The Edmonton Oilers are a marvel. They possess dazzling offensive skill. They can skate and shoot and create scoring chances with slight-of-hand passing.
And yet they cannot find ways to win games. Their 4-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes Friday night was their sixth in a row.
The Oilers have changed coaches, changed general managers, changed goaltenders, swapped out and the supporting cast . . . and still they lose night after night after night.
“We have to find a way to basically cut out every mistake,” beleaguered coach Dallas Eakins told reporters after the latest defeat. “Right now, we seem to suffer as soon as we make one.”
Forward Matt Hendricks has played four games for the Oilers since arriving in a trade with the Nashville Predators. Here was his take on the team’s failure, to the Edmonton Journal:
“We kind of fell flat on our face at the beginning of the game. It doesn’t come down to Xs and Os, it doesn’t come down to what forecheck you’re doing, how you’re playing in your defensive zone, which guys are in the lineup. It just comes down to which guys are performing better and we didn’t do that at the beginning of the game.”
That is a familiar story for this team.
“It's been a common theme this year, our consistency,” center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins told NHL.com. “We might play good for the first period and then sag in the second and play good in the third. We have to find a way to stop doing that. We are killing ourselves with efforts like that, not playing a full game.”
Here are some disturbing specifics:
- The Oilers have won just 15 of their first 53 games.
- They have suffered three five-game losing streaks and two six-game downturns.
- They are 1-8 in games decided by one goal.
- Edmonton closes its regular season by playing eight of its final 10 games are against San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Vancouver. The Oilers are 0-13 against those teams this season.
So we already know how this story will end.