The 2017-18 season has been nothing short of a nightmare for the Edmonton Oilers. Predicted by many fans and analysts in the offseason to be a Stanley Cup contender and the odds on favorite to rise to the top of the NHL’s Western Conference, the Oilers stumbled out of the gate, found their footing and have now fallen almost entirely out of the playoff race with seven losses in their past eight games.
Team captain Connor McDavid has been a good soldier throughout the team’s slide, meeting with the assembled media after each game to break down exactly what’s gone wrong. But following last night’s 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, McDavid was in no mood for another cliched hockey interview.
The Oilers thought they had tied the game 2-2 late in the third period when Mark Letestu scored a pretty wrap-around goal, only to have the play overturned on a coach’s challenge. On review it was deemed that Oilers winger Jujar Khaira had his skate blade off the ice JUUUUUUST enough to warrant an off-side call. The result? No goal!
Check it out for yourself:
I mean… technically it’s offside, but is this really the spirit of the rule? Breaking down the millimetres between the ice and a players’ skate blade to determine whether or not a goal should be allowed? In any case, the goal was overturned and the Oilers bench was incensed.
McDavid spared no one in his post game comments, calling out the NHL for what he believes is a bad call.
What do you think? Is the kid onto something here? Since being introduced in 2015, the coach’s challenge, specifically when used to determine offside calls, has caused nothing but controversy. Introduced in the wake of Matt Duchene’s offside goal for the Colorado Avalanche in 2013, the rule has not had the intended effect. Simply compare Duchene’s goal with Letestu’s last night and it’s not even in the same realm…
Regardless, the goal was overturned and the Oilers put up their seventh loss in the last eight games. Head coach Todd McLellan was clearly not happy with the call or the final result, last night either:
The Oilers’ bench boss is on thin ice these days, with multiple reports that his job may be on the line in the next week or so. Ditto for GM Peter Chiarelli, who admits that everyone in the organization is “under evaluation.”
“We’ve had our challenges from a coaching perspective, and we’ve had our challenges from a player personnel perspective,” said Chiarelli earlier in the week. “We went into the season with certain expectations, and we’re not even close to them.”
The Oilers have not been effective this season, but whether the problem lies with coaching, management or both is not yet clear. What IS clear however, is that things cannot continue along the path that they’re on. If they do, it won’t take long for the team’s fanbase to turn over themselves once again.
With superstar Connor McDavid set to hit the prime of his career, the Oilers can hardly afford any more wasted seasons. Once the problem is identified by team ownership, don’t be surprised if heads start to roll in short order, with NHL insider Nick Kypreos expecting a decision as early as this week.