As an Oilers fan for the past 10 years, there is one thing we can all count on every single season. The Oilers will always start the season sloppy, unmotivated, and just plain bad.
But once they round the corner and can see the playoffs in the distance, they miraculously begin to step it up and surge to just make playoffs, or just miss them. If we make the playoffs, we somehow do quite well. Think 2006 when we made the finals.
So what changes between the beginning and the end? Well, over the past few years this can be attributed to the coach, Craig MacTavish.
He starts off every season trying to get the players to do something new, to play new lines, to step out of their comfort zones, and play a kind of game that they are neither used to nor comfortable with.
He completely shuffles up players, playing ones who are not even performing well over ones on a hot streak.
He is now overplaying Roloson because Garon got a few losses. If Garon, who is younger and fresher, would be given the chance to play more often, I think he would flourish. He will never become the best goalie of the NHL, but we cannot keep overplaying Rolly to the point of exhaustion.
MacT wants Gagner, Cogliano, and Nillson to play a more gritty game. This is not the kind of players they are, and apparently MacTavish just cannot get his head around that. These kids go out to try their hardest, and go after the puck with the tenacity few others have. That is, when they are “allowed” to.
This seems to be MacT’s goal: to get his players to play a type of game that they just can’t play. Right...
When MacT allows his players to take control, the results show. He handed over the reins to the players last season, after the Oilers were riddled with injuries and many of the talented players were out. The game then became a demonstration of talent, hard work, and vivacity, rather than players trying to be something they cannot be.
We all had such high hopes for the Oil this season, they were predicted to be near the top of their division. I thought they could have been as well.
We traded away a lot of players who, while talented, had very bad reputations here in Edmonton. They turned the game away from the sport of hockey into the means to go out on the streets of Edmonton in search of women and drugs.
With them gone, we all thought players would focus on the sport once again. Well, not if MacTavish had anything to say about it.
He went back to his same old ways. The players are unmotivated, frustrated, and playing the kinds of games they do not want to play. After tonight’s loss to Dallas (do not even remind me about how terribly Dallas is doing and how this was a sure-fire win), I am even doubting the possibility of playoffs this year.
Unless MacTavish is fired, and soon, or unless he yet again hands over the reins to his players, then we will not be making the playoffs, as much as it pains me to say this.
I, for one, am sick of this roller coaster of a ride here in Edmonton. The season starts off one way and then digresses in another later in the season.
We the fans know what needs to happen. The talent needs to do what they do best—score some goals! This will not happen when the players who can score these goals are ordered to play a gritty, rough, and senseless game.
So why does MacTavish not carry on with his “coaching technique” from the latter part of the season to the beginning of the next season? Well, that is just too simple. We all know that our beloved MacT is just not capable of this kind of vastly intellectual thinking.
So...all I want for Christmas is MacTavish gone. And maybe a money tree. But mostly MacTavish gone.