THANKS FOR COMING

oilersnwild1

The official sign golf season was underway used to be the opening of Golden West Golf Course, but with the modest old track now closed, the Edmonton Oilers have taken over as the official beacon that’s it’s time for fans to move along and tee it up.

If taking 40 minutes in the 76th game of the season to play with some passion and purpose in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild isn’t a sure sign it’s time to dust off the sticks and think temporary greens instead of hockey in April for a third straight season, nothing is.

Playoff teams, which is what the Oilers were supposed to be when coach Craig MacTavish deemed them contenders for a Northwest Division title in pre-season, don’t lose to a team playing it’s 14th road game in a 17-game stretch like Minnesota was.

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When a team like the Wild straggles into town for the second of back-to-back games at the end of a hellacious stretch, you jump on them early and knock the try out of them. You go for the throat. Not yours, theirs.

Playoff teams don’t drag their asses and shrug their shoulders for the better part of two periods like the Oilers did before trotting out their tiresome here-come-the-heroes act late to make it interesting. Playoff teams, at least ones with any chance of contending, don’t have as many passengers as the Oilers did against the Wild. They don’t sit back and say, “Let Dwayne Roloson do it” on the way to their fourth loss in the last five games.

FEEBLE EFFORT

On a night when the Oilers lost ground to Nashville and saw St. Louis and Anaheim vault over them in Western Conference standings, the Oilers didn’t show the will, the smarts or the gamesmanship to seize the moment and put the weary Wild away for keeps. It was close to a total team effort in terms of a no-show for two periods.

“Too many guys are just too content to be a non-factor rather than be a factor and step up and make a play and be assertive in a game you desperately need,” said MacTavish, the sound of defeat and frustration dripping off every word.

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“With six games left, we’re still looking for a team that will take charge of an opportunity.”  There were some pretty good examples of some guys who played with the intensity and the passion in the game, but not enough. At no point this year have we exhibited the ability to grab the game within the game. You have to take charge of the game. We just haven’t had that ability.”

One question: if not now, after 76 games, then when?

THE UGLY TRUTH

While Roloson didn’t come up with the best effort of his 32 straight starts against the Wild, let’s not forget this team would be in line for a lottery draft pick if it wasn’t for him. It’s been Roloson’s jam and competitiveness that’s masked a multitude of flaws in the stretch drive.

— When you’re 16-14-6 at home and you can’t mount anything resembling a sustained effort until the third period of a game you have to win, you don’t deserve to get into a playoff game unless you buy a ticket.

— The Oilers power play is 3-for-34 in the last nine home games.

— The Oilers have been outshot in seven of their last 10 games, including 54-20 by Anaheim, 44-26 by Detroit and 43-31 by Chicago.

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— Shawn Horcoff has two goals in the last 18 games. Andrew Cogliano has one goal in the last 10 games. Patrick O’Sullivan has one goal in 13 games since being acquired from Los Angeles. Dustin Penner has three goals in his last 20 games.

— Ales Hemsky wants to be the go-to guy? Nice job by Dan Barnes of The Journal getting Hemsky to spill his guts last week, but go-to guys don’t vent in the newspapers and score one goal in an 11-game stretch when the team needs them to produce. They shut up and get the job done.

NOW WHAT?

So, do you really think the Oilers have the backbone to climb back into a playoff spot with six games to play? I have my doubts. And, even if they do, does it really make the season a success? Depends on your expectations, I suppose. Would eighth place mean more than two homes dates worth of playoff revenue?

Rhetorical question.

Maybe they can give up 50-plus shots against Anaheim again Tuesday and ride Roloson to another win. Maybe they can show the grit Nashville and St. Louis has and put together a late charge. They’d better, because they’ll need four wins in these last six to have any chance. But, well, no.

Be disappointed and angry at yet another mediocre season if you must, especially those, like MacTavish, who honestly believed this edition of the Oilers had a legit chance of taking a run at a division title.

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Not me. Playing bad golf beats watching bad hockey any day, and I’m ready to play some. To steal from noted orator Dennis Green, the Edmonton Oilers are who I thought they were.

Not good enough.

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


  • Hockey Gods

    Amen Brother, dust off the golf clubs Oiler fans it is going to be another spring and summer of no playoff hockey. We can now speculate and prepare for July 1, 2009 so we can see which soon-to-be underperofrmers the brass sign/trade for to renew my optimism for next season.

    Ahh the joys of being a die-hard Oiler fan.

  • Victoria

    And to top it all off, Roloson stands in front of the media and takes the blame for this one. What a heartbreaking thing to have to see; The guy who never takes credit for carrying this team on his back is the ONLY person willing to take the bullet in a loss.
    Roli: I hope you find a better team to backstop next year – you deserve better.
    Everone else (mostl of all MacT): Thanks for another disappointing season.

  • ScubaSteve*FMNF

    This season was a lost cause right from the start, poor coaching, poor management, the list goes on.

    I wouldn't have a problem if we were rebuilding and didn't have the players, but we do have them, they are just used in the wrong way.

    I don't think there is anyone on here that needs to be convinced about MacT, or the rest of the management, and that change alone in the offseason will make us a better team, but this is the other big thing we need to do in the offseason.

    -Get rid of Moreau and Staois. These 2 do not deserve a roster spot, and are holding us back. I'm sure Brule can come up and take bad penalties, and I'm positive we could find a minor leaguer who only knows how to bang the puck up the boards. I don't want to hear the "good in the room" "leadership" "experience" argument. These 2 have never won anything, and have never "led" our team anywhere. Without these 2 in the line-up, we are a better team – addition by subtraction.

  • humantorch

    Also, Nickelback? Seriously? If "the industry" thinks that they're worth 3 awards at the Junos, someone needs to get fired over there even more promptly than the Oilers office needs to get cleaned out.

  • 17

    Once again, the Oilers go from having control of their own fate to completely blowing it and now having to rely on other teams choking. Like the year of the Cup run, it's going to be a game of hot potato with the last playoff spot and the team that makes it will be the one that sucks the least. Ugh.

  • Peter Pan

    I think you're more optimistic than I am. I figure they need 10 points to get in. that means going 5-1 or 4-0-2. Not going to happen. After that PHX loss last week, I knew it was over.

  • Excellent post Robin. I could not agree with you more. This team team, save for the goaltender, doesn't deserve to be in the playoffs. Pretty embarrassing when you look and see how much St. Louis and Nashville are playing their hearts out.

  • This is exactly what every fan didn't want I think. Once again we are going to have to go on a run to get into the play-offs. All season they have been playing the same way & the MGMT thought all along the team was better.

    Once again we will miss the play-offs & get a pick in the above 10 in the first round & will criticize MGMT for taking some guy with 'a high level of compete' & 'a good team guy'.

  • RT26

    Well, these last 6 games will show us who should stay long term, and who lacks heart and needs to go.

    I think we have too many guys and need to trade away some promising young talent and a few vets to bring in a real top 6 forward. Let's cull the herd, or shape next year's roster with a lot of the younger talent andf re-build. Chicago took its lumps for a few years and now they're playing great.

    Either we think this team is close and we tweak, or we look to re-build with a plan this off-season. I say we see what the young talent can do.

  • Darcy

    Kudos to you Robin for being the only writer to pick the Oilers out of the playoffs at the beginning of the season.

    What did you see then that the rest of us were blind to?

    I remember reading a preseason issue of the Hockey News (maybe it was the Sporting News),and they proclaimed MacTavish as the pre-season favorite for the Jack Adams trophy.

  • Colin-FMNF

    Colin wrote:

    Excellent post Robin. I could not agree with you more. This team team, save for the goaltender, doesn’t deserve to be in the playoffs. Pretty embarrassing when you look and see how much St. Louis and Nashville are playing their hearts out.

    Hey that's my name! I was here first damn it!

    Anyway I feel bad for the two goalies: Roli because he's played his ass off and deserves some post season action and JDD because he deserves better than playing 6 games.

    Maybe we'll get some nice spring cleaning out of this at least.

    Anyway the ninth hole beckons…

  • Robin Brownlee

    Darcy wrote:

    Kudos to you Robin for being the only writer to pick the Oilers out of the playoffs at the beginning of the season.
    What did you see then that the rest of us were blind to?
    I remember reading a preseason issue of the Hockey News (maybe it was the Sporting News),and they proclaimed MacTavish as the pre-season favorite for the Jack Adams trophy.

    I'm hardly the only one who had doubts about the Oilers in pre-season. Granted, most of the beat guys were buying the NW title talk, but there were quite a few people out there who were skeptical.

    I didn't put as much weight in the 14-5-1 run at the end of last season — and the team's ability to puck up where it left off — as some people did. I put it down to the Oilers being loose and having no pressure. You can argue that, but that kind of pace wasn't sustainable.

    I didn't doubt the Oilers had assembled reasonable individual talent with the addition of Visnovsky and Cole and injured players coming back, but making all the pieces fit is another matter. It takes time.
    The PK was awful in pre-season and so was the face-off percentage. The three goalies was a bad situation. I thought the Oilers might stumble out of the gate with a tough schedule (even though they got through it OK).

    For these reasons, and others mentioned in my pre-season preview, it simply didn't add up to a division title or a playoff spot.

  • blu

    I think it's as simple as making changes to coaching and management. The problem is it's never that simple.

    At least one person has pointed out that Roli was the only one to stand up and take the bullet on this loss. The one guy who has played like he saw where the season was headed. This city deserves a public apology and letter of resignation from MacT and the rest, but they'd never man up and take it.

    I feel bad for smasher steve too. He used to get it done. I've no idea whats happened to him this season.

  • Rick

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    For these reasons, and others mentioned in my pre-season preview, it simply didn’t add up to a division title or a playoff spot.

    So here's a question, do you see what happened this year as a result of the reasons you had in the fall?

    This team has been messed up since the first puck drop of the season in ways that still leave me dumbfounded.

    It's one thing to say that they couldn't continue the pace of the stretch drive. That was a slam dunk but didn't, in itself, seal their palyoff fate.

    It could be predicted that the kids run in place more than move forward. OR even that there needed to be a period of adjustment with not just the new faces in the room but re-establishing the pecking order with the injured vets coming back.

    All of that could be seen with a keen eye early on as reasons why they wouldn't make the playoffs.

    BUT, who saw no identity, no direction, no committment, lack of hard work, confused play and all that kind of stuff that even after 76 games is still plaguing them?

    Through bad Oilers teams and decent Oilers teams, none of that stuff has ever been an issue. Even if the results didn't bare out.

    I am still cheering for them but considering when I look at the standings I wonder more about how they managed the points they got more so than the points they gave away, I don't hesitate in saying this team doesn't deserve the playoffs this year. Regardless if they still manage to sneak in somehow.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    i'm not sure why everyone is so disappointed. this team has been transparently bad since pre-season and was just as bad last year. they cant execute passes on a consistent basis to make their game efficient. passes into skates, bad decisions, not shooting in prime areas, giving up high volumes of shots, having undersized D-men or old dogs who cant take on enormous minutes night in and night out, immaturity, passive attitudes, mediocre vets who can play their guts out for minimal results (thats called inefficiency in economics), roster imbalance between "skilled" immaturity / passengers and older players who just arent that good to carry a team, etc, etc, etc…

    all this stuff was known months ago and even last season. we just let the chimera of them being in a playoff spot keep us held over until they pooped their race car bed over the last week as the sleeper teams below them finally woke up.

    the Oilers are where they deserve to be. Illusion SMASHED.

  • AlBundy

    Boys, we are not out of it yet. We can still do this. All that needs to happen is our best players need to be our best players. Roli has been great but if he leaves at the end of the season what does that mean?

    What happened to our best players over this strech run is really the question?

    Have these guys truly given it their all:

    -Horcoff, he plays the most minutes of any forward.
    -Hemsky, "Princess" as Fred called him.
    -Souray, I can't figure this guy out, he doesn't hit, he doesn't block shots, what happened here?
    -Moureau- because he wears the "C". Where has he gone.
    -Cog's, can't win a draw, can't win a battle along the boards, and gives up the puck early in the offensive zone
    -Gagner, he gets lots of ice with very little in return. Will be a good player in the rebuilding years

    These guys I believe have provided the jump:
    -Zack, man, how can you sit this guy out?
    -Kyle, steady and a great 4th liner
    -Fernando, steady 3rd liner like he is suppose to
    -Penner, say what you want, he is a great 3rd line or 4th line player and good in front of net on power play. Was playing out of position on the 1st line or press box most of the season.
    -Robert, you know, when a coach benches you and then puts you on the power play, who the h*ll knows what is going on.
    -Smid, too bad he is hurt cause he is a heck of a player.

    I honestly don't blame MacT, I think KLowe sticks his nose in and suggests who should be playing and where. He doesn't want to look bad but honestly, the blame rests 90% with KLOWE.

    STEP DOWN KLOWE NOW.

  • Sandra

    Well another lost season, What we need is a clean start, we won't make the playoffs so what changes now? Lowe? MacT? Horcoff…PLEASE before he is untradeable which might be too late. The D is …….no words, Gagner needs some guidence, Others like Nilson have had thier confedence shattered. This team is one big mess. Now if this was Rexall, what would Katz do? I guess we thought he was our saviour when he took over a year ago.Now any Oiler empoyee, please give your season ticket holders a reason why they should renew? Whats in store for next year. Will Lowe be here? he caused this mess and sure he played 25 years but still can't spot talent or manage. Frustrated.