Oilers players sent a strong message on Sunday night.
They don't give a damn. They know it's over, and there's no point in trying. And the worst part of all? In the early days of the rebuild these games were all about playing for a job next year, but now nobody even wants one. Would you?
I tweeted out a screenshot of the Oilers' shots against the Rangers, and it painted a disturbing picture. Have a look-see:
What you're looking at is the shots of a team that was:
a) at home
b) rested (playing their second game in four nights)
c) up against an opponent that played the night before on the road, and lost an hour coming to Edmonton, and is an Eastern team, and was outside the playoff picture coming in
That little red dot of a shot down there at the bottom is almost off the freaking screen, it shouldn't even count. Just eleven shots from inside the faceoff circles. Almost no shots made it to the net from dangerous scoring areas. Many teams have shot charts that look like that after one period, dammit. Henrik Lundqvist was shaking in his little space boots.
The Corsi battle was just about dead even, too, which is almost as bad. The narrative after the game was that the Rangers "blocked a ton of shots" and the numbers actually do support that. The Rangers blocked seven shots in the slot area, but if the Oilers gave a damn that wouldn't have mattered. This was a one-goal-game against a tired team and the Oilers couldn't control the play in any period.
And that's the trouble. This is a team that simply doesn't care. It's like they're daring management to do something, and management is staring right back and calling their bluff.
LRT: Oil players and MGMT involved in most boring stand-off of all time; two outlaws at high noon..but without guns and with only farting
— Dennis King (@DKingBH) December 15, 2014
That got me thinking about Taylor Hall.
Back in November, Hall told Ryan Rishaug that Dallas Eakins is the right man for this team, and he also said:
"Craig and I have talked on a number of occasions and a couple times I've mentioned that it's not Dallas' fault at all." - Taylor Hall, November 28thWhat an interesting thing to say. Let's read between the lines a bit here. On the surface this seems like nothing more than an endorsement of the coach - and it is - but Hall is also telling us that he has talked with the GM about the problems with the team. Taylor Hall is not just a hockey playing robot; he's surely aware of the shortcomings we all see. Are the answers he received from the manager any more satisfactory than the ones MacTavish has given the fans?
I can't tell you for sure what the players think of management's decisions, but it's foolish to believe that they don't think about them at all. Should we be surprised at how little the players seem to care on the ice, given management's lack of willingness to bring them some, or any real help? If we can all see that the people running the show are continuously making bad decisions that won't maximize the chances of winning, why wouldn't the guys who are right in the middle of it?
I'm beginning to suspect that it's not the coach who has lost the room, but the people higher up the ladder. It's time for Nicholson or Katz to turn up the heat. Burn, baby, burn.