Getting started: tell us when, Nik

Robin Brownlee
October 05 2009 04:31PM

Mistakes happen, so it's senseless to get overwrought about Nikolai Khabibulin's all-thumbs bungling on the winning goal by David Moss in the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place Saturday.

Of more concern for me, with the caveat it's still very early, is that GM Steve Tambellini's big off-season signing hasn't been very good at stopping pucks so far as a member of the Oilers.

I know, WTF Brownlee? It's been ONE game for crying out loud. True that, although I'm looking at pre-season as well as Saturday, and the concerns I've voiced about Khabibulin still nag me.

After shutting out an AHL team disguised in Florida Panthers uniforms 4-0 with 18 saves in his first pre-season appearance, Khabibulin has allowed 12 goals on the 72 shots he's faced since then, including four on 21 shots against Calgary.

That, by any measure and even if it's early, is atrocious. No?

Puck stops here

"It's unfortunate the way we lost, especially after coming back from being down," Khabibulin said of his last-minute faux pas on a loose puck. "In reality, it is one game."

Even with the shutout against the Panthers, Khabibulin finished pre-season with a 2.96 goals-against average and .884 saves percentage in 162 minutes through three appearances.

No worries, insisted many. A guy like Khabibulin will be ready when the puck drops with points on the line. He's a veteran. A Stanley Cup winner. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. Yes, he does. That's still the case.

"Exhibition, I never take it into consideration," Khabibulin said. "Quite honestly, I don’t even know what my stats are in exhibition. It's never on any hockey cards. You'll never find it in any hockey books."

While I'm not going to harp on the fact Khabibulin's saves-percentage through one game that matters is .810 -- I roll my eyes when numbers guys cherry-pick stats to make their case -- I don't think it's a stretch to say he has to be better than he has been. Sooner rather than later.

"We know he's a good player," coach Pat Quinn said today when Jim Matheson of The Journal asked about Khabibulin after practice.

"He's working his way to get his timing like all of our players are. There are a lot of guys who are trying to find their game right now. He's good. He's working hard at it."

Fine. Good. Results, please.

Around the room

-- Forward Marc Pouliot skated for the first time since being put on the shelf after three pre-season appearances with an inflamed pubic bone, also known as pubitis.

"A lot of treatments. I feel good," Pouliot said. "I'm day-to-day. Hopefully, by the end of the week."

Pouliot won't be ready to play against Dallas Tuesday, but he could be available for the rematch with the Flames Thursday or for Saturday's tilt against the Montreal Canadiens.

By the way, for the benefit of whoever it was who was arguing with Jonathan Willis and I about whether Pouliot was a "decent size" based on his vitals of six-foot-one and 195 pounds, an update.

Pouliot is playing this season at 205 pounds and he's actually closer to six-foot-two than six-foot-one. While I'm not going to argue Pouliot plays a robust game, he most certainly is a "decent size" compared to his NHL peers. Now, let's move on. Nothing to see here.

-- Captain Ethan Moreau didn't skate today. The ankle that was bothering him before the season-opener flared up again and kept him off the blades today. No firm word on his status for Tuesday.

-- Steve Staios was packing a lot of ice on his right knee after practice today, the result of being hit by a shot. Staios expects to be fine to play against the Stars.

-- Former University of Alberta Golden Bear Aaron Sorochan is the back-up to Devan Dubnyk with the Springfield Falcons to start the season. Sorochan saw his first action in a 6-2 loss to Providence Sunday, spelling off Dubnyk in the third period.

-- 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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#101 z
October 05 2009, 11:57PM
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@ Robin:

Is Moreau the worst captain the Oil have ever had? The guy is injured for the vast majority of his tenure. The Oil have sucked on par with the early-mid 90s under his leadership and the guy plays on the 4th line and takes chump penalties like clockwork.

Is it just a matter of time before Souray takes the C?

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#102 jeanshorts
October 06 2009, 01:16AM
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Scuba Steve wrote:

Lol, a career minor leaguer/4th line player for a top two defenseman? That sounds like good value. You know who else has a good draft pedigree? Robbie Schremp.

Ohhhh, OOOOHHHHHHHHHH! Don't forget about Jason Bonsignore! Amazing draft pedigree on that guy.

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#104 TonyT
October 06 2009, 03:44AM
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@z

Shayne Corson.

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#105 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 06 2009, 06:49AM
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rindog wrote:

Yeah I guess you're right. One game is enough time to abondon ship. Maybe we can buy him out right now?

YIKES!!!

that is sort of the problem.

no buyouts, no demotions, no retire, no waivers.

it is 'bulin or bust.

i agree it is early to jump ship on the guy, but turning a blind eye and following with what amounts to blind faith is not, IMO, the way to go either

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#106 Librarian Mike
October 06 2009, 07:54AM
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TonyT wrote:

Shayne Corson.

Corson was way ahead of his time. He didn't want to play here years before anyone else. In my mind, he may be the single most overrated player I've seen in the NHL.

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#107 Chaz
October 06 2009, 08:07AM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Corson was way ahead of his time. He didn't want to play here years before anyone else. In my mind, he may be the single most overrated player I've seen in the NHL.

True, but man that guy could drink! Legendary!

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#108 Chris.
October 06 2009, 08:55AM
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@Bingofuel:

Is the old site archived somewhere? Sometimes it's fun to go back in time and look at which predictions/ideas came true, and which assertions were just plain ridiculous.

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#109 Ender
October 06 2009, 08:56AM
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Jeanshorts wrote:

Well, as bad as Khabbi looked on Saturday, he still looks better than Luongo.

And you wrote that before last night's game.

Cableguy wrote:

i agree it is early to jump ship on [Khabibulin], but turning a blind eye and following with what amounts to blind faith is not, IMO, the way to go either.

Relax. Other stars have had lousy games too. I give the folks in Vancouver free rein after last night to start scratching their heads, but it's too early to start doing that here yet.

Whenever I reflect on how goalies are doing, I think back to something I read last year; I'm not sure who the original quote came from, but I think it was Willis who put it in an article: 'Some years the pucks hit you, some years they don't.' I still don't think there is room for a lot of debate that both Luongo and Khabibulin are very good goalies. That doesn't mean they're going to have great seasons, though.

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#110 Ender
October 06 2009, 09:05AM
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@cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

What on Earth is the chick in your avatar licking? I know she's trying to look sexy, but I don't know how sexy licking random appliances is.

:)

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#111 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2009, 09:24AM
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If Moreau isn't 100% he shouldn't play, especially if it is an injury that will slow him down skating. The last thing we need is for him to start hooking and slashing more then he usually does. Put Nilsson in if you have to.

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#112 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2009, 09:33AM
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The one thing that concerns me this year already his how many people are freaked out after one game. Come on we played a solid game against a team that is predicted to finish alot higher then us.

Now sure there are some things to work on, but it is one game in with a new coaching staff and a new style of hockey.

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#113 Lego
October 06 2009, 09:34AM
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@Ender

Looks like a guitar head, possibly Ibanez? Guitars are sexy!

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#114 bingofuel
October 06 2009, 09:37AM
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@Chris.

We're in the process of migrating the old site content over to here... I'll let you know how that's progressing when I have more to tell you.

:)

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#115 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2009, 09:39AM
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@bingofuel

You do exist. Am I the only one that can see other posters names?

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#116 Librarian Mike
October 06 2009, 09:50AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Put Nilsson in if you have to.

And that statement pretty much sums up Nilsson's role on this team. He's the 'kid in a helmet' from school.

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#117 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2009, 09:57AM
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@Librarian Mike

Nilsson still has skill and maybe it gives Gagner some more help on his line.

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#118 Bob Loblaw
October 06 2009, 10:22AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Ohhhh, OOOOHHHHHHHHHH! Don't forget about Jason Bonsignore! Amazing draft pedigree on that guy.

Now that you bring up Bonsignore, I'll mention a time sitting at the Colisium in February before that 1994 draft. An 18-year old guy near us in the upper deck starts yelling about "Hey Oilers! Don't draft Bonsignore!". Now, I had no clue who this name was so I asked him. He said, "Oh, he's an OHL hotshot who thinks his $h!t don't stink. He's got no heart and he's a cancer to his team". I asked how he knew this. He said his brother played on Jason's team in Ontario. I didn't know if any of it was true but was I ever shocked when that same name was called by the Oilers in the Spring using their lowest draft pick ever. Then I prayed that fan was wrong and his brother was a whiner. My question would be, how does a professional scouting organization NOT know this when some guy in the stands knows it?

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#119 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 06 2009, 10:26AM
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@Bob Loblaw

He might be cancer, but often skill set will trump that. I believe there was talk about Evander Kane this year having some issues. Schremp had the same questions as well, that is why he slipped in the draft.

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#120 Chris.
October 06 2009, 10:38AM
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@Bob Loblaw

You wrote: "My question would be, how does a professional scouting organization NOT know this when some guy in the stands knows it?"

Kinda like our organization knew nothing about Khabibulin's hydration problems, or Brule's waiver eligibility, or thes exact day Heatley was to collect his bonus, or that Cole cannot drive the net from the left side of the ice, or that the team needs a faceoff winning two way center with size, or, or, or?

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#121 Citizen Alpha
October 06 2009, 01:34PM
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Chris. wrote:

@Bingofuel:

Is the old site archived somewhere? Sometimes it's fun to go back in time and look at which predictions/ideas came true, and which assertions were just plain ridiculous.

I'm on it like Oprah on a ham. Part of the consequence of hitting our release deadline is all my other duties are catching up with me this week. I'm chugging through the work queue as fast as I can to get the old content up and available.

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#122 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 07 2009, 05:39PM
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@Ender

it is a guitar

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