Call me unimpressed

I laughed out loud when Sportsnet play-by-play man Kevin Quinn tipped us off during the third period of the Edmonton Oilers life-and-death struggle with the New York Islanders that “It doesn’t get any easier on this homestand.”

No, Kevin, it doesn’t get any easier — the Islanders are the laughing stocks of the NHL. They arrived at Rexall Place Monday having lost 12 straight games on the road and sitting dead-last in NHL overall standings.

Then, they lost captain and leading scorer Doug Weight during the morning skate. So, no, it really doesn’t get any easier. Of course, that’s not exactly what Quinn meant.

So how is it that the Oilers, who already gassed two points in losses to the hopeless Florida Panthers and inept Ottawa Senators, needed fluke goals by Kyle Brodziak and Jason Strudwick in the second period on the way to a 3-2 win to avoid making it three times they’ve soiled the sheets?

Because this is a team, regardless of post-game spin, that has no clue about the intensity and fortitude needed to be a consistent winner and a legitimate playoff contender in the Western Conference.

That’s how.

Hero act

“They played as good as anybody against us,” coach Craig MacTavish said after his team pulled a fast one. “Especially early. They put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t handle the pressure very well.”

You’d think after blowing off those games against the Panthers and sad-sack Senators, who also came to town with 12 straight road losses before beating the Oilers 3-2 Dec. 30, MacT’s men would have been motivated to come out like a house on fire against the Islanders.

But, down 2-0, they were in danger of falling back to .500 at home until they got lucky — Brodziak banked a puck off Brendan Witt’s skate behind Joey MacDonald and Strudwick made it 2-2 when Zack Stortini’s pass bounced in off his skate.

Good for the fourth-liners, who’ve carried more than their fair share of the workload in recent games, but getting outplayed early before winning it on Andrew Cogliano’s 12th goal of the season is inexcusable.

The Oilers talked the talk in the morning, but they damn sure didn’t walk the walk when the puck dropped.

Not good enough

Serve up the same mistake-filled slop against the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday or the San Jose Sharks Friday and the 19-16-3 Oilers will be back under .500 at home.

Hell, try that against anybody but the feeble Islanders and it’s a loss. Playing down to the level of inferior competition as the Oilers too often do is not the sign of a team ready to contend.

“We collected ourselves after the first period and played a pretty workmanlike second and third,” offered MacTavish.

“We had a line that was playing a real simple game that got a lot done tonight. That’s a good lesson for everybody. It doesn’t have to be pretty all the time.”

This is not a good team. Tell yourself otherwise if you must, but be prepared to be disappointed.

  • blade

    RobinB wrote:
    Wanye, you have a fan, sometimes. Me? Not so much. If it’s OK, I’ll do my best to soldier on without the support of the insightful Blade and his obviously vast intellect.
    No, it's not OK… Too many people buy into this dribble. Why not "soldier on" and talk about the bloody game for Christ's sake? Like how the brutal Horcoff give away in the first set the tone for the rest of that period. The second goal? Over-commitment near the boards by Visnovsky… where's that in your blog? No, let's just look at the conference standings and assume that the Oil should just demolish the competition. Blah blah blah…
    Admittedly, I don't agree with some of the "spin" the Oilers spew after some games but your failure to acknowledge that you are in fact a spinster on the opposite side of the same coin is a detriment to your credibility.

  • max fisher

    isn't it obvious to anyone that this is young talented team. And what plagues young talented teams? inconsistency. It took the redwings, 80's oilers, sharks, years to gel and play with confidence every night. I read above that theres only 1 good forward, and 2 good defencemen (and they're overpaid). Zamboni Driver….are you even a fan of the team? Sure they could tinker with the lineup a bit, but how can anyone expect a team that relies so heavily on 2nd and 3yr players for secondary scoring to be anything but inconsistent. This year and next year will be a rollercoaster until these kids find the switch that turns them into stars rather than potential stars. Until then, quit bitching and switch from beer to bourbon(knob creek or makers)…..it numbs the highs and lows.

  • Deep Oil

    @ blade: My attitude is equal to the Oils altitude – show me Oil that you want the W instead of winning by default goals off skates. How can anyone support this non achievement – tough love – rebuild when the contracts expire and Lowe is leaves us to the NHL head office for his dream job – Commissioner – rumor has it Gary has his hands full with the demise of PHX, Tampa, NSH, and ATL and will be gone with an owner's revolt against subsidy and bankruptcy payments.

  • Milli

    man am I gonna be pissed if I drive all the way there to watch them stink it up against van and then get to come home and pay up…..COME ON BOYS, SHOW UP AND KICK SOME ASS!!!!!!!

  • RobinB

    blade wrote:

    Your attitude sucks almost as much as your blogs. At least Wanye is funny, sometimes.

    Wanye, you have a fan, sometimes. Me? Not so much. If it's OK, I'll do my best to soldier on without the support of the insightful Blade and his obviously vast intellect.

  • Deep Oil

    @ rindog: Look in the mirror and ask myself how I signed Penner, Horcoff, Pisani, Nillson, to overpaid multi year contracts that no other GM would want.

    Sad – as most fans were looking at the Burke/Lowe controversy instead of the actual raise (overpayment) that Penner received. Soap Opera vs substance.

    Ask as GM that I am willing to wait for lightning in bottle again for Cogliano and Gagner – buck stops at KLOWE for handcuffing his cap and staying with a coach that has been here TOO long – MACT would get another job – just that his best before date here has passed here.

    Mirror, mirro on the wall – why do I have to overpay to land any talent here in the copper and blue….. and then the talent takes a powder….

    Hard work sells better in this town than lazy players that won't sacrifice for the W.

    Oilers need an identity and it has been lost for a VERY long time.

  • Zamboni Driver

    The Towel Boy wrote:

    Zamboni Driver wrote:

    …One great player, two pretty good defensemen (not great, and both too expensive IMO…
    I dunno ZD…I’d say Souray and Vish are two players on the team that are consistently earning their pay. Lubo’s 5.6 mil cap hit and Souray’s 5.4 cap hit fall nicely in line with their stats to date.
    D Lubomir Visnovsky 38GP 6G 18A 24P +8
    D Sheldon Souray 37GP 12G 16A 28P +2
    Both are in the top 15 in the league in points. I’d say the money’s worth it.

    I guess I figure that 'cap hit' is something for the Oilers braintrust to figure out, but in this case you're probably right.

    I was talking about the $7 mil and $6.25 mil actual pay cheques. That's a whack of dough, for to me, 'good' okay, 'very good' d-men.

  • Deep Oil

    Sounds like RobinB has been reading my posts – one by one the king wears no clothes campaign will become reality – oilers are 0.500 with the overtime adjustment – not good enough – this team needs more grit, more hit and more spit – the goals will follow and the W's as well – no sweat – no reward.

  • rindog

    @ RobinB:

    So, what would be the first step YOU would take if YOU were in charge?

    How do we go about making this team better in terms of coaching, leadership and commitment by players?

  • Zamboni Driver wrote:

    …One great player, two pretty good defensemen (not great, and both too expensive IMO…

    I dunno ZD…I'd say Souray and Vish are two players on the team that are consistently earning their pay. Lubo's 5.6 mil cap hit and Souray's 5.4 cap hit fall nicely in line with their stats to date.

    D Lubomir Visnovsky 38GP 6G 18A 24P +8
    D Sheldon Souray 37GP 12G 16A 28P +2

    Both are in the top 15 defenseman in the league in points. I'd say the money's worth it.

  • chaz

    That's a good question Towel Boy, and I think at the heart of the Fire or Keep Mac T debate. My opinion is that this team is underachieving and coming out flat way too often. I persoanlly blame Mac T for that. It's is job to have them play with heart right from the start.

    With that in mind though, is it Mac T's fault that he had to recently throw a guy like Liam Reddox on the first line, or is that a management blunder? I like the kid, but I think an organization is in serious trouble if he's on your first line, injuries or not. They definitly didn't deserve 2 points last night, and are lucky to be where there are in the standings almost halfway into the season.

    It may be personnel, coaching, management or a bit of each. Either way I'm frustraed by the lack of action to rectify the problem(s). Maybe if Mac T hadn't promised to compete for the divisional title, I would accept another year of rebuilding, but seeing that he did I expect them to try and live up to those words.

  • RobinB

    @ The Towel Boy:
    It's coaching. It's leadership. It's commitment by the players etc etc. When a team performs as inconsistently as this one does, there isn't any aspect that shouldn't be looked at.

    No matter how much talent a team does or doesn't have, one thing fans should expect is a consistent effort. Some nights you get beat because you just aren't good enough. Some nights you beat teams with the same talent level because you work harder. Some nights you'll lose to a superior team no matter how hard you work because they're just, well, better.

    You never know what you're going to get with the Oilers and that, 38 games into a season, isn't good enough. Wild swings in level of commitment and effort are a fatal flaw.

  • Ender the Dragon

    Milli wrote:

    You know how in college football, the good team wins this game by like 75 points?

    Interesting point. When was the last time the Oilers played an obviously inferior team (cutting the games available for review drastically right there) and then went out there and handed them the spanking they deserve, beating them by at least 3 points? Can anyone remember one of those? Not me; I'm thinking you may have to go back two or three seasons to find and example of the Oilers playing dominant when they should. This is traditionally a team where no win is ever taken for granted. Sure, it makes it twice as nice when they go out and beat the Detroits and San Joses of the world, but just once I'd like to see them take on someone like this year's Atlanta or St. Louis and just go out there and destroy them. Why can't they ever do that?

  • Zamboni Driver

    The Towel Boy wrote:

    Robin, do you have any ideas why the team looks so good in theory…but then looks like ass on the ice most nights? Is it coaching? Do they need two or three personnel changes in the lineup?
    It just seems to me that they’re not playing to their full potential…and I wonder if it’s a compete level thing that the players just aren’t willing to give…or if it’s something more…something coaching related.

    I actually think Robin says it well, "This is not a good team."

    On paper or otherwise. One great player, two pretty good defensemen (not great, and both too expensive IMO), two young guys with potential, and….uhhh….uhmmmmm….oh yeah, a guy who played with Crosby in junior and….uhhhmm…that other guy.

  • Robin, do you have any ideas why the team looks so good in theory…but then looks like ass on the ice most nights? Is it coaching? Do they need two or three personnel changes in the lineup?

    It just seems to me that they're not playing to their full potential…and I wonder if it's a compete level thing that the players just aren't willing to give…or if it's something more…something coaching related.

  • Milli

    You know how in college football, the good team wins this game by like 75 points???? Well, the mighty oil seem to always gas these games, I kept expecting the isles to tie it and we where a post away from OT. Seems to me Cole Cogs and the 4th are about the only forwards in sync. And this is really not the same team without Hemmer. Any update on how long he is gonna be out? Will they make a call up if it's gonna be a week or more?

  • jayoilfan

    I totally agree Robin, a very sloppy, unimpressive win. They won because they just happened to get lucky bounces more than the islanders. Just were is the intensity you need to win games. I didn't see it last night. Hopefully they find some for Wed or Fri.