As Dallas Eakins, in just his second NHL season as a head coach, continues to try and evolve, he has created personal goals and benchmarks for his development. However, with the Oilers recent 11-game losing streak and the heartbreaking string of close losses, Eakins has put more of a focus on keeping an eye on the mental aspect of the team.
“It’s always a moving target,” Eakins said of what he’d like to improve in his coaching style. “You have a plan going into the start of the season and benchmarks you want to move forward on. Those haven’t changed a whole lot. What has changed is our last month of hockey, being on the wrong end of a bunch of one-goal games and one ugly night at home especially. Then the target changes and those benchmarks you wanted at the start of the season are still there, they’re still on the list but you’re trying to get the players out of this so you can get back on track and keep putting in the necessary building blocks to become a playoff team. That stunts the process a little bit when you get into these things.”
He continued, “Right now, our main concern and my main concern is the mental part of the game for our players. You take that last game in Winnipeg and those rip your heart out. You’ve played a textbook game on the road and there’s a goal late with whatever was left on the clock. I know it wasn’t much because I could hear it ticking down. That puts your whole group back in the funk of, what’s it going to take? What’s it going to take? We played well enough to win. That’s the biggest adjustment now, trying to get them through it.”