Taylor Hall

Oilers end 11-game losing streak with first Western win


Going into tonight’s game against the San Jose Sharks, the Edmonton Oilers hadn’t won since Nov. 9, they hadn’t earned a home win since Oct. 27, they hadn’t beaten a Western Conference team this season, and they had the worst record in the NHL. Three of those four things are no longer true as Edmonton managed to scrape together a 2-1 victory.

For just the 10th time in 27 games this season, the Oilers were able to get on the board first thanks to a power-play goal from Nail Yakupov. The 2012 first overall pick got his first point since Nov. 11 and eighth overall this season.

Tye McGinn evened the contest just over two minutes later, but David Perron scored what would become the game-winning goal midway through the third period.

Naturally its hard to be optimistic about Edmonton just because its no longer in the midst of one of the worst losing streaks since 2009, especially given the Oilers’ failures over the last nine seasons. Even still, this offers them an opportunity to grow.

“It’s great to get a win, and especially a win where we thought we deserved two points. Now we have to carry it over,” Taylor Hall said, per the Oilers’ Twitter feed.

“This doesn’t mean a lot if we’re not going to stick to it. We have to replicate that kind of effort night after night,” winning goaltender Ben Scrivens added.

This was just the first of three meetings between these squads scheduled for December. Edmonton and San Jose will also battle on Tuesday and the 18th.

Ruff angry, fed up with Garbutt’s lack of discipline


Lindy Ruff has seen just about enough of Ryan Garbutt’s antics.

Garbutt, one of Dallas’ two in-house pests (along with Antoine Roussel), was punished by his head coach during Thursday’s loss to Detroit for — surprise! — some undisciplined play.

From Stars Inside Edge:

The Stars went on their first power play of the game late in the period, but towards the end of it Dallas forward Ryan Garbutt took a slashing penalty, which put the Red Wings hot power play on the job. Detroit took advantage. Pavel Datsyuk grabbed the puck in the slot and backhanded it past [Jussi] Rynnas at 18:52 of the period.

Ruff was not happy with Garbutt, who didn’t see the ice in the second period.

“It was a tough penalty. I don’t think I played him at all in the second period,” Ruff said. “We talked about the discipline. That discipline hurt us in the game. I told him I don’t want anymore. To that point, I thought we were controlling a good part of the game.”

Not a new theme. Over the last season and a bit, Garbutt has compiled himself a pretty serious rap sheet; he’s been suspended twice — once for kneeing, once for charging — for a grand total of seven games, and was fined during last year’s playoffs for spearing Corey Perry in the groin.

Ruff, clearly, is not a fan of Garbutt’s antics.

The head coach made this abundantly clear last month, admonishing Garbutt’s “reckless” knee-on-knee hit against Taylor Hall, which resulted in a two-game banishment.

“It’s something he has a tough time with,” Ruff said of Garbutt’s disciplinary issues, per the Dallas Morning News. “We had a tough time with it last year, but I thought we were making some headway.

“I feel like I’m losing a bit of ground again.”

Ruff’s slow burn over Garbutt’s undisciplined play came to a head last night, when he gave the gritty forward just 5:02 of total ice time (none in the second period, 1:59 in the third). It was enough for veteran Stars beat writer Mike Heika to ask the question — will Dallas be forced to healthy scratch Garbutt to really get the message through?

We won’t have to wait long to find out. Dallas is back in action on Saturday against Montreal, where it’ll look to snap its current four-game losing streak.

Columnist: If the Oilers lose tonight, Eakins will be fired


Yesterday on TSN’s Insider Trading segment (video), reporter Darren Dreger said it’s “going to have to get a lot worse” for the already-in-pretty-bad-shape Edmonton Oilers before GM Craig MacTavish fires head coach Dallas Eakins.

And that’s consistent with what’s been reported elsewhere, that MacTavish is working the phones and will opt to make a trade before Eakins is relieved of his duties.

Still, with the Oilers on a 10-game losing streak, at least one Edmonton-based columnist believes a loss tonight in Winnipeg will lead to a change behind the bench.

From Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

My suspicion is that he will be let go after a loss on Wednesday in Winnipeg, and MacTavish will take over behind the bench with assistant Craig Ramsay. Eakins was never ready for this job, and like his predecessors, has let the young players run amok, with leashes so long that the rank and file players simmer every time they suffer another minus on yet another egregious Taylor Hall giveaway.

Perhaps Spector is just playing a hunch. After all, the Oilers have three days off following tonight’s game, i.e. plenty of time for a press conference before Sunday’s home date against San Jose. If there was ever a time to fire Eakins, this week would be it. The team doesn’t have another real break in the schedule until Christmas.

It also may be worth mentioning that the Oilers were reportedly “preparing to make a coaching change” in late October, only for the club to temporarily right the ship and, at least according to the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons, save Eakins’ job.

You can choose yourself who to believe in all this.

The bottom line is, no matter how forcefully MacTavish has stood behind Eakins in the past, and no matter how much players like Hall have voiced their support for the embattled coach, and, of course, no matter how tantalizing the prospect of drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel may seem, it just can’t keep going on like this. Either the team starts winning, or the GM makes a significant trade, or there’s a coaching change.

Edmonton, by the way, will enter tonight’s game with an 0-12-3 record against Western Conference opponents.

Hall went to MacT in support of Eakins


Oilers forward Taylor Hall has already spoken publicly in support of his embattled coach, Dallas Eakins.

Per TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, turns out he’s done it privately as well:

Edmonton sure didn’t look like a team playing for its coach to be fired last night in Nashville. In fact, it was one of the Oilers’ better performances of the season. Which, granted, says something, since they still lost, 1-0, in overtime.

After the game, Eakins called it “a step forward, even though we couldn’t get both the points.”

The Oilers, losers of eight straight, are right back at it tonight in St. Louis, against a tough, rested Blues side that probably won’t be feeling too charitable after dropping a shootout decision Tuesday at home to Ottawa.

Garbutt suspended two games for ‘reckless’ knee-on-knee hit

1 Comment

Dallas forward Ryan Garbutt has been suspended two games for kneeing Edmonton’s Taylor Hall, the NHL announced on Thursday.

The incident occurred midway during the third period of Dallas’ 3-2 win on Tuesday night. Garbutt was whistled for a two-minute tripping penalty; Hall wasn’t injured and remained in the game:

Following the game, Garbutt’s coach — Lindy Ruff — expressed displeasure with the hit. From the Dallas Morning-News:

The Stars led 3-2 in the third period when Garbutt took what Ruff called a “reckless” penalty. The Stars survived what ended as an 11-second power play, but that did not lessen Ruff’s discontent.

“It’s something he has a tough time with,” Ruff said Wednesday. “We had a tough time with it last year, but I thought we were making some headway. I feel like I’m losing a bit of ground again.”

As Ruff alluded to, Garbutt does have history with disciplinary issues. He was fined for a spear on Ducks’ forward Corey Perry last postseason and, during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign, was suspended five games for a hit on Dustin Penner.

What’s more, knee-on-knee hits were a topic of conversation at last week’s GM Meetings, as NHL disciplinary czar Stephane Quintal addressed a noticeable spike in incidents through the first month of the season.

Garbutt will miss Dallas’ next two games — Friday versus Minnesota, Saturday in Colorado — and will be eligible to return when the Stars play in Toronto next Tuesday.