Lars Eller caught all kinds of flack for his out-of-context remarks about the Edmonton Oilers looking like a junior-level team out on the ice, but he was obviously onto something. In all honesty, the Oilers don’t look like a junior squad. They look more like an undisciplined roller hockey team, with the forwards circling up high, only looking for a breakout pass and only committing to the offensive facets of the game.
The outcome of this sort of play from top forwards like Nail Yakupov and David Perron hasn’t been pretty. Edmonton is 3-10-2 and some of the veterans in the locker room are fed up with the lack of effort and two-way play.
The Edmonton Sun quoted several savoy vets on Sunday, and they were none too pleased. Among the irritated is defenseman Ladislav Smid . As per the Sun’s report:
If somebody is going to make one mistake, two mistakes, you try to help them. But if it’s going to keep happening over and over, somebody is going to have to stand up and tell him.
We have to stick together and play as a team, but at the same time we have to hold each other accountable. It’s going to get uncomfortable, but that’s the only way to do this… otherwise we’re just going to keep saying the right things and keep going on the ice and it’s going to be the same old thing.
Very pointed words aimed at a very specific problem that’s being perpetuated by a specific group of players.
Andrew Ference told the Sun that “right from the start of the season I’ve been sick of what’s going on here,” and it’s tough to blame him.
To go from a perpetual contender like the Boston Bruins that has veteran players falling out of their ears to what boils down to a hockey daycare center in Edmonton must be tough.
It seems like the honeymoon period is over for Ference, and that things could start to get pretty interesting for the Oilers in the near future. The small group of veterans appear to all be on the same page now, and will be taking some matters into their own hands in the locker room and out on the ice.
The big question then: How will Yakupov respond when Ference gets in his face for coughing up the puck yet again as he tries to make a pretty play entering the offensive zone? Could this be a positive thing for the Oilers, or could the room lose itself and begin to lose even more hockey games?
It’s tough to imagine, but Edmonton isn’t at rock bottom yet. Not quite.