Craig MacTavish.

MacTavish tries to explain Oilers’ nightmare start


The day after his free-falling Oilers dropped to 4-14-2 with a 3-0 loss to Dallas — a defeat that set a rather ignominious franchise record — a “frustrated” and “pissed off” Craig MacTavish met with the media Thursday (audio).

Among the things Edmonton’s embattled general manager communicated, per the club’s Twitter account:

— New head coach Dallas Eakins isn’t going anywhere. “What this team needs is continuity in coaching, and they’re going to get it.”

— The Oilers “self-destructed” and made “junior mistakes” in their first five or six games. (Ahem: remember what Lars Eller said?)

— The blue line needs improvement. “Do we need a big stud defenseman? It would help immensely.”

It sure would. Of course, if a team’s lucky enough to have one of those “stud defenseman,” it usually likes to keep him. Hence, the challenge in fixing the Oilers.

MacTavish was named GM in April. At the time, he called himself an “impatient guy” prepared to do “bold things” in order to “move the team forward in a rapid fashion.” So you can imagine his exasperation. After just 18 games, the Oilers’ chances of making the playoffs are close to zero.

Not surprisingly, MacTavish is willing to trade future draft picks for help today.

“I don’t view another first-round draft choice as what we need,” he said, per Jason Gregor of TSN 1260. “Whether I can get suitable value for that remains to be seen.”

Frankly, there was nothing all that surprising about MacTavish’s comments. It’s no secret the team is off to a nightmare start, and it’s no secret the GM is willing to make moves to fix things.

Mostly today was an exercise in public relations. The Oilers haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. The rebuild was supposed to be over by now. The fans’ patience has run out.

“It’s painful,” said MacTavish, “but we’re going to get through this and eventually be a much improved team.”

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)