'I haven’t really looked back': Oilers in no rush to dissect early exit
EDMONTON -- Exactly a week ago, the Oilers were upset by 12th place Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round. It was an early upset that few saw coming.
Oilers captain Connor McDavid is in no hurry to reflect on what happened.
“Quite honestly, I haven’t really looked back,” said McDavid who suggested there’s plenty of time to think about the series that lasted just four games.
“It’s easy for fans and media to sit back, to want to diagnose and get right down to it,” McDavid told the media via phone. “As a player it’s a little different. You need a break...When it’s so sudden, it’s very easy to be frustrated. You’re not thinking clearly.”
The Oilers were much improved during the regular season. On offence, defence and special-teams. They sat second in the Pacific Division and fifth in the Western conference when the season stopped.
But the team struggled during the re-start. Unable to defend leads against Chicago.
So, the same old questions re-emerge at seasons end:
What’s missing? What needs to change for a team that has technically made the playoffs just once with McDavid in charge?
“Obviously we’re missing something. I’m not sure what that is and I’m sure everyone is going to go back and regroup and try to figure out that exact question,” said McDavid.
Defenceman Darnell Nurse is another member of the leadership group who sounds like a player sick of losing games when they count the most.
“There’s a taste in everyone’s mouth that no one likes...and we’ve had it four out of five years here,” he said.
Ken Holland said Tuesday that he has a much clearer picture of what upgrades are needed following his first full season on the job as Oilers G.M and President of Hockey Operations.
The players wait for his diagnosis.
McDavid maybe be feeling a little more optimistic entering the off-season. As he pointed out, at least there’s stability in the front office and behind the bench following years of major changes.
“You know last season, we didn’t even have a G.M. There’s a lot more stability. In terms of the players, I think we took a step in the right direction.”
Progress, yes, but not enough to be true Stanley Cup contenders.