November 30 2008 10:12PM
I've always believed that if you can't show up on time, then don't bother coming at all. As stodgy as that sounds, the Edmonton Oilers would be only marginally worse off in the standings if they adopted that policy.
After a career abiding by deadlines -- in the newspaper biz, the greatest story in the world isn't a story at all if you file it at 10:32 p.m. when the deadline for the next editions is 10:30 p.m. -- I'll admit to being more rigid than most people when it comes to these things.
If you're coming over for dinner at 7 p.m., don't arrive at 7:15 p.m. with excuses why you're late. Worse yet, don't ring the doorbell, waltz in and say nothing, like it doesn't matter. If you're inclined to say, "Whatever," well, expect some nose-blow in your cold lasagne.
If you've asked me for a ride and I'm supposed to pick you up at 7 p.m., don't expect me to still be sitting in front of your house at 7:15 -- I'll be circling the block and waiting for you to step onto the street so I can mow you down and, if time permits, back over your lazy ass.
WHEN THEY FEEL LIKE IT
OK. I keed, I keed, but you'd think what separates the Oilers from dolts who are chronically late but never get called on it is that it's obvious there's a price to pay. As they've been prone to do, the Oilers didn't bother to show up for the first period against the injury-riddled and feeble Dallas Stars Sunday afternoon, and it cost them in a 4-3 loss.
How many points can this 10-11-2 juggernaut afford to blow off like that before Craig MacTavish's can't-be-bothered-to-be-on-time outfit figures this one out?
"The half-full, half-empty scenario again," MacTavish said. "You fight back and it's going to be a real momentum-building game for us to come back again and tie the game twice in the third, and then . . . " After overcoming a 2-0 deficit against the St. Louis Blues Saturday to slide out of the Show Me State with a 4-2 win, the Oilers pulled the same stunt at a half-empty American Airlines Center against the last-place Stars and almost pulled off an encore of their 40-Minute Hero Act.
Thank goodness 53-year-old Mike Modano kicked them in the groin with his 1,300th career point, scoring the winner with less than three minutes to play, thus reminding MacT's men that showing up when you please will, at some point, bite you on the backside. In the NHL, it usually does.
With this latest casual little twirl around the ice in the opening 20 minutes, the Oilers have now been outscored 23-11 in first periods. They're 3-8-0 when trailing after 20 minutes. They're 4-9-1 when the other team scores first. So, what part of being ready when the puck drops, of showing up on time, don't the Oilers understand? "The game was there for us. The air was rife with opportunity," MacTavish said of facing a Dallas team that came in 7-11-4.
"We mangled the puck a little bit. Gibby (Tom Gilbert) started the game fumbling around and ends up costing us a goal. Just not being sharp early. The league is too tough to try to feel your way into the game like that."
Yes, it is. So, instead of packing for home with two points, it's more nose-blow in cold lasagne and more skid marks on a perfectly good sports jacket. But maybe that's just me.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.