It’s been almost one full month since the National Hockey League regular season began. And the supposedly upstart Edmonton Oilers continue to stumble along.
Their latest disappointment came Tuesday, when they were shut out 4-0 on home ice by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Phil Kessel led the Leafs with two goals and four points. He also had a plus-four rating, while his Edmonton counterpart Sam Gagner, returning to the lineup for the first time after missing the start of the season with a broken jaw, was a minus four.
As was Nail Yakupov, Edmonton’s first overall pick in 2012 who has one goal and three points in 12 games this year.
The Oilers remain at the bottom of the Pacific Division, with just three wins.
All this after the Oilers went out and hired up-and-coming coach Dallas Eakins, and with what many pundits consider a highly skilled group of young forwards.
The Oilers badly outshot their opponents from Toronto by a 43-26 margin. A good chunk of those shots came in the third period. By then it hardly mattered. The Leafs had a four-goal cushion.
“It’s getting frustrating,” said Oilers’ defenseman Ladislav Smid, as per the Edmonton Sun.
“We’re not consistent enough. We can’t sustain the same game for 60 minutes. It seems to be every game is the same story so obviously we have to change something.
“There are several things that are wrong right now. We talk about the right things every day, but we have to go out and do it on the ice. Nobody is going to do it for us. We have to wake up in here.”
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.