1) What do you think are this Oilers team's biggest strengths? Weaknesses?
Sadly for us, the Oilers strengths aren’t exactly something that we’ve had a lot of time to think on. Objectively, I know that the Oilers cycle the puck well – endless passing on the power play has taught me that – but maintaining possession can still be a struggle for the Oilers. Our first line and defensemen Sekera and Nurse looked really strong against the Maple Leafs. That leads to another weakness for the Oilers though: they don’t have the consistent depth they need to really be a force in the NHL.
Another thing we’re really good at is losing high quality players to injuries, which means that the Oilers of this moment are a sort of hodgepodge of team. One thing that has been noted by fans, and is a definite weakness, is that parts of this team just don’t seem to click. The Oilers weaknesses are multitude. The among the most glaring of these is a lack of consistency in our own end. We have goaltenders that can make an amazing save one minute and let in a ridiculously soft goal the next. The defense is young, half the time doesn’t look like it has a clue what it’s supposed to be doing, and like the goaltending can’t find any level of consistency in play.
2) The Oilers have been rebuilding for a while now. Cynics would say they're chronically rebuilding, but do you like what you see? Do you see any end in sight?
The Oilers have been rebuilding for as long as I’ve been passionately involved in supporting them. To be honest, I’m not sure I’d know who they were if they weren’t rebuilding. In the spirit of honesty, I can’t say that I like what I see. This extended rebuild has netted us a high of 23rd place in the league (the lockout shortened season) and yet more first overall draft picks.
The Oilers still sit in 30th in the league, and nothing about the Oilers recent play has provided hope for that changing in the near future. There are players I like what I see from, but from the organization itself I’ve sort of found myself in a place where I want evidence of any positive change before I’m willing to believe. Maybe that makes me one of the cynics.
3) What is the perception in Edmonton of the job Peter Chiarelli has done so far? Good, bad, neutral, too soon to tell?
In general, Edmonton fans really like Peter Chiarelli. While not all of his decisions have worked out quite the way we would have liked, overall people are really happy with him. A change from Lowe was what people wanted and they’ve really embraced Chiarelli as a result.
Personally, I think we need some more time to see how some of Chiarelli’s decisions actually work out and if he can change the general downward direction of this team. The general mood might be best described as cautiously optimistic.
4) What's the deal with Andrew Ference? He was pretty popular in Boston and was your captain for a bit, but he now seems to be relegated to the press box. What happened?
Ahh, Andrew Ference. Unfortunately, Ference’s foot speed isn’t what the Oilers need defensively. He understands what needs to be done but in some cases just isn’t fast enough to actually execute. That’s the major thing that’s kept him in the press box. The Oilers just have younger defensemen; Ference’s experience and leadership abilities also didn’t translate into results for the Oilers on ice and the defensive situation being what is, the Oilers can hardly afford to ice anything less than their best.
Ference is still a huge part of the Oilers' community outreach efforts, and to be honest, probably the best community ambassador they have, but his on ice abilities aren’t what they once were.