Oilers vs. Blues Postgame

Jonathan Willis
December 22 2009 08:24AM

St. Louis Blues: 7

Edmonton Oilers: 2

I had a pretty cool seat for tonight's game; David Staples was nice enough to invite a few of us bloggers to take in the game with him, so I finally got to meet him in person.  I was also rather pleased to meet Bruce McCurdy, BlueBelle, and Smoking Ray.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much where the positives ended, as an overwhelmed Oilers' PK allowed four goals in a 7-2 loss.  Rather than head back to the hotel and write about it immediately, I decided to go out and drink beer.  It seemed preferable.

 

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

 

1. Gilbert Brule. I've decided to choose my three stars exclusively from players who weren't on the penalty kill, and Brule played fairly well despite his AHL call-up centre and Ethan Moreau on LW.

2. Denis Grebeshkov. Grebeshkov actually did appear on the penalty kill (0:42) but wasn't scored on and had a few dangerous shots on the night. He also had at least one brain cramp but on the whole was a positive for the Oilers.

3. Tyler Dellow. Yes, it turns out a blogger can win this award. In this particular case, Tyler gets mention for perfectly summarizing my feelings about last night's game.

 

Random Thoughts

 

The penalty kill stinks.  It has for a year and a half.  We knew it probably wasn't coaching before MacTavish was fired, since he's had success previously, and with a new coaching staff we know it's probably not coaching now - unless Kelly Buchberger's been handling the duties for both coaching staffs.  In any case, I've been told again and again that bringing in some grinders won't win the team games, but given that the Oilers' kill rate now sits at 76.6% I can't agree with that.  Of course I didn't agree with it in the summer either, so that doesn't mean Steve Tambellini is going to do anything about it.

At even-strength I thought the Oilers carried the play, especially early on.  They were outscored, but in this case I think that had more to do with bounces than anything else.  The team didn't play badly five on five.

I was happy to see Devan Dubnyk's first NHL start in person; I was less happy when he failed to make a single big save all game.  In a 7-2 loss it's rarely just the goalie, and it certainly wasn't here, but he wasn't helping things.

Ethan Moreau's a dirty player.  He's also an undisciplined player.  Late in the third he was hit cleanly by the Blues' T.J. Oshie and knocked to the ice; he retaliated by tripping Oshie, approaching him from behind and cross-checking him in the neck.  It was a gutless, classless, stupid play, and frankly it turned my stomach.  But hey, he made up for it by fighting Darryl Sydor, a vintage tough guy who has participated in (count 'em) three bouts since the NHL lockout.  Last night he wasn't fit to wear the jersey.

Bruce has more on this over at Copper & Blue, but midway through the second there was a five minute period where the Blues went from being badly outshot to taking over the game entirely.  It was nasty hockey, and the Oilers couldn't do anything right.

In closing, I'd like to thank the Oilers.  I've reached the point now where I'm unable to muster the same sort of anger following a miserable loss as I have in the past.  No, I just look for positives in individual players, and I'm fairly sure it's because I've written off the team.  I have no confidence in the current roster, and I have less confidence in the management team running the Oilers.  When the team first brought Tambellini on board and announced promotions for others, it was heralded in some quarters as an attempt to replicate the Detroit model.  At this point it looks more like they're replicating the Islanders' model.  As of today they sit dead last in the Western Conference, and have earned a spot in the draft lottery.  In the long term, perhaps that's for the best.  A finish that low would certainly give the team an elite prospect, and might be enough to result in the ouster of the current management team.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#53 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 22 2009, 10:55AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@cableguy:

I'm not saying Moreau wasn't aggravated. Turgeon aggravated Dale Hunter, but that didn't make Hunter's decision to attack him right.

It was a selfish play. It wasn't leadership.

But go ahead, blame the guy who threw the clean hit.

i never blamed the guy who threw the hit.

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#54 BarryS
December 22 2009, 11:00AM
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Jonathon Willis

So from your article I take it you finally admit your just a small town guy with small town attitudes? It's nice to have opinions and to live in a country where you are free (well as free as the liable laws let you be, to express them, but to be all upset because no one in authority will listen is a little much.

How much confidence you or I have in the management is totally meaningless in the grand scheme of things, we don't own the team, we watch them. Small towners think they own the team by right of it being in their town, but get real, us thinking this is a big town when really it is a small town in terms of peoples attitudes is a big part of the problem.

Guess, what, if you had the talent, I'm using the literay you, not the personaly you, to ply your trade anywhwere what's the chance you would chose to ply it in a place where everybody looks over your shoulder and constantly tries to tell you how to do your job? And worse, thinks it is their right to do so, on blogs, in restaurants, at theatres, (witness report on this blog, Hemsky seen at theatre when not playing due to injury, (before his operation), and derogatory comments made.

Nothing says small town like poking your nose in others peoples personal lives, not talking Tiger Wood's here, and passing comments on it.

Only point is, small towns get small town teams, big towns get big town teams. What sort of team have we has since lightning struck once in the eighties? A small town team supported(?) by small town whiners.

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#55 BarryS
December 22 2009, 11:00AM
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Sorry, double post.

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#57 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
December 22 2009, 11:04AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ cableguy:

oshie had to know something would happen, everyone who has ever played the game at any level knows what happens when the score gets out of hand

Maybe we have a different idea of what "blame" means, but I took that sentence to mean you figured Oshie brought it on himself.

If you meant something different, I apologize for misunderstanding your statement.

oshie didnt help the situation at all. i dont "blame" oshie, but he knew exactly what was going to happen.

no different that if it was brule rolling someone with a 6-2 lead. clean hit or not, something will happen after. it happens in every game, clean hit=fight.

whether it is right or not is a totally different debate. obviously, nobody wants to condone violence.

but, boys/men playing sport tend to do things they shouldnt when they get mad. it has happened since the dawn of time.

i think we are on the same page, i dont agree with what moreau did, but i totally 100% see why he did it.

it is kinda sad that we have to resort to picking apart this, rather than the team itself that sh*t all over itself again

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#58 BarryS
December 22 2009, 11:06AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Staios, Moreau and Pisani have no say where they go. This is a business and it is time that management starts thinking like this. Why would we want these guys back anyways they are at the end of their careers?

Wish I could believe you, but if they let the other team know they're not coming, why would anybody trade for them. Not saying they would, only saying they have that power and always have had. Nobody trades for someone who doesn't want to come, especially at playoff time.

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#61 Digger
December 22 2009, 11:33AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

BarryS:

I'm not actually sure what your point was. Are you blaming me for the general attitude of the Oilers' fanbase? Are you blaming that attitude for the failures of the team?

And the idea that it only happens in small towns is asinine. Check out the rumours surrounding the Flyers right now - it's the same crap we see in Edmonton, but it's in Philly. Fanbases are the same everywhere - they always poke their nose into player's business.

Of course, as a regular reader you'll note I don't post that stuff - if something shows up in a reputable publication, I'll comment on it, but otherwise it's unsubstantiated gossip, and I won't.

As for my opinion, I don't care that Tambellini and Co. aren't listening. They aren't my audience. But the fact that they failed to address problems that even an amateur like me spotted does bother me. The inability to fix the PK, or bring in a defensive forward, continues to boggle the mind. But it doesn't bother me because they didn't take my advice; it bothers me because it shows that the men running my chosen team lack competence.

Just my opinion Jonathan, my take on Tambellini not bring in a defensive forward is that management fell into the same trap that many management groups do, which is to overestimate the talents of the players you have in-house.

It seems much more logical to me to believe that they looked at players like Pisani, Pouliot, Brule, Cogliano and Moreau, and think that these players would either bounce back from below average seasons or grow into more prominent roles on the team, than to think that Tambellini would be 100% ignorant of the issue.

Of course, we've seen what has transpired - Pisani and Pouliot have been injured longterm, Cogliano still can't take a faceoff and is playing like he still hasn't gotten over being part of Heatleygate, Brule is still an adventure in his own end of the rink regardless of how improved his confidence is in the offensive side of things, and Moreau has gotten older and not at all better. 5 players they were likely counting on to either improve or return to form, and not one of those bets panned out.

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#62 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 22 2009, 12:20PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Just out of curiosity - if Moreau had injured Oshie, what would this conversation be like now?

Or, let's say that the Oilers were leading a game 6-2, and Gilbert Brule threw a hit like Oshie did last night. We know he would; he's not the type to let up and we wouldn't want him to.

What would we be saying if he got injured on a crosscheck after a clean hit?

"Well, the game was out of reach, he should have known better than to throw a clean hit when the other team was feeling so sad. He brought it on himself."

Apparently.

The homer within use would be crying that it was a dirty hit.

The realist in us would concede that it's a regular event in the NHL.

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#63 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 22 2009, 12:23PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

oshie didnt help the situation at all. i dont "blame" oshie, but he knew exactly what was going to happen.

no different that if it was brule rolling someone with a 6-2 lead. clean hit or not, something will happen after. it happens in every game, clean hit=fight.

whether it is right or not is a totally different debate. obviously, nobody wants to condone violence.

but, boys/men playing sport tend to do things they shouldnt when they get mad. it has happened since the dawn of time.

i think we are on the same page, i dont agree with what moreau did, but i totally 100% see why he did it.

it is kinda sad that we have to resort to picking apart this, rather than the team itself that sh*t all over itself again

This is what I am trying to get accross as well, the level of violence in the NHL is (debatably) to high, but what we seen last night wraps up within that.

Was it wrong? Sure, but so are a dozen other plays every night.

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#64 BarryS
December 22 2009, 12:58PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

BarryS:

I'm not actually sure what your point was. Are you blaming me for the general attitude of the Oilers' fanbase? Are you blaming that attitude for the failures of the team?

And the idea that it only happens in small towns is asinine. Check out the rumours surrounding the Flyers right now - it's the same crap we see in Edmonton, but it's in Philly. Fanbases are the same everywhere - they always poke their nose into player's business.

Of course, as a regular reader you'll note I don't post that stuff - if something shows up in a reputable publication, I'll comment on it, but otherwise it's unsubstantiated gossip, and I won't.

As for my opinion, I don't care that Tambellini and Co. aren't listening. They aren't my audience. But the fact that they failed to address problems that even an amateur like me spotted does bother me. The inability to fix the PK, or bring in a defensive forward, continues to boggle the mind. But it doesn't bother me because they didn't take my advice; it bothers me because it shows that the men running my chosen team lack competence.

First things first, this was not intended to be a personal attack and I apologize if it read that way.

The matter of getting players to fix spots is more complex than you seem to think it is. The first and foremost problem is geographically, Edmonton is a long way from anywhere. Think about it, would you sign with a team you will spend half the winter on the road with? Would you not wait, or even consider retiring if near the end of your career, before signing someplace where you are either packing to travel, traveling, or unpacking from travel?

In the sports world, Edmonton is a hardship post, taken for the money and no other opportunity and nothing else. We know better, living here, but try and tell that to some player who plays us here only once a year or so and that in Dec to Feb. Try to tell his wife, who sees it only on pictures of blizzards or 40 below days on the TV. Even Denver is an airline hub and it's therefore not as isolated seeming as Edmonton.

Philly is a good example, players in Philly have long road trips, what one seven or eight day trip a year? Mostly they play somewhere else, they leave the morning of the game, come back after the game, some hardship. I also doubt their fans post player siting reports on the web.

Philly is an even better example, Philly is so close to so many other places you could even live in another state and still make all your games and practices. In Edmonton, you live where? That's right Edmonton. Sorry St. Albert, Sherwood Park, et al, you're still Edmonton, no matter what your local politico's try to claim.

It's a fact Sheldon Souray sees his kids in LA only marginally less than players with kids in Edmonton see their's, his ex's wishes not withstanding. Until teleportation becomes a reality, this will always be the case.

Even taking a chance on the Islanders is a lot less of a chance and family disruption for players in the East than taking a chance on Edmonton. Fact.

Until this city can get itself together and make something of itself again, are you listening politicians, voters, taxpayers, rich quys who would rather invest in Phoenix or California, than Edmonton, the team will never be anything but a marginal team, with marginal players, in a marginal market.

This is not a vailed request for a New Arena, though I support the concept, I am unlikely ever to be in it, seeing as I haven't been in the Rexall since it was named Rexall, but rather a observation nobody seems to want to help pay for things which make the city better for everyone. Are you listening opponents to the expanded LRT? Opponents to building the new Museum in its present location, to the new Art Gallery, to fixing the city subdivision by subdivison, after their's was fixed, of course. Even complaing the streets are snowplowed to much. Good thing I live on a school bus route, or I'd be housebound already.

You get in proportion to what you pay, and the city as a whole seems unprepared to pay for anything.

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#65 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 22 2009, 01:05PM
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@ Barry S

In a long winded kind of way, I think what you are trying to get across is that the team is at a competitive disadvantage to the majority of the leauge, and this I would agree with.

It should be pretty clear by now that even though the "no one wants to come here" crap is blown out of proportion that of 30 possible destinations, Edmonton is in the bottom 25% for desirability (at best).

A 52 million dollar performance is likely going to cost 57 million here.

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#66 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
December 22 2009, 01:12PM
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@BarryS

You are reaching and so what if those guys don't want to go? Then they get suspended and we free up money.

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#67 BarryS
December 22 2009, 01:18PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

You are reaching and so what if those guys don't want to go? Then they get suspended and we free up money.

The fact is, most players are felt out about coming during the trade process. Seems to me we hear of many trades, not just involving Edmonton, falling through at the last moment. You don't think player unwillingness might not be part of the last moment fall through? I expect every GM, even ours, knows which players will concent to come, before the trade is finalized.

The Oilers were blindsided in the Heatley deal, once it was out, it was impossible not to continue on until Heately finally publically nay sayed it.

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#68 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
December 22 2009, 01:28PM
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@BarryS

I don't think this happens as much as you are saying it does. You have no backing what so ever for this comment. What trades are falling through? The ones rumored by Eklund and CBC hotstove?

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#69 Muji 狗
December 22 2009, 01:54PM
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Moreau was selfish and stupid. It was a douchebag trip/crosscheck and not something I want to see from the team that I'm cheering for (and yes, I'm still cheering for them because they're the Oilers).

I wouldn't want the Oilers to mail it in if we were leading 6-2 so why should Oshie and Blues? Good on them for continuing to play hard (on the 2nd half of a back-to-back mind you).

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#70 Muji 狗
December 22 2009, 01:57PM
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Edmonton is undesirable (hell, I moved to Vancouver), but a winning team (i.e. winning culture, good management, etc.) would do wonders. Detroit is a 3rd world nation and players take hometown discounts to play there. The city doesn't matter; the organization does.

Plus, some players like playing in a place where there are so many passionate hockey fans.

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#71 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
December 22 2009, 02:12PM
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Muji 狗 wrote:

Edmonton is undesirable (hell, I moved to Vancouver), but a winning team (i.e. winning culture, good management, etc.) would do wonders. Detroit is a 3rd world nation and players take hometown discounts to play there. The city doesn't matter; the organization does.

Plus, some players like playing in a place where there are so many passionate hockey fans.

People always go to the extreme, Sure Detroit A power house for years and years. Great, now we just need to be a top 4/5 team for 10 years and players will come.

Realistically though, if the team finished 5th/3rd/6th/2nd since the lockout are we all of a sudden a hot spot for players? Doubtful.

Also, we keep hearing about discounts in Det.

Hossa took less term but he was a top 10 paid player last year (roughly) he's good but he's not top 10.

Lidstrom has been great, but he's not the best anymore...yet he's payed like it.

Datsyuk for 6.7 in the spring of 07, I can't find player rankings for the time, but I'd bet he'd be top 10/15 for salary.

Rafalski took 6, excellent player but hardly a discount.

Zetts got a cap cheating deal, but he's actually making 7.75 million. Hardly a discount.

Cleary is making 3 million

Stuart/Kronwall are 3.75 and 3.25. Decent but not a discount considering when they were signed.

Franzen is gettin 5.5 for one and a half good years.

Hell, the Oilers were a game away from winning the cup and we then seen the biggest exodus since the 80's.

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#72 Heatly
December 22 2009, 04:18PM
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@Muji 狗

You're either the BIG star or BiG loser if you play in cities like Edmonton and Montreal.

I would play anywhere they would pay me period and make the best of it.

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#73 Eddie Shore
December 22 2009, 05:25PM
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Quinn came pretty close to dropping an F-bomb (Brownlee --> that means f*ck) in his post game comments last night. I bet we hear one before the season is over.

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