What go-to guys?

newhope2

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.

No-shows

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.

Just asking…

  • 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.

  • West Coast Oil

    The scary thing with the Oilers that people need to realise is we have not played to full potential this year and are still in a playoff position.
    If the team had played balls to the wall hockey for at least 70% of the season rather than 30% where in the standings would we be right now?
    Based on this I do not think the team is untalented like many state I think they need a new motivator and that is why I have been an advocate of getting rid of MacT..

  • Jack "FMNF" Bauer

    Jack "FMNF" Bauer thinks the Oilers are an average team that plays with no fire. Jack "FMNF" Bauer thinks that the idea of "The Oilers are a playoff team, therefore just wait" is pretty bogus.

    Jack "FMNF" Bauer thinks this team acts like a bunch of pansies and will get run off the ice should it make the playoffs.

  • B-rad

    Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

    Jack “FMNF” Bauer thinks the Oilers are an average team that plays with no fire. Jack “FMNF” Bauer thinks that the idea of “The Oilers are a playoff team, therefore just wait” is pretty bogus.
    Jack “FMNF” Bauer thinks this team acts like a bunch of pansies and will get run off the ice should it make the playoffs.

    I just threw up in my mouth…a little bit.

    haha

  • Bruno

    W.T. wrote:

    W.T. also suggests that everyone laughed at him when he suggested Smid was involved in trade talks with Atlanta. You all still laughing now?

    See, Warrior in Texas> How are we laughing at anything other than you.
    You still fail to back up your "Knowing it all"
    come on mang!

  • Jay

    So Tencer claimed last night on his show that the oil need to win 2 out of 3 games for the rest of the way to guarentee a playoff spot. Is this a realistic prediction? If so, I'm definately scared for the least consistent team in the league (us).

  • JB

    Mac T cannot coach a team to better than eighth place. In the seven years he has been here have we every finished better. Any other organization the coach would have been gone years ago cup run or not. Therrien was in our system for years. Might be worth a look no?

  • Phil

    I don't understand all this nonsense about Smid. As a fan, I'm really ticked off at management and the coaching staff for not giving him more of an opportunity to develop. Personally, I'm a huge Ladi Smid backer, I still think he's the best shutdown defense prospect we have. At best he can be an exemplary #2 guy, a ying and yang type player, gives you whatever you want, whether its rugged play or a little bit of skating and puck distributing ability. What can I say, I love the kid.

    I don't blame him for asking for a trade, he's been given the shaft here, he's better than 5-6 at the moment.

    Plus there's all this talk about Peckham or whoever else down the pecking order who are ready to make the transition to the bigs next year. I've only seen Pecks as many times as he's suited up for the Oilers this year, so I don't know how his play in the AHL has been, but from what I have seen so far, I don't know why people are so high on him. He has potential to be a nice player, also a shutdown guy, but Smid is bigger, as strong, and has 10x the offensive capabilities as Peckham.

    I really hope he stays in Edmonton. With injuries on the back end and increased minutes, I've really began to notice Ladi more over the past few games (in a good way). He starting to add some "finish" to his jump-in-the-rush moments.

  • @ Robin Brownlee:
    Thanks RB. I agree with you that Kevin Lowe has likely insulated himself and will dodge the machete if it does indeed start to cut a swath through the coaching staff.

    Interesting that clubs can't approach other clubs about head coaches…makes obvious sense, too. Maybe a covert operation like the one that went down in ANA/TOR this year could be pulled off?

    Thanks again.

    -Woody

  • Bruno

    W.T. wrote:

    W.T.wishes OilerNation to realize should Oil lose to Maple Laughs on Sat. night, Maple Laughs will only be 1 point behind Oilers. What does that say?

    That were one point ahead???

  • Bruno

    Bruno wrote:

    W.T. wrote:
    W.T.wishes OilerNation to realize should Oil lose to Maple Laughs on Sat. night, Maple Laughs will only be 1 point behind Oilers. What does that say?
    That were one point ahead???

    Or shall I say "We are" one point ahead??

  • W.T.

    @ B-Rad:W.T. says that it sounds like you need angry management help. Call your buddy Avery and see if he can recommend someone? Or maybe you are a Maple Leaf fan and W.T. upset you that you will only be one point behind Oil after tonight? Don't worry you will pass
    oil by the time year is over.