“About the only positive I can bring from it was the way our bench stuck together during the game. Last year, it would be dissected, pulled apart, slamming of doors, controversy on the bench, and that wasn’t there. So we’re encouraged by that.”
That was Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins last night after his undermanned squad lost 6-1 in Los Angeles.
And if that post-game message sounded familiar, maybe it’s because Eakins said almost the exact same thing Saturday after the Oilers couldn’t protect a pair of two-goal leads in Vancouver, eventually falling 5-4 in a shootout to the Canucks.
“The way our guys are handling themselves on the bench through the adversity is much, much different than last year, and that’s very encouraging for our group,” Eakins said that night.
The Oilers’ bench was, of course, hardly the picture of composure last season. Remember the water-bottle incident involving Eakins and Taylor Hall?
Suffice to say, it was a humbling rookie season for Eakins. In the wake of his much-ballyhooed hiring, the Oilers finished dead last in the Western Conference. Which is — sigh — the same place they find themselves today.
Edmonton plays again tonight in Arizona, before returning home for a rematch against the Canucks on Friday.