GDB 53: Not Taking Steps Back

I really hate to plug things that the Oilers’ organization does. When I read stories about how the Oilers complain to the NHL because a Calgary radio station played a song parody after their 10-2 loss to Buffalo, or their heavy-handed tactics in dealing with fans, or how members of the organization parked a Zamboni behind the HNIC production truck after Marc Crawford had the temerity to question the quality of the ice at Rexall, I get angry. I think about how petty and ham-fisted an organization can be, especially an organization that has milked public sympathy repeatedly in the past and intends to do it again to get a new arena, and wonder why anyone would laud the Oilers’ organization.

In any case, it’s really worthwhile (as it usually is) to check out the post-game comments up at the Oilers official site. There, for example, you can find this charming quote from team captain Ethan Moreau:

Well the score doesn’t reflect how we worked, I thought that a lot of guys really battled hard. It’s hard to find positives in an 8-3 loss, but a lot of guys competed really hard. We had some big efforts – Storts gets a goal and assist, Poulie scores a nice goal, I thought we battled in the faceoff circle, so there’s some good things going into tomorrow.

Reading that, I wonder if Ethan Moreau was at the game. If the Oilers were putting forth the necessary effort, why did they have the doors blown off? Was their pre-game preparation lacking? Asked what the difference was between the first and second periods, Moreau offered the following:

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Just that they scored more goals in the first. It’s really hard to find faults in our energy in here before the game. Things didn’t go well, we took the penalty early and they scored and things snowballed from there. But if you really break down the game and watch it I thought there were a lot of individuals who really competed hard and won a lot of battles. It’s a process – we’ve got thirty games left and if we continue to do things right and fix things that need to be fixed we’ll be fine.

Compare that quote above to what Kyle Brodziak said after the game:

We came into the game, and I don’t know if we were really nervous or tentative but we were uptight and we weren’t skating. They’re a good team – they’ve got a lot of skill over there – and if you’re not ready to skate with them they’re going to pick you apart.

Which of those two comments seems closer to accurate? Ethan Moreau’s idea that the only problem was that the Red Wings just scored more goals in the first but the team battled hard, or Brodziak’s comment that they weren’t ready to skate with the Red Wings?

Let me make it crystal clear for everyone: the game is won and lost on goals scored for and against. The game isn’t won because you have good “energy” in the room prior to setting foot on the ice, or because you “competed hard”. Winning puck battles is indeed of importance, but only because winning puck battles leads to scoring goals. It doesn’t matter how much grit, jam or sandpaper a team displays (not that I thought the Oilers were outstanding in that regard yesterday) if you only manage three goals while your opposition scores eight. That doesn’t seem to be a concept that Craig MacTavish understands:

Even the first period, we made mistakes obviously, but we knew they were going to come hard at the start; they hadn’t been playing up to their standards and it’s been a bit of boot camp from what we understand, around here. We knew they were going to come hard, we were prepared for it.

We battled hard, and we played hard, and our young guys really battled hard. Cogs, I thought really battled, as did Sam… Pouliot got involved a little bit tonight, scored a goal and got in a confrontation, which is something that we haven’t seen a lot out of him.

It was unfortunate that they got the goal in the last six seconds of the second period to make it six nothing, and then all of a sudden we get three and if we don’t give up that goal late we’re back in the game. It’s a funny game – you just have to compete hard, every minute of every night, and I think that for a large part we did that tonight.

That’s right folks – despite the obvious mismatch in the respective teams’ play, if not for the unfortunate sixth goal against and that equally unfortunate seventh goal against, the Oilers would have been right in it. The Oilers were prepared and they battled hard, despite going down 5-0 in the first twenty minutes.

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To sum up:

I think a lot of times when you get beat handily, it’s tough to respond the next day, but I think we’re going to be able to not take a step back, despite the loss.

I certainly hope this team doesn’t take a step back; it would be a real shame if all that effort the Oilers exerted to lose only 8-3 instead of 10-2 or 9-2 went to waste.

Why Gene Principe Rocks

Faced with the 8-3 loss, and seemingly unable to force his mouth to ask MacTavish to elaborate on the virtues of “battling hard”, Gene Principe needed to find some kind of Wellwood-soft question to lob at MacTavish. With his incredible ability to make clutch plays, he responded, leading to this interaction:

Principe: “Dwayne’s penalty looked like it was an accident on his part…”

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MacTavish: “What happened – I didn’t even see it?”

Principe: “He just kinda… stuck his stick… up between his legs… with Cleary.”

He just kinda… accidentally… whacked Dan Cleary… in that spot between his legs. You can’t teach that kind of analysis. Sportsnet’s lucky to have him.

Oh Yeah, There’s A Game Today

Let’s look at the key ingredients for this afternoon’s game:

  • The Oilers are playing Minnesota in Minnesota (they’ve lost 8 straight at the Xcel Energy Center).
  • The Oilers are currently tied with Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the West, making this a textbook example of a four-point game.
  • The Oilers are coming off an 8-3 loss yesterday in which the captain and head coach were pleased with their effort.
  • Minnesota hasn’t played since Friday.

Let’s call it a 2-1 OT loss. Dustin Penner and Pierre-Marc Bouchard with regulation goals, and let’s chalk up the game winner to Marc-Andre Bergeron.

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  • Hippy

    Travis Dakin wrote:

    Wej wrote:

    It’s nice to see that Bell and Sportsnet are blocking the HD feed for the west again today. I’m so happy I’m paying for an HD package and there’s no HD. Oh well.
    Oilers win 3-2.
    I have it… Sportsnet has that permanent HD channel now. It’s channel 211 up here in Fort McMurray.

    211 for me is Global Toronto.

  • Hippy

    Great news everyone – (I think my birthday wish from last night came true) The Edmonton Sun's daily poll question today is:

    "Is it time for Craig MacTavish to step aside as head coach?"

    This is THE opportunity to make our voice be heard on a national level if you want MacT to be gone, Oiler fans…and I think that what people are saying on here is leading people to realize that Oiler fans are serious about getting rid of the established regime here in Edmonton.

    The poll in the newspaper is a serious sign that his time has come, if you ask me! Now I have just one more question I have to ask myself, "Why didn't I wish to win the lottery instead yesterday?" Nah, on second though, I'm good…

  • Hippy

    David S wrote:

    Jonathan Willis wrote:
    Principe’s doing his job – I just wish his bosses would realize that him asking a tough question every once in a while isn’t going to kill their ratings. That, and it’s fun to point out the absurdity of the situation.
    Jonathan, you really need to move to Edmonton to understand how it works with this team. I mean, they shut down a parody song for crying out loud.
    “Content is moderated. Pretend Alan Watt is reading over your shoulder.”

    couldnt agree more!!!!You cant even blow a fart without the orginization approving it..these reporters are strapped!! Its all B.S!! Just ask Rishaug Mac T bagger chewed him out once already!! Its a mandate of the damn orginization!!! They are gutless and cant handle critisism (bad spelling) CRY me a river!!! I am really starting to dislike the whole crew!!! very very embarassing

  • Hippy

    @ David S:

    Not a sign he SHOULD go but a sign that there is serious consideration for that to happen. Local newspapers don't start throwing out controversies like firing the coach unless it there is seriously consideration to it coming to that. I don't have any inside knowledge of how newspapers report on that, that is just what I have noticed over the years…

    RB, you could comment on when local reporters begin to talk about firing a coach, but I'm guessing it's not a topic they want to bring up if things are not seriously looking that way…

    Enjoy the game everyone!

  • Hippy

    David S wrote:

    doggie-style D wrote:
    The poll in the newspaper is a serious sign that his time has come, if you ask me!
    A poll in the Sun. Yeah, that cemented it for me.

    time has come and gone!! 10 times over again!!! Its very difficult to support a bunch of cry babies.

  • Hippy

    Travis Dakin wrote:

    Wej wrote:
    It’s nice to see that Bell and Sportsnet are blocking the HD feed for the west again today. I’m so happy I’m paying for an HD package and there’s no HD. Oh well.
    Oilers win 3-2.
    I have it… Sportsnet has that permanent HD channel now. It’s channel 211 up here in Fort McMurray.

    No s*it No HD feed in E town! Bunch of BS!!!

  • Hippy

    doggie-style D wrote:

    RB, you could comment on when local reporters begin to talk about firing a coach, but I’m guessing it’s not a topic they want to bring up if things are not seriously looking that way…

    You should listen to the Tambellini interview on Gregor's Just a Game site.

    *The SUN is a rag at best. It's not exactly a source of enlightenment in Edmonton.

  • Hippy

    Bru Man wrote:

    When ARe the F N so called leaders on this team gonna start leading by example …..Souray!!

    Crap like that loses games chance to get up by 2 and now were even stupid stupid…..

  • Hippy

    @ Bru Man:
    David S wrote:

    doggie-style D wrote:
    RB, you could comment on when local reporters begin to talk about firing a coach, but I’m guessing it’s not a topic they want to bring up if things are not seriously looking that way…
    You should listen to the Tambellini interview on Gregor’s Just a Game site.
    *The SUN is a rag at best. It’s not exactly a source of enlightenment in Edmonton.

    Bru-man
    Don't you have anything better to do? This game is going to be boring anyway!!!

  • Hippy

    Ontario Oilfan wrote:

    RyanD wrote:
    Thanks for commenting on Gene. I don’t like to hate on the guy, but his interview questions are getting old.
    I agree that the questions are getting old and would say that the answers are wearing thing as well. It’s good to see some opinion that takes the team to task for how its leaders respond. I think a lot of fans who hover around this team are starting to see the same BS game in and game out and are getting wise to it. Better teams would have made a change long ago. It’s getting tiresome.

    Speaking about getting old how would you like to be a reporter in E town covering the same B.S. every year getting the same answers from the coach ..that are just worded different!!And not being able to ask the "tough questions". well,… you could ask thew tough questions but you know you will; be Mac T bagged!!..

  • Hippy

    @ Bru Man:
    Bru Man wrote:

    Ontario Oilfan wrote:
    RyanD wrote:
    Thanks for commenting on Gene. I don’t like to hate on the guy, but his interview questions are getting old.
    I agree that the questions are getting old and would say that the answers are wearing thing as well. It’s good to see some opinion that takes the team to task for how its leaders respond. I think a lot of fans who hover around this team are starting to see the same BS game in and game out and are getting wise to it. Better teams would have made a change long ago. It’s getting tiresome.
    Speaking about getting old how would you like to be a reporter in E town covering the same B.S. every year getting the same answers from the coach ..that are just worded different!!And not being able to ask the “tough questions”. well,… you could ask thew tough questions but you know you will; be Mac T bagged!!..

    I agree with you but i think I'm getting bru-bagged!! Come up with new material will ya!! Same old, Same old!!

  • Hippy

    mosse66 wrote:

    @ Bru Man:
    David S wrote:
    doggie-style D wrote:
    RB, you could comment on when local reporters begin to talk about firing a coach, but I’m guessing it’s not a topic they want to bring up if things are not seriously looking that way…
    You should listen to the Tambellini interview on Gregor’s Just a Game site.
    *The SUN is a rag at best. It’s not exactly a source of enlightenment in Edmonton.
    Bru-man
    Don’t you have anything better to do? This game is going to be boring anyway!!!

    No actually I dont have anything better to do.. I already cleaned up the damn mess my friends left me last night.. what a bunch of losers eh..

  • Hippy

    When DOESN'T Evanka look hot?

    That late goal really sucked. It's amazing how it changes the complexion of a game, considering that was about as good a road period as we could have played (scoring a few more PP goals would have been nice, though). Considering we've only scored 9 goals in the last 8 games in this building, Roli can't afford to let that in.

  • Hippy

    doggie-style D wrote:

    Great news everyone – (I think my birthday wish from last night came true) The Edmonton Sun’s daily poll question today is:
    “Is it time for Craig MacTavish to step aside as head coach?”
    This is THE opportunity to make our voice be heard

    Seriously cruise over and vote everyone… It's at 68% (Yes, Time For New Blood)

    Let's get that up 99%.

  • Hippy

    I've often laughed at the difference in post-game comments from players. Some call it like it is, but Moreau tends to not deal with reality with some of his.

    I've asked myself the exact same question… "was he playing in the game that I watched?"

    Great article.