Copper and blue: the big gulp


Of course the Edmonton Oilers are going to make Western Conference playoffs. It just won’t happen this season, contrary to what Jason Gregor, Wanye Gretz, Amber McCormick, Jonathan Willis and Bingofuel, their lips stained with Copper and Blue Kool-Aid and their hearts once again swollen with the hope October brings, would have you believe.

I’m not sure how my, ahem, colleagues have come to the conclusion the Oilers, a team that adorns their bed sheets, pillow cases, pajamas and lunch kits, deserve the benefit of every doubt and will finish anywhere from fifth to eighth, but I guess faith and wanting it to be so really, really badly is enough.

Please, please, please, plus the addition of three grey-haired geezers named Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Wayne Fleming,  Nikolai Khabibulin, who was absolutely outstanding in the pre-season, and a penalty-killing unit that is obviously vastly improved, will apparently get it done.

Well, no.

Nag, nag, nag

Sorry to be Mr. Poopy Pants — I’m actually not, but it’s the polite thing to say — but there’s a lot of questions I haven’t had answered through eight pre-season games. They nag me.

— What have the Oilers done to address the need for a defensive centre who can win face-offs? Is Gilbert Brule that guy? What about Marc Pouliot, assuming at some point his pubic bone stops feeling like somebody dropped a can of lighter fluid and a lit match down his pants?

— Barring the addition of somebody who can approach 50 per cent on the dot, is Shawn Horcoff going to have to take 93,056 face-offs again this season? And what will that do to Horcoff as he tries to bounce back from a 53-point campaign?

— What marked improvement have we seen in penalty killing units that finished 27th last season? Can the PK, with the “new systems” in place and overseen by Kelly Buchberger, improve 10 spots? That would be 17th.

— Is J.F. Jacques really a first-line left-winger? Really? While I liked what I saw in four of the five pre-season games he played, the 60 regular season games on his resume tempt me to reserve judgment he’s the answer.

— Khabibulin, 36, has played more than 55 games once in the last five seasons. Are you comfortable that Jeff Deslauriers is ready to play 25-27 games this season after getting into 10 in 2008-09?

— If you’ve listened to Quinn the past couple off days, it’s clear he’s preaching patience when it comes to implementing new systems, seeing the team blend into a cohesive unit and develop an identity. How long will that take? Two weeks? Two months? And the Oilers record when this takes place will be . . .?

— What team is going to drop out of the playoff picture so the Oilers can get in? St. Louis, which made it last season despite being riddled by injuries and played most of the season without Paul Kariya? Columbus, which has Derick Brassard and Nikita Filatov for a full season? Anaheim? Maybe Dany Heatley will bugger up the Sharks good and plenty.

No sale

Obviously, the Oilers can address some of the above questions by making personnel moves between now and trade deadline day, assuming they can create some salary cap space by then.

How, by the way, does a team mismanage its money and contracts so badly that it spends to the cap limit and remains a fringe contender looking to slide into the post-season in eighth-place? I digress.

Could the Oilers make the playoffs? Yes. They aren’t so far off that it’s inconceivable, if they get some breaks. The problem, obviously, is that having all the breaks fall your way seldom happens.

And if things work against them — if Lubomir Visnovsky’s shoulder isn’t 100 per cent, if Khabibulin isn’t a marked upgrade on Dwayne Roloson and Deslauriers isn’t ready to pick up the slack, if Dustin Penner, Horcoff and Sam Gagner don’t have bounce-back seasons, if it takes a month to get the hang of what Quinn is pitching — what then?

There is always, I suppose, faith.

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

  • BarryS

    Robin Brownlee wrote:

    @ BarryS:
    We will only send you spam in Latin.

    Well as long as you remember not to put spaces between the words and use no puncutation then okay. That way the spam filter will catch it.

  • BarryS

    gdawg wrote:

    @ BarryS:
    Easy Barry. Just joshing around.

    Actually the reply was meant for those who complain abouit getting moderated which happens a lot lately.

    Are we ever getting the "I'm an idiot" edit key?

  • BarryS

    gdawg wrote:

    Back to hockey. Anyone hear if Schremp is playing tonight? Any predictions out there?

    Last I heard he was to be a healthy scratch to give him a few extra days of practice until their next game.

  • gdawg

    I see the Sun hyped the Pens-Isles game as one of the must see of the season. That's a lot to expect out of Tavares. Wonder if he'll the crap and abuse Croz got all his first year? Get the ice bags ready.

    As for Robbie,"healthy scratch" may become his nickname on the island.


    Austin Ayala wrote:

    HOFFA wrote:
    I hate that we are OVER the cap and don’t even have a guy who can score 25 goals.
    raffi torres you putz

    When did get him back??

  • Robin Brownlee

    HOFFA wrote:

    Austin Ayala wrote:
    HOFFA wrote:
    I hate that we are OVER the cap and don’t even have a guy who can score 25 goals.
    raffi torres you putz
    When did get him back??

    Please, do not burden AA with niggling details like facts — he imediately stops swaying in his chair and begins fashioning a rambling and incoherent response.

  • rubbertrout

    rubbertrout wrote:
    Right on good sir. Here’s betting that Mr. Brownlee doesn’t have a response to this one (I’d say methinks but we know what RB does when someone brings out that one). Of course it’s ridiculous to gaze into the crystal ball at this stage but that’s what we want and that’s what the media does for us.
    What’s the bet, smart guy? I responded several comments before you made your comment suggesting I wouldn’t. Tsk, tsk. Methinks you should pay attention.

    Touche (don't know how to do the accent on a keyboard) I was waiting for that. You win Brownlee. I hereby concede your superiority in trolling the comments section of a website for comments about you or responses made to said comments. I like how you might be coming around to the dark side about the "methinks" however I expect that in this instance it has more to do with your thumbing your nose at me than hypocisy.

    Anyway I hope that we are both wrong and that the team we know and love overachieves the hell out of this season and gets us a few games in the playoffs.