The Windy City: not blown away

Robin Brownlee
October 13 2009 05:46PM

Nice job, kid. Take a seat.

Jeff Deslauriers came up with exactly the kind of performance the Edmonton Oilers needed from him with 40 saves in a 6-1 waltz over the Nashville Predators in Music City Monday, but he'll be back on the end of the bench cheerleading for Nikolai Khabibulin when the puck drops against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday. That's exactly how it should be.

As good as Deslauriers had to be as the Oilers played free and easy in front of him after building a 4-0 lead in Nashville, there's no sensible argument to be made, contrary to what some fans might think, for him getting the start against the Blackhawks.

According to radio play-by-play man Rod Phillips, coach Pat Quinn reiterated that sentiment today after he put the Oilers through their paces in practice at the United Center. Khabibulin's the No. 1 guy, and he'll get the start against his former teammates.

That much we know.

Second banana

After writing about how mediocre Khabibulin looked in pre-season and his first couple of regular season appearances, it's only fair to point out what's been obvious to anybody with two eyes and half-a-brain -- he's been better each time out. Likewise, the 3-1-1 Oilers, despite some unlucky bounces here and there and a little too much loose play in Nashville.

Part of keeping Khabibulin on top of his game, and he's not there yet, will be having the luxury of spelling him off with Deslauriers rather than riding him too hard, as was the case when Dwayne Roloson made 1,038 consecutive starts last season. It proved a recipe for fatigue with Roloson and rust for Deslauriers and was a situation that did neither one of them any good.

Quinn is slotting Khabibulin for 55-60 games this season, which seems a reasonable number for a 36-year-old goaltender.

So, while Deslauriers likely hasn't bought himself any more starts with his sharp showing in Nashville, he's earned Quinn's confidence and will no doubt be slotted in again after four of five more starts by Khabibulin. The reward for a job well done is being kept in the rotation, not getting gravy starts.

This and that

-- Quinn skated the same lines today as he did against the Predators, so, barring a last-minute shuffle, it'll be status quo against the Blackhawks, assuming the old coach doesn’t move Zack Stortini to the first line in place of Ales Hemsky. Well, no.

Jacques-Horcoff-Hemsky

Stone-Gagner-O'Sullivan

Penner-Brule-Comrie

Moreau-Cogliano-Stortini

-- Steve Staios skated again today, but he's still feeling the effects of the concussion that kept him out of the line-up against Nashville. He's travelling with the team but is listed as unlikely to play tomorrow night. Expect to see Taylor Chorney again.

-- Sheldon Souray isn't with the team and there's no firm word as to when he'll be ready to play.

Say what?

-- This Marc Pouliot item from somebody named Derek Zona at The Copper And Blue: "Well, Pouliot has gone from full-blown "pubis thing" to a sports hernia, according to Pat Quinn.

"It is convenient in that this helps the Oilers manage their contract situation and may get them relief on LTIR. It's yet another injury setback for Pouliot and likely spells the end of his time with Edmonton. I'm betting that he ends up in Columbus next season."

Really? Is that right? Is that so? Certainly, Pouliot's injury and upcoming surgery buys the Oilers some time, at least until Fernando Pisani's bad back comes around, but I'm not hearing from anybody in the know that this spells the end of his time with the Oilers.

When somebody's got to go, and that time is coming, Robert Nilsson or Steve MacIntyre will draw the short straw before Pouliot does.

-- Is it just me or are we seeing captain Ethan Moreau fade away as a force on this team right before our eyes? Some people have made a case Moreau hasn't been a real factor for a long time. I'm having a difficult time coming up with a compelling argument to the contrary.

-- At the same time, who is that fast, big guy wearing No. 27? Yes, it's early, but more of the same and Kevin Lowe might yet escape the offer sheet cold sweats he's endured the past two seasons.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and 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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#1 Jonathan Willis
October 13 2009, 06:05PM
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Robin Brownlee said...

When somebody's got to go, and that time is coming, Robert Nilsson or Steve MacIntyre will draw the short straw before Pouliot does.

That's good news, no matter what the consensus opinion here is.

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#2 Dennis
October 13 2009, 06:09PM
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It's nice to see folks willing to entertain the idea that 18's time with the Oilers may be coming to an end.

Quinn already called him out for the kind of play that was normally glossed over by MacT so, right off the bat, we could see that Moreau had to earn his stripes with the new boss.

Combine that with the factor that the once relied-upon PKer is trailing the likes of 10-27-19-32 in terms of current shorthanded responsibility and we can see that he's longer on the front page of the good books.

I'm sorta conflicted on how to feel about this development, to be honest. I remember his first game as an Oiler - a HNIC tilt vs the Canucks - and if you didn't love the old Moreau-Marchant-Grier line, then I don't want to know you. Plus, the guy seems like he's a good teammate off-the-ice and seems like a stalwart in the community. Plus, I remember the day Salo was dealt and he was basically the only guy who called it down the middle as just how much Tommy was hurting the club.

But, on the other side of things, he can't back up what his salary promises and it gets tiring seeing him taking the same O-zone penalties and never being accountable for it.

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#3 RossCreekNation
October 13 2009, 06:11PM
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@Jonathan Willis

For what its worth (I'm guessing somewhere between nil & zilch), IMO Pouliot > Nilsson (for THIS team, in THIS situation) Sorry David S... you are wrong.

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#4 Ambassador humantorch
October 13 2009, 06:16PM
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"Yes, it's early, but more of the same and Kevin Lowe might yet escape the offer sheet cold sweats he's endured the past two seasons."

After the way Kevin Lowe single-handedly f**ked this team over every single day since the end of the 2005-2006 season, I don't really care what he endures. Why he even still has a job with this organization is beyond me.

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#5 Woogie
October 13 2009, 06:24PM
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Now that's a wicked picture of Double D.

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#6 IvyEyezPK
October 13 2009, 06:25PM
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Fir-- nah

I'm not one to bash our players - I know, and Oilers fan that doesn't criticize all the time - but I don't see anything in Moreau to warrant a spot on this roster. Yes, maybe he adds veteran leadership in the room, but to what extent?

As for Penner-- how good has he been on the PK? Offense aside, he's hustling and making smart plays.

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#7 Victoria
October 13 2009, 06:33PM
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Eh, I'd be surprised if we got a win in Chicago anyway.

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#8 Racki
October 13 2009, 07:02PM
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What's with the hate-on for Copper & Blue? That was a little random, albeit true.

Anyways, "He's travelling with the team but is listed as unlikely to play tonight" should read "tomorrow night", unless they've got some night time skate planned.

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#9 Racki
October 13 2009, 07:08PM
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Oh, and I also have to say I agree on Moreau. Used to be a big fave of mine, but he's been nearly non-existant this year so far. Same can be said about Hemsky though... but Hemsky gets a free pass because he's got more skill in his pinky than most of the players on the team.

Stortini has taken over what Moreau used to bring. I wonder if the eye injury is an excuse. That thing is still as wide as the moon. Think it causes him any problems out there? Then again, Dany Heatley seems to have no problems with his perma-dialated eye. I guess either way, he's starting to prove a little less needed.

I wouldn't be too upset to see him replaced by Pisani when he is back, or even another offensive forward. Hell, maybe even Nilsson. Stortini is all the bruiser we need on that line.

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#10 Robin Brownlee
October 13 2009, 07:11PM
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Racki wrote:

What's with the hate-on for Copper & Blue? That was a little random, albeit true.

Anyways, "He's travelling with the team but is listed as unlikely to play tonight" should read "tomorrow night", unless they've got some night time skate planned.

Hate on? How is that? The opinion offered -- and a strong one, at that, in suggesting his career is likely over as an Oiler -- isn't what I hear from people with the team. Got a problem with that?

Tomorrow night. Duly noted.

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#11 Chaz
October 13 2009, 07:21PM
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Great article Robin. JDD looked great and I'm sure all the guys in front of him will be more confident playing in front of him for his next start.

What is a club to do in the case of a fading player like #18, when he's also the Captain? Stripping him of the 'C' seems like a drastic move, but I also don't like the thought of letting him keep it if he's not a force on the team. Do you think his character and effort are enough to justify the C for the rest of the year? Maybe it's time for the Oilers to pull a Dallas (Modano --> Morrow)?

One last point I feel the need to make; I've heard some criticism of Visnovsky on the Nation as of late, and I must admit he's been tentative, especially in traffic near the boards. Having been to a couple of games though, I honestly think he's one of the best skaters in the league, and once he gains some confidence with his shoulder I expect him to be one of if not the best player on this team. Am I out to lunch here Robin / Nation?

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#12 MacT
October 13 2009, 07:30PM
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Robin Brownlee

Who Pooh-Alot in your cornflakes this morning?

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#13 Word
October 13 2009, 07:39PM
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Wait-a-minute... Questioning Moreau's efficacy right before a game against Chicago, who, if memory serves me, drafted Moreau and have typically elicited good games from him in the past?

I think I read a comment about this type of article in Wanye's last GDB!

"HA! Silly Wanye, everybody knows these types of columns are written with the exrpess intent of triggering a faceplant by the subject of same. An experienced journalist writes this kind of column when meaty material is thin or optimism is too high. Penning it requires only a combination of chicken blood, an old Lisa Bonet poster, a wicked hangover and a functioning laptop -- all of which a seasoned scribe such as Barnes has at the ready. Tap this baby off while throwing in a couple of hoogida-boogidas, and it's off the tracks, baby. "Is Quinn the right man for the job?" column to come."

Now subsitute "faceplant" with "redemption" and "Quinn" with "Moreau"... and VOILA!

This whole post (ok fine, second-last bullet point)was written to de-goat Moreau and make him back into a lazy-eyed hero!

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#14 Chaz
October 13 2009, 07:50PM
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Word wrote:

Wait-a-minute... Questioning Moreau's efficacy right before a game against Chicago, who, if memory serves me, drafted Moreau and have typically elicited good games from him in the past?

I think I read a comment about this type of article in Wanye's last GDB!

"HA! Silly Wanye, everybody knows these types of columns are written with the exrpess intent of triggering a faceplant by the subject of same. An experienced journalist writes this kind of column when meaty material is thin or optimism is too high. Penning it requires only a combination of chicken blood, an old Lisa Bonet poster, a wicked hangover and a functioning laptop -- all of which a seasoned scribe such as Barnes has at the ready. Tap this baby off while throwing in a couple of hoogida-boogidas, and it's off the tracks, baby. "Is Quinn the right man for the job?" column to come."

Now subsitute "faceplant" with "redemption" and "Quinn" with "Moreau"... and VOILA!

This whole post (ok fine, second-last bullet point)was written to de-goat Moreau and make him back into a lazy-eyed hero!

Agreed Word. I hope our Captain rebounds. But what if he doesn't? If he remains a non-factor or a detriment (not saying he has been) do you take away the C? It's a tough call.

* Realizes that maybe he doesn't have all the answers and that maybe he couldn't run the team better than the current brass...Wha..?

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#15 Dennis
October 13 2009, 07:53PM
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BTW, I didn't touch the "Lowe with possible redemption" idea because right now there doesn't seem to be much point in arguing it.

I mean, the Oilers have missed the playoffs three seasons in a row so what more evidence does the anti-Lowe side need, really?

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#16 Robin Brownlee
October 13 2009, 08:07PM
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Can't see Ethan being stripped of the C and I don't think it's necessary. Leaders lead, regardless of having an extra letter on their jersey. I've liked Visnovsky's game for the most part, although it's understandable if he's tentative at times with his shoulder not 100 per cent.

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#17 Skidplate
October 13 2009, 08:10PM
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It is amazing seeing the difference in Penner. I catch myself LOL at times during the game when he breaks in down the wing. Also, who would of thunk Penner on the PK. I don't know, but pretty sure he didn't play there last year.

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#18 Skidplate
October 13 2009, 08:12PM
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I was thinking during the game that if JDD got the shutout, it would be hard not to play him in the next game, but I think you are right Robin, even if he did, he would find himself back on the bench. No need for any goalie controvesy this year. We have a #1 in Khabby "Gilmour" and hopefully a solid backup in JDD "my Goat"

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#19 Robin Brownlee
October 13 2009, 08:12PM
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@Word

Saw right through it, didn't you?

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#20 roughneck
October 13 2009, 08:15PM
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Skidplate wrote:

It is amazing seeing the difference in Penner. I catch myself LOL at times during the game when he breaks in down the wing. Also, who would of thunk Penner on the PK. I don't know, but pretty sure he didn't play there last year.

MacT used him on the PK to get his feet moving

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#21 Ninjafoot
October 13 2009, 08:37PM
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I am stoked to see how Penner has picked it up this year. He looks like a brand new man.

Now if we could find the magic bullet that makes him play with that "mean" edge that has him rag-dolling opponents and throwing his weight around, I would happily take back every time I ever referenced him as being lazy.

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#22 6 ring circus
October 13 2009, 08:46PM
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I for one am extremely happy for Dustin Penner,Mac T must of really messed with his head or he is out to prove everybody wrong.

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#23 Word
October 13 2009, 09:03PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Saw right through it, didn't you?

No, but I actually got the joke last time when you were referencing Wanye's article and wanted to throw it back. (I really hope it was a joke last time or now I look the fool... again.)

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#24 BarryS
October 13 2009, 09:19PM
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I say, I say! Did you hear the one about the Flambe's being extinguished for the third game in a row. I can almost hear the fire the coach, the GM, the Scouts fone calls from way up here. Seems to me I remember a more northerly team last year won 4 straight then lost a bunch in a row. Could we have seen this play before only with different colours ....

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#25 Eric Johnson
October 13 2009, 09:27PM
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I think Pouliot is going to have to work his ass off to land a spot on the roster and not the press box.

MacIntyre would be the first casualty, maybe we get a late pick to send Nilsson to Nashville or NYI.

But Pouliot heck even Pisani have to come up big to land on the roster. OR people just have to get hurt which is pretty much a given, so Pouliot will be fine with another Vanilla year in the bigs floating in the offensive zone, winning a few draws, turning away from checks and being rather unspectacular for all to see.

~but man his EV60 looks great and he scores at the same rate as Gagner when adjusted for ice time~

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#26 freeze
October 13 2009, 10:10PM
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seriously, are there people suggesting that JDD should start in Chicago?! Those Oilers fans are f*cking drunk and/or high. Probably the same morons who comment on the stories at the EdJournal. So many ignorant, hateful, stupid comments...

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#27 Robin Brownlee
October 13 2009, 10:15PM
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Word wrote:

No, but I actually got the joke last time when you were referencing Wanye's article and wanted to throw it back. (I really hope it was a joke last time or now I look the fool... again.)

Joke? I was dead serious . . .

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#28 Eric Johnson
October 13 2009, 10:22PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Mr. Brownlee. Given Moreau's declining role on the team, and the somewhat general view that Staios's most effective days are behind him. Does this pave the way for a new leadership to emerge on and off the ice?

Do they become expendable?

And who do you see as the young players that display leadership qualities?

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#29 GSC
October 13 2009, 10:55PM
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Pouliot brings a helluva lot more to the table than Nilsson, no question about it.

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#30 Antony Ta
October 13 2009, 11:09PM
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For what Nilsson and Pouliot bring to the team as individuals (and as movable parts on a roster in flux), I think it always makes more sense to go with the cheaper option.

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#31 Robin Brownlee
October 13 2009, 11:25PM
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Eric Johnson wrote:

Mr. Brownlee. Given Moreau's declining role on the team, and the somewhat general view that Staios's most effective days are behind him. Does this pave the way for a new leadership to emerge on and off the ice?

Do they become expendable?

And who do you see as the young players that display leadership qualities?

I think new leadership is already emerging. The most obvious case of that is Souray, but I also see it happening, at least in the room, to varying degrees with Strudwick, Stortini and even Penner. As for the very young players, I don't have a read on that yet.

I think Moreau is expendable, given decent depth up front, but his contract is a problem. As for Staios, I'd hesitate to move him right now because of the mix of offensive-minded guys who aren't physical -- Gilbert, Visnovsky and Grebeshkov. Take away Staios and it's a soft group outside Souray, Strudwick and Smid. If Peckham was ready to go as I thought he would be before his injury, I'd feel better about moving Staios.

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#32 Jason Gregor
October 14 2009, 12:57AM
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GSC wrote:

Pouliot brings a helluva lot more to the table than Nilsson, no question about it.

If they are sitting at the kids table at Xmas he might.

Neither brings anything. The love affair with Pouliot is mind blowing..

14 goals and 39 points in 141 career games. And I bet he has the same amount of hits as points. He brings nothing. Hasn't shown anything in six years...

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#33 brucechris
October 14 2009, 02:21AM
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Moreau doesn't deserve to be on this team, let alone be the Captain. On a night where Stortini scored TWICE, Moreau was pointless... in more ways than one. He was +2 on the night, showing the uselessness of that stat, and was invisible save the penalty he took, to allow the Preds power play to toss even more pucks at a thankfully amazing Deslauriers.

Now, I can only say the next comment as a total outsider, particularly of the dressing room(s), but...

Look at a list of Captains in the league. Some of them are a stretch, but Moreau is the biggest. A leader doesn't fade away like him, make the boneheaded moves that sometimes resulted in unneeded penalties like him... there's so much left to be desired with our Captain.

There are THREE teams with vacant captain spots right now. I figured, although it was a long shot, that this being a true rebuild year for the Oil would see them do the same... well I'm done even with that sentiment. No need to wait and see who presents himself as the true leader of the team, it has already happened.

The man who deserves the C is out with a concussion at present... and it ain't Staios.

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#34 Petr's Jofa
October 14 2009, 04:50AM
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I don't get to hear what is said on the bench during games, and I don't get to hang out in the locker room between periods, and since I'm in St John's I don't get to see the guys during their free time. Because of those three factors, I have no idea what type of leader Moreau is and how if the guys look up to him or not. That is why I won't comment on if he deserves to wear the C.

Having said that, Moreau's play needs to improve, whether he wears the C or not.

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#35 Petr's Jofa
October 14 2009, 04:58AM
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I believe what Moreau for success needs is to be involved in some sort of stupid line names acronym:

MGM line = Success RPM line = Success

So what can you make from Cogliano, Moreau, & Stortini? The 'MSc' line doesn't sound that scary unless they are looking to hang out in the Power Plant and grade lab assignments.

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#36 alec 47
October 14 2009, 07:06AM
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You have it all wrong mr brownlee, you should go back to the world of writing terrible articles for the sun. Moreau is the leader of this team, and will not be moved I can see a Pisani get moved first as he can easily be replaced by Stone. The only problem I have with Moreau is that he is jacked as can be (see that picture of him, souray and cogs) but the guy cannot stay on his feet in a fight if his life depended on it. If he can manage that, I think he is a good leader and an effective player.

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#37 Lofty
October 14 2009, 07:08AM
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Souray should wear the C. He has the respect of everyone in the room.

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#38 Robin Brownlee
October 14 2009, 07:23AM
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alec 47 wrote:

You have it all wrong mr brownlee, you should go back to the world of writing terrible articles for the sun. Moreau is the leader of this team, and will not be moved I can see a Pisani get moved first as he can easily be replaced by Stone. The only problem I have with Moreau is that he is jacked as can be (see that picture of him, souray and cogs) but the guy cannot stay on his feet in a fight if his life depended on it. If he can manage that, I think he is a good leader and an effective player.

I like writing terrible articles here. I didn't say Moreau would be traded, I said he's expendable. And Ethan is a damn good man, as I've said before, but time passes, roles change and younger players move in.

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#39 Bucknuck
October 14 2009, 08:15AM
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Petr's Jofa wrote:

I believe what Moreau for success needs is to be involved in some sort of stupid line names acronym:

MGM line = Success RPM line = Success

So what can you make from Cogliano, Moreau, & Stortini? The 'MSc' line doesn't sound that scary unless they are looking to hang out in the Power Plant and grade lab assignments.

The A to Z line (Andrew to Zach)!

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#40 TrueFanNotaFairweatherFan
October 14 2009, 08:33AM
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VIVA LA PENNER!!

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#41 Colin
October 14 2009, 08:35AM
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@Petr's Jofa

That's why we need Pouliot or Pisani,not for their play, but to make better acronyms.

I mean the PMS line would be classic.

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#42 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 14 2009, 08:40AM
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Never did like Moreau, but I wouldn't move him yet. I'd like to see what Stone, Jacques and Brule can do over more then 5 games. If our PK contiunes to do well without him and if those guys continue to bring the physical element then I look at moving him. Not sure what we even get for him.

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#43 Ogden Brothers
October 14 2009, 08:40AM
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Lets take a step back from this Moreau conversation for a minute. He seems to be relegated to 4th line duties now, which is where he should probably be at this point. Lets wait to see if Stone/JFJ can maintain both their physical play and their offense for at least a year before running Ethan out of town, because if either guy fails (Stone/JFJ) AND Moreau is traded this becomes a paper thin team once again.

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#44 Ogden Brother
October 14 2009, 08:41AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Never did like Moreau, but I wouldn't move him yet. I'd like to see what Stone, Jacques and Brule can do over more then 5 games. If our PK contiunes to do well without him and if those guys continue to bring the physical element then I look at moving him. Not sure what we even get for him.

Damn Jr, you beat me to it.

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#45 Ogden Brother
October 14 2009, 08:43AM
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Ogden Brothers wrote:

Lets take a step back from this Moreau conversation for a minute. He seems to be relegated to 4th line duties now, which is where he should probably be at this point. Lets wait to see if Stone/JFJ can maintain both their physical play and their offense for at least a year before running Ethan out of town, because if either guy fails (Stone/JFJ) AND Moreau is traded this becomes a paper thin team once again.

Paper thin should be paper soft.

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#46 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 14 2009, 08:54AM
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Brownlee/Gregor

Any word to why Comrie isn't taking more draws?

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#47 rubbertrout
October 14 2009, 10:05AM
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Ambassador humantorch wrote:

"Yes, it's early, but more of the same and Kevin Lowe might yet escape the offer sheet cold sweats he's endured the past two seasons."

After the way Kevin Lowe single-handedly f**ked this team over every single day since the end of the 2005-2006 season, I don't really care what he endures. Why he even still has a job with this organization is beyond me.

I can't remember who said this but I understood K-Lowe's role to be the "VP in charge of remembering the 80's"

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#48 MrOiler
October 14 2009, 10:13AM
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The Moreau debate.

I hate to see a good man down, but I admit I picked him as this year's goat.

He plays an honest game, but the penalties are what tips the scale against him. It's like a bad habit that everyone ignored. One day you wake up and you're surprised everyone's talking about it.

There is a simple solution to his dilema:

a) stop taking penalties b) 3 good hits a game

If that happens, people will come around. If not, time marches on. It's the mean streets of pro hockey.

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#49 quicksilver ballet
October 14 2009, 11:05AM
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Too early to tell with JDD, he needs to play 25+ games to get a better ready on what hes got. Khabbys won his 300th game as an Oiler, chances are good he may see 400 as an Oiler as well. Goaltending could be the backbone for the next couple seasons.

I think the game has passed Ethan by perhaps since as early as the lock-out, been frustrating to watch im play the last 18 months or so. Maybe its time for Moreau and friends to enjoy a little sunshine. (Horton)

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#50 Morghasm
October 14 2009, 12:59PM
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Refreshingly sound logic in your views of JDD, Brownlee - always appreciated.

As for that big, fast guy wearing #27... how long do we have to watch JFJ get outplayed and outclassed on the first line until they finally give Penner another shot on the first line? Based on both their performances to date this season, I cannot comprehend why Jacques is still slotted in there night after night.

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