It’s gone from bad to worse to whatever’s worse than worse for the Edmonton Oilers in the span of a week and it’s gotten to the point where pulling the plug is a more viable option than life support.
Mired in an ugly five-game losing streak, the Oilers put up an embarrassing effort against the Calgary Flames—a team that has no absolutely no business making a 4-1 win look easy—and can all but kiss their playoff dreams goodbye. In fact, most fans already did that a long time ago.
The Oilers have not only been a perpetual broken record while trying to get out of this losing streak but all the same questions from the last seven years are once again being asked.
The product on the ice is nonexistent, the toughness and overall amount of heart on this team is being torn to shreds by the likes of Don Cherry, and the once-bright optimism surrounding the Oilers has gone out faster than a candle in a monsoon.
It would probably be a different story if the team was at least showing some spark and putting out a spirited effort in these losses, but the fact of the matter is that they look like they just don’t care.
“That’s an effort that isn’t going to win you games at the NHL level,” said Taylor Hall in his post-game interview. “Teams like [the Flames] are going to work hard and they’re not going to quit and we have to do the same thing.”
He went on to say that his line with Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins going pointless in five games is “unacceptable” and that it’s “embarrassing” for them to play 20 minutes a night without producing a goal, or anything else for that matter.
“It’s really sad because this is a stretch that if we would have won two out five, we’d still be in the thick of things and we’ve lost five in a row and we’re out of it now,” Hall concluded and surely not many are disagreeing.
If it’s any kind of a consolation prize, Hall has easily been the Oilers’ best player throughout this entire winless streak and plays the way he always does — hard. Many would agree that if the Oilers were made up of 20 Taylor Halls, they wouldn’t be in the situation they’re in now.
Instead, they have a rich stockpile of young talent and still have nothing to show for themselves despite coming a little closer this year. But this isn’t an organization that should pat themselves on the back for temporarily holding a playoff spot and playing meaningful games late in the season only to eventually lose out.
After the loss last night, they were quickly questioned about whether or not the team has mentally checked out, which is something head coach Ralph Krueger isn’t ruling out.
“We really have to look at ourselves in the mirror here after this one and figure out what kind of a team we want to be,” said Krueger. “With a flatness like that down the stretch, you have to question everything, so we’re going to have to go over it and we’re going to have to have conversations here in the next two days and see where the spirit is.”
In this day and age of social media, you can look no further than Twitter to see where the morale of the fan base is and it’s no surprising to find profanity-laden outbursts of frustrated patrons. If you look at the mentions to Oilers players in the last few days, you’ll find more than a few harsh criticisms.
Of course, media folks have no problem unleashing painfully honest nuggets of opinion as well.
Whatever the case, the Oilers have seven games remaining in their regular season schedule and even if they’re not yet officially out of the running, there’s no denying the reality of another long summer. The only real hope left is that they’ll find a way out of this funk and end the season playing with some semblance of pride.