Edmonton Oilers Have Five Long Days To Think About Things

Jim ParsonsContributor INovember 30, 2009

UNIONDALE, NY - NOVEMBER 02:  Ales Hemsky #83 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on November 2, 2009 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While the shot counter was deceivingly close, the Oilers were bombed in a 7-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on the first of a long road trip. This loss puts the Oilers at an embarrassing third from last in the Western Conference, above only Anaheim and Minnesota, both of whom have three games in hand on Edmonton.

This has not been the best of times, as the Oilers are now 4-11-3 in their last 18 games. Add to that, in those last 18 games, the Oilers have lost the services of Ales Hemsky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Fernando Pisani, Mike Comrie, Denis Grebeshkov, and others who are important pieces to most Oiler victories.

So what can Edmonton do? Well, they can take five full days before they head into Detroit (a team they were able to get two points against), to take stock of what this team is actually made of.

This is a time for the players to reflect and look at just how much each individual will have to pick up the slack left by their missing ingredients, and also a time for management and coaches to really have a good talk about what this team isn't.

The Oilers, even without key injuries, are not a complete team. They lack major pieces that allow them to be a competitive squad.

Even in some of the few hard-fought victories the Oilers have managed to squeeze out, they continue to get out-shot, lose face-offs, get out-chanced and play catchup in terms of special teams.

Management did very little to address those needs over the summer, and five days is a long time to make a lot of phone calls to see if that can be changed.

Where do the Oilers look for solutions? Is it their goaltending?

Deslauriers is now playing as many games as a starter would and he's showing he may not be able to handle the load. There are viable goalies out there to be had that weren't scooped up over the summer and a few teams, like the Islanders, who picked up one too many, knowing that a team might come calling.

How about the team depth? The Oilers are made up of half a team of proven vets, many of whom are either too old or too highly paid, the other half is an AHL team getting an opportunity to show their stuff in the bigs. Good for the kids, but maybe some of that veteran depth has to go. If you're forced to go young, go young all the way.

Maybe, the team takes stock of their long-term injury situation and judges how far they can possibly climb up the standings once those injuries heal. Will it be too little too late? If so, does a team plan for a high draft pick by making subtle moves to ensure it's a lottery pick?

I hate the idea of tanking a season, but you have to examine the reality of a situation.

Perhaps the Oilers take five days and get themselves pumped to turn this sinking ship around.

There is still plenty of hockey and a 12-4-2 roll, which is close to how a young, injured group of players finished a couple of seasons ago, isn't out the question and would put the Oilers back in the mix.

There are some positives.

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Penner hasn't stopped being this amazing turnaround story. He's still a point-per-game player and he's bringing up players like Brule to his level. Gagner could shine in a more involved first line role and their are subtle trades that exist in today's NHL that could make a world of difference.

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