Deep Thoughts XIV: Chicken Little is an Oilers fan

Here in the Heartland of Hockey, the line separating giddy elation from the depths of despair is thinner than a runway fashion model who considers Red Bull and cigarettes a balanced diet.

That line, if you read the comments of Edmonton Oilers fans here and elsewhere, is exactly two games wide. On one side of it, hope abounds, like after last Thursday’s 6-4 win over Columbus. Dustin Penner could have been elected mayor and Pat Quinn was a genius for assembling the best first line since Mark Messier had hair in Penner, Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky.

On the other side of it, unabashed self-loathing and back-biting that makes an emo kid seem a raving optimist after a pair of weekend losses — 5-2 in Calgary Saturday and 2-0 in Vancouver Sunday. WTF? How could anything suck so bad. Hopes dashed. Time to cut.

It’s a line passionate Oilers fans walk so clumsily, it’s difficult not to applaud them one second and laugh out loud the next. Don’t take my word for it, take a look at the GDB comments here for the past two games. For a generation hooked on instant gratification, what you get is what you’ve got.

At 6-2-1, Oilers fans were on top of the world. At 6-4-1, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov have been exposed as clowns, Shawn Horcoff is stealing money from Daryl Katz and Ethan Moreau should have the C ripped off his chest yesterday. Is that about right?

I shudder at the thought of a loss to Colorado Tuesday.

After eleven

I get it there’s reason for concern about how the Oilers have played after the last couple of games, notably the realization Grebeshkov and Ten Thumbs Tommy aren’t nearly ready for the kind of minutes they’ve been force-fed with Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios out, but really folks.

Isn’t 13 points through 11 games about where you’d expect the Oilers to be? You didn’t know that 13 points by Penner, Gagner and Hemsky was a one-shot deal not to be repeated? Or that Gilbert and Grebeshkov, as a pairing, is sketchy at best because neither one can hold his own in the defensive end of the rink when the heat is on? Really?

While we tend to roll our eyes at cliches like, "Don’t the highs get too high or the lows get too low," Oilers fans could do themselves a favour by putting down the Pepto-Bismol and heeding that well-worn bit of advice.

  • No, Penner isn’t going to score 60 goals this season. No, Horcoff isn’t going to struggle like he has offensively through 82 games. He’ll get 50-55 points, even with this horrid start. There’s a middle ground with both.
  • No, Gilbert shouldn’t be traded for a box of tape and a bag of pucks. He isn’t this bad. He just isn’t as good as those who were fooled by his points totals last season projected him to be.
  • Yes, the loss of Souray and Staios to injuries and the flu-bug that’s hit the team has hurt, even if Quinn isn’t using it as a crutch. What we’ve seen the last several games isn’t the line-up Quinn has wanted, it’s the line-up he’s been able to cobble together. That holds true for the wins and the losses.
  • Yes, Patrick O’Sullivan can break a pane of glass with his shot, it just doesn’t look that way right now.

The way I see it

  • I’ve been asked a few times if Gilbert’s trade value is being hurt by his performance in the early going. 

    First, I don’t have it from anybody that the Oilers are even trying to trade Gilbert, even if I think they should. Second, pro scouting departments of NHL teams don’t put nearly as much value in short segments of seasons as fans do. So, while Gilbert hasn’t done anything to increase his value, he hasn’t plummeted as a commodity, either. 

    Teams that liked Gilbert last season still like him, even with his obvious limitations. Smart staffs aren’t fooled by how bad he’s been this season just like they weren’t fooled by his inflated points totals in 2008-09.

  • Gilbert Brule, when he isn’t puking his guts out with the flu, is a keeper. If Andrew Cogliano gets moved at some point, Brule will more likely be the reason why than Gagner will be.
  • Had the Oilers done anything on those five-on-three power plays over the weekend we’d probably be talking about a 1-1 split instead of 0-2. Without the threat of Souray on the point, not having Mike Comrie dealing off the half-wall hurt the PP even more.

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

  • "Here in the Heartland of Hockey, the line separating giddy elation from the depths of despair is thinner than a runway fashion model who considers Red Bull and cigarettes a balanced diet."

    Absolutely hilarious Sir. Well played.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Good post Robin…the fine, fickle fans of Edmonton – you've got to love the passion, but maybe not the logic.

    Anyway, my beef is not with the team, it's with Sportsnet. While I'm not a big fan of Debrusk and Quinn, they are not bad. But the little excerpts over to Gene, who is trying to be a Ron MacLean, are painful. There is a huge difference between MacLean's very intelligent humour, and Gene's cupcake fluff.

    And near the end of the Van game they give the 'Right Player' award to Stortini. Now I'm not a big fan of him, and thought he was brutal on the power play…but do think he is a good role player for them (fighting Hordichuk, drawing a penalty from Iginla), but when they site that one of the reasons was his physical play on Luongo and highlight his stick to the back of Luongo's head…which killed the last minute of a powerplay and then gave Vancouver a PP instead – seems a little dumb to me in a (at the time) 1-0 game.

    Regarding Moreau…maybe he is a leader in the room, but his penalties are beyond forgiving. He gives a 'forearm to head' hit in one of the games…what would you possibly accomplish with that. Don't remember the player he hit, but it wasn't anyone we were trying to send a message to.

    I coach PeeWee hockey and would bench any kid who made that play…but let me correct myself, my players aren't dumb enough to do that in the first place.

    Enjoy your posts Robin and hearing you on JAG.

  • So, today everything is tilde material? That's a far cry from:

    "I hope Quinn calls out Horcr@p."
    "Losing is bad enough…But its inexcusable when its to bloody Vancouver or Calgary….Arghhhh I flippin hate Vancouver with a bleeding passion."
    "…how the $%#$ long does it take to set up a decent PP? Hemsky useless again. Can somebody else try to run the PP???"
    "Gilbert did make a nice play on that Kesler partial break….if he does that 74 more times he will make up for all the give aways."
    "Seriously O'Sullivan, I'm going to go all "dad" on you if you don't stop shooting the puck at the god damn Vancouver defensemen!
    Great. Just f*cking great. Worst weekend for sports ever.
    If anyone needs me I'll be writing strongly worded letters to every one of the Oilers, minus JDD. The good news is he has looked pretty stellar so far."

  • @Brownlee
    "•No, Gilbert shouldn't be traded for a box of tape and a bag of pucks. He isn't this bad. He just isn't as good as those who were fooled by his points totals last season projected him to be."

    I admit, I was fooled by the wavy locks, the James Dean attitude and the huge bowl full of 2nd assists to pick him as a sleeper in my pool. Dang you Tom!

  • Librarian Mike

    When you have a 5 on 3, you really should score every time. I don't care who the other team is; there's no excuse.

    The thing about last night's game wasn't that they lost, but rather that they played a sloppy and uninspired game. I think I would be disappointed (granted, considerably less) if they had won.

    • BarryS

      If you listened to oilers lunch you would have heard the bus trip to the rink sounded like a truckload of dogs from all the players coughing(barking. No doubt the flu has hit the team harder than has been let on. Only thing worse than coughing all night is having a room mate coughing all night.

    • Ender

      ~I already became a Canucks fan last night. Based on the game and projecting, they're going to win their final 71 games handily and Luongo is a lock for the Vezina. How could you not cheer for that? By the same token, projecting the Oil the same way puts them at 6-75-1 with the lowest goal-scoring totals in NHL history. Anyone who doesn't get off the bus now is SOOOOO stupid . . . ~

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    It was a matter of time with all the injuries and the Flu, give them time Quinn had them playing great with HIS lineup wait and see how they play when some guys come back.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Moreau should've had that C ripped of everytime he takes a stupid penalty and it's not stealing if you sign the check.

    At this point I'm really not all that concerned. What we loss two in a row, big deal. We are use to losing 4 or 5, when that happens I will start to worry.

    Not sure how anyone can make an accurate assesment of this team right now. Between injuries and guys having 5 point nights, you just can't make a call one way or another.

    • Chris.

      ~You mean despite the fact the Oilers were on pace to have a 100point season… then dropped a game to Vancouver on the second night of a back to back with thier backup tender facing Luongo isn't reason to panic?~

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        You nailed it on the second part, but hey people bitch and complain about everything when we were winning so why would it be different when we lose?

  • Rogue

    But but but….Dennis is good with stats and watches every game from his parent's basement without enjoying one second of each game because he has to keep track of those precious stats!!!

    Why doesn't the world understand his geniusssssssssss?!?!?!?!!?

    Lowetide and his cronies RULEEEEEE!!!!

  • We never got along, Dennis and I, but no need to dredge up all that. His last comment can live on as a quote in your comment, all those smiley faces and all.
    I appreciate the sentiment, but doing what I do for as long as I've done it doesn't mean I'm always right — far from it. And there's a lot of people with takes every bit as legit as mine on this site.

  • Dustin Terpstra

    This guy is just to ridiculous to argue with…. Right RB is to thin skinned and doesn't know what he is talking about I mean he's only been a writer for 25+ years (I'm truly sorry for having to point this out RB)and knows more about the sport and this team than pretty much everyone else on this site put together.