GDB 38: Guaranteed win night

Robin Brownlee
January 05 2009 01:25PM

In the New York Islanders, the Edmonton Oilers will not only be facing a team at Rexall Place tonight that's dead-last in the NHL, but an outfit that's lost 12 straight games on the road. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, as fans have come to, ahem, understand after watching the Oilers toss out the welcome mat for road-shy homebodies like the Florida Panthers and the Ottawa Senators, the answer is "plenty."

While the Islanders are so lousy on the road with those 12 straight losses and a record of 5-15-2 they need a note from their moms before leaving Long Island, the same was true of the Panthers, who beat the Oilers 2-0 here back on Dec. 11.

Likewise the feeble Senators, who straggled into town Dec. 30 with 12 straight losses on the road and promptly put an end to the Oilers three-game winning streak in a 3-2 decision.

Is it any wonder, then, reporters were quick to cut to the chase with coach Craig MacTavish after the morning skate today? The Oilers wouldn't be, well, stupid enough to underestimate the 12-24-4 Islanders, would they?

Well, would they?

Talk is cheap

"Predictable question," smiled MacTavish when Mark Connolly of the CBC asked the obvious question this morning. "We all know we've been down this path before.

"The margin of error, the line between winning and losing is so fine that you just have to be prepared every night. You've got to give your best effort every night. You look at their record. They've lost some games, but they're all close games."

As deep as the Oilers have been in Western Conference standings for most of their 37 games, it's not like they've faced a lot of teams below them in the NHL pecking order.

But the Panthers and Senators were two of them -- and not just teams lower in the standings, but teams there's absolutely no reason NOT to beat for fun. The injury riddled Islanders, even with former Oilers Doug Weight, Bill Guerin and Mike Comrie looking to shove it high and tight to their old team, are one of those clubs.

So, after pissing away four points they might well need on the way to winning the Northwest Division title, you'd think MacTavish's men would be blowing snot bubbles and ready to rumble tonight, no?

"We've got another big challenge here tonight and another team we can't take lightly just because they're not up there in the standings," said Sheldon Souray.

"We're not going to overlook this game, for sure. It's going to be another challenge for us."

History lesson

If the Oilers have a fatal flaw -- one that's bitten them more than once in the last decade during their annual quest for sixth, seventh or eighth place in the conference -- it's that they've failed to bank points that have to be automatic. These are two of them.

Last season, the Oilers went 14-5-1 in their final 20 games and still missed the post-season by three points. I can think of at least six points they had no business not getting. Do the math.

Every team, even the good ones, phone it in once in awhile and give away points. The Detroit Red Wings can get away with it once in awhile. The Oilers? Not so much. They don't have that margin for error -- especially with Ales Hemsky out with a concussion and Shawn Horcoff questionable with back spasms.

"We need to come out with a lot of focus and a lot of energy," said Sam Gagner. "Hopefully, if we can do that, we can come out with the two points."

What could possibly go wrong?

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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#151 deep oil
January 05 2009, 09:38PM
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@ baggedmilk: you mean blisters and broke

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#152 Hockey Gods
January 05 2009, 09:41PM
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@ deep oil: Oh yeah you're the fool who thinks Katz is broke... explain to me your theory again?

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#153 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 09:42PM
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@ deep oil:

I have that second skin stuff for a reason.

Thank God I reproduce asexually.

GOALLLLLLLL

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#154 deep oil
January 05 2009, 09:55PM
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@ Hockey Gods: katz is a spokesperson for mckesson - rexall is just cash flow for generic pharm companies from the east coast - katz borrowed $100 million before the crash this summer / fall to buy EIG for under $160mm not $200mm as reported - bottom line as long as the oil are sold out or mckesson can back katz - no big deal - but finding $100mm for a new building to use it for northlands free lottery money will be one rabbit trick that will be interesting - fact katz had ONE store in the mid eighties - barry katz is the one with the relationships (jewish favors) while DK is a lawyer that failed and was handed a turn key operation that relies on mergers and cash flow via mckesson - sure he has cash flow but not CASH - not his - remember his company is called Rexall sports and is backed by mckesson which is a wholesaler of generics and other drugs supplies - this is just a rexall extension that has gone south by $50mm - add some dollars back to katz as the dollar is soft today - too many nhl owners have either gone to jail or went bankrupt - so the team is held in trust by DK with mckesson footing the bill - having a loan to the max raises questions if this is just credit card ego and if a cash call occurs - mckesson to the rescue - a new building means a PERSONAL SEAT LICENSE FOR MOST LOWER BOWL SEATS - this will generate $300 - $500 mm - higher amount if the blues are included.... PSL

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#155 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 10:01PM
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That was way too close.

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#156 Smokin' Ray
January 05 2009, 10:02PM
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Your lucky Brownlee. Lucky.

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#157 Hockey Gods
January 05 2009, 10:03PM
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Sorry I asked, I think I was just spread some nazi propaganda.

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#158 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 10:04PM
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Although to be fair to RB his article reaked of sarcasm. But yes, I agree Smokin Ray.

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#159 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 10:05PM
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@ Hockey Gods:

I was going to ask you if you were sorry for bringing it up.

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#160 Hockey Gods
January 05 2009, 10:09PM
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Well bring on Honcouver, hopefully Hemmer is feeling better by then and Quinn is behind the bench. I know, I know Mact won't be moved, but it's fun to dream.

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#161 Hockey Gods
January 05 2009, 10:11PM
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Done... best news I've heard.

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#162 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 10:13PM
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@ Hockey Gods:

Haha you ignorant bastard. You better be going to the Hudson's thing.

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#163 RobinB
January 05 2009, 10:14PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

Although to be fair to RB his article reaked of sarcasm. But yes, I agree Smokin Ray.

You picked up on that, eh?

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#164 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 10:15PM
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RobinB wrote:

You picked up on that, eh?

Someone had to say it. Some people take you to literally.

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#165 Hockey Gods
January 05 2009, 10:17PM
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I like stirring people up... I might head to that Hudsons thing, a man has to find somewhere to chase the fluff.

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#166 baggedmilk
January 05 2009, 10:21PM
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Remember when Garon was the starter?

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#167 Hockey Gods
January 05 2009, 10:24PM
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baggedmilk wrote:

Remember when Garon was the starter?

Yeah he is dreamy... I mean yeah he was a good starter. I can't wait until Jason Strudwick is our starter next season.

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#168 Jason Gregor
January 05 2009, 11:26PM
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Hockey Gods wrote:

I thought they were all blonde, I guess someone has to load the hockey bags on the bus.

Not even remotely funny...get a life.

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#169 Racism
January 06 2009, 01:03AM
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Hey guys thanks for bringing me out to play tonight, not often I get to come out for hockey games, well not since 1974 anyway.

Glad to know my stereotypes and and wildly inappropriate comments still have a home with some of you hockey fans.

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#170 Sense of humour
January 06 2009, 11:58AM
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Oh I'm sorry racism... I wasn't paying attention. My bad.

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