The young Oilers hopefully learned a lot from the three losses against the Wings, the Bruins, and the Black Hawks. They were out worked, out hustled, out muscled, out played period in every aspect of the game. They lacked the determination, the composure, the push back, the urgency, and the ability to compete on even footing with these teams. The Oilers are young and this should serve as a good lesson for them moving forward.
I believe the Oilers lack enough veteran support up front to settle the team down when the going gets tough. I also believe that the Oilers lack big physical bodies to exert their will on the other team. I mean skilled players with size and know how to use it. Some of the current group of players could probably use extra time in the AHL gaining their confidence and composure in their games.
More concerning the veterans aside from Smyth, Horcoff, and Belanger are not responding. While RNH, Hall, and Eberle are finding their way as a young line they aren't playing badly at all. They might be pressing or might be a little snake bit, but they aren't hurting the team, they are contributing. Ryan Jones, Eric Belanger, and Lennart Petrell may not be producing but are contributing in other areas of the game defensively, physically, or on face-offs. The rest I don't know what to make of.
Anton Lander has struggled offensively, like Magnus Paajarvi they don't seem to produce any chances. They are struggling. They may need a change of line mates if not a change of scenery to OKC. Their defense is there, but little else is coming from this tandem.
I've been waiting for Ben Eager to show up. But, he isn't playing very physical. I expect more banging from Eager, but I wonder if he's struggling to come back from the concussion aside from the lack of chemistry on his line. But, I'm not expecting offense from Eager. He may need some more ice time to help change the flow of a hockey game as well.
This problem of size, veteran presence, and offensive production was there to start the season but has been exposed in the last number of road games. The Oilers have too many passengers as well. There are too many forwards not paying a price and getting gritty to work their way out of the funk this team is in offensively. This team has too many younger players and need some veteran help with leadership and veteran help with size and physicality. The Oielrs are again getting tyo be too easy to play against.
Veterans are the backbone of a team. These veterans can be a calming presence. They can also be the boot in the ass the team needs. A few of the right kind of veteran players with size skill and the will to use it and initiate with it would give the Oilers some lift in confidence.
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A forum poster since 2000, Jay is the Moderator of the Motley Crude Edmonton Oilers forum. He also contributes to his blog Oilers Republic and to the Oilogosphere. You can follow him on twitter (http://twitter.com/OR_TMC).