With Monday night’s loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Edmonton Oilers have lost 10 games in a row. They own last place in the Western Conference, with a 6-15-4 record and 16 points. The Columbus Blue Jackets are with them in the league’s basement, with a 7-15-2 record that’s also good for 16 points. The Blue Jackets have played one fewer game, however.
Perhaps it was fitting that it was one Tobias Rieder who provided a great deal of the ammunition for the Coyotes on Monday. The rookie right winger scored two shorthanded goals in 58 seconds in the middle frame, driving the team’s eventual 5-2 victory over Edmonton and setting a league record for rookies in the process.
The player with the fastest shorthanded goals is Esa Tikkanen, by the way. The former Oiler had two in a dozen seconds way back in November of 1988. Those were the days.
To make matters worse, Rieder was an Oilers draft pick from 2011. The 21-year-old German isn’t exactly lighting the league on fire with seven points in 15 games this season and he did go deep in the draft, but it’s still more than a little poetic. The Oilers traded him to the Coyotes in March of 2013 and received Kale Kessy in return.
In knocking off Edmonton, the Coyotes snapped a three game losing streak of their own and ensured that the Oilers continue to be winless against Western Conference opponents. They’re 0-12-3 in their own conference this season, to put it in perspective.
So what’s to blame?
“The thing that is good, it’s not a lack of try,” Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. “They’re trying, but our execution in certain areas is mind-boggling sometimes, especially when you see the guys execute, execute, execute certain plays 100 times.”
As a certain Jedi Master might say, “There is no try.” To execute, execute, execute in certain scenarios is all well and good, but eventually the game has to matter and that execution has to cross over into something actionable. In other words, the Oilers must “Do. Or do not.” So far, it’s the latter.
“Doing not” means Jordan Eberle leads the team in points with 16 in 24 games. Taylor Hall has eight goals in 19 games, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 5 goals in 23 games. Most of the Oilers are unsurprisingly wedged in minuses, with Keith Aulie and Mark Fayne among their only “regulars” above water. Defenceman Jeff Petry is a dismal minus-15, but at least he has four points in 24 games.
For captain Andrew Ference, it’s a matter of old habits rearing their ugly heads.
“You come in here [first intermission], you’re up a goal and I don’t think [Arizona] had a good period,” Ference said. “Guys are letting their guard down and we’re in no position to be doing that to be taking a rest and relaxing…we’re looking for some jump, you’re looking for some momentum and it’s a matter of falling into old habits, floating around and expecting the other team to lie down because you’re so great.”
With 10 straight losses, it’s hard to imagine any team lying down and thinking the Oilers are “so great” and that’s what’s got to be frustrating for Ference and Co. This is a team that should be better in every way. They need to execute and not just talk about executing.