Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish held a press conference that basically said nothing, other than we’re trying and it’s not working, just be more patent. Alrighty then.

“Visually we’re a better hockey team, and I think our most ardent detractors would have to admit that we are a better hockey team visually,” MacTavish said. “But there isn’t any tangible evidence of any of that improvement, and that’s what so difficult for everybody to swallow. In particular, the fans, the faithful fans that flock to Rexall [Place] night in and night out to see some material evidence of improvement. There just hasn’t been that level of improvement.”

Visually we are a better hockey team? What does that even mean? The lineup looks good on paper? I would say not really and even if it does, who cares? And it’s not any better if, as you said, there is no evidence of it.

“When we talk about coaching, there have been four coaching changes here in the last number of years. I’ve been around for two of them. The messaging to the players has been very similar and the accountability to the players to execute on the ice has to improve.”

Or maybe the accountability should fall under you MacTavish and mostly former GM Steve Tambellini. High draft picks don’t equal high turn around if you don’t know how to use those draft picks wisely. Also drafting quality guys in the lower rounds is just as important. Bu t let’s start at the top. The Oilers started their trio of picks drafting first overall with drafting Taylor Hall. Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin were widely considered to be the top two players and the Oilers, selecting first, could have had either. Now Taylor Hall is not a bust but they could have had Tyler Seguin, who has clearly developed into the better player. But they chose Hall. They then chose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. Both not that bad, sort of, either but you could pretty much get the sense they just picked the perceived best overall player and not really the best player they needed. At some point they need to come up with a style or system and get players that compliment each other in that system. Unless you’re drafting a Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid, which in these cases they weren’t. This season Yakupov only has three goals in 26 games, which is abysmal for a 1st overall winger. I think he will ended up being a bust.

Defensively, which is a major weakness, they have only drafted four defenseman in the first two rounds since 2010. Only two of those defenseman are actually on their NHL roster. And neither is really making a difference as they’ve both barely played at the NHL level. I’m pretty sure over the past five drafts the Oilers could have found a defenseman who would have made an impact right away defensively. They could have chosen Cam Fowler, Dougie Hamilton or Olli Maatta.

At the end of the day it comes down to luck, a good scouting team and savvy GM. Apparently the Oilers have none of those things working for them. I actually think they have decent goalies but you wouldn’t know it with the team that’s in front of them. Even Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist would struggle on that team. The Penguins had their own string of 1st or 2nd overall picks and they drafted well (got real lucky too) and they won a Stanley Cup. That won’t be happening in Edmonton anytime soon but they can turn it around with some effort.

Source: http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=742655

Things I like

1. The Los Angeles Kings aren’t known to care much about the regular season and who can blame them really. But they did have three shutouts in four games which is impressive anyway you look at it. The problem is they don’t have a very good road record and if you’re content at entering in the playoffs as a wildcard, you’re going to need to win games on the road. It also doesn’t help to lose to a team (Philadelphia Flyers) at home that had previously lost six games in a row. But Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones are playing exceptional and will look to lead the team in the playoffs again.

2. Martin Brodeur got his St. Louis Blues career off to an epic start. After relieving starter Jake Allen, at the beginning of the 3rd period with the Blues down 0-3, Brodeur helped key the 6-4 comeback win of the Islanders. Brodeur had 14 saves on 15 shots. Since Brodeur played well, it brings up an interesting situation when Brian Elliott comes back. It’s probably all but assured that Jake Allen will be the odd man out. At least he’s still young. It’s possible Brodeur might get to 700 wins this season.

3. The Chicago Blackhawks are starting to roll and that could be a problem for the rest of the NHL. The Blackhawks have now won six straight and nine of their last ten. Their offense is finally clicking and Corey Crawford isn’t even playing. Crawford is not playing because he got injured at a concert. Yes, that is correct. When asked if his was drinking, he said he didn’t want to talk about it. Which translates to yes, he was. In a key “road” game the Blackhawks beat the Predators to take the lead in the Central Division. I say road because there were way way more Blackhawks fans in the stands than Predator fans. That’s a 14 hour round trip drive and that’s dedication.

Things I don’t

1. The Ottawa Senators, who have now lost five in a row, have a defenseman leading the team in scoring. Which is never a good sign of anything. Bobby Ryan is still struggling. With a +/- of -1, the first time he’s had a minus since his abbreviated rookie season. He also has a career low in shooting percentage and he just broke his thumb. On the other hand, he was never a point a game player so he’s about on pace for his normal numbers. But the Senators were hoping he would blossom into something more.

2. The Boston Bruins are generally known for great goaltending, great defense and balanced scoring. It’s how they’ve been to two Stanley Cup Finals recently and won one Stanley Cup. This season, not so much to most of those. They’ve particularly struggled on offense at times. This is funny to me because two players currently in the top 10 in scoring (Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin) are players they had at one time and traded away. I harp on them a lot for trading away Tyler Seguin. But while nobody on the team has more than six goals, they do have seven players with at least five goals. SOo they still have some balance.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Luke Gazdic vs Anthony Peluso

A couple of big heavy hitters in this fight.

Goat of the Week

All the Philadelphia Flyers on the ice for the final seconds

Against the Sharks in a 1-1 game with about 20 seconds to go the Flyers exhibit sloppy passing and sloppy defense to lose the game. With only few seconds left in regulation, the key is to play smart and conservative. None of which the Flyers did. When things aren’t going right, they just aren’t going right.

Stat Line of the Week

12/02/14 Toronto 5 vs Dallas 3

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

Hits

N. Kadri

16:27

1

2

2

6

0

1

The past couple of week the Maple Leafs offense has really been clicking, finally. They won five of seven and in their five wins they scored at least four goals. In their win against the Stars, Nazem Kadri, Joffrey Lupul and Mike Santorelli all contributed with big games.

Numbers, Numbers

11 – Game losing streak for the Oilers
13 – Shots for the Sabres against the Lightning
2 – Shorthanded goals by Tobias Rieder in under a minute against the Oilers
40 – More goals scored by the Lightning than the Oilers so far this season
500 – Career coaching wins for Mike Babcock, he’s in the top twenty but a long way from first

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

December 01, 1974 New York’s Jean Ratelle picked up two assists for a career toal of 730 points, passing Andy Bathgate into second place on the Rangers’ all-time list. (Linemate Rod Gilbert led with 774 career points). NY tied 4-4 with the Blues, at MSG.

December 02, 1934 Red Wings beat Toronto 3-0 in Detroit, to end the Maple Leafs’ NHL record of eight straight wins from the start of a season. Norm Smith recorded the second shutout of his rookie season.

December 03, 1984 New York Islanders won the 500th game in club history, 5-4 over the Canucks at Vancouver. The Isles won #500 in 980 games, the second fastest in NHL history at that time (Boston did it in 976 games).

December 04, 1965 Stan Mikita scored three goals for his 6th career hat trick as Chicago beat the Bruins 10-1, at Boston.

December 05, 1968 Montreal’s rookie goaltender Tony Esposito made his first NHL start, and gave up two goals to brother Phil, in a 2-2 tie between the Canadiens and the Bruins, in Boston Garden.

December 06, 2001 Garth Snow recorded his 13th career shutout, and Mariusz Czerkawski scored twice in the Islanders 2-0 win over the Flyers at Philadelphia.

December 07, 2002 Despite being outshot 38-14 by the visiting New Jersey Devils, Ed Belfour made 38 saves to record his 63rd career shutout in the Maple Leafs 1-0 victory.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5
1. Chicago
2. Calgary
3. NY Islanders
4. Tampa Bay
5. Vancouver

Bottom 5
30. Edmonton
29. Philadelphia
28. Ottawa
27. Dallas
26. Carolina

Alex Mueller

Author: Alex Mueller

Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.

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Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish held a press conference that basically said nothing, other than we're trying and it's not working, just be more patent. Alrighty then. 'Visually we're a better hockey team, and I think our most ardent detractors would have to admit that we are a better...