The Edmonton Oilers had the fortunate opportunity to draft first overall for three years in a row, selecting Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov, respectively. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the Oilers are one of the youngest teams in terms of average age in the National Hockey League. Take away veterans such as Andrew Ference, 34, Ryan Smyth, 37, and Jason Labarbera, 33, and the average age would decrease even more. It would be fair to compare the Oilers to a junior hockey team since many of these young stars either just past junior eligibility or potentially still eligible. When discussing what to expect from the Oilers prior to their Tuesday night matchup, Montreal Canadians forward, Lars Eller, seemed to agree:
“It can be anything, you know? They play a little bit like a junior team, I think, sometimes,”
“They take a lot risks, a lot of chances. They’re a little all over the place. There’s not a lot of structure always in their game. It can really be anything. You don’t know.”
“I prefer a little more structured game. Then again, I don’t mind high-scoring games, too. Obviously, we’re going to try with their skilled players to limit their chances.”
First year head coach, Dallas Eakins, did not appreciate Eller’s remarks. Posting Eller’s quotes in the Oilers locker-room, a classic motivational tactic, sparked Edmonton to a 4-3 victory over Montreal. The question is, however, was Eller’s comments all that out of line. The Oilers are off to a very slow start that has struggled defensively and an even bigger problem in goal. One could argue the system of the Oilers may resemble that of a junior team. The Oilers should focus less on opposing player’s quotes and more on keeping pucks out of their own net.
Check out Eakins’ reaction below: