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Game notes: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Edmonton Oilers: Spoiler Role



When you are out of the playoff, the competitors are looking for different things that motivate them. I am not buying into game theory without pressure and how easy it is to play games when there is nothing on the line. Opposition players and coaches have been saying this for years because they don't want to tell the truth in the morning when they asked how to face the feeder.

"They are not so good," it would be true that they "have no pressure and can relax" is easier. Don't buy into it.

Every player I've spoken with over the years admits to playing sleds. You are trying to be professional and give the best, but just as we saw in St.Louis on Tuesday, it is hard to make emotions when you know the end is close.

1. Players still have things to play with. Some play for their next contract or personal best season. They often play for pride and try to avoid falling down. Whatever the motivation is, it's increasingly difficult to collect the same energy as the team that is in the Blue Jackets, who struggles for his playoff life. The blue jacket would not like anything more than to get an early goal tonight, and doubt the minds of the Oilers.

2. Columbus is one point ahead of Montreal. Both have nine remaining games. Tonight they play Oilers, then Vancouver in front of home games against the Islanders and the Canadiens. They complete road games against Nashville, Buffalo, Ottawa, the New York Rangers, and a home game in the middle of Boston. Six of their remaining nine matches are out of play-off teams. The Habos have a much harder schedule. They have home games against the Islanders, Sabers, Panthers, Lightning and Maple Leafs and road games in Carolina, Columbus, Winnipeg and Washington. If the Blue Jackets miss the playoffs, they will stretch. They have a much easier path than the Canadiens.

3. My co-owner to TSN 1260 and former NHLer Jason Strudwick was at the Oilers when they played the string in 2010 and 2011. "We had so many injuries in 2010," he said. “I remember the first match after the trade deadline. We played in Chicago. Before the match, they honored those who played at the Olympics. They had Kane, Toews, Seabrook, Keith, Hossa. I looked at those stars that were recognized, and we had five D-men who started the game and only Tom Gilbert and I were veterans. The rest were Theo Peckham, Taylor Chorney, Johan Motin, and Dean Arsene. I don't think we have a chance. At the end of the second period, the score was 2-2, but Pat Quinn came and said we had to find another level. It was a strange attitude from the coach (laughing). We didn't have a different level. We weren't good enough. They took third and won 5-2. Dubnyk stood on his head to keep him close. "

4. Strudwick continued. “In 2011 we were out of the race in January. It was a few months. Try the best, but we didn't have a lot of skills, and when you throw in other teams, you're fighting for a playoff, it's hard to cope with that emotion. You're talking about being professional and appearing, and you. You will do it the same way, but you also know where you are. You start each game ready, but if you arrive early, these teams can push you out of the game. People may not want to hear it, but it's true. "

4. I asked Ray Ferrar, a 400-point shooter, to play a string on the wrong team. "I've never had too many motivation problems to play," Ferraro said. "The part I found hard was that you were sitting there before the game and there was no tension. Everyone knows that there are nine games left in the season. We knew we had 40 games.

“The only thing people may not realize is that you are discouraged and you don't have to be so sharp. But what you (the players) miss is that you are actually auditioning, not just for the team you are on, but for everyone else. The number of other teams that earn players on the teams in the lower league is very small. It's not like other CEOs say we have to get this guy because there's a difference in that team. Players who make a difference in bad teams won't go anywhere.

"They are other guys who are exchangeable parts and should understand that they are fighting for their position in the league. I think you will lose a conspiracy many times. You go into the game and you look ahead, like everyone else, in April, whenever the season is over and you're happy to get there. But in reality it is a time when you should really dig. "

5. I also asked Ferrara about Strudwick's thoughts about teams that are out of season and do not have the same fight or faith when something goes wrong.

“Struddy is 100% right. When I played in good teams, we often talked about everything we have to do to break their spirit. Don't let them hang because what they actually do is shorten the game. The 60-minute game becomes 40, becomes 30 or 20 and together they think "why can't we win tonight?"

"But if you drive nearly three or three to one, as we saw with Edmonton and St.Louis, the tent is down." What did the Oilers have, five shots in the first 31 minutes? Nor does it matter what happens after the tent has been folded. It could have been for many reasons, but one of them, without being in the room, is discouraged, you lose energy and you can't compete like that, ”Ferraro said.

6. Now the Oilers are in this mode. Again. It's for the player. It's just as bad for fans. You will not notice the situation and the fact that it is the twelfth in 13 years is only getting worse. Blue jackets lost in Calgary on Tuesday and have one point lead in Montreal for the final wild spot. Of course, they will have more despair in the game. Oilers will be proud to be a motivating factor, but they are still not as good as blue jackets. So the win would be upset.

7. I disagree with that Tyler Yaremchuk at the Oilers greatest need to be wingers. I agree they need them, but their greatest weakness is still at their own end. Not only D-men, but overall as a team. If you can't limit goals against, you won't play the playoffs. The last ten teams in the goals against all will miss the playoffs this season, but the three teams currently in the bottom ten goals scored in the playoff site – New York Islanders, Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes. Minnesota Wild is also offensive in the lower third and one in the playoff spot. The Oilers must improve their defensive play, and unfortunately still have the same blatant weakness they have had over the past decade: they need to move the puck faster. They don't have a top blueliner. Dougie Hamilton, Seth Jones, Erik Karlsson, PK Subban and Shea Weber have been trading in the last three years. It's hard to get, but it's not impossible. The next GM and his management team must be able to find out.

8. I look at the Carolina / Calgary store since last summer as a template. Four players were traded. It worked for both teams. Dougie Hamilton plays much for Hurricanes, while Michael Ferland is fourth in scoring over the missing 11 games. Meanwhile, Elias Lindholm has a career year with Flames and Noah Hanafin was stable on the blueline. Oilers need to improve their ability to move the puck in their four. It's an obligation.

9. Ferraro tried to improve the blueline. "Of course, everyone would like to have a top-notch guy, but the problem becomes a cost and a team vision. Want the Oilers to go this way? It depends who it is. It depends on their age, their history of injury, depends on their production. Healthy Oscar Klefbom is changing things a lot. Darnell Nurse took a huge step forward this season. They have some young guys who are really interesting on the backend. I wouldn't say they have many who are upstairs. I'd like to hesitate to trade something on my back so you get stuck.

“I'm sure the overall plan for the new GM includes a top defender and a few wings. I think the pursuit of productive wings … you can look at older boys for one-year shops. Players who could get you 20 goals. I don't know what his condition will be, but I'd look at Brett Connolly. The player who is coming to the best years of his career. I'm looking for a player like the one who might not be knock-out from the park names but are consistent. He scored 15 goals in the previous two seasons and 20 points this season. It is a consistent manufacturer.

10. Spitballing business ideas can be fun. Just because you mention a player's name doesn't mean he is a bad player. Four competent players have joined the Carolina / Calgary store. You can do hockey stores and just because Peter Chiarelli has lost many of them because he has reduced his talent does not mean that the new GM will automatically lose its business in a similar way. He cannot be afraid to take a step because of previous mistakes. For fun, I asked Ferrara if the Oilers would look at an agreement similar to Flames / Hurricanes that includes forward and D-man. RNH package and defender, where the return was the puck of the moving defender and the wing.

"You could do a really moving Nugent-Hopkins," Ferraro said. “I think he's got a very high profile around managers, how he can play a versatile role and different places in the lineup. However, I do not want to deal with it if I return to skills. They don't have enough to give it away. If they trade skills, they need to acquire skills. It may be a different skill. It might look different or different positionally, but it can't reduce skill levels. "

11. I got one last idea from Ferrara that the Oileries lack the ability to puck on the backend. This is the Oilers main weakness in my eyes.

“Skill, skill, skill. It's the way the game is now. If you don't, you're behind them and you can't win, "he said. "I was in Nashville and watched the predatory blueliner move the puck back to the front. No wonder they don't give up very few goals. They are never at the end. Even when Toronto fired them in the second, they never seemed to have trouble. When you look at Edmonton's defense – now we compare it with one of the elite defensive groups in the league – but if you look at Edmonton's defense and see where they got. can't move the puck fast enough. "

12. The last statement is precisely why I focus on getting a puck mover. A better wing will help you, but they will not be able to use their skills because the puck will not be fast enough for them. If the new GM doesn't change this summer, I don't see how it will improve suddenly, especially on the right side. Adam Larsson and Kris Russell suddenly do not become a puck. Even sister and Klefbom can move faster. Russel and Larsson are solid NHL defenders, but they play very similar styles.

I would say the Oilers need two players to move the puck faster in their first four. I also realize that this is not an easy fix, but a new GM, and hopefully new scouts, must get at least one moving defender. This is where skills improve, and that's why I see the potential for a deck of packages including D-man and forward to go out, and D-man and forward coming in. But it should not stop the new GM from exhausting all the possibilities that it is trying to find a solution to improve the puck's ability to move in the Oilers backend.

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