Thursday, October 16, 2014

Can It Really Get Much Worse?

Despite the best efforts of one Taylor Hall, the Edmonton Oilers found a way to simply give away another two points on Wednesday night in Arizona, dropping a 7-4 decision to the Coyotes. While the top line of Hall, Jordan Erberle and Mark Arcobello combined for three goals and seven points, it was the team’s play in their own end coupled with yet another disastrous outing from netminder Ben Scrivens that cost them. 

The combination of the Oilers inability to defend as a collective unit with their goaltender’s inability to stop pucks, makes it almost impossible for this group to win hockey games. With all due respect to the Toronto Maple Leafs, as a five man unit, there is no team in all of hockey who comes close to being the complete and utter train wreck in their own end than Dallas Eakins’ crew. 

Jeff Petry looked like a kid who had never played the game before on the Coyotes opening goal, as the blueliner was completely oblivious to Mikkel Boedker standing miles behind him on an Arizona power play, leading directly to a clear-cut breakaway and the first of three for the talented Dane. Not exactly the start the twenty-six year old was hoping for after being scratched from the starting lineup against the Los Angeles Kings but should any of us really be surprised? 

That was promptly followed up by the first of three blunders on the night from Scrivens, as his mishandling of the puck behind his net led directly to Kyle Chipchura’s first of the year and instead of Edmonton heading into the intermission with the lead…they found themselves in 2-2 deadlock. That would turn into a two goal deficit early in period two, as the Oilers needed all of 1:07 to self-implode and put themselves behind the eight-ball. 

Connor Murphy scored at the 5:08 mark on slap shot from well out that a National Hockey League goalie has to stop, especially in tie game on a team in the midst of having their season spiraling out of control. As usual, Scrivens picked the absolute worst moment to allow a stinker to sneak past him, which was promptly followed up with some awful defending from the duo of Justin Schultz and David Perron, and an easy tap in for Rob Klinkhammer. 

To their credit, Edmonton managed to cut the lead back down to one in the third, as Hall and Arcobello converted a two-on-one break into this first of the season for the Oilers new No. 1 centre. It was one heck of a finish from the diminutive pivot but it was the guy wearing the No. 4 on his back that made the play, with what was just gorgeous feed. As hard as Mr. Eakins’ side tried to piss this one away, with just over sixteen minutes left on the clock, there was more than enough time to get back on level terms. 

All they needed was their goaltender to make the stops he was supposed to make and maybe one or two he wasn’t supposed to make. Unfortunately for them, Scrivens could not even get the easy part of that equation out of the way, as the Oilers starter somehow allowed Boedker’s harmless looking backhander to reach the back of the net to restore the two goal cushion. 

Simply put, it was a god awful goal to give up and even more alarming, was when it went in…less than six minutes after his teammates made it a one goal game. To add insult to injury, their shotty defensive play would rear its ugly head mere moments later, as Martin Erat made it two goals in four minutes by cruising to the front of the net for an easy tap-in and Oiler defenders standing around and watching him do it. 

Considering so many were counting on this team to make the most of what appeared to be an easier schedule than normal to start the year, going 0-3-1 against less than stellar competition doesn’t exactly qualify. Just like they did in 2013-14, the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of knocking themselves out of the playoff race in the Western Conference by late October and shockingly enough, they have gone about in the same exact fashion. 

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