I wrote just recently about how the Oilers were approaching random. Now it seems they're approaching rock bottom and Oilerville is in chaos. A core of fans frustrated with their team (ie Staples and OilersNation). Now there appears to be players who think changing the coach might be the kind of change the Oilers need (Sportsnet, MC79hocky and Lowetide*).
Not good no matter how you spin it. Getting out chanced by the LA Kings - a team who played the night before - by a 2 to 1 margin at home is brutal. No one on the Oilers is creating offense unless Ales Hemsky is on the ice. Three lines are having yard sales in their own end of the ice and the team is seemingly getting worse. The goaltending has been good, the defense has been fine but the offense has been almost non-existent. MacT has taken some serious heat of late and lots of it is justified - coming from a MacBooster. The PK and PP need to be better and IMO that is coachable. The PP being a perpetual sore spot for the Oilers under MacT's leadership.
Last year MacT had no problems coaching these skilled players. This year, Nilsson and Gagner in particular, look lost on the ice and completely lack confidence. IMO, however, the lack of confidence is a side-effect of not winning. So then, what changed?
1) The return of the veterans Horcoff, Sourray, Moreau
Without knowing the locker room that well, this one is possibly a big one. When Horcoff and Sourray left the Oilers they were hovering near a lottery pick and it was the kids who carried the load to a near playoff finish. I'm not saying but its possible that the veterans coming back and trying to run the show after the success the Oilers had last season could have rubbed some players the wrong way. For years the Oilers have been a grind it out type team and since 2007 have transitioned (rather quickly) into a smaller skilled team. I follow the Canucks and Flames closely being rivals in the NW and have read/heard that in Vancouver the departure of Linden, Naslund and Morrison has allowed the younger leaders to emerge (those pricks Kesler and Borrows to name a few). A captain should reflect the type of game a team is going to play. Looking at Calgary you see a hard working team led by the best power forward in the game - Jarome Iginla. Getting a grinder (Moreau) to lead a now skilled team might be two ships heading the wrong direction - or a tug-a-war awaiting a victor. I may be being hard on Moreau here because his game has been great and if anything the Oilers need more competitiveness and grit but results speak.
2) The additions of Cole and Visnovsky.
Cole has struggled, Visnovsky has been great. These guys are new guys and I dont see their impact being huge. Cole from what I've read is a character guy but he's obviously frustrated so I don't know how he is dealing with it. I'll reserve judgement.
3) No Curtis Glenncross
Seeing his success in Calgary is the answer to some of our question that GX is not Scott Fraser. The Oilers IMO chose Moreau and Nilsson over Glencross and that still might be a good bet but the elements he brings are sorely missed (not to mention his 14 pts).
4) Adversity and pressure
The kids never faced any of this last season and its a learning experience for them. Last years success was surprising and the fans rode it but it hasnt followed them around so far this year. Bruce wrote and interesting post on the '80-81 Oilers and their struggles as a young team. Obviously Gagner isnt Gretzky but the comparison is a good one. If MacT goes, he is a victim of a similar scenario (or maybe its just time).
Of the factors, I think #4 has the biggest impact followed by #1. The Oilers are finding their identity. I personally think that Gagner, Cogliano and Nilsson are going to need to get their games back in a hurry. The alternative to them is scraping the league for grinders and IMO regressing from last years success. But its about winning games right now - the coaches job is dependent on it.
* Seriously Lowetide, 300 comments overnight! That's too much, get a comment rating system or something.