Oilers Vs. Predators Postgame: Who Cares?

Jonathan Willis
January 12 2010 10:03PM

Edmonton Oilers: 3

Nashville Predators: 5

I decided to try something different tonight, jotting down game notes as I watched rather than watching and then writing up an article afterward. Let me know if you like or dislike the new format. I'm a little torn; it's certainly longer, but I come across as much more bitter about the lack of success and the hours of my life I'll never get back. If I seem preachy, don't mind me; I'm just confident that any random fan could have GM'd the Oilers to 15th in the West.

The First Period

I got into this idea midway through the first, so you'll have to forgive how disjointed my thoughts on this period are.

For starters, the Oilers only had two real chances; one off a nice shot from Dustin Penner, the other generated by an uber-aggresive play by Andrew Cogliano.  Aside from that, regardless of Louie DeBrusk's whimsical description of the Oilers' start as a "storm" that Nashville "weathered" the team was impotent offensively and the Oilers' part of the game could easily have been set to the soundtrack of any middling entry in America's Funniest Home Videos.

Shea Weber scored on a nice slapshot.  Marcel Goc scored after Tom Gilbert blocked a shot and appeared overwhelmed and alone in front of Jeff Deslauriers.  After that, J.P. Dumont scored on a wraparound that Deslauriers really should have had.

I'd like to take a moment to talk about how angry this made me.  The Predators played last night and have Marcel Goc centering their top line.  They're a bubble team to begin with.  Despite these issues, they outclassed the Oilers, who never really looked like an even match for them.

That takes me to Marcel Goc, who offensive deficiencies aside is good at things the Oilers are bad at (non-vital stuff like killing penalties, winning faceoffs, and being better than the guys he's playing against), and could have been had for a very modest price (signed in Nashville for 550K).  Of course, that's the kind of player budget-concious G.M's like Poile add, and that bloggers make too big a deal of, but who real G.M.'s ignore while they're offering Chris Neil second-line money and chasing Dany Heatley.

The First Period Sportsnet Panel

It's fairly well known around here that I have little time for the Sportsnet Panel, mostly because Doug MacLean's record would speak for itself if only it could get a word in edgewise.

The first intermission was no exception.  The panel discussed the Oilers' struggles, with MacLean opining that the team was playing with "no confidence".  Does anyone really believe that confidence is the problem with this team?  Really?  Sure, I don't doubt the team lacks confidence: because teams that aren't very good have no reason to expect success.  And forget about whatever hokum you subscribe to (confidence, leadership, laziness, etc., etc., etc.) the real problem is that this isn't a very good team.

Next, the panel moved on to Alex Burrow's comments about referee Stephane Auger.  Everyone agreed that Burrows opened a can of worms and broke the inherent confidentiality between a referee and a player.  Because clearly, that inherent confidentiality is the real issue: minor things like the integrity of the game are a lot less relevant.

Finally, we were all warned against the perils of rushing Jordan Eberle, despite the fact that he'll be 20 by the time next season rolls around and has already been in junior longer than most legitimate blue chip prospects.

On the bright side, Carolina won again.

The Second Period

A nice aggressive start for the Oilers, although it didn't result in many terribly interesting chances.  I'm exaggerating here, since I've come to believe that the Oilers' offence is doomed to failure, and Rinne had to be fairly sharp over the first five minutes.

Louie DeBrusk continued to discuss how the Oilers were "all over" the Predators early in the first.  Not buying it.

"That pass is picked off" is how Kevin Quinn described the Predators coming away with the puck after Patrick O'Sullivan randomly threw it through multiple Predators to the opposing point.  I'm not sure what I'd call it, but I wouldn't call it that.

Shortly thereafter, JDD went behind the net to play the puck, gave it away to Goc who passed it out front, Deslauriers rushed back into net and tried to pull it off it's moorings but had the goal blown by him to make it 4-0.  At that point, Pat Quinn opted to go to Devan Dubnyk.  DeBrusk opted not to blame Deslauriers for all of the goals, which was probably fair, but since I'm being fair it would be too generous to describe Deslaurier's work as even "middling".  More like "AHL calibre".  My decision not to add him to my fantasy team earlier in the day seems to have been a good one.

The sad thing at this point in the game is that Nashville didn't even look particularly good; they were turning the puck over and generally playing sloppy hockey, but they were still far better than the Oilers.

I've decided to start writing in the present tense.  I started off with past tense, since I was trying to catch up with the game, and I've been keeping it up, but it feels more accurate to go into present tense.

I love the Oilers' skill competition commercials.  Who do they think cares, at this point?  Woohoo, Dustin Penner could be the most accurate shooter on a crap team, if Ryan Potulny doesn't surprise everyone.  Serious drama.

Kevin Quinn's excitement is way out of proportion to the actual excitement of the play.

Devils beat the Rangers 1-0.  Awesomeness; not that I really care except that Martin Brodeur's on my fantasy team.

Staios got drilled, but looks okay on the bench. 

"She Ain't Pretty, She Just Looks That Way" is a song I haven't thought about in months, possibly longer, prior to tonight, but it seems to have cheered me up.  It's all about finding joy at this point.

The Second Period Sportsnet Panel 

It's great to hear the panel recognize Curtis Joseph, who was an incredible goaltender for Edmonton and whose play against Dallas was one of the highlights of the '90's.

Nice piece on Rajala and his opportunity to play in the Memorial Cup this year.

Gene Principe tossing softballs to Buchberger, who isn't buying it and sounds more bitter about the Oilers than I do.  He's equally lacking in optimism about a possible Nikolai Khabibulin return and expects that Deslauriers and Dubnyk need to get the job done for the forseeable future.  It's hard not to feel bad for the coaches of this team.

51 saves for Brodeur!  45 saves for Lundqvist! 

Not a bad intermission, actually; one of the better efforts from the panel that I've seen.

The Third Period

Doug MacLean would be proud; he complained about players not taking the puck wide and apparently Patrick O'Sullivan was listening.  Shortly thereafter he nailed Kevin Klein, and it isn't the first time O'Sullivan's done that, despite complaints about his inability to compete physically.

One of the best things about Oilers games, from a pure entertainment perspective, are the times Sheldon Souray shoots the puck.  It doesn't matter when or where, if it gets through or gets blocked; he's either a threat to score or an opposing player is in pain.

Fun bit of Sullivan/O'Sullivan confusion.  I like it, and it really makes me wish that the Oilers had a Visnhevski/Vishnovsky defence pairing.

I have a co-worker with some issues.  For starters, my unnamed colleague has no filter; meaning that everything that pops into her head pops out of her mouth.  She's also very loud and has an assortment of irritating personal habits (munching on Spitz all day, talking to herself, getting confused about which direction she's going, yelling at her kids over the phone, etc.).  It's gotten to the point that anything she does - even when she's not doing anything wrong - bothers me.  I bring her up because it's the best analogy I can come up with for how I feel about Ethan Moreau.

J-F Jacques scores a flukey goal, and DeBrusk reminds us all about the wrist issue that kept him out of the lineup.  I'd been assuming it was a "not good enough to be a top-12 forward on the 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers when Fernando Pisani is healthy" issue, but apparently I was wrong about that.  It's nice to see him score, and he deserves every flukey goal he gets because he's had plenty of bad luck the other way.  

Maybe the Oilers' commentators have always been this excited about promoting their sponsors, but it seems new to me.  My guess is that they need to be excited about something (sportscasting being a high-energy occupation) and all the excitement they can't use on the Oilers gets deflected to the items being sponsored. 

Bill McCreary correctly waves off a Nashville goal knocked down by a high stick.  Not that it matters, at this point, except to those of us pulling for Devan Dubnyk.

Speaking of Dubnyk, he's been very solid since coming in for Deslauriers.  I hope he gets some more opportunities in net, given Nikolai Khabibulin's completely unpredictable absence due to injury.

J-F Jacques is apparently the right player for today's game.  I'm almost too indifferent to mention Marcel Goc, but not quite. 

Hey, a penalty!  Apparently Hornqvist, unnerved by Jacques' goal, needed to slash at his wrist, which as we know has kept him out of the lineup the last few games.  I enjoyed DeBrusk's line about how he thought this was going to be the all-star game, but I would have killed for Quinn to reply with, "Yeah, the AHL all-star game."

Beauty power play goal for Ryan Potulny, which prompts Quinn to make a common and understandable mistake ("the lead is cut in half").  Technically, the lead is cut by one-third, since it's a three goal lead.  But I quibble, because I'm bored.  I actually quite like Quinn.

Ethan Moreau takes a penalty with five minutes left.  Stop me if you've heard that before.  Apparently it's a "huge kill" for the Oilers, although it's difficult to care if they get back into a game when the season's already a write-off.  I shouldn't say that, actually; like Steve Tambellini, I'm excited to see what this team can do when everyone's healthy, an event I continue to patiently wait for, and which I presume Tambellini will continue to wait for until it's time for his Second Annual Angry Summer Press Conference, to be scheduled immediately after he gets upset by the lack of effort at hte Oilers' spring golf tournament.

Another goal against the Oilers, this one as the team tries to kill the Moreau penalty.  I feel obliged to remind the anti-MacTavish hordes that I've been told a bad penalty kill is the sign of a bad coach.  5-2 Predators.

The losing streak seems likely to hit five games; that'll be one win in 13 games, which is nice for the draft rankings.

Great shot by Steve Staios which handcuffed Rinne but didn't go in. 

The referees have now called three penalties in the third, which means they won't have to buy new whistles to replace the ones they've lost.  Also, bless Kevin Quinn, whose excitement ("...as the Oilers try to make it respectable!") is the mark of a man doing a fine job of pretending to care.

A goal on a two-man advantage goes to Dustin Penner, and while it's irrelevant to the outcome of the game it's nice to see the power play clicking so well.

Conclusion

The Sportsnet power poll after the game asks who should take the brunt of the blame for the Oilers struggles.  The fact that Steve Tambellini wasn't one of the options is an epic fail.

I found myself nodding as Doug MacLean said this game wasn't the result of a "lack of effort", but he lost me when he said it wasn't about skill but rather style of play.  He came out and said that it "isn't about the personnel" which just goes to show that he hasn't gotten any better at evaluating talent since he was fired by the Blue Jackets, or possibly that he's stopped gunning for a G.M. job and now just hopes to be a coach somewhere.

The Western Conference standings are downright depressing.  The Kings, in eighth, are eight points up on the 14th place Blue Jackets, who are eight points up on the Oilers.  In other words, the 14th best team in the West is as close to the playoffs as the Oilers are to being the second-worst team in the West.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 09:40AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Do you have a mushroom burger before the game?

Subway

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#52 Tracie
January 13 2010, 09:40AM
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Chris. wrote:

I didn't want to go to the game last night. I have already paid for my tickets... but this kind of hockey isn't worth the $12.00 parking fee: and there isn't enough $8.00 beers in the world to make watching the Oilers fun... So I called 8-10 different people, and even sent an e-mail to all the parents on my kids hockey team. I offered up my tickets for free... When I had no takers, I just sucked it up and went. I had a rotten time.

I'm torn about renewing. I'm afraid if I let my tickets go, things will magically come together for the team in a year or two and I will always regret my decision. On the other hand, what if the Oilers become the Maple Leafs west? Or worse yet... what if I stick it out, watch three more years of this crap, then the team improves, and I am forced to give up my tickets anyway due to large cost increases, or seat licensing fees when the team moves downtown?

I'm not made of money... Having season tickets was the realization of a lifelong dream... a dream that is turning into a nightmare. Me, and my family make real sacrifices to hand the Oilers thousands of dollars that they seem to piss away. I've never taken my family on a winter vacation; I buy seats. I haven't taken my wife to a nice weekday meal at the Keg or wherever; I pickup a babysitter, we attend a crappy game, and go home depressed...

It's easy for non season ticketholders to high-five each other and call for the fall for Hall. It's easy for many Oiler fans to shift their focus to other pursuits; attend some movies; maybe check the box scores or highlights when they come home... It's fun to accuse people of jumping on and off the bandwagon; but I'm a lifelong fan who needs to make some serious decisions about my relationship with this franchise moving forward. The hockey is no good.

I'm soory this is so long. Many posters here are scattered around the globe. You can't know what it's like to have the burden of tickets during stretches like this. I smiled in 07... knowing a good pick would come our way. Well that was Gagner. He is good; but more than two years later the team is even worse.

Hey Chris,

I'm with you! after the 06 run, where I spent a thousand dollars to get into two playoff games, i had a chance to get season seats and we jumped at it...now I'm second guessing my decision, but, like you, I know that if I give them up, the team will pick it up and I will regret it...but you are right, it's definitely not worth the money right now...sigh! We were so happy to finally become season ticekt holders and now it's come to this...

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#53 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 13 2010, 09:42AM
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@OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

Why? Do you have no Subways in Red Deer and too many Burger Barons? Man I'm hungry now.

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#54 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 09:52AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Why? Do you have no Subways in Red Deer and too many Burger Barons? Man I'm hungry now.

I just love thier tasty goodness.

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#56 Chris.
January 13 2010, 10:02AM
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@Tracie

You know it's bad when people are leaving before the 50/50 draw.

IMO, the gameday presentation needs to be improved. I know there is a resistance to having gimicky contests, promotions, Ice Girls, etc. ~After all. This is the Heartland of Hockey and not some upstart U.S. market. We don't need to do that here... The focus should be the hockey.... right?~

Wrong! This kind of hockey cannot stand alone. It's time the Oilers upped their game off the ice; since they are seemingly so incapable of doing so on the ice! A little distraction would be nice for the paying fans while they wait for talent to mature, and deadweight contracts to run their course.

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#57 Canadian Maniac
January 13 2010, 10:10AM
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From the Oilers twitter: Nikolai Khabibulin to undergo surgery today in LA to repair a herniated disc.

I'm sure everyone here is very, very shocked that this was the outcome. His contract will be haunting us for a while, but I hope the guy recovers, I have no problems with him as a player, just the choices management made to get him.

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#58 JorgeR
January 13 2010, 10:13AM
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Watching the highlights this morning was shameful. Either they picked the worst highlights possible or that was one of the worst games of the year.

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#59 Chris.
January 13 2010, 10:19AM
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@JorgeR

Worst game of the year? Hard to say; there have been so many....

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#60 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 10:19AM
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I can't believe I was actually foolish enough to think that the mini-camp would have an impact. Get this.....I was actually concerned that we might WIN a game.

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#61 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 10:21AM
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Canadian Maniac wrote:

From the Oilers twitter: Nikolai Khabibulin to undergo surgery today in LA to repair a herniated disc.

I'm sure everyone here is very, very shocked that this was the outcome. His contract will be haunting us for a while, but I hope the guy recovers, I have no problems with him as a player, just the choices management made to get him.

That's actually really good news, if Khabibulin was to return he might actually provide us with NHL level net minding and it might cost us a loss or two.

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#62 Canadian Maniac
January 13 2010, 10:38AM
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@Dan the Man

That's probably the first thing that came to a lot of minds (my own included). There's no salvaging this season and only way out of this mess is to draft well for the next couple of years, and that certainly gives us no guarantees. If Tambellini still has a job here after the season and even utters the word "Kovalchuk" in the summer I say we form a lynch mob.

I take it no one is really paying the latest Eklund E26!!!! rumor (I assume he dropped the rating system due to the constantly mockery) much mind? Supposed big deal between the Oilers and the Habs providing a key element falls into place (let's humor him and say, oh, it's someone waiving their NTC).

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#63 Racki
January 13 2010, 10:41AM
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About time Rehabibulin went in for surgery.

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#64 madjam
January 13 2010, 10:48AM
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You have to wonder if Katz is having just as much trouble trying to find a new Pres. , Gm , etc. - as Lowe and Tams are having trying to trade or procur new worthwhile talent ?? Maybe thats why nothing positive is happening here in Oilerville ? I wonder how many veterans, etc. are offering themselves up for trade besides Souray ? Maybe they will save most Oiler fans the trauma of more losses , etc. and put all remaining T.V. games on pay for view ?? Perhaps even play rest of home games in Regina ?

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#65 Dan the Man
January 13 2010, 10:48AM
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Racki wrote:

About time Rehabibulin went in for surgery.

Rehabibulin.....that's pure awesomeness!!!! Actually made me LOL.

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#66 dragon
January 13 2010, 10:59AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Well horcoff is taking draws but my good 10W 20L last night. Why when we are in the situation we are do we give him that many draws, especially when Cogs 5-1, Potulny 10-5, and Gagner 8-4 were doing well?

Another 50+ game for Potulny with some PK and PP time and a goal. Wonder if he is another guy that can turn into that 3rd/4th line center that we need.

no way. Potulny could easily be the next Brodziak...

if the management doesn't do something about the vets on this team, more kids will find fun elsewhere.

already wonder how the 2011 first pick looks like.

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#67 offside
January 13 2010, 11:16AM
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Could this be the end for Khabibulin? Is it possible that he may never play again?

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#68 Ender
January 13 2010, 11:36AM
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offside wrote:

Could this be the end for Khabibulin? Is it possible that he may never play again?

Oh, you are such a tease. Do you really think the Oilers will be lucky enough to get away from his four-year contract that easily?

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#69 Lofty
January 13 2010, 12:06PM
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Ender wrote:

Oh, you are such a tease. Do you really think the Oilers will be lucky enough to get away from his four-year contract that easily?

Except they dont get away from it

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#70 Senator Theo
January 13 2010, 01:21PM
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I still can't believe we could have Goc that guy so cheap.

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#71 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 13 2010, 01:29PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

I still can't believe we could have Goc that guy so cheap.

Or about 3 dozen other guys.

Tambillini has no one to blame but himself.

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#72 Kevo
January 13 2010, 01:54PM
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Thank god the Rush season kicks of this week!

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