Sunday, February 01, 2015

Anything For A Save and Some Killer Instinct

As tough as last night’s 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames may be for fans of the Edmonton Oilers to digest, it is not as though anyone should have been surprised with how things played out. 

While the Oilers did hold a two goal lead heading into the third period, did anyone honestly feel as though this one was in the bag? In the span of five minutes and forty-three seconds, Edmonton watched their lead turn into a one goal deficit and ultimately into a sixth consecutive loss against their provincial rival. 

Third period comebacks is something this Flames team specializes in, as that was ninth time this season they have managed to pull off the feat, as is scoring goals. In fifty games, Calgary has now scored a league-leading sixty-three goals during the final twenty minutes of games. 

After last night’s win, the Flames have put together a rather impressive 9-15-1 mark in the twenty-five games in which they have trailed after forty minutes of play. Edmonton has also been in a similar spot in in twenty-five of their fifty games, difference being they have posted a 2-21-2 record. 

If you do the math, you will see that it adds up to a difference of thirteen points and as of this moment, the two sides are separated by twenty-two points in the standings. Once you couple that with the fact the Oilers specialize in coughing up leads, are simply incapable of winning at the ScotiaBank Saddledome and currently employ a starting netminder who has yet to win a game on the road this season…one could argue yesterday’s result should have almost been expected. 

While this team has managed to win a handful of games and pick up the occasional loser point since Todd Nelson took over for Dallas Eakins behind the bench, this is still not a very good hockey team. Despite being up a pair of goals, you just got the sense this was coming and the fact it continues to happen…tells you all you need to know about this lineup. 

Teams who tend to win games on a regular basis generally have some form of a killer instinct that runs throughout the collective group but when it comes to the Oilers, it is something this group is apparently allergic too. Unfortunately, this lineup is not blessed with a goaltender who is capable of making that big stop when they need it most, nor do they have players who can capitalize on chances to put teams away. That is what we call a recipe for disaster and that is exactly what this is. 

While some have pointed to the team’s improved record in the standings since the coaching change as some sort of positive sign, do yourself a favour and ignore those numbers. At some point, logic dictated that the Oilers would eventually start winning the odd game and that is what we are watching here. It really is that simple. 

While Nelson has certainly done a nice job since taking over, the fact that the pressure of winning has essentially been removed from the equation is why this team looks more relaxed. This is nothing new, we have seen things play out in a similar fashion on numerous occasions. The tension that had built up from losing all those games was very real and it ultimately cost Dallas Eakins his job. With that said, let’s be realistic here. 

This team is not improving under Todd Nelson and to suggest they are is downright comical. There is no question this organization desperately needed to make a coaching change but to read anything into what follows, be it good or bad, would be a massive mistake. Contrary to what many seem to think, the Edmonton Oilers do not need to be blown up but they do need to add better players into the mix and until that happens, nothing will really change…regardless of who stands behind the bench. 

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