PUSHED AROUND: OILERS TURN THE OTHER CHEEK

Robin Brownlee
October 25 2010 06:20PM

Remember the kerfuffle in Cowtown this month when player-turned-TV-guy Mike Peca said Jay Bouwmeester was easy to play against and, essentially, soft? The Edmonton Oilers have a team full of players just like that.

The Oilers not only got drubbed 6-1 by the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place Saturday, they got roughed up like weaklings handing over their lunch money in the schoolyard. When the Sharks imposed their physical will, the Oilers couldn't, or wouldn't, muster a response.

With all the talk that the Oilers were going to be tougher this season as a means to ride shotgun for youngsters like Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle, Saturday's roll-over had to be particularly difficult for fans to watch.

Sadly, despite the return of tough guy Steve MacIntyre, who watched from the press box, and the addition of Jim Vandermeer and big Kurtis Foster, we've seen this movie how many times before?

Lots of team-tough talk. No action.

PLEASE, SIR, CAN I HAVE ANOTHER?

With MacIntyre watching from the cheap seats and willing Theo Peckham out with a sore hand, the Oilers spent all night turning the other cheek as the Sharks had their way.

Where was the response after Scott Nichol, who wouldn't be six feet tall if he stood on an Edmonton phone book, knocked the starch out of Andrew Cogliano? Did anybody in an Oilers jersey even think of pushing back when the Sharks leaned on them, which was often?

Did Vandermeer, who duked it out with MacIntyre a couple years ago, show up? No. What about Foster, who stands six-foot-five and weighs 225 pounds? Nope. Big Dustin Penner, the Shying Fridge? Nada. Jason Strudwick? What about Tom Gilbert? Right. Has he ever put a glove, let alone a fist, in somebody's face?

Oh, wait, Zack Stortini had a scrap with Jamal Mayers -- one in which Mayers was assessed an instigator penalty for pushing the issue. Zack, of course, seldom needs a written invitation. As for everybody else, not so much.

TALK IS CHEAP

Before anybody gets carried away, I'm not complaining about the Oilers not icing a line-up full of thugs who regularly top the punch parade over at Hockeyfights.com because that's not the answer. A reprise of the Broad Street Bullies we don't need.

I'm not talking about forcing a limited player like MacIntyre into the line-up every night because that won't work, either (and, last time I checked, he can't kill penalties). He can be a positive factor in 40-50 games a year and probably no more.

I'm not even necessarily talking about the gloves hitting the ice and punches being thrown, although that's often the most direct approach if opponents try to run you out of your own rink, which the Sharks did.

Is it too much to ask, though, that somebody plays like they're just a bit pissed off after Cogliano gets steamrolled? Is it unreasonable to expect a more robust, physical tone to the game when that happens?

To see a player in Copper and Blue not named Stortini or MacIntyre push-back? Apparently, it is, despite all the tough talk in pre-season.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show 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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#1 pelhem grenville
October 25 2010, 06:24PM
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FISTICUFFS ARE WHAT'S NEEDED HERE

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#2 Rogue
October 25 2010, 06:29PM
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Totally agree. This is the first article on us being wussies. D is soft. So is our front 9. We will need at least 2 if not 3 players up front, and in the back with talent and grit before we are a threat. Over the years to come, this team will be adding and subtracting before it is ready.

Good job Robin!

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#3 baggedmilk
October 25 2010, 06:33PM
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I am currently experimenting with tiny electric probes that will be implanted in Oiler players shoulder pads and faces. Every time an opposing player touches an Oiler in said areas, he will receive 835,000 volts, literally vaporizing them on contact. As it stands now, this results in a 2 minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It's a work in progress.

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#4 Dennis
October 25 2010, 06:36PM
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Nice work on the little play on 27's Staples-enforced nickname and also for warding off the temptation to use Stauffer's "running the Oilers show" line which he throws out every time I listen to him.

And we won't be seeing a lot of physical play from a guy like 26 and the Oilers being less than physical was easy to call as soon as we saw the final roster.

I don't think it would be such a factor if someone could kill a penalty but I know different narratives will be touched on throughout the season.

That being said what they really need is a vet 3rd line pivot and two real dmen and then the toughness or lackthereof wouldn't be in the forefront.

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#5 Bak04
October 25 2010, 06:43PM
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All sports fans should understand the difference between fighting and toughness. Mac or no Mac, as a player of his skill set will always be in a limited role on the ice, players need to be willing to pay the price phyically when a fellow player gets run. Renney and Tambo spoke of changing the culure in the dressing room all summer, a pivotal facet in achieving this goal is having a team that feels like a family and people will protect their family members in distress.

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#6 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 25 2010, 06:48PM
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If we could only find a Frank Beaton or Randy Holt type player to play in our top nine.

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#7 RossCreekNation
October 25 2010, 06:53PM
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He's not exactly what this team is looking for, but he does bring a combination of size & skill that they could use -- Blake Wheeler is rumored to be available out of Boston.

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#8 Hax
October 25 2010, 07:04PM
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If Ottawa is having a fire sale could we get a guy like Chris Neil. I would love Jordin Tootoo or Cal Clutterbuck. No one on in the top six forwards ever throws a hit except Brule.

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#9 JDP
October 25 2010, 07:11PM
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I dont think we are watching the same games. We are losing beacuse of our awful second grade ****check that*** third grade defence.

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#10 MattL
October 25 2010, 07:14PM
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Hax wrote:

If Ottawa is having a fire sale could we get a guy like Chris Neil. I would love Jordin Tootoo or Cal Clutterbuck. No one on in the top six forwards ever throws a hit except Brule.

Good luck, you don't think other people have noticed those guys too?

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#11 Hax
October 25 2010, 07:18PM
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MattL wrote:

Good luck, you don't think other people have noticed those guys too?

Thanks captain obvious i never though other teams might like them.

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#12 godot10
October 25 2010, 07:35PM
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MacGregor has begun to fill the pipeline with crusty types. Hartikainen, Hamilton, Pitlick.

Quinn used Penner correctly. Renney seems to be following MacT's flawed path and playing Penner with Hemsky.

Penner is wasted playing with Hemsky, because Hemsky "hogs" the puck. Penner should be played with Brule, and then the Oilers would have 2 hockey players, instead of half a hockey player with the current lines.

Penner has to play with cycle guys (Getzlaf, Perry, Brule, Eberle) and not rush guys (like Hemsky).

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#13 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 25 2010, 07:46PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

He's not exactly what this team is looking for, but he does bring a combination of size & skill that they could use -- Blake Wheeler is rumored to be available out of Boston.

Wheeler for Cogs would be a nice swap for both teams.

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#14 Mitch
October 25 2010, 07:54PM
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@Brownlee

With all the young skill guys in the lineup they look too thankful to be here. The young guys have to be more involved in every aspect of the game. Tired of watching Stortini try and be a fighter, the oilers get there show run every game MacIntrye isn't dressed. The oilers will continue to be physically outmaned every game as long as your centres are #89 0R #13, sorry we must get bigger there. Is that really Vandermeer out there, wouldn't be scared to sit him for a while. I will never complain about the loses as long as there is a reward at the end, that comes in the form of high draft picks, which in the end should mean a stanley cup.

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#15 Robin Brownlee
October 25 2010, 08:36PM
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JDP wrote:

I dont think we are watching the same games. We are losing beacuse of our awful second grade ****check that*** third grade defence.

We're watching the same game. The defence is a bomb squad the way it mishandles and doesn't move the puck. The PK is atrocious.

Until the personnel or the execution changes, fans are stuck with that. What they shouldn't be stuck with is a team that won't play with some jam and intensity.

If word gets out -- and it will -- that the Oilers won't answer the bell physically unless MacIntyre is in the line-up, then Hall, Eberle, Paajarvi, Hemsky become targets.

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#16 book¡e
October 25 2010, 09:06PM
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Robin - what does it do for your media access to the team when you call them all wimps?

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#17 godot10
October 25 2010, 09:14PM
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MacIntyre can't protect anyone playing 3 minutes a game. He is incapable of playing more.

And taking instigator penalties against middle and light heavyweight agitators, who won't volutarily fight him, will just get him kicked out of the game.

Fixing the power play would do far more than dressing MacIntyre.

Fixing the penalty kill would to, since the other team would have to play their better players to score at even strength.

SMac helps a bit, but the benefit of Smac is being grossly exagerated here.

Stortini, with a couple of crustier bottom six forwards who can actually play a bit is a far better solution than a goon capable of 3 minutes per game.

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#18 Team Larsson
October 25 2010, 09:22PM
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The last time I checked Lidstrom wasnt throwing any facewashes either. But I think we all agree he is not bad. So lay off Gilbert, its not what he does. If you want a pest, go out and get a pest, don't try to turn Penner into Sean Avery, a player we could use on this team. A leopard can't change its spots, RB. You just wait until JF "Crazy Train" Jacques comes back. Then they'll be sorry, until he tweaks his back again.

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#19 Fancy Dan
October 25 2010, 09:28PM
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Send down Struds and Jones, bring up Petiot and Reddox. Trade for Todd White. Now, that sure doesn't solve our toughness, but it does win us some games. If you want tough, sit down Storts and dress Big Mac every game. I doubt you see anyone running around then, they've seen the "one punch" youtube sensation. Not that he would fight everyone, but the Oilers would all play 8 feet tall with him sitting on the bench waiting...Huggy just doesnt intimidate anyone.

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#21 I tried it at home
October 25 2010, 09:44PM
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Golly, if only we had Sheldon Souray, playing big and mean on the blue line... Um, oh yeah...

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#22 SkinnyD
October 25 2010, 09:48PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

FISTICUFFS ARE WHAT'S NEEDED HERE

Did you mean to creatively post fist? If so, please accept my applause from afar, sir!

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#24 Butters
October 25 2010, 09:57PM
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The Oilers need to practice face washes along with face-offs.

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#25 Rogue
October 25 2010, 10:35PM
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Team Larsson wrote:

The last time I checked Lidstrom wasnt throwing any facewashes either. But I think we all agree he is not bad. So lay off Gilbert, its not what he does. If you want a pest, go out and get a pest, don't try to turn Penner into Sean Avery, a player we could use on this team. A leopard can't change its spots, RB. You just wait until JF "Crazy Train" Jacques comes back. Then they'll be sorry, until he tweaks his back again.

Lidstrom will at least eliminate guys from the play, not get eliminated like Gilly. Nobody ever said Penner had to goon it up. Or should Hall stand up for Penner when Dustin gets pushed around? Must be frustrating for the 3 kids, Gags and Hemmer to see a huge guy stand around and not even glare in response.

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#26 C-DOG
October 25 2010, 10:50PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Does the NHL keep stats for 1 on 1 loose puck battles , I would love to see if Tom Gilbert is the worst in the league, I'd bet a few washes on it.

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#27 Dominoiler
October 26 2010, 12:32AM
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Great Article Gregor.. Bringing to light this issue, questioning the 'culture' that was supposedly addressed.. I didnt like Hall getting run in an earlier game - and wow, cogs got laid out, no doubt... it would be nice to see some push back - with preference being for clean aggressiveness and on occasion giving very-little notice to 'put'm up or get knocked out'.. This team wasnt exactly put together for this kinda stuff, but they have shied away much more than I thought they would..

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#28 A Sad Panda
October 26 2010, 12:42AM
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Dominoiler wrote:

Great Article Gregor.. Bringing to light this issue, questioning the 'culture' that was supposedly addressed.. I didnt like Hall getting run in an earlier game - and wow, cogs got laid out, no doubt... it would be nice to see some push back - with preference being for clean aggressiveness and on occasion giving very-little notice to 'put'm up or get knocked out'.. This team wasnt exactly put together for this kinda stuff, but they have shied away much more than I thought they would..

"Great Article Gregor" - you lost bud?

Just busting on you, but on another note I agree with the rest of your post.

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#29 MikeH
October 26 2010, 01:06AM
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Can you still get that Charles Atlas book? I remember as a kid I was always tempted to order it (I was a skinny little sucker).

Otherwise, I agree with RB. The only jam I've been seeing has been coming from Brule and Peckham. I like Penner but he doesn't use his size at all when it comes to checking.

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#30 pelhem grenville
October 26 2010, 05:23AM
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SkinnyD wrote:

Did you mean to creatively post fist? If so, please accept my applause from afar, sir!

...is that what i heard off in the afar? thanks i couldn't help myself and i still can't help myself when i ask ...what IS MacIntyre here for?

Geesh i could have sworn i heard MichaelBuffer start up a couple times with his fine rendition of "AAH Let's get Ready To RUMMBLLLLE!!!!!!

hmmmm maybe not.

ok then, back to all you ~pacifists~

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#32 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 26 2010, 08:15AM
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It's been a problem for a long time now. We really have no one that is in an offensive role that is either nasty to play against or is willing to play physical. Brule is about the only guy and it's not like he does either enough to make a difference.

Quinn's idea of putting grit on every line wasn't a bad one and is something this team needs, problem is we don't have the talent for it.

But really is it a suprised that this team looks soft out there?

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#33 Banger
October 26 2010, 08:21AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

The bell rang rather clearly when Cogliano got starched. Nobody answered with gloves on or off. There's no excuse for it.

Brownlee. Great read and you have hit the nail on the head with this one. Talk is cheap and that is all we are hearing. I dont expect that the oilers should be sending guys to the hospital every time a player gets hit but you have to do something.

I even noticed in the loss to Calgary a very simple play that i didnt like and probably never got seen by anyone. It was after a play in front of the oilers net. Pajarvi was standing beside the goalie after the whistle. Iginla went by and gave him a shove. Pajarvi skated away as i expected, but the defense jsut stood there and watched. It wasnt like Iginla started swinging punches but even the little things like that where a guy can step in and give him a shove right back or get the glove in the face. Show some life out there.

Like i said it was a very small insignificant play but doing all the little things some times adds up.

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#34 madjam
October 26 2010, 08:33AM
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MAXIMIZING AND RECOGNITION of the AHL talent level we do have . Trades might help but they don't appear likely or our fortay to begin with , and recent activity they have done in that regard seems to make us worse to be honest .

We do have a reasonable good looking AHL base , something we have not had past few seasons .

Conventional wisdom usually dictates AHL callups play above their normal talent levels for 2-3 games before falling back to their AHL levels . They also bring much needed enthusiasm ! So how about rotating our many usefull AHL talents on third and fourth line with our many defencemen down on the farm as well ? That way they all get valuable NHL experience in a rebuild year anyways . It.s already not proving advantageous to just run Bubble players and AHL players as permanent NHL'ers .

Start running rotational AHL players , and put underperforming vets up in the rafters for lackadaisical play . At least rotating AHL talent should help keep intensity level up , and maybe the odd one might actually progress fast into an adequate NHL talent this season . Present format looks like it is falling apart already and could easily become a worse swcenario than even last year . No need to send rookies down , as they are already basically playing with AHL talent at NHL level.

Rotate the AHL talent and maybe we might even see better PK , defence , power play over course of season along with plenty of newness and enthusiasm .

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#35 jake
October 26 2010, 09:00AM
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Team Larsson:

"The last time I checked Lidstrom wasnt throwing any facewashes either. But I think we all agree he is not bad. So lay off Gilbert, its not what he does"

So what does Gilbert do actually that would be considered a strong point of his game, and does he do it often enough to offset his teddy bearness?

They should waterboard them or keyscratch their vehicles before the games, get them PO'd. (kidding of course)

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#36 D-Man
October 26 2010, 09:24AM
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madjam wrote:

MAXIMIZING AND RECOGNITION of the AHL talent level we do have . Trades might help but they don't appear likely or our fortay to begin with , and recent activity they have done in that regard seems to make us worse to be honest .

We do have a reasonable good looking AHL base , something we have not had past few seasons .

Conventional wisdom usually dictates AHL callups play above their normal talent levels for 2-3 games before falling back to their AHL levels . They also bring much needed enthusiasm ! So how about rotating our many usefull AHL talents on third and fourth line with our many defencemen down on the farm as well ? That way they all get valuable NHL experience in a rebuild year anyways . It.s already not proving advantageous to just run Bubble players and AHL players as permanent NHL'ers .

Start running rotational AHL players , and put underperforming vets up in the rafters for lackadaisical play . At least rotating AHL talent should help keep intensity level up , and maybe the odd one might actually progress fast into an adequate NHL talent this season . Present format looks like it is falling apart already and could easily become a worse swcenario than even last year . No need to send rookies down , as they are already basically playing with AHL talent at NHL level.

Rotate the AHL talent and maybe we might even see better PK , defence , power play over course of season along with plenty of newness and enthusiasm .

Interesting theory, but that probably won't increase team toughness though... Your most likely callups include Omark, Giroux, Reddox on the front line and Petiot, Belle, Plante or Petry on the back end...

Granted, you're right that there would be an increase in the enthusiasm, I just don't think that would change the team from getting pushed around...

I must admit that I was wrong on Vandermeer... I thought he was a decent pickup from shedding the dead weight known as POS... Hopefully, he pulls his head out of his #$@ and figures out that he needs to play his game (hitting everything that moves and help protect our smaller players)...

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#37 Red-Tide
October 26 2010, 10:03AM
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This issue pisses me off. I don't understand why they won't stand up for themselves let alone one another. I don't want to see any of the finesse guys goon it up but I would love to see Eberle, Hall or Hemsky get in someones face after those suspect hits and show that he wont take that crap, give a shove, a glove in the face or a bit of lumber. These players need to start standing up for themselves not waiting for someone to do it for them. It may lead to some bad penalties but this needs to be done.

The goon role has made a lot of other players weak, they think someone else will fight their battles and protect them. I say screw that, even if you are a small player you can still push back, doesn't always have to be fighting involved. Last time I checked this was a mans sport, where did the men go? Do these guys roll over and turtle/look for someone to defend them in real life when some adversity gets in their way? If so, we need some new players.

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#38 smiliegirl15
October 26 2010, 10:11AM
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Gilbert is too much of a pretty boy to want to mess up his mug.

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#39 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 26 2010, 10:19AM
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Sheldon Souray would've answered that bell. Imagine if the Oilers had a stud like that.

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#40 Senator Theo
October 26 2010, 10:30AM
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@madjam

Someone can correct me on this, but I think in the situation you are proposing the players would have to pass through waivers.

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#41 GSC
October 26 2010, 11:15AM
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It's still a team full of pansies, and it will be for the foreseeable future.

Get used to watching the girls get slapped around, it's going to happen often.

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#42 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 26 2010, 11:27AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Sheldon Souray would've answered that bell. Imagine if the Oilers had a stud like that.

Looks like the stud broke his hand again.

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#43 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 26 2010, 11:29AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Looks like the stud broke his hand again.

When is he going to learn?

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#44 GSC
October 26 2010, 11:36AM
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Remember how tough this team was back in '06?

Pronger, Peca, Harvey, Greene, Stoll, and Torres, just to name some names off the top of my head...ah, the good ol' days

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#45 Wangtaco
October 26 2010, 11:38AM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Unreal. This guy continues to be a disaster. He probably tried to fight the AHL'er because he stepped on that guy's stick and fell, just like with J.I.

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#46 madjam
October 26 2010, 12:00PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

Someone can correct me on this, but I think in the situation you are proposing the players would have to pass through waivers.

If they are on two way contracts as most are , i don't believe they are required to go thru waivers . The odd one may be ?

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#47 Crash
October 26 2010, 12:01PM
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madjam wrote:

If they are on two way contracts as most are , i don't believe they are required to go thru waivers . The odd one may be ?

Two way contracts have nothing to do with it.

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#48 Coppperhead
October 26 2010, 12:37PM
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I think Renney should have a two hour video session of guys like Zetterberg, Datsyuk, St. Louis et al. hitting players bigger than them. Just because Cogs is 5'11 and 180 doesn't mean he has to skate by the guy. Same goes for Gagner.

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#49 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 26 2010, 12:41PM
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@Coppperhead

Cogs is our 2nd leading forwatd with 8 hits, so it's not like he doesn't hit guys.

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