It's never a good sign when the guy whose exact job it is to make his team "get" why they keep losing doesn't himself seem to get, you know, why his team keeps losing. I mean, sure, I understand that part of the reason you go into interviews and throw up your hands with statements like these is to shame your club into getting its shit together. But I don't know — this season, it feels like there's been more behind Craig MacTavish's post-game chidings than a predilection for tough love and motivational posturing; there's an undeniable tinge of bewilderment, a palpable sense of exasperation. These are the musings of a man who just doesn't get why his club doesn't win. As a fan who, already has trouble working up the enthusiasm to hunch in front of his computer and squint at a choppy video stream of the Oilers getting their asses handed to them by a theoretically inferior Maple Leafs club, this is a concern for me.
“It’s just the mental mistakes and the stubbornness, I don’t get it.”— Coach Craig MacTavish, on recurring mistakes that have haunted the team all season.
Had some time on my hands on this cold and dreary afternoon in Toronto, so I went and took a look at the kind of stuff MacT is saying after each Oilers loss. (I'm missing a game or two here where I couldn't readily find a post-game MacT quote. Feel free to fill in the blanks.) No doubt about it, the Silver Fox is an thoughtful, eloquent man, probably the best coach interview in the game, and there are some fine observances made. But man, you know that point when you're just kind of getting sick of your job and all the things that the little adversities that you used to work really hard at overcoming start to seem like frustratingly insurmountable annoyances? You think you're fooling everyone into thinking that you still care, but that underlying negativity permeates everything you say about your work?
I can't help but think this is the point that MacT has reached.
Oct. 23: 3-0 loss to Chicago
“In the first period we weren’t ready to play at the start again,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We’ve gotten away with it in at least two of the first four games. We knew it wasn’t going to be long before it bit us in the rear end and it took a good chunk out of us.”Oct. 26: 6-3 loss to Vancouver
“Rolie was our best player,” MacTavish said. “It’s unfortunate it had to be on a night like this when our team didn’t play very well.”
“Our penalty killing was bad. It was brutal,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “When they’re 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on their special teams, you can’t overcome that. You’ve got to be able to kill the penalties.”Oct. 28: 1-0 OT loss to Boston
“I was expecting a lot more and I’ve seen enough not to expect it now,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “Roli kept us in it and we were going to put some window dressing on it if we were able to win the game in overtime or a shootout. But it would have just masked what has been plaguing us for the last number of games, almost since the inception of the season.Oct. 31: 3-1 loss to Nashville
“We haven’t, as a team, been able to dominate anybody. It’s time for us to realize that,” he said. “It was hidden in the record but that is over.”
“[Nashville goaltender Pekka] Rinne played well, but I have seen it enough to know that we have to be more productive,” MacTavish said. “A constant for us has been missed shots. We are not producing offensively. It’s that simple.”Nov. 5: 5-4 L to Columbus
“It’s a painful, painful lesson,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “There’s a right way to play this game and a wrong way to play it and we got on the wrong side of it early and it looked like we were going to get away with it. But we didn’t.”Nov. 14: 5-2 L to Toronto
“The thing that I said at the end of the second period was, ‘Let’s just go out there and have a good third period and not be sitting on a bunch of regret,”’ he said. “And we’re sitting on a mountain of regret right now.”
“I give credit because they are a hard-working group that is structured and we lack that structure in our game right now,” MacTavish said. “And that’s why we got pounded.”The Oilers line up against the Avalanche for second time this season tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Will this be one of those games where the MacT's Oilers "get it"? Or will we be left once again sitting on a mountain of regret?