The Windy City: not blown away

Nice job, kid. Take a seat.

Jeff Deslauriers came up with exactly the kind of performance the Edmonton Oilers needed from him with 40 saves in a 6-1 waltz over the Nashville Predators in Music City Monday, but he’ll be back on the end of the bench cheerleading for Nikolai Khabibulin when the puck drops against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday. That’s exactly how it should be.

As good as Deslauriers had to be as the Oilers played free and easy in front of him after building a 4-0 lead in Nashville, there’s no sensible argument to be made, contrary to what some fans might think, for him getting the start against the Blackhawks.

According to radio play-by-play man Rod Phillips, coach Pat Quinn reiterated that sentiment today after he put the Oilers through their paces in practice at the United Center. Khabibulin’s the No. 1 guy, and he’ll get the start against his former teammates.

That much we know.

Second banana

After writing about how mediocre Khabibulin looked in pre-season and his first couple of regular season appearances, it’s only fair to point out what’s been obvious to anybody with two eyes and half-a-brain — he’s been better each time out. Likewise, the 3-1-1 Oilers, despite some unlucky bounces here and there and a little too much loose play in Nashville.

Part of keeping Khabibulin on top of his game, and he’s not there yet, will be having the luxury of spelling him off with Deslauriers rather than riding him too hard, as was the case when Dwayne Roloson made 1,038 consecutive starts last season. It proved a recipe for fatigue with Roloson and rust for Deslauriers and was a situation that did neither one of them any good.

Quinn is slotting Khabibulin for 55-60 games this season, which seems a reasonable number for a 36-year-old goaltender.

So, while Deslauriers likely hasn’t bought himself any more starts with his sharp showing in Nashville, he’s earned Quinn’s confidence and will no doubt be slotted in again after four of five more starts by Khabibulin. The reward for a job well done is being kept in the rotation, not getting gravy starts.

This and that

— Quinn skated the same lines today as he did against the Predators, so, barring a last-minute shuffle, it’ll be status quo against the Blackhawks, assuming the old coach doesn’t move Zack Stortini to the first line in place of Ales Hemsky. Well, no.





— Steve Staios skated again today, but he’s still feeling the effects of the concussion that kept him out of the line-up against Nashville. He’s travelling with the team but is listed as unlikely to play tomorrow night. Expect to see Taylor Chorney again.

— Sheldon Souray isn’t with the team and there’s no firm word as to when he’ll be ready to play.

Say what?

— This Marc Pouliot item from somebody named Derek Zona at The Copper And Blue: "Well, Pouliot has gone from full-blown "pubis thing" to a sports hernia, according to Pat Quinn.

"It is convenient in that this helps the Oilers manage their contract situation and may get them relief on LTIR. It’s yet another injury setback for Pouliot and likely spells the end of his time with Edmonton. I’m betting that he ends up in Columbus next season."

Really? Is that right? Is that so? Certainly, Pouliot’s injury and upcoming surgery buys the Oilers some time, at least until Fernando Pisani’s bad back comes around, but I’m not hearing from anybody in the know that this spells the end of his time with the Oilers.

When somebody’s got to go, and that time is coming, Robert Nilsson or Steve MacIntyre will draw the short straw before Pouliot does.

— Is it just me or are we seeing captain Ethan Moreau fade away as a force on this team right before our eyes? Some people have made a case Moreau hasn’t been a real factor for a long time. I’m having a difficult time coming up with a compelling argument to the contrary.

— At the same time, who is that fast, big guy wearing No. 27? Yes, it’s early, but more of the same and Kevin Lowe might yet escape the offer sheet cold sweats he’s endured the past two seasons.

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

  • MrOiler

    The Moreau debate.

    I hate to see a good man down, but I admit I picked him as this year's goat.

    He plays an honest game, but the penalties are what tips the scale against him. It's like a bad habit that everyone ignored. One day you wake up and you're surprised everyone's talking about it.

    There is a simple solution to his dilema:

    a) stop taking penalties
    b) 3 good hits a game

    If that happens, people will come around. If not, time marches on. It's the mean streets of pro hockey.

  • Ender

    Too early to tell with JDD, he needs to play 25+ games to get a better ready on what hes got. Khabbys won his 300th game as an Oiler, chances are good he may see 400 as an Oiler as well. Goaltending could be the backbone for the next couple seasons.

    I think the game has passed Ethan by perhaps since as early as the lock-out, been frustrating to watch im play the last 18 months or so. Maybe its time for Moreau and friends to enjoy a little sunshine. (Horton)

  • Morghasm

    Refreshingly sound logic in your views of JDD, Brownlee – always appreciated.

    As for that big, fast guy wearing #27… how long do we have to watch JFJ get outplayed and outclassed on the first line until they finally give Penner another shot on the first line? Based on both their performances to date this season, I cannot comprehend why Jacques is still slotted in there night after night.

    • MrOiler

      I've liked Jacques more than you have. While I don't necessarily see him as a long-term solution on the first line, he can be effective against opponents that try to match the line with a physical component.

      • Morghasm

        I haven't hated Jacques, I just think he often looks out of his depth on the first line, and that Hemsky and Horcoff's production suffers because of it.

        If he's not a long-term solution for the first line, what's the delay in putting someone in there – like Penner – who might actually be that solution (barring a trade for someone totally new)?

  • Ender

    Robin, how long do you see Cogs centering the fourth line? Is this experiment with four evenly balanced lines going to be permanent, do you think, or will Brule be leading the goon squad by Christmas?

      • With talk from Matty of Tom Gilbert to Buffalo for Drew Stafford in at least 2 recent articles, do you think there's any smoke there? He's mentioned the $ difference being an issue, but is it possible that there's something there for a package? Perhaps Gilbert & Cogliano to Buf for Stafford & ?? (Toni Lydman might work $ wise but I'm not a fan; Jochen Hecht – meh; Rivet, hmmm decent replacement for Staios' role).

        Would you move Cogliano & Gilbert to Buffalo to get Stafford + (and what would the + have to be if you were GM for a day)?

        • Yes, and I talked about a package including J.F. Jacques for David Steckel in at least a couple of articles, too, but nothing happened . . .
          Still, your point is taken and the Oilers do like Stafford — everybody knows they wanted to draft him. Are the Oilers pursuing him? I haven't heard that, but that doesn't mean they aren't interested. Matty floats trial balloons now and then and this might be one.

  • roadrunner

    Here's some food for thought which is not related to this thread at all….

    Today marks an anniversary. Read on and I'll explain.

    A look at the current goal scoring leaders in the NHL today wouldn’t reveal any surprises of note. Washington Capital superstar Alexander Ovechkin is currently tied with San Jose Sharks sniper Dany Heatley. Each have five goals and are on pace for possible 70 goal seasons pending any significant injuries to each of them. But what’s more interesting is the goal scoring leaders for the league rookies.

    As of today, New York Islanders John Tavares and the Ottawa Senators Peter Regin share the rookie goal scoring lead with each of them netting 2 goals each. Obviously these humble stats aren’t going to mean much now and more than likely won’t mean much after their hockey careers are over.

    And I’m sure that there will be another first ever NHL goal scored on this date. The achievement is special but the date carries more significance than one would be lead to believe.

    On this date, October 14, arguably one of the greatest hockey players in the history of the National Hockey League scored his first ever goal. What’s interesting about the significance of this goal is that it would be the first of many. An earth shattering 1016 combined NHL regular season and NHL playoff goals.

    Wayne Gretzky scored his first goal on October 14, 1979. He went on to score 50 more that season. He may have single handedly changed the way the game was played during 1980’s through the 1990’s.

    Only 3 other players have scored more goals in their rookie seasons. Teemu Selanne recorded 76, Mike Bossy netted 53 and Alexander Ovechkin lit the lamp 52. Ovechkin is just what the NHL needs. He’s an exciting and dynamic player with the ability to control a game but that’s about where it ends. He’s no Gretzky.

    Different players, different skill sets in a much different version of the game of hockey.
    Regardless, today should be celebrated because without the likes of Wayne Gretzky, there would be no stars like Alex the Great.

    To keep things in perspective, Ovechkin only has to score 670 goals just to tie Gretzky.
    Based on games played, Alex the Great would have to play 12 more seasons and continue his 1.47 goal per game average just to tie Gretzky. Impossible? Probably. So impossible a bookie would love to see me lay down 1,000 bucks on that bet.

    So why is today such a special day? Because it was merely the beginning of the truly remarkable.

    Happy 30th Anniversary Gretz!

  • Ender

    roadrunner wrote:

    Based on games played, Alex the Great would have to play 12 more seasons and continue his 1.47 goal per game average just to tie Gretzky. Impossible? Probably. So impossible a bookie would love to see me lay down 1,000 bucks on that bet.

    I bet he would; what bookie wouldn't take a bet where he got to hold onto your money for 12 years, win or lose? Hell, he could invest it in regular savings bonds and still turn a profit, even if you did show up in twelve years to collect.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    RB: where did that JFJ-for-Steckel thing come from? Did you perhaps have a source?

    I'm just asking because even though I like JFJ, if that rumor was floated by Eklund or some other fan, I imagine it would be mocked by the mainstream media.

    That's not to say that GM's don't make dumb deals but when I first read that rumour, it made zero sense to me.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      This wasn't a rumour.
      It was a suggestion made by me after I was told the Capitals were looking to add grit to their lineup and had made inquiries with several teams, including the Oilers, in an effort to get some.

      I suggested, knowing that Bruce Boudreau thought highly of J.F. Jacques based on what he'd seen of him in the AHL, that if the Caps had asked about Jacques, they should ask about Steckel. No way to get Steckel for Jacques straight up, but maybe as part of a package.