When the Edmonton Oilers miss the playoffs, they’ll look back on losses like Thursday’s indifferent 4-2 shoulder shrug against the feeble Ottawa Senators and untimely no-shows by their best players as the reason why.
It’s fine and good that GM Steve Tambellini did what he could to address the Oilers lack of secondary scoring with the acquisitions of Patrick O’Sullivan and Ales Kotalik Wednesday.
But, really, doesn’t that amount to an exercise in futility when the primary scoring has gone south faster than a charter bus loaded with grey-haired grannies packing cupfuls of quarters destined for Reno?
Having welcomed O’Sullivan and Kotalik with Thursday’s gritty, determined throw-down against the Senators in a game they absolutely had to win, the Oilers didn’t get much out of the new guys. Understandable.
But what’s the excuse for Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner and Sheldon Souray? Craig MacTavish’s go-to guys haven’t done much of late in the name of a playoff push, just when the team needs them most.
The go-to-guys have gone away.
O’Sullivan and Kotalik can fill the net — they won’t — but it won’t be enough unless Horcoff, Hemsky, Penner and Souray start producing again.
Horcoff has one assist in his last five games. Hemsky has two goals in his last eight games. Penner doesn’t have a point in eight games. Souray has been held off the sheet in four straight games.
Fernando Pisani has one assist in the four games he’s played since returning from a broken ankle. Robert Nilsson had no sniff in seven straight games before MacTavish yanked him from the line-up three games ago.
The only veteran who has consistently pulled his weight of late is Dwayne Roloson, and he looked like he’s wearing down against the Senators after making 20 straight starts.
With the deadline come and gone and 18 games to play, there’s no help on the way as the Oilers cling to eighth place, for now, going into games against Toronto and Montreal to wrap-up a four-game road trip.
Early tee times beckon.
It takes time
Expecting a player acquired at the deadline to contribute offensively right away is a risky proposition, even when a team’s supposed go-to guys haven’t had their hands turn into frozen blocks of wood.
As often as a player comes in an makes an immediate impact the way Olli Jokinen did with Calgary, it takes players a handful of games to settle in. That’s why O’Sullivan and Kotalik, who hadn’t exactly been tearing up the pea patch when acquired, are in a tough spot.
Some players have arrived at the deadline and contributed right away. Sergei Samsonov comes to mind during the 2006 Stanley Cup run. Sammy scored 5-11-16 in 19 games down the stretch.
Petr Nedved also lit it up on his first tour after being acquired in 2004 from the New York Rangers. Nedved tallied 5-10-15 in 16 games, although he wasn’t enough to get the Oilers into the post-season.
For others, the transition hasn’t been as seamless. In 2003, Radek Dvorak managed 4-4-8 in 12 games, but Brad Isbister didn’t pack as much punch with 3-2-5 in 13 games. In 2002, Mike York arrived from Manhattan and struggled to 2-2-4 in 12 games.
While it’s not like Erik Cole was burning out bulbs in goal lights when he got his return ticket home, the glare of the spotlight on O’Sullivan and Kotalik will be intensified as long as Hemsky and Co. are impersonating Todd Marchant in a non-contract year.
- If a player’s name is “O’Sullivan,” is there something wrong with referring to him as, well, “O’Sullivan?” What is this debate between “Patty-O” and “Sully?” Both are so witty, so brilliant, does it matter which one you use?
- With almost two full seasons in the books since Penner hit the Oiler version of the Pay Day Lottery, is there anybody out there who still thinks he’s going to earn his salary during the life of the contract? Anybody?
- What’s this I hear about Ladislav Smid and his agent asking for a trade on two separate occasions?
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.