Before anyone gets too critical of a recent article from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, let’s preface things by noting that Spector said the following:
We’re not blaming a four-game loss to the Chicago Blackhawks solely on the two Oilers that finished one-two in the NHL’s scoring race this season.
That out of the way, Spector does suggest that the Edmonton Oilers won’t ever be a playoff-winning team until those same two players — McDavid and Draisaitl — learn to play like Steve Yzerman did back when the Detroit Red Wings were an elite team, often in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Spector notes while talking about ways the Oilers need to improve this offseason, “You can improve them all and it won’t matter a bit — until Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have their Steve Yzerman moment.”
He adds that Edmonton’s team culture is led by two players who had 207 regular-season points between them and were a combined minus-13. He specifically notes that during a series where the No. 5 seeded Oilers should have beaten the No. 12 seeded Blackhawks, McDavid and Draisaitl combined for 15 playoff points and a plus-2. Meanwhile, Patrick Kane had four points and was also plus-2.
There is admission that the team wasn’t good enough in other areas, but Spector seems to suggest that until the best-two players are “better”, Edmonton will struggle to win games that matter.
Spector Took Heat For His Take
Spector’s take was heavily criticized when he made an appearance on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer and continued to contend that the biggest issue with the Oilers was the lack of leadership. Spec calling McDavid and Draisaitl the engine that runs the car, Stauffer claimed it wasn’t those two that were the issue. Stauffer admitted that both would be the first to say they’d liked to have been better. But, he also said it was a take like Spector’s that got someone like Taylor Hall traded.
Stauffer contended that if the media and fans continue to blame the best players and two stars who don’t have the support they need, the blame is being directed in the wrong place.
Stauffer said that players like Andreas Athanasiou, Zack Kassian and Riley Sheahan brought absolutely nothing during a five-game series. He said the team didn’t get their goaltending they did during the regular season and the defense simply wasn’t good enough.
In short, Stauffer suggest the biggest issue was the Oilers’ support players. Special teams were strong, but the rest needs work.
The Right to Criticize McDavid and Draisaitl
To be clear, no one should be saying McDavid or Draisaitl are immune to criticism. But, if the idea is to suggest those two players are the cause of a series-gone-bad, the argument is that the blame is being misdirected.
As Woodguy succinctly states on Twitter, “If some of their mistakes don’t go in the net they’re not noticed. It’s not written about, no one remembers it. But they went in the net so we hear about how the need to lead and have a “Yzerman moment”
Who do you side with here? Is this about the team’s two biggest stars not quite having a well-rounded enough game? Or, did everyone else let those two down in a major way?
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