GDB 40: Groundhog Day at RX1

Let me apologize for the lameness of this post. Like Jason Arnott, “I just wasn’t into it tonight.” That is how I am today. I rarely complain about the weather, but I’m sure sick of this -57 crap every morning, and going to the Oiler locker room feels like Groundhog Day.

Same story over and over, except Phil Connors was able to save the kid from falling from the tree, stopped a guy from choking, learned to play the piano and ended up with sexy Rita.

Today I got none of it. I won’t be helping Dustin Penner learn to show up even 60 per cent of the time, Ales Hemsky is still hurt, the music will still be sub par at the game tonight and I’ll be sitting by Rishaug not some hottie in the pressbox.

There was one difference today. It was an optional practice, on a game day no less, and Robert Nilsson showed up with all of his teammates except Shawn Horcoff. Horcoff will dress, and while MacTavish didn’t want to reveal who will be his right winger, I discovered it will be Liam Reddox. MacTavish likes to play Horcoff against the other team’s top line, so Reddox gets the call. YIPPIE.

MacTavish did admit that this team is still in a state of flux when it comes to their system.

“There is a bit of transitional period where you go from a team two years ago that was going to be physically reliable and had a certain amount of power to our game and we could rely on that. Now we are transitioning more to offensive puck moving team, and it has been a slower transition than what we would have anticipated based on what we saw last year. I still feel we are making good progress in that regard, and I look forward to a healthy team to see what we have.”

FYI Craig, you will be at the halfway point of the season on Sunday. Outside of Hemsky, and Horcoff’s wonky back your team has been healthy. Of course, Hemsky makes a world of difference. This team isn’t good enough to absorb his absence, and because no one else can score changing up the lines makes little sense.

But I’m kind of torn with his statement. I can go ballistic and say, “What you talking about Craig,” or I could applaud the coach for being patient with young guys and sticking to their strengths. Because it is clear the Oilers don’t have the horses to play anything resembling a power game. Well, the former is where I stand.

I said at the start of the year, 40 games is where I would evaluate this team, and here we are hours away from game 40 and this team is still as inconsistent as ever. Jekyll and Hyde have nothing on the Oilers. They didn’t take advantage of an extended stay at home and now they are in chase mode again. Win five or lose five in a row, at least do something unexpected. How about a line brawl? Or score eight goals. Do something, anything that would be outside of the same old same old routine of the past three seasons.

But just like the Groundhog Day, a win or a loss tonight won’t change a thing. The coach isn’t going anywhere, the players have yet to learn to be consistent, the music will still be sucky tonight, and I will spend a Friday night at the rink with Rishaug. How depressing. (Let’s hope the camera guy at least puts a few of Edmonton’s finest on the big screen tonight).

And yes, Dwayne Roloson will start tonight.

  • Gord wrote:

    Why can’t Moreau, Horcoff and Staios get injured instead???

    Horcoff is injured.

    And for everybody out there – Horcoff is playing hurt, lugging around Dustin Penner and random AHL-level wingers, and is still playing the best opposition.

    He's not the problem on this team. He's way down the list of problems on this team.

  • Gord

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Horcoff is injured.
    And for everybody out there – Horcoff is playing hurt, lugging around Dustin Penner and random AHL-level wingers, and is still playing the best opposition.
    He’s not the problem on this team. He’s way down the list of problems on this team.

    His back is tweaked, he is not injured. Injured = IR. I am watching something completely different than you then as I think Horc has been brutal except for a handful of games. The Oilers were at their best last year with him on the shelf and I would not be disappointed if he were never to play as an Oiler again.

  • Amber McCormick

    @ baggedmilk:
    You sure did. Bold, very bold. I suppose I understand. I'm convinced that, for some bizarre reason, Adam Cook should report sports shirtless. Not sure why. I'm pretty sure he's hairier than Robin Williams knuckles.

  • Gord wrote:

    His back is tweaked, he is not injured. Injured = IR. I am watching something completely different than you then as I think Horc has been brutal except for a handful of games. The Oilers were at their best last year with him on the shelf and I would not be disappointed if he were never to play as an Oiler again.

    No and no. To the first point: Jason Smith played with two separated shoulders in the playoffs for Philly last season. He was on the ice, but he was bloody well injured. Joni Pitkanen, on the other hand, missed a ton of games with "injuries".

    Just because a guy plays hurt doesn't mean the injury isn't serious (as Stoll proved a while back by collecting two concussions instead of one).

    Secondly, aside from a handful of games, the top line has been fine. I did a bit on Horcoff and Hemsky outshooting other teams top lines five-on-five a few weeks back; they're a great power-vs.-power tandem.

    There are plenty of problems on this team, including the President, the coach, and the captain, but Horcoff isn't one of them.

  • Gord

    @ Jonathan Willis:
    I want to see his stats without Hemsky – he is brutal.

    A tweaked back isn't dislocated shoulders or a concussion. I have played with all 3 (obviously not at the NHL level and only had 1 dislocated shoulder) and the easiest was the back. As Horc said himself, the hardest part is taking faceoffs, other than that it isn't too bad.

  • @ Jonathan Willis:

    Stats are stats… But Horcoff has not been playing good. Not 1st line center good. He has lost that special something that he had last year. He's changed. And I don't know if we will ever get that guy back. He had played a few good games. I won't argue that. But he isn't the $3.6 million Horcoff. (and I thought that was a bad deal)

  • Sing A Song For SingSing

    @ Jonathan Willis:

    Man screw what the stats say! Horc's been bad to borderline brutal (I'll cut him some slack since everyone's saying he's having back spasms and what not), produces little to no offense, is not a game changer and aside from his defensive play has not contributed anything positive to this team… if anything he's contributed more negative instead by whiffing and missing on golden opportunities and continually being unable to deliver any sort of clutch offense.

    I could care less how many points he has in the past 5 or 6 or 7 games, look at the win/losses, the overall inconsistency of the team… of course there's worse problems this team has to deal with, I can agree with that but to deny the fact that Horcoff as our #1 center with an impending $7,000,000 cap hit for next season is not an issue, that's just foolish. This guy won't get it done ever without Hemsky. We need him to be able to contribute offensively as well, not by just putting pucks in the back of the net, but by playmaking as well. I could go on forever about this guy, just so underwhelming for me personally.

  • Gord

    topshelf wrote:

    I wonder what Mac T’s excuses are tonite…. And Roloson was awful.

    Minni had it right splitting Roli 50/50 with Fernandez. Roli can't start 60 games as he has never had the gas for that, but he is damn good when starting ~40.

  • Fiveandagame

    "As a coaching staff we haven't been able to do that," he told reporters Friday. "So instead of pointing fingers at players, we have to take that responsibility as coaches and say for whatever reason we haven't been able to get that total focus and commitment from 20 guys every night. There's obviously parts of our team – personnel-wise – not what we need to be a top team, but I think the biggest problem is having a total commitment from every guy for 60 minutes to do the right things."

    Sounds like something MacT should be saying right? As opposed to we are still trying to figure out a system and I want to see what our line up looks like healthy.

    But instead that quote is from Craig Hartsburg in Ottawa. Taking responsibility for the teams woes.

    Inconsistent play rests square on the shoulders of every member of the coaching staff.

  • Sing A Song For SingSing

    Listening to the post-game by MacTavish makes me wanna puke.

    It's honestly pathetic. He sounds like he doesn't even give a ****. Fed up, frustrated but at the same time he's sounding like yea, it's almost to be expected.

  • Sing A Song For SingSing

    "Have to eek out a win on Sunday against St.Louis"

    @ Home.

    To one of the worst team's in the league.

    Continually referring back to Ales Hemsky missing in the line up.

    What a trainwreck this season has become, unbelievable!

  • Colin

    Great more injuries, to our best player(Souray), that's great so now we can get the excuse that: "He didn't have our best line-up, we'd like to see what he can do with that" When MacT doesn't get fired.

  • Hockey Gods

    Oh man, I missed real fun JL meeting. It just got pure inapropiate… just my style.

    Miss you guys… with my pants down *wink Amber, lookin good*

    Hockey Gods

  • Hockey Gods

    Sory guys for 2 sraight posts, but was out with friends at a bar sorta watching the game. But was the 4th line really Storts – Mac – Struds??? and Cole and Gags split up???

    Wasn't Storts – Brodz – Struds and Cole – Gags – Bobby the only two line developing some chemisty? Tonight the were oth split up?

    Bagged does the fire MacT bandwagon pick up hammered guys that have been boozing since 2 in th afternoon? Can I drive that badboy?