Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins says the most frustrating part of tonight's 5-0 loss was the lack of a leader. The team lacked one player stepping up and taking charge of the team to push back at the soaring Red Wings.
"We had no one stand up and push back," said Eakins. "We've got a group that is hurting, they're dying, they've lost their confidence. The best way to get your confidence back is with success. It starts with one guy to push back and you hope that it feeds the rest of the group. All of these guys at some point in their career, every player and every coach in there that's played, have all been looked to to be 'the guy'."
Eakins says everyone has had that chance to be 'the guy' and they have to remember that and move forward with it. However, one player can't shoulder the load on their own and it will take the collective group to make a difference.
"When things are going badly like this, you've got to remember that you've been 'the guy' and it's time to stand up. It can start with one guy, but it's got to be everybody. It can't just be our captain competing hard or a goalie making a couple of big saves, it's got to be the whole group. None of us are as strong as all of us. We all have to be strong together."
The Oilers players were visibly frustrated with their performance tonight. Veteran defenceman Ladislav Smid spoke to the team's need for more accountability in the dressing room. Smid says that the team says the right things, but it hasn't transitioned into on-ice performance or wins, which could lead to some discomfort in the locker room as players will now have more accountability amongst each other.
"We all know we have to stick together and play as a team but at the same time we have to hold each other accountable," said Smid. "I guess it's got to get uncomfortable in here. Otherwise, we'll keep saying the right thing and keep going on the ice and it's going to be the same old thing."
Veteran centre Sam Gagner said it's a frustrating time for the team which came into the season with high expectations.
"There's high expectations every year. Obviously coming into this season, there's hope. There's optimism. Nothing ever gets done unless the guys in the room do it. We haven't been nearly good enough obviously. You look at our record and the way we've played. We've got a lot to prove to ourselves first off and it starts next game."
Head Coach Dallas Eakins was honest in his assessment of the team's performance tonight and as a whole on their 3-10-2 start to the season.
Eakins says right now the team is playing scared and it is up to him to turn things around.
"My job right now is, I've got to find a way to give these guys confidence," said Eakins. "They're dying, they're hurting. I believe they're trying, but we're playing scared right now. You can't play scared in this league or you'll get killed."
Eakins clarified just what the team is scared of.
"They're scared of losing. When you're on a bad roll like we are now, a lot of times you'll go into the game and you're ready to go but then you get back into waiting for that bad thing to happen."
Eakins says the team has played like they're waiting for bad things to happen instead of playing their game.
The Oilers players heard the dissatisfaction of their home crowd as they fell to the Detroit Red Wings 5-0 tonight. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins addressed the negative fan response with understanding, saying the team deserved it.
"That's a fair assessment," said Eakins. "If we're going to play like that, that's what you're going to get. It's pro sports. The fans are allowed to express their displeasure and it's the only way they can. They can't get you one-on-one and talk to you. With play like that, that's what you're going to get."
The players in the locker room also acknowledge the fan frustration following the loss which dropped the team to 3-10-2.
"We all talk about the right things here," said Ladislav Smid. "Then we go out there and it's like a different team. I've got no words for it. I'm in shock and we have to turn this thing around quickly. It's unacceptable for us. You saw the reaction of the fans and I don't blame them."
Richard Bachman who has a .932 save percentage through two starts this season and a goals against average of 2.40, both team-highs, stands at just 5-foot-10. The Oilers goaltender has had to learn to use his technique and athleticism to overcome his height. It is something that has allowed him to become more and more successful in his career.
It also gives the organization a different breed of goaltender to look at when it comes to forming a depth chart upon the return of Dubnyk from injury.
"I play with what I have," said Bachman. "I am not the tallest guy. I try to fill the net and stay positionally sound. It does give them something different to look at. Whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, that's not my job to say. You just play with what you have and I've learned to make up for my height in other areas and I try to use that a strength."
By being awarded his third straight start, Oilers goaltender Richard Bachman is looking to solidify a spot on the team's depth chart for good.
If he could put forth a good performance tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, it could go a long way into earning that spot. What makes tonight's game even more important is that starter Devan Dubnyk is supposed to make his return from injury when the Oilers go on the road to Florida after this game.
Bachman is not focused on the pressure.
"It's definitely a great opportunity and you're excited about it," said Bachman. "As far as extra pressure, I don't think there is right now. I'm just trying to give the team a chance to win. Especially with how things are going right now, that's the key. Just try to be solid back there and give them some confidence and hopefully come away with two points and kind of go from there.
"I don't put any extra pressure on trying to make the team. I just want to prepare and worry about tonight and let that stuff take care of itself another day."
Ryan Hamilton has been out of commission since October 7, when he suffered a knee injury against the New Jersey Devils.
The Oilers forward makes his return tonight and is very excited to be back in the lineup.
"It's never enjoyable when you have an injury," said Hamilton. "But in saying that, you can't get too high and you can't get too low. You've got to be ready right from the get-go and help the team out, especially at this level. I'm real excited and fortunate to be in the lineup and I'll do anything I can to help the team in any way I can."
At the skate, Justin Schultz remained absent. Line combinations for practice were:
Defence pairings were:
Stay tuned shortly to watch LIVE Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins giving his pre-game press conference.
The Edmonton Oilers have recalled defenceman Philip Larsen from the Oklahoma City Barons.
Larsen has played in seven games for the Oilers primary affiliate, tallying seven points (1-6-7) and four penalty minutes.
Edmonton blueliner Justin Schultz left practice early this morning with 'discomfort' in his ribs and may not be able to play tomorrow night against Detroit.