On Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers lost in regulation for the 41st time this season– and their leading scorer expressed frustration over what’s been another miserable campaign.
“We’re all struggling with the fact we’re 29th [place, in the NHL] and not in the spot we want to be. We just have to stay as positive as we can,” Taylor Hall said, per the Edmonton Journal. “I think it’s safe to say this has been the toughest year out of the four I’ve faced — just with the expectations we had coming in and the way that we’ve played has let everyone, including ourselves, down.”
Hall — who’s having another terrific offensive season, with 72 points in 69 games — is one of the few Oilers to have met expectations this year. It’s almost a shame to watch the first overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft have his efforts wasted; tied with Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin on the league’s scoring leaderboard, Hall has delivered throughout the year while the team around him is, for lack of a better word, bad.
The way Hall has produced offensively is worth mentioning, though, especially in light of what head coach Dallas Eakins had to say earlier in the week.
“There’s this misconception about this team that it is an offensive skilled team. We’re not,” he said, per the Edmonton Journal. “We have some players who have skill, but the last four or five years this team has been bottom five or six in shots and basically 26th in scoring … this is not a high-powered offensive team.”
Big, if true.
It’s hard decipher what Eakins is doing here. Some of his explanation could be simply to save face, as if to suggest the team’s lacklustre offense isn’t on him or his preferred style of play.
It could also be a condemnation of the draft strategy prior to his arrival. The Oilers picked in the top 10 in each of the last five years, going with four forwards (Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov) before taking defenseman Darnell Nurse in ’13. Those picks, along with earlier first-rounders Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner, earned Edmonton the high-powered offense tag… even though the statistics don’t correlate.
As such, it’s hard to figure out where the Oilers go from here, or what the club hopes to accomplish next season.
“Going into next year, it’s hard to give some expectations because we’ve lowered them this year,” Hall said. “It’s going to interesting to see what happens, but I think we’re all committed to finish as strong as we can.”