A fine mess

Robin Brownlee
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.

Leadership?

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.

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 Travis Dakin - FMNF
February 21 2009, 12:04AM
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@ Smokin' Ray:

for 6.25 million you can get someone who is on the incline....

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#102 Smokin' Ray
February 21 2009, 12:08AM
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Who?

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#103 Smokin' Ray
February 21 2009, 12:13AM
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Hemsky is the passer. Horcoff is the shooter. Who is available that is LW, can deflect pucks at high speed and is good at screening? And we already know that he meshes with Hemmer and Horc. I can't think of anyone like that other than Smyth.

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#104 Mr. Ed
February 21 2009, 01:17AM
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It looks like Pouliot and Cole are going to the Penguins for Stall.....

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#105 Hanson#4
February 21 2009, 01:51AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

For everyone whining about poor Moreau getting ripped off by the referees, are they naturally biased against him or is he just unlucky? Moreau’s one of the league leaders in non-coincidental penalties taken; he’s personally put the Oilers in a shorthanded situation 21 times this season. That’s every second game, folks. He’s having a nice year against some tough players scoring-wise, but Ethan Moreau is not, and has never been a disciplined player. It’s a flaw in his game, and the team would be better off if he corrected it.

CLAP CLAP CLAP nice to see the numbers agree with the eyes. Our captain expects this to win games ? He knows the PK is nearly last, right ? Aaaagh Give Horc the C, lord knows he does everything else.

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#106 volfman
February 21 2009, 05:38AM
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Mr. Ed wrote:

It looks like Pouliot and Cole are going to the Penguins for Stall…..

ya must be true, heck even hockey buzz is reporting this. being an oiler fan and casual penguins fan, this would be the best trade in oiler history. and ya the worst by far in penguin history.

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#107 volfman
February 21 2009, 05:40AM
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I guess what I meant to say is, rumor not true, trade not happenning.

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#108 Milli
February 21 2009, 08:59AM
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@ Elaine: agreed. most games lately seem to be lacking. Any chance of Smyth dawning the oil silks once again?

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#109 David S
February 21 2009, 09:37AM
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Geez you guys. The Oilers didn't want Smyth at $5.5 and you're wondering if he'll come back 2 years older for another million? I've gotta believe that kind of money would be better spent elsewhere.

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#110 Mr. Ed
February 21 2009, 09:58AM
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David S wrote:

Geez you guys. The Oilers didn’t want Smyth at $5.5 and you’re wondering if he’ll come back 2 years older for another million? I’ve gotta believe that kind of money would be better spent elsewhere.

Because we have such a great management team that we can over pay even for Horcoff (a 3rd line center who can win some face offs) who cost them the shark game.

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#111 Chris
February 21 2009, 10:46AM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

Not sure what game you were watching, but Moreau deserved that 2nd penalty as well. He takes a penalty (tripping) and knows it. The whistle blows. He looks at the Ref. And then Moreau is the 1st one to provoke the brouhaha by grabbing (can’t remember)and giving him a facewash.

The Dallas player was repeatedly punching Staios in the face with the glove on... Moreau intervened by pulling him away into a momentary headlock... Then the Ref inexplicabbly gave Moreau four. Was the headlock retalitory? Or was it a clean intervention to a classic text book roughing penalty that was never awarded to the Dallas player? It should have been four on four, or at the very least four minutes to two. This was a totally bogus non call that turned the tide of the game. Willis is right. Moreau is undisciplined. But he hasn't changed; Why is everyone suddenly calling for his head now, after so many years?

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#112 Dennis
February 21 2009, 11:33AM
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Chris: 18 was a lot easier to like back when he was playing tough min with Grier, marchant and sometimes Murray; he was part of a consistently good PK unit and he wasn't making much money.

But now that he's really getting paid and he's coming up minus playing top nine opp, the stupid penalties are even more obvious.

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#113 Chris
February 21 2009, 11:44AM
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@ Dennis:

All I'm saying is Moreau hasn't changed... Only our expectations have. Moreau was beloved by all this Christmas... and now he is drawing a high level of criticism. I'm more concerned about the PP that isn't scoring, the 2nd line that isn't scoring, and the injured D that won't be scoring. Mistakes are always magnified when a team is not scoring.

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#114 olderthendirt
February 21 2009, 11:48AM
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Reading the comments here one could believe this is easly the worst team in the leaque and must be way out of the palyoffs. Must be an absolute miracle that they are in 8th, ahead of Anihiem. They have noone who can win a faceoff, noone that can score, the goalie is to old, the coach is a bum management a joke, no future prospects,good young players and the defence is terrible. maybe I should give up on the team if the fans(?) here are correct

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