Patience my ass...

Robin Brownlee
January 02 2009 10:49PM

"Patience my ass. I'm going to kill something."

Anybody boomer-age or even those over 35 might remember that line from a popular T-shirt and poster from the 1970s that featured two hungry looking buzzards sitting in a tree. And, while patience is often a virtue, I'm with the buzzards when it comes to the pitiful excuse for penalty killing that we've seen from the Edmonton Oilers this season -- a PK that sits ranked 28th.

Wanye note: It's true. I found this badge on the internet confirming this story:

But, while we wait for Kevin Lowe or GM Steve Tambellini to address what is obviously a glaring weakness by acquiring a centre who can win face-offs shorthanded -- call me crazy, I think that might help -- I thought I'd get the takes of captain Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff.

Did they agree it's time to make a personnel move? Did they acknowledge the inability to win face-offs is a significant problem? Well, no and sort of. So what's the answer? To hear them tell it, patience. Yes, 36 games into the season, patience would be a good place to start.

Patience? Pardon?

GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME

"There's a lot of new guys, a lot of new personnel," Moreau said. "It's going to take some time to know each other's tendencies, so we have to change our system a little bit to be more predictable." And here's what Horcoff, who kills more penalties than any other Edmonton forward, has to say. "It's a matter of trying to get everyone on the same page and adapted to the same system," Horcoff said with a straight face.

"Even on the back end, too. We've got some different personnel on the back end, too. That takes time. I actually believe familiarity is more important on the PK than it is on the power play."

Now, I've got a lot of respect for Moreau and Horcoff and I've known them since they were rookies, but I have difficulty buying the argument the penalty killing is atrocious -- 42 goals allowed in 159 attempts -- because the Oilers have new players and it's going to take time for them to become a cohesive unit. It just isn’t so.

Among defenceman, Steve Staios gets more shorthanded ice time than any Oiler at 3:50 per game. Sheldon Souray is next at 3:49, followed by Tom Gilbert at 2:33 and Jason Strudwick at 1:47. Among forwards, Horcoff leads with 3:15 per game. Kyle Brodziak is next at 2:51, followed by Moreau at 2:35 and the injured Fernando Pisani at 2:24.

Now, did I fall down the stairs and hit my head, or is this pretty much the same core group of players that did the bulk of the penalty killing last season, when the Oilers finished ranked fifth on the PK?

I GOT MY GUY

Moreau points out that the fans aren't alone in the frustration they feel at watching the Oilers trot out the same inept act every night. It's worse for the players -- even if they get paid to participate in the failure as opposed to paying to witness it.

"After games, everybody is frustrated," he said. "I'm out there getting scored on, so as frustrated as a coach or fan could be, we're five times that. The guys who are out there blocking shots and trying to kill the penalties are the most frustrated. We're putting in the effort every night."

When asked about the possibility of Tambellini making a deal to bolster a group that hasn't done the job, Moreau shrugged it off.

"There's not much we can do about that," he said. "Personnel, that's not up to us. If you're on the penalty killing unit, you try to do what the coaches tell you to do, stay within your system and work hard. That's all you can do."

NOT ROCKET SURGERY

Anybody with half-a-brain can see the Oilers need a centre who can win a face-off and kill penalties to make up for the losses of Jarret Stoll and Marty Reasoner. When Horcoff is the Oilers best overall centre on the dot at 51.8 per cent but is just 61-89 shorthanded, it's tough to argue.

"Maybe now this year, with them (face-offs) being in the zone so much," Horcoff said when asked if poor performance on the dot is the single biggest factor that has the penalty killing struggling so mightily.

"Face-offs aren't just one guy's stat. I think people who know the game and watch the game realize the help is and how important those 50-50 battles are . . . especially on the PK."

"That's one part of the issue," Moreau said. "There's face-offs. There's predictability. There's goaltending. Those are the things that kill penalties. There's so many things that go into it. I don't think you can simply say we need a face-off guy."

Patience my ass . . .

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 rindog
January 03 2009, 03:57PM
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@ Milli:

47-27-8 and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first year as captain.

Struggling a bit with a 19-16-4 record this year after losing Hossa, Gonchar, Whitney as well as missing Fleury for an extended stretch.

I wouldn't be complaing about that!

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#52 R-DAWG
January 03 2009, 04:11PM
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@ rindog: rindog wrote:

I wouldn’t be complaing about that!

Also tired to puch a hole in some guy off the faceoff this aft also!

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#53 R-DAWG
January 03 2009, 04:17PM
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@ R-DAWG: Apperently my english to can't spell worth crap and make a coherent key is stuck on. "also tried to punch a hole in some guy off the face-off this afternoon...speaking of Crosby

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#54 CurtisS
January 03 2009, 04:39PM
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This should solve our PK faceoff %

Mact is truley a genious.

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/hockey/edmonton-oilers/Moreau+honing+game/1138856/story.html

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#55 Chris
January 03 2009, 05:49PM
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Moreau is 3 of 14 in the dot. Nice. Pretty respectable for an Oiler.

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#56 BUCK75
January 03 2009, 06:51PM
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@ Hoss81:

I agree with your point, but having lots of puck moving defencemen & nobody to trade with is a problem. It is a genius trade, what will the trade turn into after this? Stoll & Green(Visnovsky) +++ for a guy like Spezza would look awesome...

What good is it to be in a position of strength in a position if you cannot compliment the rest of the team with players you need?

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#57 MattL
January 04 2009, 10:11PM
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Is it just me, or does it seem like rindog has a man-crush on Gregor.

Rindog, you sound like Daily Doug. Stop making everyone's day worse you whiny infant.

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#58 rindog
January 04 2009, 11:15PM
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@ MattL:

I am wondering who takes the tame to actually post something like you just did?

Are you a hockey fan interested in debating hockey issues or ar you a junior high kid looking for a rumble out by the bike racks???

Either way, it might be in your best interest to back-up any statements you might care to make...

I shouldn't waste my time trying to defend myself - but PLEASE explain your comments?

Either that, our get someone that knows how to read and have them read (to you) my posts in this blog.

It makes things easier if you can actually comprehend the words that are on the screen....

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#59 MattL
January 05 2009, 10:56AM
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Yeah, that was pretty immature. What I meant was, me thinkey you not talky nicey. No, what I meant was, comments like "I hate to bring this up again Gregs, but you are looking at results again." are condescending and annoying. You share a scapegoat mentality that's prevalent right now. The Oil have a roster of young and/or mediocre players, with strangely bad chemistry and a captain that's trying way too hard, but it's ALL the coach's fault, right?

I don't remember too many people questioning the choice of Moreau for captain when it was made. He was Mr. Iron Man until he missed most of two seasons (people tend to forget that these days) and he put in the best effort night in and night out. Staios was probably choice 1B, but he's closer to the end of his career.

As for the off-ice dressing room stuff, unless you're a member of the team, how do you know who the best leader is? How do you know what the real team dynamic is like? I know I don't. It doesn't go by points performance though, I know that. Modano, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Smyth when he was here wasn't captain, in fact Jason Smith was such a good leader as a 3/4 dman that he became captain in Philly when he went there.

Mainly though, I just didn't like your "I know better than actual reporters with close ties to the team" attitude. And you're too negative. But next time I'll grow up a little. Maybe.

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