He's Just Begun to Get on Their Cases...It's a Good Idea

Pat Quinn in three games has seen a lot from the Oilers. It's not all been good, but it's definitely not all been bad. In two of the three games, the Oilers played well enough to win, in the third, they actually did.

Depsite the fact that the Oilers record could be much worse, Quinn isn't yet satisfied with the effort he's seeing out of much of his new team. In both games, a single and subtle different choice could have meant the Oilers walk away from game three with 5 points instead of 3. Those types of results aren't enough for the grizzly veteran coach and don't expect Quinn to stop talking and riding Edmonton's players, until the team understands that those points are far too valueable to let slip away.

With an empty net on Thursday, Ales Hemsky could have ended things and put the Oilers up 4-2, thus eliminating any possibility of Calgary evening the score with less than a second to play in regulation. Fans and management can play "what if" all night, and I agree; it's not often a valueable exercise, but Quinn seems to see it as something the Oiler players simply have to learn. Plays such as that, just won't stand comfortably with Edmonton's new head coach.

In his post game presser, Quinn was quick to answer questions regarding the comeback and tieing goal. Admitting that Hemsky essentially "dicked around" with the puck is what cost them the extra point and ultimately the win. It's the mental attitude and the agressiveness to go for the "kill" that Quinn sees missing in his squad, and I'm guessing in more than just Hemsky.

Even in reference to the Iginla fiasco that put Sheldon Souray out of the game with a mild concussion, Quinn took the opportunity to make reference to this "attitude" I speak of, publicly acknowledging his frustration with the rules, todays game and likely his players for letting such a "dirty" play go un-punished. Quinn wants his players to do everything as a team, and not just fighting or standing up for one another-- that includes winning.

It's about team first. Souray is just one example. Plays like Khabibulin's botched goal in game one, or defensive break-downs in game two. Even Hemsky's bonehead empty-net gaff in game three are just bits of what Quinn is referring to. When players think of themselves first, the team always suffers and points will slip away. Points, the Oilers can't afford to see go out the window.

I saw a lot of good things in last nights game. What I haven't seen yet, is evidence that this team understands the total concept of what Quinn seems to be trying to pound into his guys. When I think their communication is strong, or that one player really seems to be on his game, his linemates let him down or a communication error finds the Oilers dragging in their own zone. The good news, is that Quinn seems to be just the right guy to set the ship back on the correct course.

Players like Sam Gagner for one, who until Quinn's arrival was treated with "kid gloves" because coaching and management were too afraid to de-rail his progess; is just one example where of all people, Quinn knows what he's doing. He's forcing Gagner to earn his reputation and spot on this team and Gagner's responding. Could Hemsky be next? If I can read between the lines, Quinn seems to be eyeing the Oilers #1 right winger in some of his comments. It'll be interesting, if Quinn chooses to do so, how Hemsky responds to whatever Quinn decides is best for both Hemsky and the team.

Game by game, the Oilers seem to be making adjustments. Hopefully, by the time it all comes together, the team won't have let too many valuable points slip. As fans in Edmonton know, all it takes is 1. 1 point in a tight Western Conference is the difference between the playoffs and golf season.


Good call. I just want to call a spade a spade, here....The Oilers have looked no different than last year, except a couple more hits. The powerplay isn't geling, Hemsky dipsy-doodles the puck right onto the oposition's stick way too often, the penalty kill has no puck pressure allowing the opostition way too much time to pass and shoot the puck at will. The game-tying goal is a shot than never should have even been made....the oilers were giving too much time and space while gingerly waving their sticks around the ice with weak intentions (or maybe a prayer) of breaking up some type of play that a pee-wee player could make. There are no shoot-outs in the play-offs, but, it doesn't matter anyway....the Oilers won't be going to the playoffs unless some drastic improvements are made to the way they are playing the game. I am shocked the Oilers didn't get scored on while killing penalties last night. They need to skate and pressure the puck. Just way too passive....A few people have the intensity, but lack the skills.....only a couple of our skilled players are playing with any type of passion in their game....dummy up, boys! unless you'd rather be golfing.

October 9, 2009 at 6:08 PM comment-delete

I see some good areas in the Oilers game. I don't want to make it seem that I have real problems with some of effort put forth, especially with the missing ingredients so obviously missing.

What bothers me, is that players who've been given a free pass in the past (Gagner, Hemsky, Grebeshkov...) are going to start being looked at specifically by Quinn, whom I believe overal feels there is still a lot to do to get this team where he wants it.

Quinn's no fool. He knows he's missing pieces, but I do think he feels he can get more out of what's on the current roster.

October 9, 2009 at 10:44 PM comment-delete

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