Ken Hitchcock has been vocal about the Edmonton Oilers’ recent struggles. Tonight, they will look to pick up a much-needed victory as they battle the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Edmonton Oilers are not necessarily out of the playoff hunt, but it will be a daunting task for them to make it into the postseason. The Oilers are 13 points back of third place in the Pacific Division. They are only six points out of the final wild-card position, but with every loss, their chance at making the playoffs begins to drop.
Ken Hitchcock called out the players, saying that the coaching staff cannot want a certain style of play more than the Oilers. Basically, the players need to buy into the system that Hitchcock and his staff are trying to instill on their players.
The Oilers need to keep moving forward and get down to the nitty-gritty part of hockey. “It’s a roll-up-your-sleeves, get-your-hands-dirty message,” Hitchcock said. “You’re going to make mistakes along the way. It’s not going to turn overnight. You’re going to have emotional setbacks… We were so excited about the way we played in Minny (4-1 win) … and all of us expected we would carry it on. Well, we didn’t.”
It’s tough for a team to improve when they take a step forward and then take a step (or even more) backward. The Oilers have shown promise, but their hopes at the beginning of the season of making the playoffs are quickly vanishing.
With the trade deadline approaching, it’s not even certain that this will be the same lineup moving forward. The Oilers do have some valuable assets, but are they willing to part ways with some of their roster members?
For a team that has made the playoffs once since their Stanley Cup finals appearance in 2006, the Oilers’ fans have run out of patience. A jersey was thrown onto the ice, an infamous symbol that the fan base has given up.
If Hitchcock can get the Oilers on the same page, there is time to salvage the season. But things need to change fast. Edmonton are running out of time.