Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Finish Line Is Finally In Sight

While playing out the string is something the Edmonton Oilers have specialized in for far too long, the conclusion of their 2014-15 campaign simply cannot come soon enough. 

After watching this group fall to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 5-1 on Wednesday night at the Honda Center, we can finally see that flicker of light at the end of tunnel. Heading into this evening’s tilt with the Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers have finally reached the final stretch in what has arguably been the most difficult season this organization has ever had to endure. 

Five games…that is all that remains before this franchise can turn the page on what has truly been a complete waste of time. Sure it has been nice to see the likes of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle take that next step in their development over the last half of the year but let’s be honest here. It is not as though these guys were busts…as some across the hockey world were insisting. 

The fact Nugent-Hopkins is about to complete his fourth year in the National Hockey League, albeit with more than a little bit of time spent on the IR, has led too many forgetting he still all of twenty-one years of age. The progression we have seen in his overall game is far from shocking and if anything, it is further evidence that the Oilers made the right decision in using the first overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft on the former Red Deer Rebels stand out. 

There is no question that certain players have shown drastic improvement since Dallas Eakins was replaced by Todd Nelson as the head coach, especially when it comes to kids like Anton Lander and Nail Yakupov, but again we are talking about garbage time. Positive steps for sure but at the end of the day, it is rather difficult to get overly excited about much of anything we have seen this season. 

While one can try and dress this up as two separate seasons , the results speak for themselves. Ugly is ugly…no matter how look at it. 23-41-13 is one heck of an awful record and that is something that cannot be ignored, regardless of who was behind the bench. End of discussion. 

By the sounds of it, Nelson will likely be getting Boyd Gordon and Matt Hendricks back in the fold for tonight’s date with the defending Stanley Cup champs but let us not forget you would be hard-pressed to find a team Edmonton has struggled to hold their own against more than the Kings over the last numbers of years. Add to that LA desperately needs the two points and we pretty much know how things will ultimately play out at the Staples Center. 

Outside of possibly playing the role of spoiler against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada, the end cannot come soon enough for the Edmonton Oilers. Hopefully Craig MacTavish and his team of merry men can learn from their mistakes because in the eyes of many, this group has already used up all their lives and suffering through yet another disaster of a season in 2015-16 is simply no longer an option in this marketplace. 

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