Edmonton Oilers fans were hard on former coach Craig MacTavish. Under his tenure, it was a constant mix-match of players, trying to find combinations that would bring the Oilers past a point where the team was a .500 hockey club. Eventually it cost him his job.
Not 15 games into the season, Pat Quinn is starting to understand what it can feel like to be the coach of the Edmonton Oilers.
Off to a great start, the Oilers have now lost six of their last seven games and things are starting to look a bit dreary in Edmonton. Having been unable to produce more than three goals in each of their last five games Pat Quinn is starting to move pieces around trying to find a proper fit.
It's been tough for the veteran coach. Not only is he working with a less talented squad that what he often faces night in and night out, he's working with a group of players who have been hit hard by illness and injury.
It seems when one thing happens on the plus side, a negative finds its way to the top of the charts and becomes the focus of each game. Steve Staois and Mike Comrie returning gave way to JF Jacques, Shawn Horcoff, and Ladislav Smid being unable to suit up. Comrie played well, scoring one of Edmonton's two goals, but it wasn't nearly enough to get Edmonton past a dangerous New York Ranger powerplay that stung the Oilers.
Pat Quinn is now in the precarious position of finding lines that will give the Oilers some kind of scoring spark. The Gagner/Penner/Hemsky line had its chances, but couldn't produce, while the Brule/Comrie/O'Sullivan line was able to get something going.
Pisani, Cogliano, Moreau, Stortini and others have been snake bitten and find themselves taking poor penalties instead of helping the Oilers get past this scoring slump. Once again, not helpful if your the Oilers coaching staff.
Where Pat Quinn goes from here, who knows. But it's a safe bet that the Oilers will see some more moves before something clicks. It might be nice if those moves came from management, who had to know the great start the Oilers had hard pressed to maintain itself.
Souray is skating and may return sooner than the December estimate that the team had him pegged at. He's chomping at the bit to get in and while he might not say it, he's chomping at the bit to get back at Jarome Iginila. Souray is sorely missed and will be a welcome return once he's ready to go.
At least with Souray in the fold, Pat Quinn can feel secure knowing shot totals might actually increase.