Oilers Vs. Wild Postgame: Five Losses In A Row

Jonathan Willis
December 23 2009 10:43PM

Edmonton Oilers: 1

Minnesota Wild: 3

Another game, and yet another loss. That's five in a row, and it's been a long time since... nevermind, this happened last year too. 

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

1. Robert Nilsson. The only goal-scorer was an easy selection for one of the three stars. His goal was a combination of good timing, a willingness to go to the net and quick hands, and came off a smart Tom Gilbert wrist shot. Nilsson showed some passion and has played a lot better since coming back from concussion.

2. Dustin Penner. Penner quietly had a very good game, although he turned it up a bit in the third period and became more visibly dominant. It was interesting to see the passion from him and Horcoff during a 4-on-4 shift in the third, and of course that's always nice to see.

3. Jeff Deslauriers. Deslauriers is a heck of an interesting player. The size and reflexes are undeniable, and he was very sharp all night. I would have pegged him higher except that every game he seems to toss the puck away - on the winning Minnesota goal it wasn't just Grebeshkov's giveaway, but also the Deslauriers giveaway about ten seconds earlier that led to the goal against. That said, it was a strong performance.

Random Thoughts

I think I've figured out why people pick on the Oilers' rather adequate power play. It's because their penalty kill makes every other power play in the league look so good that we just naturally expect more.  At 76.7%, the Oilers PK is actually almost a full percentage point worse than last season; I guess Kyle Brodziak (who was noticeable killing penalties and defending a lead with one minute to go) wasn't the problem after all. 

The Oilers struggles this season have gone a long way towards rehabilitating the reputation of Craig MacTavish.  I look at a game like tonight, where:

  • Ryan Potulny got to play on the top line
  • Horcoff, O'Sullivan and Jacques were put together yet again despite their ineffectiveness as a line
  • Ethan Moreau got to play with Cogliano and Nilsson despite the fact that it's hard to argue any of the fourth liners have been worse than him

That's just from tonight.  I'm not actually criticizing Quinn here because I see the roster, but had MacTavish done those things he'd be getting called an idiot for them so it seems only fair to point them out.

Some people talked a lot about Ethan Moreau's cross-check the other night in the context of "leadership" and "passion".  I'd advise them to watch Steve Staios if they're looking for that; he still seems to live and die on every play.  I do question his effectiveness relative to cost, but there's no arguing his heart.  It was a pretty good game from a heart standpoint for the Oilers, actually; most of the forwards in particular were physically involved.

It was pretty funny seeing Denis Grebeshkov flatten Derek Boogaard.

Martin Havlat sure looks good, doesn't he?  It was only a matter of time until he rebounded, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Minnesota go on a late season charge.  They got killed by the percentages early but they're a much better team than their early season record indicated.

Finally, a quick glance at the league standings shows the Oilers tied for 29th in the NHL, ahead of only Carolina.  It's been a steep drop for the two 2006 Stanley Cup finalists, but at least Carolina had some ups along the way.

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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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#51 Original Ogden Brother
December 24 2009, 01:23PM
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"These "superstar" draft picks need a role model for when they get here though... Crosby had Lemuiex, Tevares has Weight... even if we did get Hall, who's gonna mentor him?"

That sounds nice, but I don't know how important it really is. AO didn't really have a mentor, neither did Kane/Toews/Kovalchuk/Nash etc etc etc.

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#52 Original Ogden Brother
December 24 2009, 01:26PM
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"I agree. I'm a huge Souray fan but I've been disappointed with him this year."

Ya, he's still a valuable guy but he's made a pile of bad plays, looked lazy at times and can't seem to control his temper.

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#53 Horcsky
December 24 2009, 01:48PM
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@Original Ogden Brother

Seconded. Souray has been brutal. So many bad pinches leading to goals.

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#54 Phil
December 24 2009, 02:14PM
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Where the hell is the comment I posted last night? Mods wouldn't let it go through? WTF?

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#55 Quintana
December 24 2009, 02:38PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

Lottery here we come!

This is the most exciting season of losing we've had in the last 20 years! This is the year the Oilers have a real shot at rebuilding with premier draft position. Mix in some 2nd rounders/prospects after we ditch Moreau and Staios. Maybe more if the Oil decide to deal a D-man (I'm lookin at you Poti, er, Gilbert).

No more re-tooling. This is the year the Oil might finally draft that superstar Forward. This losing season is the best thing the could happen to the Oilers. It should force the hand of the organization to stop cheating. Combined with a new gen of young talent already coming to camp next year, a lottery pick could really accelerate the rebuilding process. Horc and his borked shoulder can play in the AHL or on the 3rd line. Every loss should be viewed as a win in the Hall/Seguin sweepstakes IMO.

You nailed!!!

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#56 brucechris
December 24 2009, 02:53PM
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I'm giving Quinn a pass here for now. He is NOT subject to the same criticisms that MacT was. Not yet.

Quinn is 37 games into his first season and he's still trying to figure out who can do what. Some might argue that he should have it figured by now, but we all know about the illnesses and injuries the Oil dealt/are dealing with.

That doesn't touch the years, especially the last three seasons post-deadline, that MacT continually showed that he either didn't have a system or had a terrible one.

Quinn isn't totally untouchable. Sure, he's made some bad moves so far... like putting Moreau and Staios on the ice, well, ever.

I've got to think he's feeling out for an overhaul. Tambo is probably telling him to apply pressure and see who needs to go. Not that it isn't 100% evident most nights, but there is a process. I hope.

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#57 Skadden
December 24 2009, 03:35PM
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@Alex

Dude is fifth in team scoring, hardly a bust for a kid that's only 20.

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#58 Dave
December 24 2009, 06:54PM
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Quintana wrote:

You nailed!!!

Here Here! I'll be (labored swallow) cheering for the nucks on Saturday.

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#59 Death Metal Nightmare
December 25 2009, 07:49AM
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so hilarious that people whined, and whined, and whined, and whined, and complained about MacTavish last year - and anyone with 2% of a brain knew it was the roster and not the "Coach."

they flew in three guys with some of the deepest experience ever to RETARD CAMP and they still cant get anything out of these guys. and Penner isnt even a case of "GOOD COACHING". its more of a case of him deciding on his own to start pushing his own butt.

dont get me wrong, im no MacTavish-ite, but i also didnt see him as the devil. the whole, "his message isnt being heard anymore" was a complete farce - theyre not hearing any message. and i questioned Quinn's overall interest here other than being a Butt Spanking Dad to these kids. why? because of his interviews. he talks as if he was completely clueless to what he was getting into from the start. he talks about players in some sort of "this guy and that, i cant remember his name or position" kind of thing. its not so bad now but it does slip out once in a while. its as if he thinks hes so experienced and wise that he doesnt need full historical context to fix the problems. it comes off half ass, pompous and disinterested.

anyway, its only a matter of time before his "message" isnt being heard either. which is why everyone wants a tank job now. most Edmonton Fans for too long wanted their cake and to eat it also since Pronger left. it doesnt work that way. no short cuts. prepare for a long, calculated rebuild (cant wait for the whining when its in its fifth year).

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#60 Jodes
December 25 2009, 12:48PM
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I'm willing to be a bit more patient with Souray because of his concussion.. Anyone remember what happened with Stoll after he came back (the 2nd time) he was well, brutal. I think the same type of situation is happening with Souray.

It might take Souray til the end of the season to return to form. Sadly by then he might want out completely.

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