heading into the season. 

Unfortunately for them, the combination of some of their key players not playing up to expectations and a variety of injuries have left them fighting for their playoff lives. Luckily for Mike Yeo and company, these players have managed to right the ship of late and are now firing on all cylinders and in the midst of taking full advantage of a rather soft portion of their schedule. Once you take all that into consideration, how on earth could anyone have been surprised by how things played out last night? 

Just look at the lineup Edmonton dressed. They were missing their best forward in Taylor Hall, their best defenceman in Jeff Petry and next to Jordan Eberle arguably their best player over the best month or so in Anton Lander. In their place we have the likes of Keith Aulie, Ryan Hamilton and Iiro Pakarinen starting and Teddy Purcell skating on the top line. So again, why is anyone surprised? 

While it may be convenient for the masses to continue to point at Devan Dubnyk as the goaltender this organization “mistakenly” gave away, as he is now a perfect 5-0 against his former mates in 2014-15 with a 0.70 GAA and .970 SV%, come talk to me in a year from now and we shall see how many fans or media even want to broach the subject. Kudos to Dubnyk for turning his career around but let’s not be silly here. 

Last night had nothing to do with Devan Dubnyk or the Edmonton Oilers. However it had everything to do with the Minnesota Wild and that is something everyone in this market has to accept. If you want to be pissed off at management, than be pissed off at management but in no way shape or form should that have any bearing on what the expectations should be for these players over the final twenty-two games of the season.

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