GDB 53: Not Taking Steps Back

Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009 11:04AM

I really hate to plug things that the Oilers’ organization does. When I read stories about how the Oilers complain to the NHL because a Calgary radio station played a song parody after their 10-2 loss to Buffalo, or their heavy-handed tactics in dealing with fans, or how members of the organization parked a Zamboni behind the HNIC production truck after Marc Crawford had the temerity to question the quality of the ice at Rexall, I get angry. I think about how petty and ham-fisted an organization can be, especially an organization that has milked public sympathy repeatedly in the past and intends to do it again to get a new arena, and wonder why anyone would laud the Oilers’ organization.

In any case, it’s really worthwhile (as it usually is) to check out the post-game comments up at the Oilers official site. There, for example, you can find this charming quote from team captain Ethan Moreau:

Well the score doesn’t reflect how we worked, I thought that a lot of guys really battled hard. It’s hard to find positives in an 8-3 loss, but a lot of guys competed really hard. We had some big efforts – Storts gets a goal and assist, Poulie scores a nice goal, I thought we battled in the faceoff circle, so there’s some good things going into tomorrow.

Reading that, I wonder if Ethan Moreau was at the game. If the Oilers were putting forth the necessary effort, why did they have the doors blown off? Was their pre-game preparation lacking? Asked what the difference was between the first and second periods, Moreau offered the following:

Just that they scored more goals in the first. It’s really hard to find faults in our energy in here before the game. Things didn’t go well, we took the penalty early and they scored and things snowballed from there. But if you really break down the game and watch it I thought there were a lot of individuals who really competed hard and won a lot of battles. It’s a process – we’ve got thirty games left and if we continue to do things right and fix things that need to be fixed we’ll be fine.

Compare that quote above to what Kyle Brodziak said after the game:

We came into the game, and I don’t know if we were really nervous or tentative but we were uptight and we weren’t skating. They’re a good team - they’ve got a lot of skill over there - and if you’re not ready to skate with them they’re going to pick you apart.

Which of those two comments seems closer to accurate? Ethan Moreau’s idea that the only problem was that the Red Wings just scored more goals in the first but the team battled hard, or Brodziak’s comment that they weren’t ready to skate with the Red Wings?

Let me make it crystal clear for everyone: the game is won and lost on goals scored for and against. The game isn’t won because you have good “energy” in the room prior to setting foot on the ice, or because you “competed hard”. Winning puck battles is indeed of importance, but only because winning puck battles leads to scoring goals. It doesn’t matter how much grit, jam or sandpaper a team displays (not that I thought the Oilers were outstanding in that regard yesterday) if you only manage three goals while your opposition scores eight. That doesn’t seem to be a concept that Craig MacTavish understands:

Even the first period, we made mistakes obviously, but we knew they were going to come hard at the start; they hadn’t been playing up to their standards and it’s been a bit of boot camp from what we understand, around here. We knew they were going to come hard, we were prepared for it. We battled hard, and we played hard, and our young guys really battled hard. Cogs, I thought really battled, as did Sam... Pouliot got involved a little bit tonight, scored a goal and got in a confrontation, which is something that we haven’t seen a lot out of him. It was unfortunate that they got the goal in the last six seconds of the second period to make it six nothing, and then all of a sudden we get three and if we don’t give up that goal late we’re back in the game. It’s a funny game – you just have to compete hard, every minute of every night, and I think that for a large part we did that tonight.

That’s right folks – despite the obvious mismatch in the respective teams’ play, if not for the unfortunate sixth goal against and that equally unfortunate seventh goal against, the Oilers would have been right in it. The Oilers were prepared and they battled hard, despite going down 5-0 in the first twenty minutes.

To sum up:

I think a lot of times when you get beat handily, it’s tough to respond the next day, but I think we’re going to be able to not take a step back, despite the loss.

I certainly hope this team doesn’t take a step back; it would be a real shame if all that effort the Oilers exerted to lose only 8-3 instead of 10-2 or 9-2 went to waste.

Why Gene Principe Rocks

Faced with the 8-3 loss, and seemingly unable to force his mouth to ask MacTavish to elaborate on the virtues of “battling hard”, Gene Principe needed to find some kind of Wellwood-soft question to lob at MacTavish. With his incredible ability to make clutch plays, he responded, leading to this interaction:

Principe: “Dwayne’s penalty looked like it was an accident on his part...”

MacTavish: “What happened - I didn’t even see it?”

Principe: “He just kinda... stuck his stick... up between his legs... with Cleary.”

He just kinda... accidentally... whacked Dan Cleary... in that spot between his legs. You can’t teach that kind of analysis. Sportsnet’s lucky to have him.

Oh Yeah, There’s A Game Today

Let’s look at the key ingredients for this afternoon’s game:

  • The Oilers are playing Minnesota in Minnesota (they’ve lost 8 straight at the Xcel Energy Center).
  • The Oilers are currently tied with Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the West, making this a textbook example of a four-point game.
  • The Oilers are coming off an 8-3 loss yesterday in which the captain and head coach were pleased with their effort.
  • Minnesota hasn’t played since Friday.

Let’s call it a 2-1 OT loss. Dustin Penner and Pierre-Marc Bouchard with regulation goals, and let’s chalk up the game winner to Marc-Andre Bergeron.

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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 David S
February 08 2009, 01:47PM
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Wej wrote:

Roloson’s a F**king joke.

He's good for one softie a night.

...gawd Evanka's looking hawt today.

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#52 David S
February 08 2009, 01:51PM
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So I guess BM, Gretz and his crew must have been knockin' 'em down last night at Hudsons. Kinda quiet in here.

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#53 RyanD
February 08 2009, 01:59PM
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When DOESN'T Evanka look hot?

That late goal really sucked. It's amazing how it changes the complexion of a game, considering that was about as good a road period as we could have played (scoring a few more PP goals would have been nice, though). Considering we've only scored 9 goals in the last 8 games in this building, Roli can't afford to let that in.

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#54 Chris
February 08 2009, 02:06PM
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doggie-style D wrote:

Great news everyone - (I think my birthday wish from last night came true) The Edmonton Sun’s daily poll question today is: “Is it time for Craig MacTavish to step aside as head coach?” This is THE opportunity to make our voice be heard

Seriously cruise over and vote everyone... It's at 68% (Yes, Time For New Blood)

Let's get that up 99%.

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#55 Xavier
February 08 2009, 02:07PM
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Baggedmilk and everyone is posting on the JSBM website. Their game day is hopping. Go to the blogroll and click the link.

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#56 Al Hamilton
February 08 2009, 02:08PM
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darn it all to heck

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#57 Colin
February 08 2009, 02:11PM
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Roloson getting the start is a joke, another case of player mismanegment(JDD) for the Oil team.

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#58 Boundz
February 08 2009, 02:45PM
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I've often laughed at the difference in post-game comments from players. Some call it like it is, but Moreau tends to not deal with reality with some of his.

I've asked myself the exact same question... "was he playing in the game that I watched?"

Great article.

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#59 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:01PM
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Does anyone in the media have the balls to ask why Pouliot is on this team?

And MacT puts this waste of a draft pick on the PP?!

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#60 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:04PM
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That bum Gagner looks good this period, yes?

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#61 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:06PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

That bum Gagner looks good this period, yes?

He's had a rough third, that's for sure. He was looking decent in the first two (in terms of battling for the puck).

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#62 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:06PM
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@ Wej:

Pouliot really isn't the worst player on this team.

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#63 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:08PM
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Wej wrote:

He’s had a rough third, that’s for sure. He was looking decent in the first two (in terms of battling for the puck).

I thought he'd been fairly good in the third too - the shift where Cole drew the penalty that whole line was buzzing.

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#64 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:09PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Wej: Pouliot really isn’t the worst player on this team.

He's been one of the worst since getting his bell rung. The worst? Who would you say is the worst?

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#65 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:11PM
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Andy Brunette needs to be really careful there - if he gets into it with Souray, his iron man streak is in real jeopardy.

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#66 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:12PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Wej wrote: I thought he’d been fairly good in the third too - the shift where Cole drew the penalty that whole line was buzzing.

He had a few giveaways in the third, and pressed the play instead of making the simple one.

Overall he's had a better game than many of the vets.

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#67 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:13PM
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Wej wrote:

He’s been one of the worst since getting his bell rung. The worst? Who would you say is the worst?

That's really not a bad point; his play has certainly been more intermittent since then.

The worst? Liam Reddox is my pick, although if we're judging Steve MacIntyre just on hockey ability he jumps in front.

It's also worth noting that the Oilers' third pairing is none too impressive.

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#68 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:14PM
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Why won't MacT try Nilsson Cogliano and Hemsky together? It's worth a shot. Or is he afraid that it will expose Moreau for the half assed player that he is?

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#69 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:15PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It’s also worth noting that the Oilers’ third pairing is none too impressive.

I.E. Staios/Strudwick, not Smid.

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#70 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:15PM
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Wej wrote:

Why won’t MacT try Nilsson Cogliano and Hemsky together? It’s worth a shot. Or is he afraid that it will expose Moreau for the half assed player that he is?

...when Cogliano isn't playing with Moreau.

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#71 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:16PM
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Nice finish, Samwise.

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#72 Milli
February 08 2009, 03:16PM
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Fork ya!!!!!!

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#73 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:16PM
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Atta boy Gagner. Nice positioning to be in the slot like that.

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#74 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:17PM
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I really hope the Oilers keep Smid. He's grown leaps and bounds this season.

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#75 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:20PM
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Wej wrote:

I really hope the Oilers keep Smid. He’s grown leaps and bounds this season.

I think Smid's a piece you build around going forward. His extension shouldn't cost that much, because I really don't think he'll ever have the pretty points totals required to earn the big dollars.

He adds a lot that doesn't show up in the score column.

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#76 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:23PM
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Do you think that playing with Penner/Stortini adds some fire to Pouliot's game.

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#77 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2009, 03:27PM
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I'm not a big fan of Moreau, but he sure had some drive right there.

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#78 Milli
February 08 2009, 03:37PM
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wow....let's get to the so

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#79 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:46PM
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Gilbert? Is MacT serious? What a moronic decision.

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#80 chaz
February 08 2009, 03:49PM
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Gilbert?!? Just bc he's from Minnesota doesn't mean he'll score in the S/O Mac T. Go with a goal scorer. Weak.

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#81 Wej
February 08 2009, 03:50PM
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@ chaz:

That's what you get when your coach is a Grade"A" Moron.

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#82 chaz
February 08 2009, 03:56PM
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@ Wej: "Cogs? Nope. Cole? Nope. Penner? Nope....let's go with Gilbs. How are his back spasms by the way? Doesn't matter, he grew up around here. He'll score..."

Craig MacTavish: 02/08/09 3:37 pm

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#83 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 04:03PM
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STINK POST - #51 Deep Oil February 8 2009, 12:23 pm.

APE wrote:

Game day b!tches!

1) Afternoon game 2) Against the Wild 3) Blown out last game - unprepared again

Add all this up and hope for an overtime time win or loss and give the badly needed points to a division rival - with MACT saying that they tried hard. ________________________________________________________

I just had a feeling on this....... sometimes you get lucky and find an acorn.

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#84 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 04:05PM
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Wej wrote:

@ chaz: That’s what you get when your coach is a Grade”A” Moron.

followed up by a GM that handcuffed his coach with morons - idiot contracts - shame on you kevin

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#85 David S
February 08 2009, 04:05PM
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More like after 3 games in such a short span, nobody had anything left for the SO. Neither Sam or Robert had any jump compared to St Louis. An amazing goalie versus an OK goalie and a dead beat roster.

Still, 3 points of 6 is OK. Not great but OK.

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#86 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 04:06PM
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Wej wrote:

I really hope the Oilers keep Smid. He’s grown leaps and bounds this season.

needs to see dentist about that bobby clarke look crowns or implants please

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#87 Dennis Castro
February 08 2009, 04:06PM
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The biggest mistake was playing Roloson, JDD did decent in mop up action saturday against the Wings and Mac T goes back to Roloson in a place the Oilers have now lost 10 straight. Funny Mac T mixes up and alters lines more regularily than most people change underwear but yet he wont give JDD anything more than relief action. Roloson has played well this year, lets face he's the only reason there have not been more 10-2 like scores, but give the kid a chance.

One more thing about yesterdays game, the only reason that game didn't hit double digits for the Wings is because they pulled back the horses and stopped puhsing after the 1st, and that in itself should be enough hopefully make Lowe and Tambellini realize that the Oilers have serious problems and something needs to be done.

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#88 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 04:12PM
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David S wrote:

More like after 3 games in such a short span, nobody had anything left for the SO. Neither Sam or Robert had any jump compared to St Louis. An amazing goalie versus an OK goalie and a dead beat roster. Still, 3 points of 6 is OK. Not great but OK.

.500 on the road is allright, but the oil have stunk out Rexall - so that argument is not valid

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#89 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 04:13PM
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Dennis Castro wrote:

The biggest mistake was playing Roloson, JDD did decent in mop up action saturday against the Wings and Mac T goes back to Roloson in a place the Oilers have now lost 10 straight. Funny Mac T mixes up and alters lines more regularily than most people change underwear but yet he wont give JDD anything more than relief action. Roloson has played well this year, lets face he’s the only reason there have not been more 10-2 like scores, but give the kid a chance. One more thing about yesterdays game, the only reason that game didn’t hit double digits for the Wings is because they pulled back the horses and stopped puhsing after the 1st, and that in itself should be enough hopefully make Lowe and Tambellini realize that the Oilers have serious problems and something needs to be done.

insane comment - did you see the last 30 seconds with 5 shots on rollie

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#90 David S
February 08 2009, 04:22PM
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The book on Roli is that he comes back hard after being puled. He was pretty good tonight. Not sure if JDD could have got us that point. Looks like JDD is the new Schremp.

Regardless. The loss wasn't on Roli. There's alot of vets who've been off the sheet lately. Specifically Hemsky - WTF is with him? He's been a non factor since he got pasted into the boards a few games ago. Post concussion syndrome?

Not having Viz and Horc really hurt us tonight.

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#91 David S
February 08 2009, 04:23PM
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"pulled"

Geez you guys. Edit button already.

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#92 Deep Oil
February 08 2009, 04:37PM
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I just LOVE the comment made by matty today on C1 - DEAD COACH TALKING - until we get more than 18 shots per game - you can expect 1 maybe 2 goals again / so 1.5 per game - you are not going to win many simple even Dan T has to admit this .... Don Cherry made me laugh once about millionaires chasing beer money on the wall.... maybe DCT MACT has to put $20 on the board for every shot on net....

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#93 socaldave
February 08 2009, 05:12PM
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when your coach thinks getting a D-man some highlights in front of his friends and family in the S/O is more important that actually winning...

there's your sign!!

(that we're seriously not gonna make the playoffs - Gilbert before Cole? Penner? Cogs? F***, even Brodz? That would really make me wanna bust my ass... and get passed over for a frickin' D-man in the S/O)

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#94 socaldave
February 08 2009, 05:13PM
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ what chaz said

chaz wrote:

@ Wej: “Cogs? Nope. Cole? Nope. Penner? Nope….let’s go with Gilbs. How are his back spasms by the way? Doesn’t matter, he grew up around here. He’ll score…” Craig MacTavish: 02/08/09 3:37 pm
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#95 Bru Man
February 08 2009, 05:40PM
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mosse66 wrote:

@ Bru Man: Bru Man wrote: Ontario Oilfan wrote: RyanD wrote: Thanks for commenting on Gene. I don’t like to hate on the guy, but his interview questions are getting old. I agree that the questions are getting old and would say that the answers are wearing thing as well. It’s good to see some opinion that takes the team to task for how its leaders respond. I think a lot of fans who hover around this team are starting to see the same BS game in and game out and are getting wise to it. Better teams would have made a change long ago. It’s getting tiresome. Speaking about getting old how would you like to be a reporter in E town covering the same B.S. every year getting the same answers from the coach ..that are just worded different!!And not being able to ask the “tough questions”. well,… you could ask thew tough questions but you know you will; be Mac T bagged!!.. I agree with you but i think I’m getting bru-bagged!! Come up with new material will ya!! Same old, Same old!!

Well thats what I like to call Craig so live with it.. are you not use to having the same old around same old around here. Give me a break! Im not a reporter or a writer. Its all good buddy and remember Im not the enemy!!!

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#96 Bru Man
February 08 2009, 05:44PM
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Ya and Im a bad writer too!!

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#97 APE
February 08 2009, 08:02PM
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Yes.

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#98 Dennis Castro
February 08 2009, 08:21PM
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Deep Oil wrote:

insane comment - did you see the last 30 seconds with 5 shots on rollie

The loss is not on Rollie's shoulder's, that is clear. He's kept them in alot of games when the team has not been ready to play this year. Why not play JDD against a Minnesota team that is not an offensive force like Detroit, in a place we've lost 9 in a row, and see how he responds. Rollie could be fatigued a bit, the first goal was a bit suspect and if we need him to be outstanding for the stretch drive than this would have been the ideal game for JDD to start. Thats all I was saying. David S wrote:

Not having Viz and Horc really hurt us tonight.

Totally agree, that has more to do with the loss than anything because as a whole I thought the Oilers played a decent game.

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#99 RobinB
February 08 2009, 08:32PM
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@ Jack Bauer: Is this any way to talk about a respected member of the media?

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#100 Travis Dakin
February 08 2009, 08:48PM
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@ Jack Bauer:

Wow, now that getting by the censors is quite the impressive feat...

@ RobinB:

At what point do you think it is better to stop fighting to get killed in the first round and go for another Gagner type catch in the draft? I for one don't want this team to be the Leafs in that for years they continulously were not good enough for the playoffs but too good for a decent draft pick. I know a team can't throw the season like the Sens did back in the Daigle race but damn...

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