A fine mess

Was Ethan Moreau doing what a captain had to do against the Dallas Stars Thursday, or did the E-Train look like he’d come off the rails by taking selfish, boneheaded penalties that led to a costly 4-2 loss at the American Airlines Center?

In a melee sparked by Steve Ott’s blindside of Tom Gilbert — a hit that prompted Moreau to, first, pile on Ott after Dwayne Roloson and Laddy Smid had already responded, and, second, to flail away at Dallas defenceman Nicklas Grossman — my vote is for the latter.

Five minutes to Moreau for losing it, none to Grossman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As far as Moreau’s double-minor, one for tripping and another for roughing, that led to the eventual winning goal by Fabian Brunnstrom early in the second period, same thing.

Tripping? OK. A headlock and the stinky glove? Not so much. Not at all, in fact. Stupid penalties. Selfish penalties. Nothing to do with playing tough. Nothing to do with leadership. And nothing to do with the tough, honest hockey Moreau has made a career on.

Leadership?

Of course, not everybody sees it the way I do. Long-time Oiler fan and journalist David Staples, at the Cult of Hockey at The Journal, saw Moreau’s ill-timed fits of temper as some sort of Messier Moment:

“Whatever the Oilers did wrong in the past, they responded properly this time, first with goalie feisty Dwayne Roloson coming in to give Ott a bash, then with snarly Ladislav Smid jumping on the guy, and finally with the fierce captain, Ethan Moreau, piling on and punching Ott in the head.

It did my heart well, I tell you. For once, the Oilers looked like a team, as opposed to a collection of paycheque men.”

As you’d expect, Craig MacTavish didn’t take issue with Moreau’s response, either. Said MacTavish: “There’s nobody that does it better than Steve Ott. He picks his spots. He’s an effective player. We did have the right response on the hit on Gibby, but it was a Steve Ott-type game.”

Sorry, coach, no sale. The right response? Throwing punches at Grossman, who kept his gloves on (yet managed to end up on top of Moreau) and taking the extra five?

It’s not the first time Moreau has taken ill-timed, costly penalties this season, so he doesn’t get a pass for a one-off. While I’m not in the camp of people yelling for Moreau to be stripped of the captaincy, let’s get real here. Moreau lost his temper. He took stupid penalties on two different occasions that led to the Oilers losing a game they had to win.

Correct me if I’m wrong

  • Shouldn’t fans who think it would be a great move for the Oilers to acquire Alexei Kovalev from Montreal at least find out why the Habs chose to sit their best player at a critical point in the season before they jump to conclusions? Arguments about whether Kovalev would help in the stretch drive aside — he certainly would, if he felt like it — it would seem prudent to find out what the issues are before clamouring for Steve Tambellini to pull the trigger on anything, no?
  • While Dwayne Roloson has performed better than I thought he could or would since Mathieu Garon was traded, MacTavish is now in the position of having to ride the 39-year-old all the way to the finish line. It’s 14 straight starts and counting. The wheels have to fall off Roli, don’t they?
  • Saturday’s game against Calgary will get the obligatory hype we’ve come to expect, but the Oilers aren’t catching the Flames for the Northwest Division title. Not a chance. I agree with what MacTavish suggested several weeks ago: I see the Oilers playoff hopes hinging on the three games they have remaining against the Minnesota Wild. If I’m the Oilers, I’m more worried about the Wild, who have two games in hand, than Anaheim.
  • While there’s been the suggestion Tambellini will wait until closer to the trade deadline to make any moves, I believe the return of Fernando Pisani next week could set things in motion. Just a gut feeling on that front.

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

  • Kid

    @ Robin B:

    I agree with you on Van Reimsdyk he is too early to tell but 2 training camps and still hasnt made that team I would think he hasnt worked out the way philly would have liked. Since they are very close to being able to win the cup they may have to part with him in order to make that next step. They do have alot of good young players and maybe willing to part with him. (would have to be a sign and trade with cole most likly + prospects)

    Jones looks alot less attractive now that I see he makes 3mil next year. I though he was a ufa at the end of the year when I posted that. (should have looked before posting).

    Ktachuck I feel is the only player on the market that would complement Hempsky really well. He is a ufa at the end of the year and if we do stay in the mix of the playoff race come march he may be the most reasonably priced player on the market that could come in and work out well with Hempsky. Thats just how I feel.

    Why do you think Not a chance?

  • 99thOilfan

    I often think of # 18 leadership…
    Is it really there ? Others must of thought so, as he is our Capt, in a long line of good Capt's…

    I have always thought, that his must be a steady rock of a guy in the dressing room…that is why we are having a hard time with his leadership, ON the ice….

    Right ?
    Anyone ?

  • Chris

    I questioned Moreau's Captaincy early this December and had my head bit off by all who replied… How times have changed. With the team floundering and fans dividing blame between MacT and the players I thought it curious that team leadership was not being questioned. Ironically, player only meetings before the All-Star break resulted in improved performance. I no longer question the ability of Moreau unite the group…

    Yes Chopper takes a lot of penalties. He's called CHOPPER for a reason. We cry that this team is soft; then crucify the players who skate that fine line. Everyone knows the second minor (roughing) against Moreau was B.S. One player out of that meelee…ONE? Really Ref? Let's get back to complaining about the poor P.K., the fact that half the lineup is cookie dough soft, and the kids still aren't scoring.

  • Robin B

    Kid wrote:

    but 2 training camps and still hasnt made that team I would think he hasnt worked out the way philly would have liked.

    So, you're going to stick with your story. He's a college kid. They don't expect him to stick and come out of school after two camps, one of which is a courtesy invite the September following his draft. You can insist on working off this premise, but it's flawed, so anything else that follows is as well. Sorry.
    Walt is all about Walt. He's not a fit here.

  • Robin B wrote:

    A 12-2 split, as an example, in that same stretch is still qalifies as going with your No. 1 guy, but you’re at least building in breaks. Sooner or later giving Roloson morning skates off isn’t going to keep him sharp and fresh.

    No kidding. It isn't rocket science to pick out the gaems either; twice we had three in four days with the middle game against a Western Conference powerhouse, Detroit and San Jose, the other two games against playoff position contenders. Both times MacT started Roli in all three games. Both times Oilers lost both that game against the powerhouse, and the next game.

    Tyler wrote:

    it’s understandable to me that if his job’s on the line and he’s got a choice between rolling the dice on a tired Roli or an untrustworthy JDD, his intentions of playing JDD more might lose out.

    If we're likely to lose the game anyway I'd rather lose it with the untrustworthy JDD and have a fresh Roli for the game we need. Those two softies last night were the work of a tired goalie, and it's not like he stole us any points in the Shark Tank.

  • Elaine

    I watch all the Oilers games on Satellite and on Sportsnet. I too think Moreau takes a lot of stupid and selfish penalties BUT so do a number of the Oilers. To put it bluntly, the Oilers on most nights SUCK. I also have a concern with Jeff Deslaurier as to how the Oilers have handled his pro career so far. First they had no farm team to develop him and now he sits game after game. I understand he isn't a NHL starter so why not send him down and if you lose him so what, you have probably already lost him with the way he has been handled. Hard to develop when you never play.

  • yo

    Regarding Kovalev in E-town: Based on drafted players and players received in trades I don't have a lot of confidence in any previous ties between Lowe, McT or Kovalev bearing any kind of tangible fruit this year or any other for that matter. Oh migosh! Corrupt, lazy, tempermental, their-word-doesn't-mean-a-damn-thing Russian athletes…where have we seen this before? (Ovie excluded because the jury may still be out on him)

    Broken record or not my best hope is Lowe and McT ride off into the sunset sooner than later. Katz goes to therapy to rid himself of 1980's Oiler man-love and Tambelini is able to make this organization his own. If Daum and Tambelini can get the AHL/ECHL teams operating smoothly, training the minor league talent to see what in fact we do have on the farm things may start to turn around. Prendergast might have some use but there is a big greasy cloud hanging over his head in my view.

    I almost think they should blow it all up but why not move out just the guys who are responsible for all of the gaffs and blunders and let Tambo hire his own coach and see what kind of people he can attract. I think our current GM has a certain currency in his reputation in hockey especially in the West Kootenays. His family has a solid reputation as well, back to his father and brothers. Steve Tambellini on his worst day can't be any worse than Kevin Lowe and his group of highly paid clods amd their now questionable legacy.

    Right at this moment for me Kevin Lowe's banner in Rexall has a great big shit stain right in the middle of it.

  • Chris wrote:

    Everyone knows the second minor (roughing) against Moreau was B.S. One player out of that meelee…ONE? Really Ref?

    Not sure what game you were watching, but Moreau deserved that 2nd penalty as well. He takes a penalty (tripping) and knows it. The whistle blows. He looks at the Ref. And then Moreau is the 1st one to provoke the brouhaha by grabbing (can't remember)and giving him a facewash. Tell me how that should have been coincidental penalty? Who from Dallas wanted to start something? No one… Just Moreau.

  • Upon actually looking up the stats, I wonder… why not Smyth? If he's on the declne, then what does that say about our team then? Or are we just on the rise?

    Our team as of today:

    2008-2009 Regular Season
    SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
    A. Hemsky 48 18 32 3 50
    S. Horcoff 56 14 25 9 39
    S. Souray 57 15 22 -6 37
    T. Gilbert 58 3 31 5 34
    L. Visnovsky 50 8 23 6 31
    D. Penner 56 14 15 1 29
    A. Cogliano 58 13 16 -7 29
    D. Grebeshkov 51 4 21 7 25
    E. Cole 58 13 10 -6 23
    E. Moreau 57 12 9 -3 21

    Ryan Smyth as of today:

    2008-2009 Regular Season
    SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
    R. Smyth 59 20 29 -6 49

    So he's one point behind Hemsky and 10 points ahead of Horcoff. Hmmmm…

    Yeah… we don't need a guy like that. We need another plugger with no heart and drive.

  • Hemsky is the passer. Horcoff is the shooter. Who is available that is LW, can deflect pucks at high speed and is good at screening? And we already know that he meshes with Hemmer and Horc. I can't think of anyone like that other than Smyth.

  • Hanson#4

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    For everyone whining about poor Moreau getting ripped off by the referees, are they naturally biased against him or is he just unlucky?
    Moreau’s one of the league leaders in non-coincidental penalties taken; he’s personally put the Oilers in a shorthanded situation 21 times this season. That’s every second game, folks.
    He’s having a nice year against some tough players scoring-wise, but Ethan Moreau is not, and has never been a disciplined player. It’s a flaw in his game, and the team would be better off if he corrected it.

    CLAP CLAP CLAP nice to see the numbers agree with the eyes. Our captain expects this to win games ? He knows the PK is nearly last, right ? Aaaagh
    Give Horc the C, lord knows he does everything else.

  • volfman

    Mr. Ed wrote:

    It looks like Pouliot and Cole are going to the Penguins for Stall…..

    ya must be true, heck even hockey buzz is reporting this. being an oiler fan and casual penguins fan, this would be the best trade in oiler history. and ya the worst by far in penguin history.

  • David S

    Geez you guys. The Oilers didn't want Smyth at $5.5 and you're wondering if he'll come back 2 years older for another million? I've gotta believe that kind of money would be better spent elsewhere.

  • Mr. Ed

    David S wrote:

    Geez you guys. The Oilers didn’t want Smyth at $5.5 and you’re wondering if he’ll come back 2 years older for another million? I’ve gotta believe that kind of money would be better spent elsewhere.

    Because we have such a great management team that we can over pay even for Horcoff (a 3rd line center who can win some face offs) who cost them the shark game.

  • Chris

    Smokin' Ray wrote:

    Not sure what game you were watching, but Moreau deserved that 2nd penalty as well. He takes a penalty (tripping) and knows it. The whistle blows. He looks at the Ref. And then Moreau is the 1st one to provoke the brouhaha by grabbing (can’t remember)and giving him a facewash.

    The Dallas player was repeatedly punching Staios in the face with the glove on… Moreau intervened by pulling him away into a momentary headlock… Then the Ref inexplicabbly gave Moreau four. Was the headlock retalitory? Or was it a clean intervention to a classic text book roughing penalty that was never awarded to the Dallas player? It should have been four on four, or at the very least four minutes to two. This was a totally bogus non call that turned the tide of the game. Willis is right. Moreau is undisciplined. But he hasn't changed; Why is everyone suddenly calling for his head now, after so many years?

  • Dennis

    Chris: 18 was a lot easier to like back when he was playing tough min with Grier, marchant and sometimes Murray; he was part of a consistently good PK unit and he wasn't making much money.

    But now that he's really getting paid and he's coming up minus playing top nine opp, the stupid penalties are even more obvious.

  • Chris

    @ Dennis:

    All I'm saying is Moreau hasn't changed… Only our expectations have. Moreau was beloved by all this Christmas… and now he is drawing a high level of criticism. I'm more concerned about the PP that isn't scoring, the 2nd line that isn't scoring, and the injured D that won't be scoring. Mistakes are always magnified when a team is not scoring.

  • olderthendirt

    Reading the comments here one could believe this is easly the worst team in the leaque and must be way out of the palyoffs. Must be an absolute miracle that they are in 8th, ahead of Anihiem. They have noone who can win a faceoff, noone that can score, the goalie is to old, the coach is a bum management a joke, no future prospects,good young players and the defence is terrible. maybe I should give up on the team if the fans(?) here are correct