Patience my ass…

“Patience my ass. I’m going to kill something.”

Anybody boomer-age or even those over 35 might remember that line from a popular T-shirt and poster from the 1970s that featured two hungry looking buzzards sitting in a tree. And, while patience is often a virtue, I’m with the buzzards when it comes to the pitiful excuse for penalty killing that we’ve seen from the Edmonton Oilers this season — a PK that sits ranked 28th.

Wanye note: It’s true. I found this badge on the internet confirming this story:

But, while we wait for Kevin Lowe or GM Steve Tambellini to address what is obviously a glaring weakness by acquiring a centre who can win face-offs shorthanded — call me crazy, I think that might help — I thought I’d get the takes of captain Ethan Moreau and Shawn Horcoff.

Did they agree it’s time to make a personnel move? Did they acknowledge the inability to win face-offs is a significant problem? Well, no and sort of. So what’s the answer? To hear them tell it, patience. Yes, 36 games into the season, patience would be a good place to start.

Patience? Pardon?

GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME

“There’s a lot of new guys, a lot of new personnel,” Moreau said. “It’s going to take some time to know each other’s tendencies, so we have to change our system a little bit to be more predictable.” And here’s what Horcoff, who kills more penalties than any other Edmonton forward, has to say. “It’s a matter of trying to get everyone on the same page and adapted to the same system,” Horcoff said with a straight face.

“Even on the back end, too. We’ve got some different personnel on the back end, too. That takes time. I actually believe familiarity is more important on the PK than it is on the power play.”

Now, I’ve got a lot of respect for Moreau and Horcoff and I’ve known them since they were rookies, but I have difficulty buying the argument the penalty killing is atrocious — 42 goals allowed in 159 attempts — because the Oilers have new players and it’s going to take time for them to become a cohesive unit. It just isn’t so.

Among defenceman, Steve Staios gets more shorthanded ice time than any Oiler at 3:50 per game. Sheldon Souray is next at 3:49, followed by Tom Gilbert at 2:33 and Jason Strudwick at 1:47. Among forwards, Horcoff leads with 3:15 per game. Kyle Brodziak is next at 2:51, followed by Moreau at 2:35 and the injured Fernando Pisani at 2:24.

Now, did I fall down the stairs and hit my head, or is this pretty much the same core group of players that did the bulk of the penalty killing last season, when the Oilers finished ranked fifth on the PK?

I GOT MY GUY

Moreau points out that the fans aren’t alone in the frustration they feel at watching the Oilers trot out the same inept act every night. It’s worse for the players — even if they get paid to participate in the failure as opposed to paying to witness it.

“After games, everybody is frustrated,” he said. “I’m out there getting scored on, so as frustrated as a coach or fan could be, we’re five times that. The guys who are out there blocking shots and trying to kill the penalties are the most frustrated. We’re putting in the effort every night.”

When asked about the possibility of Tambellini making a deal to bolster a group that hasn’t done the job, Moreau shrugged it off.

“There’s not much we can do about that,” he said. “Personnel, that’s not up to us. If you’re on the penalty killing unit, you try to do what the coaches tell you to do, stay within your system and work hard. That’s all you can do.”

NOT ROCKET SURGERY

Anybody with half-a-brain can see the Oilers need a centre who can win a face-off and kill penalties to make up for the losses of Jarret Stoll and Marty Reasoner. When Horcoff is the Oilers best overall centre on the dot at 51.8 per cent but is just 61-89 shorthanded, it’s tough to argue.

“Maybe now this year, with them (face-offs) being in the zone so much,” Horcoff said when asked if poor performance on the dot is the single biggest factor that has the penalty killing struggling so mightily.

“Face-offs aren’t just one guy’s stat. I think people who know the game and watch the game realize the help is and how important those 50-50 battles are . . . especially on the PK.”

“That’s one part of the issue,” Moreau said. “There’s face-offs. There’s predictability. There’s goaltending. Those are the things that kill penalties. There’s so many things that go into it. I don’t think you can simply say we need a face-off guy.”

Patience my ass . . .

— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

  • RobinB

    Dennis wrote:

    RB: Obviously you’re missing the fact that Stoll and Reasoner killed penalties last year as well;)

    Yes, I missed that. It never dawned on me.

  • Hoss81

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Moreau plays 15:30 a game, and he plays a grand total of :11 of PP time a game, yet he is 6th on the team in goals, and only Hemsky has more goals five-on-five. How can you complain about his ice time. He actually produces. Name nine forwards that should be ahead of him?

    Jason, is Moreau here to produce, or hes being paid to do his job? (Being a leader, bring energy, and a solid penalty killer.) Moreau does bring energy, as he should as a 3rd-4th line guy. Heres a question, has he proven that hes the right leader for this team? Where has he taken this team? You can only ask so much from your energy player, that is why he isnt the perfect choice.

    As Robin mentioned, Moreau plays a significant role on the PK, and it is not working. Im not just blaming Moreau for everything, but at some point you need to look at your leaders (Moreau and Staios), who are failing at the only thing they're being paid to do?

    By no means im suggesting that Moreau should be dealt, but he should only be a complimentary player at best, not someone we should rely on. If thats the case, then your hockey team is obviously not a good one.

  • Hoss81

    @ BUCK75:
    Can you imagine what this team will look like with less puck moving? This is an already offensively challenged team, and without the ability of Visnovsky, it could be worse.

    That was one of the best trades that Lowe has made in my opinion. We acquired an all-star puck mover whos signed for 5 years, for a 3rd line center who didnt have a contract, and a bottom pairing defenseman. Trust me, it is much easier to find a faceoff guy than finding a skilled defenseman like Visnovsky.

    The problem is, as Robin mentioned, the management is not TRYING to find that guy.

  • RobinB

    Like Jason said, the Oilers spent a lot of time again this morning working on the PK, with an emphasis on quicker movement in tracking and pressuring the puck.
    The two units in drills were Horcoff and Moreau up front with Grebeshkov and Staios and Cole with Brodziak, Souray and Gilbert.

    Moreau and Penner spent some time practising face-offs. The missing component, at least for me, is the ongoing absence of Cogliano and the speed he'd bring in puck pursuit. The problem, as we all know by now, is that hideous face-off percentage of his.

  • Hoss81

    @ RobinB:
    Robin, i have always been wondering why Grebeshkov is considered a better penalty killer than Visnovsky. Do you know the rationale behind this? To me, Grebeshkov is the worst 1 on 1 defesenman on this team. It is very often to see him get beat.

  • Hoss81 wrote:

    Jason, is Moreau here to produce, or hes being paid to do his job? (Being a leader, bring energy, and a solid penalty killer.) Moreau does bring energy, as he should as a 3rd-4th line guy. Heres a question, has he proven that hes the right leader for this team? Where has he taken this team? You can only ask so much from your energy player, that is why he isnt the perfect choice.
    Im not just blaming Moreau for everything, but at some point you need to look at your leaders (Moreau and Staios), who are failing at the only thing they’re being paid to do?
    By no means im suggesting that Moreau should be dealt, but he should only be a complimentary player at best, not someone we should rely on. If thats the case, then your hockey team is obviously not a good one.

    I don't think the Oilers rely on him to be the difference maker. He makes an impact, but not a great one.

    As a leader on the ice I think Moreau does the job. Inside the room is an area that seems to be lacking, but that is really hard to judge since we only see a small percentage of what goes on in there. There are some rumblings that the room isn't the same, but I have a theory why.

    They are no MIDDLE men in that room now. There are two distinct groups. Veterans and then young guys. Last year Stoll, Torres and Greene bridged that gap. They weren't long standing veterans, but they weren't young guys in terms of experience anymore. I think they were a good connector between the two sides. I don't think there is any animosity amongst the vets or kids now, but there doesn't seem to be a really close connect either. I don't think one guy could connect that. And if you think Horcoff or Souray would be a better captain, then they should be able to connect the two sides regardless of whether they have a C on their jersey or not.

    I do think the veterans as a group have to allow the kids some room to lead themselves. But I also don't get a sense that there is a young guy who has great leadership ability. Stoll had that, none of the younger guys have shown that yet.

  • RobinB

    @ Hoss81:
    Fair question, and one I should've asked by now.
    The problems I see with Visnovsky on the PK are that he's small and doesn't bring a physical element and, given his stature, he lacks reach and the ability to tip pucks in the passing lanes and otherwise disrupt the opposition.

  • @ RobinB:
    I just wanted to say that I saw a pic of Mr. Brownlee from the 70s, that I will have to get on this site. He was a svelte 220 with four inch platform shoes, and tight jean shirt. CLASSIC I say…Mark my words I will get that pic into the hands of Wanye…It needs to be shown to the Nation.

  • Hoss81

    @ RobinB:
    That I can see, but i dont think hes been given nearly enough opportunity to prove himself as a non-penalty killer. Grebeshkov is also not very big, not very strong, and i dont think he has the patience and the speed that Lubomir Visnovsky has. At this point, i dont think it can hurt us more to try something new.

  • RobinB

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Don't even think about it. Those pictures are not for public consumption. I use them only as proof I wasn't always a balding, cynical, old sportswriter because, I'm guessing, some people wouldn't believe it.

    As for Wanye, if he OKs any such release on this site, I'm posting the photos from the night he fuelled up on tequila and red bull and stumbled into the Valley Zoo with his panty hose as a hat.

  • Hoss81

    @ Jason Gregor:
    Yeah i can see how that would be a problem. My argument is simply that the veterans are not doing a great job leading this team this season. They should be the ones who can help out the young guys when they're struggling, and I'm just not seeing a lot of that. I've been questioning the coach for a while, and still do, but at some point not only the coach, but also the veterans have to take some blames for the season so far.

    You have more connection with the players, do you sense that Gagner might have some of that "Jonathan Toews mentality" in the future if he gets an opportunity?

  • rindog

    @ Jason Gregor:

    MacT said himself earlier this year.

    He said that you can't have your captain on the 4th line…

    Well then don't make a 4th player your captain!!!!

    I hate to bring this up again Gregs, but you are looking at results again.

    Yes Moreau is 6th on the team in goals with 8. Have you really looked at the goals he scored? He got gifts from Turco and Ward (he could take those shots 100 more times and not score once). He has an empty netter. He scored a goal against Kipper early this year that even Kipper admitted he played poorly. He scored a tap in goal (after 3 whacks) from Hemsky against Toronto. He scored a few decent ones other than that??

    I realize you (and others) are going question why I would critique the goals and just be happy that he got them. That is a fair point except you are using his production as justification for his minutes. It’s not like he is (or has been) going out there and creating offensive chances.

    His role on our team is simple. It is to create energy and shut down the opposition. He is not relied upon to score goals (nor was Penner when he played on the 3rd line).

    Only until recently has his ice time been more realistic. In the last 10 games he has only been over 15 minutes twice. In the 25 games prior to that – he only dropped below 15 minutes 5 times and was above 16 minutes 17 times.

    I do not have a problem with Moreau as a player. I have a problem with the importance that has been placed on our supposed role players??

    That being said – you yourself said you are happy with the 15 minutes per game that Moreau is averaging. With those minutes, Moreau has managed to take twice as many minor penalties as the next forward. The thing is, the penalties he is taking are not even hard-working, gritty penalties. The majority (75% – I can list them all if you want or you can take my word) are stick penalties (slashing, tripping, hooking, etc) which could be considered selfish penalties….

    The core of our team for the past number of years (Reasoner, Staios, Moreau, Pisani) has been made up of “MacT” type players that are safe and hard working.

    Take a look at this link. If you go down the list – the majority of captains in the NHL are the best players on their teams.

    You mentioned that Ovechkin is not the captain of his team. What you failed to mention is that AO just finished his first season in the NHL and was only 19 when Clark was named team captain? I can assure you that when Clark is gone – Ovechkin will be named captain.

    You say that there were no other options at the time?? Stoll and Horcoff played in all situations at the time Gator left??? They were both far better options. Sheldon Souray was heads and tails the best choice when he came here in the offseason. He was our highest paid player (at the time), an all star, a shutdown dman, a PP leader, and a veteran. The only thing he had going against him was that he was new to the team. That being said, was there anything wrong with giving him that responsibility and changing the direction of our team?

    Finally, I agree with you that Moreau gives a great effort every night. He can still do that with or without a “C’ on his sweater. What he can’t do is actually lead his team to a victory. He can’t go out and get 5 points in a divisional game against our provincial rivals. He can’t score a game tying goal late in game while he is sitting on the bench (at least he should be unless his coach puts him out with the extra attacker – ie. Ottawa).

    Our safe, risk free, ineffective coach gave the captaincy to another supporting player (like himself) as a reward for hard work and dedication. I appreciate the gesture but it doesn’t make our team better.

    When you have an average player as your captain you’re destined to have an average team….

  • rindog

    @ Jason Gregor:

    I should have also added that Moreau has just recently dropped to 6th on the team in even strength icetime (after spending a long time at 3rd).

    Horcoff: 14:14
    Hemsky: 14:06
    Cole: 13:08
    Gagner: 12:58
    Penner: 12:51
    Moreau: 12:47
    Pisani: 12:18
    Nilsson: 12:15
    Cogliano: 11:43

    Take a look at the seperation from our #3 to our #9 (or lack thereof).

    Should a guy like Moreau be getting :21 less icetime than the 3rd place guy on our team?

    Take a look at the division leading Flames as an example. Iginla gets 2 minutes more ES ice time than the next guy and 4 minutes more than 4th and 5th. Guys like Glencross, Boyd & Moss (who all kill penalites as well) get 5 and 6 minutes less than ES icetime leader and our way more effective at producing than Moreau is.

    It all leads us back to the inability of our coach to try and be proactive and dictate a game plan. Maybe the offensive guys are struggling because they don't get enough icetime to try and create??

    I am not saying that I have the exact answer, but whatever the coach has been doing (especially in terms of the responsibility he places on role players) does not seem to be working???

  • rindog

    @ R-DAWG:

    Considering Roli lost all 3 games he played against Dallas last year and Garon is the only Oiler goalie to beat Dallas since 2006…..

    I predict Roli!!!!!

  • Cam

    rindog wrote:

    When you have an average player as your captain you’re destined to have an average team….

    So all of this mediocrity is because they put the C on the wrong guy?!? OMG (slaps head) how do they not see it.

    They gave the C to the player with the best work ethic and the most heart; someone the players and coaching staff respected and would listen to; someone who has been around long enough to earn it; someone who publicly stated how great it was to be in Edmonton and be an Oiler at a time when it was needed.

    They gave it to the best role model and spokesperson on the team at the time. There was no superstar to hang the "C" on, so they made the best choice at the time. In time maybe a new Weight or Messier will emerge on the team, but until then (and Souray is the only guy coming close) the "C" should stay where it is.

  • Milli

    Crazy, if we could kill penalties, all of a sudden we'd be in contention…..I would have never thought that a macT team could kill.

    I don't think Moreau being captain is the problem. He brings it. Look what is happening in Pittsburg with Crosby wearing the C!!!!! Nuttin!!!! That guy is way overrated, if he wasn't Canadian…..

  • rindog

    @ Cam:

    I guess you didn't read the post above regarding Horcoff or Stoll?

    Maybe the players don't respect him as much as you think they do? Do you think any of the players would publicly say anything negative about their captain?

    Maybe they don't even have anything negative to say – maybe they just can see that he can not actually lead them anywhere (except the penalty box…sorry that was a cheap shot)?

    Honestly, what can Ethan Moreau teach Gagner or Hemsky about the actual game of hockey? He can model grit and hard work, but at the end of the day those guys have more skill and hockey sense in their pinky fingers than Moreau has altogether. It doesn't make Moreau bad hockey player – just a poor choice as captian.

    I am not suggesting that the players are so fragile that they can not figure things out for themselves, but one of the main responsibilities of a captain is to right the ship when it is off course. You can have the best deckhands on board – but if the captain steers you into an iceberg…..

    On the other hand – soemtimes a great captain can get a bunch of misfits to sail across an entire ocean.

    I have a feeling we are somewhere in the middle – and I am guessing that we will end up treading water if things stay as they are….

    As far as Moreau being a great spokesperson??? MacT is one of the most wellspoken guys in hockey – does that make him a good coach?

  • RobinB

    rindog wrote:

    @ R-DAWG:
    Considering Roli lost all 3 games he played against Dallas last year and Garon is the only Oiler goalie to beat Dallas since 2006…..
    I predict Roli!!!!!

    Bingo. Roloson gets the start.

    Also, the lines and D-pairings
    27-10-85
    12-89-26
    18-13-67
    43-51-46
    44-77
    37-71
    5-24

  • rindog

    @ Milli:

    47-27-8 and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first year as captain.

    Struggling a bit with a 19-16-4 record this year after losing Hossa, Gonchar, Whitney as well as missing Fleury for an extended stretch.

    I wouldn't be complaing about that!

  • R-DAWG

    @ R-DAWG:
    Apperently my english to can't spell worth crap and make a coherent key is stuck on. "also tried to punch a hole in some guy off the face-off this afternoon…speaking of Crosby

  • @ Hoss81:

    I agree with your point, but having lots of puck moving defencemen & nobody to trade with is a problem. It is a genius trade, what will the trade turn into after this? Stoll & Green(Visnovsky) +++ for a guy like Spezza would look awesome…

    What good is it to be in a position of strength in a position if you cannot compliment the rest of the team with players you need?

  • rindog

    @ MattL:

    I am wondering who takes the tame to actually post something like you just did?

    Are you a hockey fan interested in debating hockey issues or ar you a junior high kid looking for a rumble out by the bike racks???

    Either way, it might be in your best interest to back-up any statements you might care to make…

    I shouldn't waste my time trying to defend myself – but PLEASE explain your comments?

    Either that, our get someone that knows how to read and have them read (to you) my posts in this blog.

    It makes things easier if you can actually comprehend the words that are on the screen….

  • MattL

    Yeah, that was pretty immature. What I meant was, me thinkey you not talky nicey. No, what I meant was, comments like "I hate to bring this up again Gregs, but you are looking at results again." are condescending and annoying. You share a scapegoat mentality that's prevalent right now. The Oil have a roster of young and/or mediocre players, with strangely bad chemistry and a captain that's trying way too hard, but it's ALL the coach's fault, right?

    I don't remember too many people questioning the choice of Moreau for captain when it was made. He was Mr. Iron Man until he missed most of two seasons (people tend to forget that these days) and he put in the best effort night in and night out. Staios was probably choice 1B, but he's closer to the end of his career.

    As for the off-ice dressing room stuff, unless you're a member of the team, how do you know who the best leader is? How do you know what the real team dynamic is like? I know I don't. It doesn't go by points performance though, I know that. Modano, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Smyth when he was here wasn't captain, in fact Jason Smith was such a good leader as a 3/4 dman that he became captain in Philly when he went there.

    Mainly though, I just didn't like your "I know better than actual reporters with close ties to the team" attitude. And you're too negative. But next time I'll grow up a little. Maybe.