Watching the Edmonton Oilers play Saturday night brought a couple thoughts to mind, good and bad. Needless to say, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is here to stay. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are very, very good hockey players and by the end of the season 'great' may be a more fitting adjective. They have tons of young offensive pieces in place with Paajarvi, Gagner, Hemsky, Omark and others. Their is a buzz surrounding this team and RNH's hat trick only added fuel to the fire.
The bad? They lost the game! Sure, the future is bright, key injuries are playing a role, but a loss is a loss. Same old song and dance. Great effort, lots of promise, bad breaks, tired cliche, tired cliche...
The problems are so obvious! Lots of offensive potential in the forward ranks but the defense simply can't get them the puck! Watching Cam Barker try to execute a breakout was a painful experience, and this is one of the more offensively minded defenseman on the team (meaning his defensive play is even worse!). It doesn't get much better after, aside from the oft (and currently) injured Ryan Whitney.
Devan Dubnyk is a decent goalie, and if he can be spotted a few goals per game, which is very possible, he can do enough to get wins. But he is going to get bombarded with shots backing up these defensemen, and he can only do so much.
Where is the passion? These players can't be satisfied putting out decent efforts and not getting the wins. When I see them getting interviewed after the game I don't want to see them giving all the proper, politically correct answers. I want to see them fired up! It's a loss! Aren't they sick of being overmatched every game? It doesn't always look like it. There is so much talent on the ice, too much to waste on another season of rebuilding. This team could win multiple Stanley Cups, but eventually the reality of a salary cap NHL is going to set in and changes will be made out of necessity.
Steve Tambellini, get your players a couple NHL calibre defensemen! Players, stop watching the kids fly around carrying this team. Give them a hand! At the very least try to keep the goals against to a minimum so you can celebrate a hat trick in a victory instead of having it be the sole comfort in defeat.
You celebrate wins, not losses!