Wednesday, March 04, 2015
While last night’s 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings was a fairly predictable outcome, it was yet another example of just how far away the Edmonton Oilers are from being anything other than a speed bump for the top teams in the Western Conference. While the current lineup is now “missing” three of the better players they had heading into the season, those being Taylor Hall, David Perron and Jeff Petry, it is not as though this Kings team has been firing on all cylinders this season.
The fact Darryl Sutter’s squad skated into Rexall Place and dismantled the Oilers for the umpteenth time over the last number of seasons is no surprise but yet again, the difference between the two teams is almost alarming. Even with a healthy Hall at his disposal, Todd Nelson’s top six forwards are almost laughable when compared to what LA throws over the boards on a regular basis.
As much as a kid like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has improved his overall game since coming into the league, watching him go up against Anze Kopitar last night was as painful as it has ever been. Even against a much improved Nugent-Hopkins, it felt as though he was nothing more than a minor inconvenience to a guy many consider to be among the very best two-way centres in the game today.
To make matters worse, the Kings third line has the likes of Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams on it, while the Oilers countered with Matt Hendricks playing out of position and the duo of Matt Fraser and Ryan Hamilton. Just think about that for a minute and how on earth can anyone be even the least bit disappointed with what we saw unfold last night?
While the head coach and the players all went on about apparently “taking a step back” and other nonsensical issues during their post-game interviews, can we simply not just call a spade a spade? Let’s be honest here, Los Angeles played hard for roughly half the game and still scored five goals. Again, look at the two lineups and please tell me how the team wearing Orange and Blue was supposed to stop things from playing out in the manner they did.
Even with Los Angeles using both Robyn Regehr and Matt Greene, with the former Calgary Flames rearguard in a top four role, the gap between the two bluelines was almost scary. While having Drew Doughty obviously makes a massive difference, the rest of that backend is rather pedestrian but it still felt like Edmonton was facing a juggernaut of sorts and that is a frightening thought.
That does not even take into consideration the difference in goal an in all honesty, using the names of Jonathan Quick and Ben Scrivens in the same sentence, does nothing but make me chuckle and that is where that discussion will end. So please spare me the lack of effort idiocy and accept this for what it is.
Over the next five and a half weeks the Edmonton Oilers are going to be playing some pretty good teams and expecting them to be anything other than a speed bump in any of those games would be absolutely foolish. They still have their fair share of softies along the way but against teams like the Los Angeles Kings, the goal should be to keep from being embarrassed.