The bucket list

The morning after the night before at Rexall Place didn’t provide the puke-inducing bag skate many fans of the Edmonton Oilers, not to mention some players, expected from coach Craig MacTavish today.

In that regard, the Oilers — still shame-faced after the humiliating stain on the franchise that was a 10-2 loss to the 1957 Montreal Canadiens, I mean the 2009 Buffalo Sabres — were spared the need to reach for the bucket, even if those who pay the freight weren’t afforded the same courtesy Tuesday.

What MacTavish didn’t do in rehashing the worst home defeat in franchise history with a stench still hanging in the air was sugar-coat the abomination or take issue with fans who jeered his team.

At least the Sabres gave the faithful what they wanted, answering chants of “We want 10, We want 10 ” by putting up double digits, capping 60 minutes of buffing their boots on Oiler backsides with a shorty.

Got a problem with that, MacT?

“Our fans, I give them a lot of credit,” said MacTavish. “They’re very appropriate in their reactions. When they’re unhappy, they’re good hockey fans, they know the game and they know the expectations.

“They don’t fly off the handle prematurely. I thought last night, they weren’t bad. They weren’t as bad as what it could have been. We deserved it all.”

But coach, “We want 10?”

“We would have joined in the chorus, too,” MacTavish said of the coaching staff, trying to lighten things a bit. “We were disappointed, too. They were very appropriate in their commentary.”

The saying goes that the first step in solving a problem is admitting there is one. Maybe so, but I’m not sure the Oilers deserve that much credit, given how the Chicago Blackhawks waltzed into town not so long ago and drubbed them 9-2. That said, MacTavish faced every question.

“I don’t feel compelled to say anything, other than we’ll be better, which isn’t a stretch,” said MacTavish when asked what he’d like to say to fans.

Revenge of the nerds

Tuesday’s “debacle of monumental proportions” was like watching a schoolyard bully yank a kid out of algebra class by the pocket protector, drag him down the hall to the boys washroom, shove his head in the toilet and flush until his arm got tired.

At some point, even the nerd decides he’s had enough and fights back, even if it’s to no avail and the bully throws in a Stanfield’s-stretching wedgie for good measure. Where was the fight from the Oilers? And, no, Craig Rivet accidentally getting kicked in the groin by Dustin Penner doesn’t count.

What part of getting embarrassed by the Blackhawks Dec. 16 didn’t the Oilers understand? I know it wouldn’t have changed anything, but, failing salvaging some pride by coming out and winning the third period, doesn’t somebody have to get punched in the mouth or two-handed?

At some point, doesn’t somebody, anybody, say, “I’m not going to take this. I’ve had enough?” Apparently not.

“At that point, what’s it going to prove?” said Sheldon Souray. “You’re already getting embarrassed. We don’t need to embarrass ourselves further. We were getting beat fair and square on the score board.”

I’ve got all the respect in the world for Souray, who at least took a hack at a Buffalo forward in front of clay pigeon Jeff Deslauriers in frustration, but I disagree.

Until last night, it was fair to argue Chicago was a one-off, but to sit back and watch the Sabres light it up virtually unmolested?

Sorry, call me Scribe-osaurus-Rex, but somebody needs to get poked in the nose when it’s 7-1 or 8-1 or 10-2.

“We were getting humbled and humiliated by that team,” Souray said. “I think we would’ve embarrassed ourselves had we taken the game to a different landscape. I just don’t think it would have served a purpose.”

Now what?

  • With a three-game winning streak and their tidy 5-1 roll done, the Oilers have to gather themselves and face the Minnesota Wild, who’ll arrive Friday eyeball-to-eyeball in Western Conference standings.
    Both teams are 24-20-3 for 51 points, but Minnesota sits seventh and the Oilers eighth based on goal-differential. Not to worry, the Oilers always light up Nicklas Backstrom like a cheap cigar…
  • Expect MacTavish to go back to Dwayne Roloson against the Wild despite his shaky start against Buffalo (three goals on eight shots).
  • GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe took in today’s marathon practice, which ran about one hour and 45 minutes and included a break to re-flood the ice. Both looked on for most of the session, with each stepping out occasionally to answer the phone — no doubt lots of GMs out there are calling to help them out.
  • The next six games are particularly important to the Oilers playoff hopes. In order, they’ll face Minnesota, Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and the Wild again.

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

  • Ender the Dragon

    Anyone who has kids has experienced a situation similar to the following; you walk into the house and your child is standing in the kitchen in middle of the a pile of broken glass, holding a long stick in one hand and a skipping rope in the other. At that point, not not 100% sure what has happened, but you're reasonably sure you're not going to like the answer.

    At this point, you have several options. Some of them will will make your kid dislike you, some of them will provide a teaching opportunity, and a few might even land your kid in foster care. The difference between them all is how you handle your emotions initially. While it's perfectly natural to be angry and want to beat the child with the blunt end of the refridgerator, that's not the correct answer. You may well decide that the child is going to get a spanking but if that is your choice, logic dictates that you should cool off before proceeding with such a plan. Failure to do so can lead to unforseen and unfortunate events as a result.

    What does all of this have to do with the Oilers? It's a question of maturity and emotional control; if they didn't respond last night because they just didn't give a damn, then I agree that there's a serious problem in the room and some trades and/or demotions are in order. If, however, the Oilers were angry on the inside but holding themselves in check, then I am onside with their actions. Jason already pointed out that we challenged their guys to fight. When they don't oblige, letting your emotions get the better of you and hauling off and sucker punching someone may not be the wisest course of action. Sure, it feels good at the time; venting your rage on someone who's just royally pissed you off usually does. The misconduct and the league review that go with it, however, aren't as easy to accept. Ask Todd Bertuzzi if he would do anything differently in his life given a do-over. Yeah, we lost 10-2 last night, but no one did anything stupid, no one got hurt, no one got suspended for 18 games, you get the idea. I think maybe it all worked out as best as could be hoped for, given the score.

    Friday, we'll find out whether it was emotional maturity that kept the fight out of the boys or a complete void of character. I sure hope it's the former.

  • Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer

    If the Flames beat us 10-2, do you guys think there would be line brawls? You can bet your ass there would be. There is no point doing that in a game where your not going to see that team again. There are other ways they could have played without going head hunting. Columbus didnt do it to us, and they are turning out alright.

  • Wanye Gretz

    David S wrote:

    Uhhh…I was replying to Wanye.
    Sorry Robin. I messed up with the quote app.
    *Preview function* would dearly be appreciated.

    Preview function, edit button, self aware umbrella cyborgs. What is this google?

  • David S

    Wanye Gretz wrote:

    RobinB wrote:

    Nilsson (for example) – not so much.

    Robin – I thought Nilsson was one of the few last night that made a personal statement that he wasn't going to go down without having something to say about it. I mean, his goal busting to the net was a rare moment of redemption in 60 minutes of crap.

    That's what I was looking for. Guys knowing that they were screwed but still having the guts to face the man and give it their best shot in a losing cause. The fighting stuff – well Souray was right. The only thing it would have proven was that we're a bunch of sore losers.

  • RobinB

    @ Wanye Gretz:
    Remember how a lot of people portrayed the slugfest against the Canucks in Vancouver last season as one of those swing games when the Oilers came together? Look at Sam Gagner fight, blah, blah blah. Fair enough.
    But you can't hold up that kind of performance as a character-builder without wondering if a total no-show like Tuesday shows a lack of the very same qualities. Win or lose, you don't lay down like the Oilers did against Buffalo when it's already happened once before.

  • swany

    RobinB wrote:

    @ swany
    All is forgotten? Taking that kind of beating twice in a month at home isn’t something you can just write-off as “sh*t happens.”

    I guess I don't know what to say about that getting mad wanting Mact's head or wanting them to trade this guy or that guy isn't going to change the fact that they got smoked. Sure I thought Storts or ANYBODY should have grabbed someone and laid a beating on them but they didn't I don't want an appology, I want them to come out and make ammends on the ice that game is over it was bad, but it's a small thing in life, my kids are healthy, I have a good life now if the Oilers could win every game, it would be perfect, but if they win 3 out of 4 that's great to.

  • Wanye Gretz

    RobinB wrote:

    @ swany
    All is forgotten? Taking that kind of beating twice in a month at home isn’t something you can just write-off as “sh*t happens.”

    Straight up. It's puzzling to see how little pride in the uniform some of these guys had. The Jason Smiths and the Ryan Smyths of the world would rather take an AM-RAM missile to the nuts than see the team disrespected.

    Nilsson (for example) – not so much.

  • Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer

    RobinB wrote:

    @ APE:
    I didn’t sense a lot of piss and vinegar in the dressing room today.
    I can understand being stunned and somewhat reserved the first time you get spanked that badly, but I expected a little more “we’re not going to take this and it isn’t going to happen again” after the second time.

    Thats a problem with this team that has been missing for a few years. The attitude should have been, "Were going to anilihate them one way or another on Friday"

  • swany

    RobinB wrote:

    @ APE:
    I didn’t sense a lot of piss and vinegar in the dressing room today.
    I can understand being stunned and somewhat reserved the first time you get spanked that badly, but I expected a little more “we’re not going to take this and it isn’t going to happen again” after the second time.

    Iagree wjth that but we aren't the only team to get spanked in sports the yankies get spanked, the raptors and so on I want this team to play harder and more aggressive but they did win5 of 6 and I am hoping they WIN Friday, Igot interviewed by ctv and they asked if I was at the game if I would want my money back NO we pay vto see them play win big or lose big it's sports craap happens and it happened last night shake it off and put in a good effort and win friday and all is forgotten.

  • RobinB

    @ APE:
    I didn't sense a lot of piss and vinegar in the dressing room today.
    I can understand being stunned and somewhat reserved the first time you get spanked that badly, but I expected a little more "we're not going to take this and it isn't going to happen again" after the second time.

  • swany

    Was at the practice and I thought they would be puking there brains out, that was a bad D game last night but I thought the offence created chances, but just couldn't finish. When it was 3 zip Penner missed an open net and so did Redoxx make it 3-2 and the game could have been diffrent, and Robin thanks for the invite to the practice my kids had a ball, it was worth the drive.

  • APE

    I would've donated 23 buckets. I'm with you Brownlee. Nobody said they had to run around and try get someone but Jesus don't be scared to get pissed off and slash someone or hit someone.