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Oilers can’t grasp winning formula as they lose again

Jan 3, 2014, 1:39 AM EDT

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

The losses keep coming for the Edmonton Oilers.

The latest came Thursday, as they were thumped 5-1 by a San Jose Sharks team that had been recently ripped publicly by head coach Todd McLellan. That’s now three straight losses for the Oilers, although they got the single point in back-to-back defeats to Phoenix to end December, who continue to occupy space at the bottom of the Pacific Division.

Devan Dubnyk took the loss, allowing five goals on 36 shots faced. The Sharks took control on the score board late in the first period, on goals from Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau 49 seconds apart to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.

Bracken Kearns, the 32-year-old minor league journeyman who only broke into the NHL in the 2011-12 season, scored again for San Jose. He now has three goals – including his first in the NHL back on Dec. 29 – in his last three games.

A tough night for Edmonton’s goalie once again. A difficult night for the team in front of him. It isn’t getting any better for Oilers fans.

“We were playing fine until the second goal. It was laid on a platter along the wall. Big problem,” said head coach Dallas Eakins afterward, as per the Oilers’ Twitter account.

“We have to step away from this whole idea that ‘we’re skilled, we’re skilled, we’re skilled.’ We have to defend first,” he added.

On the bright side, sophomore Nail Yakupov, who had gone from being a healthy scratch to the second line for this game, scored the lone Edmonton goal. It was his seventh of the season.

  1. ray2013 - Jan 3, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    Here’s part of the winning formula: get better than an 86% save percentage if you expect to win.

    I live in Edmonton, and even the biggest die-hard Oilers homers have given up on him. Philly fans may not believe it, but Bryzgalov has been welcomed with open arms because he has been an NHL average goalie.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 3, 2014 at 10:31 AM

      Dubnyk is by no means the answer (something MacT seemed to address when he returned, before proceeding to do absolutely nothing about it).

      That being said, the Oilers have a huge lack of guys who can thrive in tough minutes assignments. Honestly the only guy on the team who I’d say can go up against the other team’s best is Taylor Hall, and after that it’s a long drop to guys who have real limitations in their games (Ference, Gordon) or guys who are best suited to exploiting matchups (RNH, Hemsky, Gagner, Eberle) but can’t because the team lacks depth and then on to outright disasters (Yakupov, Schultz) in their own zone.

      I love RNH and it’s nice to have guys like Eberle, Yakupov could be a real dynamic scorer one day but I’d trade any one of them for a guy like Sean Monahan to build around if I could.

      • ray2013 - Jan 3, 2014 at 11:47 PM

        MacT did swing for a big trade for Schneider, but that didn’t work out. I think they thought they’d eventually need to do an upgrade in net, but I don’t think anyone foresaw that Dubnyk would become the worst starter in the NHL overnight.

        But @dave is right; the team is poorly built. Small forwards everywhere; they have a whole lineup of 5-6-7 d-men. They had the worst tandem in the NHL, and had to turn to Bryzgalov for better goaltending.

  2. canucks30 - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:22 AM

    Good.

    Hopefully they miss the playoffs another 7 seasons in a row.

    Oilers fans already saw their team win 5 Stanley Cups in 7 years while watching Gretzky and Messier (among others) in their prime on arguably the most entertaining and dominant NHL team of all-time.

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 3, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      I don’t mind the Oilers luck as a franchise (I’m super jealous obviously, particularly as a Canucks fan) but it’s the attitude it engenders among Oilers fans, particularly the ones that were still soiling their diapers the last time their team was relevant – with the notable exception of a finals run in a topsy turvy season where the Carolina Hurricanes of all teams won the Cup.

      The arrogance that comes from the Oilers franchise with guys like Katz at the top, Lowe pulling the strings and to a lesser extent Eakins and his new age affectations, and some of their fans (online at least, most Oilers fans I know personally are great) makes it pretty easy to enjoy the perpetual floundering of that franchise.

  3. rushledger - Jan 3, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    Trade one of these 1st rounders for a strong goalie. The ducks have a great situation make it happen.

  4. steelers88 - Jan 3, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    You need great defense to truly contend. You don’t need the best goalie in the world. If you have defensemen that can hit and block shots then you are going to be fine. Yes you need a decent goalie to contend, but in my opinion it’s better to have great defensemen than a great goalie. What good is a great goalie without a defense to back him up. The point is Bryzgalov is a good goalie, but the Oilers need to surround him with good defensive players. The Flyers didn’t have a good defense either so that’s why he struggled in Philly. The reason why he do so well in Phoenix was because of the defensemen that helped him out.

  5. muckleflugga - Jan 3, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    canucks30

    oilers the most dominating and entertaining team of all time…lmao

    i guess arguably would be the operative word…lmao

    you must have missed several leafs, wings and canadien dynasties…what about the islanders [ you're young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to go through ]

    islanders and canadiens won five in a row with fantastic skating skill teams…as i recall, canadiens once had an eight loss season…oilers…?

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=508145

    as for dominance, no one can top wings when they were icing the russian five…that team typically clocked eighty five to ninety percent of puck possession on a given night

    that…is domination by anyone’s definition

    • davebabychreturns - Jan 3, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      So he said arguably and you’re proving it can be argued.. I think what arguably means is that it’s in the conversation and I’d say that Oilers group belongs squarely there.

      Pretty tough to argue that any Leafs “dynasty” (6 cups in 10 years or 4 in 6 in a six team league) is arguably the greatest dynasty of all time given the Canadiens had two superior runs – one in the expansion era) and the Islanders had one also in the expansion era.

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