Oilers Vs. Flames: Pathetic In Every Imaginable Way

Jonathan Willis
January 30 2010 11:54PM

Calgary Flames: 6

Edmonton Oilers: 1

I ended up watching this game without my laptop, so unfortunately (fortunately?) I don’t have the more in-depth analysis tonight.

God willing, though, I’ll never have to listen to the CBC “C” squad again. Mark Lee was actually slightly better than I remember him, but good lord was Kevin Weekes a train wreck. Aside from the few moments where he made blindingly obvious statements (‘so good on the defenceman for skating there,’ ‘as a goalie when a guy bowls you in that can be tough’) I wasn’t even sure we were watching the same sport, never mind the same game. I’d thought I’d hit the highest possible level of announcer annoyance with John Garrett in the last Canucks game, but Weekes managed to raise the bar. It was the worst commentating I’ve heard, ever. He made no comment all night that wasn’t either a) wrong or b) a brutally obvious generalization or c) a repetition of what Mark Lee had just said or d) a combination of any or all of the first three. His performance was so bad that it could accurately be described as worse than the Oilers’, which I’ll address presently.

The Oilers were simply miserable tonight.

Their goaltender was shaky from his first play: he was shaky skating from the net, he was shaky moving the puck, and he was shaky in the crease.

The defence was a disaster; Sheldon Souray gift-wrapped a goal and showed a lack of discipline and may have been injured, Lubomir Visnovsky was uncharacteristically poor in his own end, Jason Strudwick is not an NHL player and probably isn’t an ECHL-level skater, and Taylor Chorney was out of his depth in the AHL. On the plus side, Tom Gilbert wasn’t awful.

Up front, the forward corps mysteriously lacked Mike Comrie, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Ethan Moreau was out a-chopping, as he does. Jean-Francois Jacques doesn’t really need to play with a hockey stick; it’s superfluous to what he does out there. Robert Nilsson made a bunch of brilliant passes, half of them to teammates. Dustin Penner seems to have lost a step. Shawn Horcoff is clearly frustrated out there (although that resulted in a fight). Marc Pouliot had his worst game since coming back. Again, on the plus side: Sam Gagner was pretty good.

One final point: Lee and Weekes both seemed to be describing a spiritual experience as they gushed about the physical play and courage of Phaneuf, Regehr and Glencross. Particularly appealing were hits on O’Sullivan, Brule, Nilsson, Visnovsky, and Potulny. I just wanted to chime in with my agreement; after all, there’s nothing quite so courageous as hitting a guy 4” shorter and 50 lbs lighter (please note: I’m not complaining about the hits; I’m saying that “courage” is the wrong word to use).

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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 6 ring circus
January 31 2010, 10:30AM
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Maybe someone should check Tamballinis contract and see if he has a no trade clause in it.Our great GM has made moves twice, last years trade deadline and last summers free agency day,other than that he sits there and does F*ck all, hell they could have hired me for half the money, I could have done a better job.

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#52 dragon
January 31 2010, 10:37AM
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nice trade by Mr. Sutter.

at least one Alberta team moves forward...

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#53 Mr. Brightside
January 31 2010, 10:38AM
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Now, now, lets give credit where credit is due. He did re-up Grebeshkov for $3.1MM somewhere in there. Grebby's second period in the Dallas game was the worst period of hockey I have ever seen an individual have. Last night wasn't much better.

Sorry Stevie Y, I don't care how good the forwards are, if this guys is on team Russia's blue line, they CANT be considered favourites...

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#54 Reagan
January 31 2010, 11:00AM
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Wow, the Leafs are gutting that crap payroll! Flames make a decent move...

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#55 Archaeologuy
January 31 2010, 11:07AM
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Calgary/Toronto trade:

Calgary already mortgaged their future for this season as they dont have their 1st 2 picks this season. Did they really just sell off even more of their future for Stajan and White? 1 UFA and an RFA having a career year?

Toronto acquires 1 big defenseman who is defensively unreliable at the expense of 2 of their best forwards?

Did both teams just get worse? I guess Burke really wants Boston to pick in the top 2.

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#56 Ducey
January 31 2010, 11:18AM
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Nice trade by Sutter?

I don't see it. The sum of the parts given up by the Leaves may be more than the parts given up by the Flames. But, the best player went the other way.

I would have thought the Dion could have netted a superior offensive player at the deadline. Maybe Whitney (a passer), maybe a Kovulchuk rental, and whoever else is floating around.

The Flames have enough depth forwards. They need a guy who will stir the drink on the PP and in key matchups.

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#57 Ducey
January 31 2010, 11:27AM
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Oh, and before any of you jump off a bridge, yes, the Oilers suck, but all last place teams do. Its the downside of the DFF.

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#58 Dan the Man
January 31 2010, 11:37AM
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The best part of the Phaneuf trade is thinking about how much he will enjoy the Toronto media.

Also the Leafs will have over 25 Mil tied up in their D next year...wow.

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#59 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2010, 11:41AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Look, this wasn't about a lack of effort (despite what the CBC commentators would have everyone believe).

The goaltending's been brutal, but that's not an effort thing - unless people actually believe Dubnyk and Deslauriers are trying to sabotage their best shot at an NHL career.

On the defensive side of things, Jason Strudwick's the worst defenceman on the team by a mile, but does anyone believe he isn't trying? The fact that Chorney is struggling - is that a heart problem or the fact that the Oilers haven't even stuck him in AHL minutes he can handle, let alone NHL work? Has Souray given up, on a bad night but also a night he fractured his hand in a fight? Tom Gilbert, called out by various commenters for avoiding physical play, is the best shot-blocker on the team. How do people reconcile that with 'lack of heart' comments? The CBC crew ran a clip of Glencross running over Visnovsky, followed by Weekes talking about how tentative the Oilers 'D' was; but Visnovsky took the hit to make the play - that's the courageous choice, the choice of a player who hasn't called it a year yet.

Up front, Shawn Horcoff's frustration after every game in interviews is hard to watch; his fight tonight almost certainly stemmed from the same source. Players like Moreau, Pouliot, Cogliano and Jacques have plenty of issues this season, but not a lack of effort. Patrick O'Sullivan (another sequence where the CBC crew bizarrely sang Phaneuf's praises) went toe-to-toe with Dion Phaneuf in the corner and took an elbow to the face for his efforts. That's heart. Gilbert Brule was running around all night. Sam Gagner continues to compete and was the best Oiler out there.

Effort is not the issue, and this isn't a team that has stopped playing. There's plenty of room for anger, but despite Steve Tambellini's declaration to assess the team's courage, I don't think courage is one of them.

Agreed 100%, I was going to write something similar.

From what I've seen, the only guys that look like they gave up are Souray and Penner, the rest of the team is just plain bad (in the context of what is left of them vs what they are playing against)

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#60 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2010, 11:46AM
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And Brian Burke today proves how useless Tambellini really is.

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#61 Ender
January 31 2010, 12:49PM
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jake wrote:

Gilbert should be wearing dresses. Physical contact allergy. Gets beat wide so easily (see 2nd goal). Gee they were bad out there.

Seconded. I normally find myself agreeing with most of what JW says, but his observations on Gilbert today didn't resonate with me. I keep thinking back to that second goal and how Gilbert just let the forward skate right around him and go to the net. Maybe we set a different standard for 'awful', but that defines it for me.

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#62 Phil
January 31 2010, 01:17PM
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misfit wrote:

Oh man, you don't think it could actually get WORSE, do you?

...could it?

I expect them to continue trodding down this rocky road and prolong their already epic losing streak to 21 games and go winless for 2 entire months. That losing streak could actually continue into March when they return from the Olympic break, seeing as they face Nashville and Chicago on the road, but I'm not really thinking about that right now.

It is a realistic possibility the Oilers could gun for 30 straight losses this season. I see them winning less than 5 games for the remainder.

That's about all I have left to say.

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#63 jake
January 31 2010, 02:49PM
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@Phil

If they lose 30 straight, they should get automatic 1 over all pick this year, next and 2012, should be in CBA.

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#64 Wanye
January 31 2010, 04:48PM
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This is probably one of my favourite Willis articles of all time. Blind rage suits you Jon, it suits you to a tee.

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#65 Mr DeBakey
January 31 2010, 08:07PM
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"I keep thinking back to that second goal and how Gilbert just let the forward skate right around him and go to the net."

I just re-watched the replay Gilbert forced his man [J-Bo who was coming with a swack-o-speed] wide.

The problem was that nobody [JFJ] picked up the guy in the slot.

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