A familiar el-foldo

Apparently unable to grasp the concept that points in November are just as valuable as those fought for during the hair-on-fire stretch drive days of March and April, the Edmonton Oilers blew off a deuce they might need in their 5–4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Down 2–0 only to battle back like champs with four straight goals for a 4–2 lead at Nationwide Arena in a game that could’ve stretched their winning streak to three games, the Oilers made like discount lawn furniture in a wind storm by giving up three goals in the final 16 minutes.

In a blown sugar situation I’ve seen more times than I can count on all my fingers and toes in the past three seasons, the Oilers had the perfect opportunity to improve to 7-4-1 after wins in Carolina and Philadelphia, but no, not so fast.

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And, should the Oilers end up with bite marks on their backsides 70 games from now if it’s close-but-no-cigar for a Western Conference playoff spot for a third straight season, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.

Let Craig MacTavish tell it.

“Just a sloppy game from the outset,” MacTavish said. “It looked like we had it under control in the third period when it was 4–2, then it was just a speed track to our net.

“When you see games like that as many times as I’ve seen them over whatever-odd years, you know what the result is going to be. Sure enough, it happened.”

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How did they do that?

The Oilers had everything going for them when they filed into Nationwide Arena with, you’d think, momentum on their side after putting an end to their five-game losing streak with a pair of wins.

— The Oilers were as well-rested as they could expect to be thanks to two days off after back-to-back games in Raleigh-Durham and Philly.

— While they might dress in the visitors’ room in Columbus, the Oilers rolled into town with a 4-1-1 record in their last six visits to Ken Hitchcock’s stomping grounds.

Visiting writers love Columbus because the Blue Jackets actually give them a luxury suite to work and write in during games. The Jackets, as the Oilers record indicates, are equally gracious hosts down at ice level.

— Aside from struggling to generate offence, the Blue Jackets came into the game with a couple of their key players, Raffi Torres and Fredrik Modin, just back from injuries.

— With Pascal Leclaire nursing a bum ankle and Fredrik Norrena incapable of stopping a beach ball, Hitchcock put 20-year-old rookie Steve Mason between the pipes for his first NHL start.

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And then…

So, the Oilers play like horse manure early, then trot out a time-tested tease by making like gangbusters.

They kill off a 5-on-3. They roar back with goals by Andrew Cogliano, Ethan Moreau, Ales Hemsky and Kyle Brodziak. Then, stop the presses, they take the old pipe late on goals by RJ Umberger, Modin and noted sniper Manny Malhotra. No excuses for it. None. Nada. Zero.

No consolation point. Just a short and, I can tell you from experience, quiet flight to Pittsburgh for a date with the Penguins knowing they gave back two of the points they pilfered from a misleading 4–0 start.

“It’s not only the fact that it’s disappointing to lose a game that you’re leading by two goals, it’s in the fashion you lose the game,” MacTavish said.

“That speaks to inexperience. It speaks to our collective gamesmanship as a team right now. It’s a painful, painful lesson. There’s a right way to play this game and a wrong way to play it.

“We got on the wrong side of it early, but it looked like we were going to get away with it, but we didn’t… the thing I said at the end of the second period is, ‘Let’s just go out there and have a good third period and not be sitting on a bunch of regret.’ We’re sitting on a mountain of regret right now and we’ve got to get over it.”

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Regret? Wait until April.

—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

  • It's the age old story of counter-comeback and "can't hold a lead."

    We need to acquire a veteran D-man because these injuries are starting to pile up.

    Also Robin, what do you think of the rumours of Roloson to New Jersey?

  • Engineer

    I thought it was bad luck for a reporter to utter the phrase "stop the presses"?

    Anywho, last night's performance was very, very disappointing. You can say all you will about players not at full speed yet (e.g. Horcoff, Cole), and how that ought to lead to a better team once they find their game, but… They're going to have to get it going soon, imo.

  • milli

    yaya, i was thinking WTF!!!! on the last 3 goals, you can see the oil colappse to the net like f****** pylons, standing doing nothing. That was a bad, bad showing. And come on, with 1 minute left, put the puck deep don't try a fancy little drop pass to …..the other team??????? I still remember last year, like 10 or 12 games in against Detroit, score tied, 45 seconds left……same thing happens as the team coasts and waits for OT……cost us 2 points….what did they miss the playoffs by????

  • Ender the Dragon

    If you have to find one positive in a game like this, it was that we managed 4 goals. With an offence like ours, I'd want to be able to expect that on a regular basis, but for right now I'm just happy to see it at all.

  • Westy

    Why if you can see this happening, as a coach, would you not call a time out? I too could see this coming after the first goal. We were sloppy and on our heels so why not call a time out? Settle the troops and hopefully salvage the lead you had established. Seems like coaching 101 to me…I know, I know how dare I criticize our beloved MacT.

  • Chaz

    Here's another criticism of Mac T: Hemsky not only played awful for the first two periods, but he played very selfishly too. He had two penalties and should of had a third while lazily skating around in the neutral zone. I say sit him for a few shifts to wake him, and everyone else up.

    I realize Hemmer came out and scored a beauty to start the third, but I think Mac T has to hold everyone accountable for their play/effort, even the stars.

    Who knows though, maybe Mac T tore a strip out of him during the second intermission which may be why he was better in the third. Painful to watch though.

    And Gags has now caused us three points on the year (The other when he forced Horcs to take a penalty with his giveaway in OT against Boston). Come on Samwise, you cannot make that drop pass at that point in the game. Wake up guys!

  • FS

    Mac-T! "Call a time-out." You could see this coming, call a time out.

    Roloson! "Play goal." Focus on keeping the puck out of the net, and not so much on who is bumping you in the crease, let the ref's and your team worry about that.

    Sam Gagner!!! "Know what time it is in the game." With one minute left, you put the puck deep, don’t try a fancy little drop pass to nobody. How many times is he going to cough up the puck at the end of the game.

  • Monday Guy

    Can Sammy be sent to Springfield ?
    he's still on a 2 way contract, so waivers, right ?
    would he go to Springfield, or would he go to Juniors?
    He's playing well (reminding myself that he's 19), but he needs a confidence boost

    thoughts ?

  • "Why if you can see this happening, as a coach, would you not call a time out?"

    He was using the Paul Maurice approach to coaching. Never call a time out, no matter how valuable it is at the time. That way, after the game, you can complain to the media and get your quips quoted in all sorts of publications.

    Like I've said before, I've enjoyed Mac's tenure as a coach, but when is enough enough? Something has got to give, and unfortunately the coach is always at the top of the crap list when things start to go awry. It's early but how many points can we afford to give away before the only move left is a drastic one like that?

  • milli

    In the new NHL, you cannot afford to at least not get the loser point outta last night. But, come on, how many games so far this season have they started slowly???? Enough already, be ready at puck drop, who are the leaders? Hemmer was floating all night and was liability, he's our best player??? anyone notice thier best player and what he did?

  • Rev

    I am with Chaz.

    Two highlight worthy goals in Philly did not give Hemsky enough latitude to stink it up like he did last night. His goal (very nice shot) does not make him less accountable for his play. The much debated trip to the minors for Robbie last year should be referenced here. #12 came back with a vengence; not saying that's where Hemsky needs to go – but can we have some level of accountabilty here?

  • RobinB

    Monday Guy: Gagner can be sent to the minors and he does NOT have to clear waivers.

    Making that move, though, would be premature in my estimation. He's a smart kid who isn't playing well right now. I'd think extra time in the video room and maybe a game in the press box to get a different perspective and gather himself would be the call to make.

  • Robin: Are you sure about Gagner? As I understood the agreement between the NHL and CHL, because of his age Gagner would need to be returned to junior. Which I think we can all agree is crazy.

    anyone notice thier best player and what he did?

    Yeah, but prior to last night's game, how much had Rick Nash done? He was in a prolonged funk, and last night he came out of it.

    Hemsky has three goals in two games. He isn't perfect, but his play has picked up, so I'm inclined to leave him be.

    And getting back to Gagner – he'll be fine. He's 19, and despite the fact that his brain cramps tend to be of the spectacular kind, he's doing an OK job against much tougher competition than he faced last year.

  • Ender the Dragon

    On a completely unrelated topic, I'd just like to throw kudos to the graphic art department for the caption on this segment. While I'm pretty sure the original photo was blatently stolen from somewhere, it's still a very nice finished product. Good job.

  • Sing A Song For Sing Sing

    “When you see games like that as many times as I’ve seen them over whatever-odd years, you know what the result is going to be. Sure enough, it happened.”

    And this is precisely why I want your stale ass gone, MacTavish.

  • TV

    Samwise would have to go back to London if he was sent down at any point this season. The only way he could make his way to Springfield is to wait till the Knights season had officially ended.

    Anyone think Howson is 1 happy dude right now that the Oilers took Gagner with the #6 pick & left Vorachek for them to pick at #7..?

    He looks like a much more dynamic player than Samwise does at this point & he's got less experience.


  • RobinB

    TV: You're right.
    When I first checked this with the Oilers today I asked if Gagner would need to clear waivers if he was "sent down." I was told no. I assumed the person knew I meant to the minors, as in the AHL. Bad assumption on my part.

    I double-checked with Oilers asst GM Rick Olczyk at 2 p.m. As you said, Gagner would have to be sent back to junior.

  • matt

    did anyone else see the slash/trip Peca did to hemsky right before one of CBJ's last 3 goals? i thought that went a litle unnoticed. and i really think it was pathetic how we had TWO power plays late in the game and barely moustard anything out of them

  • Jason

    My question is on Gagner's gaff, is it Samwise's fault? Or MacT for having a kid who's struggling out there in that situation?

    IMO, Mac T is thinking long term all the time and will have this team humming by March as usual.

    What I question is his ability to manage game situations and make sure the team gets points when they're there. Anybody but Samwise should have been out there in that situation, especially with the way he's been playing of late? Especially with momentum going the way it was. Put some damn vets out there Mac!

    BTW, is Craig Simpson still responsible for that pathetic powerplay or what? Sheesh.