Even as someone who can piss and moan with the best, it gets sickening listening to the whining and excuses offered up after the Edmonton Oilers 5–4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday.
What was the buzz on the radio, fan boards and websites after the loss? Was it that the Oilers sleepwalked through the first 40 minutes and fell behind 5–0? Uh, no. Was it that the Oilers got the first three power plays of the game and did nothing with them? Nope.
Aside from more brain-dead talk about firing coach Craig MacTavish, the braying was about how referees Kerry Fraser and Gord Dwyer had screwed the Oilers without even kissing them in the third period.
How they’d let that nasty little so-and-so Matt Cooke flatten Tom Gilbert with an elbow and take a run at Sam Gagner. Then, how Fraser and Dwyer threw the book at Theo Peckham, issuing him a two-minute instigator minor, a major for fighting and a misconduct for jumping Cooke, who got only a minor for roughing.
Here’s how MacTavish saw it:
“The Matt Cooke incident,” MacTavish said. “He leaves his feet. He elbows Gibby in the head. No call. He comes across the ice. He runs Gags. The referees obviously weren’t going to protect us in that respect.
“Peckham does what he needs to do and he goes in there. He squares off with Cooke. He gets an instigator, and aggressor, whatever you want to call it and two fives. It’s just a bizarre call… we end up losing a bunch of time to get ourselves back even in the hockey game because of a bizarre call.”
Cooke’s been a cheap player and a hit-and-run coward for a long time, so I get MacTavish’s frustration. That frustration, amplified by another loss, spilled over into the post-game show on 630 CHED, where host Dan Tencer railed against the injustice of it all.
“How Matt Cooke gets the benefit of the doubt from officiating crew on that and how they put Theo Peckham in the box for a five-minute major penalty is absolutely patently ridiculous,” Tencer sniffed.
“Kerry Fraser ought to be embarrassed because that is, again, the most stunningly stupid call,” he continued. “I’m holding myself back here because it’s family radio.”
The sentiment was the same on fan websites—like this one—after the Oilers dropped to 6-6-1 with a second straight loss.
Kevin, right here on ON wrote: “Not to whine, but WTF with the officiating last night? Crosby cross checks Peckham in the face—no call. Souray gets a penalty for roughing a guy who just slashed the goalie. Penner gets 2 for ultimately being stronger than the other player.
“They played horrible for the first 38 minutes but the officiating was downright horrible. Dust yourselves off boys, pull your heads out of your arse, and get back to it!”
Kevin, that IS whining, although Cooke, on past record alone, deserved a major. Maybe Fraz had hair product in his eyes and didn’t get a good look at everything. Dwyer?
Less talk more action
Here’s a thought—take the referees and bad calls out of the game by playing better. Show up for the opening puck drop. Build leads, then don’t toss them back. Show some gamesmanship. Get a clue on the PK.
Had the Oilers done anything on their first three power plays in Pittsburgh, had they not soiled themselves for 40 minutes, we’d have heard less about Cooke. The Oilers went 0-for-4 on the power play and allowed a shorty by Maxime Talbot.
Bad calls happen. In fact, I recall at least two that went the Oilers way the night before in a 5–4 loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus, a game worked by Tom Kowal and Chris Ciamaga.
Down 2–0 and then up 4–2 before imploding, the Oilers had two bogus calls go their way in the third period.
It was 4–4 when Jan Hejda got fingered for a phantom hooking call on Robert Nilsson. It remained tied when Marc Methot got tapped for hooking on Shawn Horcoff. The Oilers PP stiffed on both on a night it went 1-for-5. The Blue Jackets were 1-for-6.
By the way, through 13 games this season, the Oilers have been on the power play 56 times, scoring 10 goals. They have been shorthanded 61 times, allowing 15 goals.
—Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.