February 20 2009 12:08PM
Was Ethan Moreau doing what a captain had to do against the Dallas Stars Thursday, or did the E-Train look like he'd come off the rails by taking selfish, boneheaded penalties that led to a costly 4-2 loss at the American Airlines Center?
In a melee sparked by Steve Ott's blindside of Tom Gilbert -- a hit that prompted Moreau to, first, pile on Ott after Dwayne Roloson and Laddy Smid had already responded, and, second, to flail away at Dallas defenceman Nicklas Grossman -- my vote is for the latter.
Five minutes to Moreau for losing it, none to Grossman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As far as Moreau's double-minor, one for tripping and another for roughing, that led to the eventual winning goal by Fabian Brunnstrom early in the second period, same thing.
Tripping? OK. A headlock and the stinky glove? Not so much. Not at all, in fact. Stupid penalties. Selfish penalties. Nothing to do with playing tough. Nothing to do with leadership. And nothing to do with the tough, honest hockey Moreau has made a career on.
Of course, not everybody sees it the way I do. Long-time Oiler fan and journalist David Staples, at the Cult of Hockey at The Journal, saw Moreau's ill-timed fits of temper as some sort of Messier Moment:
"Whatever the Oilers did wrong in the past, they responded properly this time, first with goalie feisty Dwayne Roloson coming in to give Ott a bash, then with snarly Ladislav Smid jumping on the guy, and finally with the fierce captain, Ethan Moreau, piling on and punching Ott in the head. It did my heart well, I tell you. For once, the Oilers looked like a team, as opposed to a collection of paycheque men."
As you'd expect, Craig MacTavish didn't take issue with Moreau's response, either. Said MacTavish: "There's nobody that does it better than Steve Ott. He picks his spots. He's an effective player. We did have the right response on the hit on Gibby, but it was a Steve Ott-type game."
Sorry, coach, no sale. The right response? Throwing punches at Grossman, who kept his gloves on (yet managed to end up on top of Moreau) and taking the extra five?
It's not the first time Moreau has taken ill-timed, costly penalties this season, so he doesn't get a pass for a one-off. While I'm not in the camp of people yelling for Moreau to be stripped of the captaincy, let's get real here. Moreau lost his temper. He took stupid penalties on two different occasions that led to the Oilers losing a game they had to win.
Correct me if I’m wrong
- Shouldn't fans who think it would be a great move for the Oilers to acquire Alexei Kovalev from Montreal at least find out why the Habs chose to sit their best player at a critical point in the season before they jump to conclusions? Arguments about whether Kovalev would help in the stretch drive aside -- he certainly would, if he felt like it -- it would seem prudent to find out what the issues are before clamouring for Steve Tambellini to pull the trigger on anything, no?
- While Dwayne Roloson has performed better than I thought he could or would since Mathieu Garon was traded, MacTavish is now in the position of having to ride the 39-year-old all the way to the finish line. It's 14 straight starts and counting. The wheels have to fall off Roli, don't they?
- Saturday's game against Calgary will get the obligatory hype we've come to expect, but the Oilers aren't catching the Flames for the Northwest Division title. Not a chance. I agree with what MacTavish suggested several weeks ago: I see the Oilers playoff hopes hinging on the three games they have remaining against the Minnesota Wild. If I'm the Oilers, I'm more worried about the Wild, who have two games in hand, than Anaheim.
- While there's been the suggestion Tambellini will wait until closer to the trade deadline to make any moves, I believe the return of Fernando Pisani next week could set things in motion. Just a gut feeling on that front.
-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.