January 29 2009 03:51PM
The morning after the night before at Rexall Place didn't provide the puke-inducing bag skate many fans of the Edmonton Oilers, not to mention some players, expected from coach Craig MacTavish today.
In that regard, the Oilers -- still shame-faced after the humiliating stain on the franchise that was a 10-2 loss to the 1957 Montreal Canadiens, I mean the 2009 Buffalo Sabres -- were spared the need to reach for the bucket, even if those who pay the freight weren't afforded the same courtesy Tuesday.
What MacTavish didn't do in rehashing the worst home defeat in franchise history with a stench still hanging in the air was sugar-coat the abomination or take issue with fans who jeered his team.
At least the Sabres gave the faithful what they wanted, answering chants of "We want 10, We want 10 " by putting up double digits, capping 60 minutes of buffing their boots on Oiler backsides with a shorty.
Got a problem with that, MacT?
"Our fans, I give them a lot of credit," said MacTavish. "They're very appropriate in their reactions. When they're unhappy, they're good hockey fans, they know the game and they know the expectations.
"They don't fly off the handle prematurely. I thought last night, they weren't bad. They weren't as bad as what it could have been. We deserved it all."
But coach, "We want 10?"
"We would have joined in the chorus, too," MacTavish said of the coaching staff, trying to lighten things a bit. "We were disappointed, too. They were very appropriate in their commentary."
The saying goes that the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Maybe so, but I'm not sure the Oilers deserve that much credit, given how the Chicago Blackhawks waltzed into town not so long ago and drubbed them 9-2. That said, MacTavish faced every question.
"I don't feel compelled to say anything, other than we'll be better, which isn't a stretch," said MacTavish when asked what he'd like to say to fans.
Revenge of the nerds
Tuesday's "debacle of monumental proportions" was like watching a schoolyard bully yank a kid out of algebra class by the pocket protector, drag him down the hall to the boys washroom, shove his head in the toilet and flush until his arm got tired.
At some point, even the nerd decides he's had enough and fights back, even if it's to no avail and the bully throws in a Stanfield's-stretching wedgie for good measure. Where was the fight from the Oilers? And, no, Craig Rivet accidentally getting kicked in the groin by Dustin Penner doesn't count.
What part of getting embarrassed by the Blackhawks Dec. 16 didn't the Oilers understand? I know it wouldn't have changed anything, but, failing salvaging some pride by coming out and winning the third period, doesn't somebody have to get punched in the mouth or two-handed?
At some point, doesn't somebody, anybody, say, "I'm not going to take this. I've had enough?" Apparently not.
"At that point, what's it going to prove?" said Sheldon Souray. "You're already getting embarrassed. We don't need to embarrass ourselves further. We were getting beat fair and square on the score board."
I've got all the respect in the world for Souray, who at least took a hack at a Buffalo forward in front of clay pigeon Jeff Deslauriers in frustration, but I disagree.
Until last night, it was fair to argue Chicago was a one-off, but to sit back and watch the Sabres light it up virtually unmolested?
Sorry, call me Scribe-osaurus-Rex, but somebody needs to get poked in the nose when it's 7-1 or 8-1 or 10-2.
"We were getting humbled and humiliated by that team," Souray said. "I think we would've embarrassed ourselves had we taken the game to a different landscape. I just don't think it would have served a purpose."
- With a three-game winning streak and their tidy 5-1 roll done, the Oilers have to gather themselves and face the Minnesota Wild, who'll arrive Friday eyeball-to-eyeball in Western Conference standings. Both teams are 24-20-3 for 51 points, but Minnesota sits seventh and the Oilers eighth based on goal-differential. Not to worry, the Oilers always light up Nicklas Backstrom like a cheap cigar...
- Expect MacTavish to go back to Dwayne Roloson against the Wild despite his shaky start against Buffalo (three goals on eight shots).
- GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe took in today's marathon practice, which ran about one hour and 45 minutes and included a break to re-flood the ice. Both looked on for most of the session, with each stepping out occasionally to answer the phone -- no doubt lots of GMs out there are calling to help them out.
- The next six games are particularly important to the Oilers playoff hopes. In order, they'll face Minnesota, Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and the Wild again.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.