They’re primed to take on the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night and may already find themselves in the “need to win” position based on the absolutely terrible play they’ve exhibited thus far in the 2014-2015 season.
In three games, they have zero wins to show for themselves. That’s fine. There are still some winless teams in the NHL this season, like the Florida Panthers or the Carolina Hurricanes. Or the mighty Flyers.
But here’s where it becomes hard to be an Oilers fan in the modern age. Edmonton only has seven goals. The Panthers have three goals in three games, but come on. It’s Florida.
The Oilers’ seven goals for is problematic in and of itself, but the biggest issue here that they have 16 goals against in just three games. Yes. 16 goals against.
The Flyers have 16 goals against in four games thus far, so the Oilers aren’t without company in the basement. But Philly has also potted 11 goals, so that kind of makes it look like they’re at least trying to give their opponents a run.
The fact of the matter is that you can’t win games if you’re going to give up an average of five goals a game. It’s not happening. The Oilers have not provided any fight for their competition thus far this season and that’s the sort of thing that can really become a problem. They aren’t losing close contests. They’re being blown out of the proverbial water.
Or as one Oilers beat writer put it, “they were like Wal-Mart greeters in the first period and into the early part of the second” when they took on the Los Angeles Kings and lost 6-1.
Most people, including yours truly, knew that questions would dog Edmonton throughout the 2014-2015 season. Despite some insistences on defensive cohesion and goaltending stability, the Oilers didn’t look strong going into the season. Their young core has received an injection of size and aggression, but what has that accomplished thus far?
Sure, there are injuries to Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to factor in. They continue to be day-to-day. But that’s no excuse for a lack of overall effort and a lack of movement. The Oilers were, by many accounts, “just standing there” against the Kings and that’s the sort of heartless trend that will drag a season down and through the mud no matter how many guys go down with injuries.
In other words, where’s the will to win? Or the will to even show up and try? Without effort and without a pushback of some sort, the Oilers are done. Cooked. Wrapped.
They’ll have a chance to show up against Arizona tonight and show some heart. Maybe then, these questions won’t threaten to derail this season before it’s even begun.