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

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    That bum Gagner looks good this period, yes?

    He's had a rough third, that's for sure. He was looking decent in the first two (in terms of battling for the puck).

  • Hippy

    Wej wrote:

    He’s had a rough third, that’s for sure. He was looking decent in the first two (in terms of battling for the puck).

    I thought he'd been fairly good in the third too – the shift where Cole drew the penalty that whole line was buzzing.

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ Wej:
    Pouliot really isn’t the worst player on this team.

    He's been one of the worst since getting his bell rung. The worst? Who would you say is the worst?

  • Hippy

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Wej wrote:
    I thought he’d been fairly good in the third too – the shift where Cole drew the penalty that whole line was buzzing.

    He had a few giveaways in the third, and pressed the play instead of making the simple one.

    Overall he's had a better game than many of the vets.

  • Hippy

    Wej wrote:

    He’s been one of the worst since getting his bell rung. The worst? Who would you say is the worst?

    That's really not a bad point; his play has certainly been more intermittent since then.

    The worst? Liam Reddox is my pick, although if we're judging Steve MacIntyre just on hockey ability he jumps in front.

    It's also worth noting that the Oilers' third pairing is none too impressive.

  • Hippy

    Wej wrote:

    Why won’t MacT try Nilsson Cogliano and Hemsky together? It’s worth a shot. Or is he afraid that it will expose Moreau for the half assed player that he is?

    …when Cogliano isn't playing with Moreau.

  • Hippy

    Wej wrote:

    I really hope the Oilers keep Smid. He’s grown leaps and bounds this season.

    I think Smid's a piece you build around going forward. His extension shouldn't cost that much, because I really don't think he'll ever have the pretty points totals required to earn the big dollars.

    He adds a lot that doesn't show up in the score column.

  • Hippy

    @ Wej:
    "Cogs? Nope. Cole? Nope. Penner? Nope….let's go with Gilbs. How are his back spasms by the way? Doesn't matter, he grew up around here. He'll score…"

    Craig MacTavish: 02/08/09 3:37 pm

  • Hippy

    STINK POST – #51 Deep Oil February 8 2009, 12:23 pm.

    APE wrote:

    Game day b!tches!

    1) Afternoon game
    2) Against the Wild
    3) Blown out last game – unprepared again

    Add all this up and hope for an overtime time win or loss and give the badly needed points to a division rival – with MACT saying that they tried hard.
    ________________________________________________________

    I just had a feeling on this……. sometimes you get lucky and find an acorn.

  • Hippy

    Wej wrote:

    @ chaz:
    That’s what you get when your coach is a Grade”A” Moron.

    followed up by a GM that handcuffed his coach with morons – idiot contracts – shame on you kevin

  • Hippy

    More like after 3 games in such a short span, nobody had anything left for the SO. Neither Sam or Robert had any jump compared to St Louis. An amazing goalie versus an OK goalie and a dead beat roster.

    Still, 3 points of 6 is OK. Not great but OK.

  • Hippy

    Wej wrote:

    I really hope the Oilers keep Smid. He’s grown leaps and bounds this season.

    needs to see dentist about that bobby clarke look
    crowns or implants please

  • Hippy

    The biggest mistake was playing Roloson, JDD did decent in mop up action saturday against the Wings and Mac T goes back to Roloson in a place the Oilers have now lost 10 straight. Funny Mac T mixes up and alters lines more regularily than most people change underwear but yet he wont give JDD anything more than relief action. Roloson has played well this year, lets face he's the only reason there have not been more 10-2 like scores, but give the kid a chance.

    One more thing about yesterdays game, the only reason that game didn't hit double digits for the Wings is because they pulled back the horses and stopped puhsing after the 1st, and that in itself should be enough hopefully make Lowe and Tambellini realize that the Oilers have serious problems and something needs to be done.

  • Hippy

    David S wrote:

    More like after 3 games in such a short span, nobody had anything left for the SO. Neither Sam or Robert had any jump compared to St Louis. An amazing goalie versus an OK goalie and a dead beat roster.
    Still, 3 points of 6 is OK. Not great but OK.

    .500 on the road is allright, but the oil have stunk out Rexall – so that argument is not valid

  • Hippy

    Dennis Castro wrote:

    The biggest mistake was playing Roloson, JDD did decent in mop up action saturday against the Wings and Mac T goes back to Roloson in a place the Oilers have now lost 10 straight. Funny Mac T mixes up and alters lines more regularily than most people change underwear but yet he wont give JDD anything more than relief action. Roloson has played well this year, lets face he’s the only reason there have not been more 10-2 like scores, but give the kid a chance.
    One more thing about yesterdays game, the only reason that game didn’t hit double digits for the Wings is because they pulled back the horses and stopped puhsing after the 1st, and that in itself should be enough hopefully make Lowe and Tambellini realize that the Oilers have serious problems and something needs to be done.

    insane comment – did you see the last 30 seconds with 5 shots on rollie

  • Hippy

    The book on Roli is that he comes back hard after being puled. He was pretty good tonight. Not sure if JDD could have got us that point. Looks like JDD is the new Schremp.

    Regardless. The loss wasn't on Roli. There's alot of vets who've been off the sheet lately. Specifically Hemsky – WTF is with him? He's been a non factor since he got pasted into the boards a few games ago. Post concussion syndrome?

    Not having Viz and Horc really hurt us tonight.