In yet another kick to the groin, the Edmonton Oilers shafted themselves — or is it bladed themselves? — in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when coach Craig MacTavish guessed wrong on Teemu Selanne’s stick.
MacTavish thought he had it right when he asked the referees to measure the blade of Selanne’s stick with 2:11 to play, thinking it was too wide, but he got it wrong because he got bad information.
It was just another blunder to add to the misery of Oiler fans who’ve now packed Rexall Place for 151 straight games and in return have been treated to expensive beer, too many half-assed efforts, a grand total of 16 wins in 37 home games and untold heartache this season.
I’m wondering if whoever it was that was eye-balling Anaheim’s stick rack is the same guy who looked over the Oilers roster in pre-season and whispered in MacTavish’s ear he’d bet his job this team would contend for a Northwest Division title. Or did MacT act alone?
Either way, somebody’s going to pay after April 11.
PARTING GIFT FOR MACT?
Selanne shrugged off suggestions in the post-game scrum the blade of his stick was too wide or that he’d made a quick change of twigs. The Finnish Flash instead took a bit of a poke at MacTavish.
“No, not really,” shrugged Selanne, asked if he’d swapped sticks or if it was common to replace illegal sticks with legal ones late in games. “I try to have it as wide as I can because the ice is so bad in a lot of buildings. “It’s right on the borderline, but I knew it was going to be good, so I didn’t really have to worry about it. There’s not much curve at all, but it looks pretty wide.”
Wide enough, obviously, that MacTavish, likely convinced by his stick rack spy, gambled in the hope of going on the power play after Zack Stortini cut Anaheim’s lead to 4-3 at 17:49. “I don’t know who it was,” smiled Selanne, asked if he thought that it was MacTavish who’d been casting suspicious glances toward his stick. “Maybe I should sign the stick for him, though.”
No way Dwayne Roloson deserves to be thrown under the bus with the record-setting 33-game stretch he’s played, but he’s looked tired the last two games and it only makes sense he’s finally out of gas.
As much as he’s battled, Roloson gave up three goals on 21 shots, including a softy by Martin Skoula, in the 3-2 loss to Minnesota and there’s no way he should get beat high on the short side by Rob Niedermayer to put the Ducks up 4-1 late in the second period.
So, what do the Oilers do now? Lock Roloson’s 39-year-old bones in a hyperbaric chamber until Thursday or toss Jeff Deslauriers between the pipes when he hasn’t played a minute since Feb. 7 and hasn’t made a start since Nov. 30? That’s not an option.
As dubious as the Selanne stick measurement was, the decision not to give Deslauriers a start or two in the last 33 games, especially with three sets of back-to-back games since Feb. 16, might prove to be more costly.
For me, that’s a more damning indictment of MacTavish’s judgment than the bad call on Selanne’s lumber.
BY THE NUMBERS
— Not to leave former GM and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe and his scouting staff out of all the fun, Ryan Getzlaf, selected 19th overall by the Ducks in the 2003 Entry Draft, had two assists Tuesday and has 88-174-262 in 292 games.
Marc Pouliot, taken 22nd by the Oilers in 2003, was a healthy scratch for the eighth time in the last nine games. He’s scored 14-25-39 in 140 games.
— Stortini has scored five goals in the last 18 games he’s played. Shawn Horcoff has two goals in his last 18 and Ales Hemsky has three in his last 18. Who’s been the ham-handed plumber when it’s mattered?
— How many games have the Oilers lost in the second period? They have been outscored 90-74 in the middle frame this season, including 3-0 last night.
— At 16-15-6 the Oilers need to run the table in their final four games at Rexall Place just to hit 20 wins at home this season. There isn’t a team in a playoff position today with a home record nearly as lame.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.