Every Monday, Oilers radio colour analyst and Oilers Now
host Bob Stauffer answers questions submitted by fans about the team.
- "Consistency" is a word the players are throwing around a lot lately. What do you think the team needs to do to, to consistently be on the right side of 3-2 games? A look at the schedule shows that there's no "easy" stretches for this team. How can this team be consistently good?
-- Richard from Red Deer
Richard, the first thing the Oilers need in order to become consistently good is get consistently good goaltending.
For the second straight season, the Oilers netminders have struggled out of the gate. Ben Scrivens and Victor Fasth have had decent moments, but both veteran goaltenders would be the first to admit they have to be better. It is pretty tough to be a .500 or better team in the NHL when both goaltenders have a sub-.910 save percentage (Scrivens .899, Fasth .885). The Oilers are a work in progress down the middle and on the back-end but bottom line, they need more saves. The Rangers game was the best from the Oilers I've seen in a long time. I want to see them push the fast game. Why do coaches always say "We don't want to get into a track meet with them."? When clearly it is the most entertaining and really plays to the teams' strength. The NHL is for thoroughbreds and the coachs play them like old nag plow horses.
-- Jonathan from Edmonton
Jonathan: No question a coach has to play his strengths.
I do think, though, that there is a misconception out there that Edmonton is a fast team. The team has some skill up front with a couple of drivers in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but they are not a relentlessly fast team up front.
In order to play a “track meet” style of a game, a coach needs to be willing to trade chances and also to rely on goaltenders to make some big saves. I don’t think Dallas Eakins and his staff are comfortable playing that game.
I think there has been a concerted effort on behalf of the coaches to get the Oilers to play a game with greater structure and process and actually out-chance the opposition, and the Oilers are trending in that direction.
I'm seeing an overall improvement in this team, despite the rocky start. Better o-zone time, better puck possession, better cycle along the boards better defensive play from the blueline and from certain offensive minded forwards (Nail being one). Even goaltending seems to be a bit more consistent. Do you agree? What other improvements have you noticed?
-- Charles in Spruce Grove
There is no question that the Oilers are playing a better puck-possession game.
Last season Edmonton was a bottom-five Corsi team in the NHL coming in 28th with a Corsi percentage of 44.3%. Currently the Oilers are 15th at 50.6%, which is obviously a considerable improvement.
Nonetheless it has not translated to more wins.
Oilers need more goals and more saves!
Bottom line! Bob Stauffer is Colour Analyst on the Oilers Radio Network and Hosts “Oilers Now” each day Noon to 2:00 PM Monday thru Friday on 630 CHED and you can follow him on Twitter at @Bob_Stauffer