Fright night: Jimmy poops his costume

I’ve decided to take a page from Mike Babcock and let my three-year-old son Sam dress up as Jimmy Howard on Halloween so he can pretend to be an NHL goaltender.

The Edmonton Oilers should be thankful Babcock is so willing to entertain fantasy — he did the same thing with Manny Legace — because the way I saw Thursday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings at Rexall Place, Little Jimmy is the main reason fans are dissecting a 6-5 shootout win instead of a fourth straight loss.

If Howard didn’t look like an overwhelmed Senior B goaltender in the first period and allow three goals on 12 shots, the Oilers wouldn’t have had 4-0 and 5-1 leads to blow before packing for Boston with two points thanks to Patrick O’Sullivan’s shootout winner.

That’s not to discount the importance of the deuce, especially given the Oilers had a three-game losing streak on the go and had seen their hands turn to wood in seven previous periods, but beating what’s left of the Red Wings should be taken in context.

Howard pooped his costume early and the Oilers followed suit in the third period so badly I feared that Pat Quinn might take a twister at any moment before Nikolai Khabibulin locked it down in the shootout.

Thanks, Jimmy. Move along.

Here’s your answer, smart guy

— Fans and notepads questioned Quinn’s decision to move Horcoff to the top line between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky — a decision prompted by Mike Comrie taking ill again — but I had no real issue with it.

The idea of the exercise, contrary to the opinions of some, isn’t to bust Horcoff down to the third line as punishment for how inept he’d been, it’s to try to get him going. The move worked.

I’m not for a second going to try to say Horcoff is the guy who made the threesome tick against the Red Wings, because Penner was the catalyst, or that he turned things around with a goal and two assists, but it’s a start.

Still, Horcoff’s performance was something of a STFU to some of the over-the-top criticism he’s been taking.

— Speaking of STFU, Penner’s been doing a pretty good job of sticking it up the backsides of knuckleheads like me who never thought he’d bounce back from two so-so seasons the way he has.

With a goal and three assists, Penner was the difference-maker again. You look at his numbers and you’d swear it’s late December based on his last two campaigns.

In case you missed it, without much fanfare, Penner dedicated the game to his grandfather, who passed away this week.

At random

— While Quinn’s line-up moves up front had the desired effect with Penner, Horcoff and Hemsky, the reunion of the Kid Line of Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson fizzled. They got nothing done. I’d be surprised if Quinn re-visits that trio again any time soon.

— Like Jason Gregor, I suspected right up until game time that Quinn might sneak Fernando Pisani back into the line-up. Don’t be a bit surprised to see him back against the Bruins. That’ll be cause for a roster move or two.

— The Red Wings, even allowing for injuries, are a shadow of themselves. As Jim Devallano said recently after being jabbed in the ass with truth serum, Detroit is going to have to go some just to make the playoffs. I’ll eat crow big-time after saying there’s no chance Chicago passes them by this season.

— Speaking of brutal prognostications, it’s obvious nobody at ON had half-a-clue about Colorado in our pre-season picks. Jonathan Willis, Wanye, Amber McCormick, Gregor and I had the Avs picked 15th. Bingofuel had them 12th.

It goes to show what many people think — we don’t know shat and you can’t just look at names and numbers and get it right. The Avs will come back to earth, but it’s looking like they’ll be a playoff team.

— While Laddy Smid is busting out and becoming the shutdown-type defenceman this team needs, there’s no way the Oilers can go much longer without Sheldon Souray, Steve Staios and, now, Lubomir Visnovsky. Yes, that’s Captain Obvious material, but the question is: what is (and what can) GM Steve Tambellini going to do about it?

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

  • DK0

    I am glad this spell of unbelievable bad luck is hitting us now and not in March. Quinn will steady the ship, I am moved just hearing his post game comments, imagine the effect he is having on the boys. We will unfortunately have to weather this storm for a month, but if we can stay around the .500 mark, hopefully a few games over, I think we will be a stronger team in the long run

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Robin,

    I noticed that the Oilers passed on Randy Jones. With Souray out for another month (tencer, I think said this) why did the oilers not pick him up in relief? When Souray comes back, get have jones as Staios replacment costing almost half as much. did you hear any reason why they did not pick him up and instead choose to run Strudwick in the top 4 rotation?

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      I belive LA was ahead of the Oil for waiver priority (not 100% sure though) so I guess we wont really know if they put a claim in. I do agree with you though. Jones would have been a nice pick up for 1.3 million and 0 assets.

  • DK0

    I missed the 2nd and third periods (Damn you dodgeball) but upon watching the highlights, how can you blame 5 goals on Bulin? the 2 bombs from the point could maybe land in the 'had a chance to stop them' category but he was pretty screened on one of them. Another one off Chorney's leg is complete fluke and no goalie can stop those. Then the other 3 i don't think any of them were more then 1 cm off the crossbar and post, absolute sniper shots. Blame the team for allowing 45 shots and lots of them being high percentage scoring areas, don't blame Bulin.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Nothing about Hemsky in the article, who I thought had a very solid game. His hands were working and he limited the give-a-ways.

    Smid played great too. I thought he was easily the best D-man on the ice last night and his value is growing fast. On the other hand, there is Gilbert who continues to look like a 1million dollar guy to me. I know you shouldn't base a guys value on his paycheck, but just saying Toms agent pulled a blindfold over Lowe's eyes with that contract.

    Jimmy Howard looked terrible, man was he bad in the first. However, he did make a few nice stops in the last few minutes when it was 5-5. Still though, I see Detroit making a move for a goaltender before the all star break if they continue to struggle.

    Detroit was better and we were awful in the third. We looked sluggish, tired and sick. Although I thought the game ended kinda perfect, I mean, how often do you get a wakeup call/learning experience and still come out with two points?

    Question for Brownlee, how many other guys are having flu like symptoms? Looked like the whole team had the flu in the third.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      4 million dollars for a legitimate top 4 d man who is capable of playing a 1-2 pairing role, ya the wool has been pulled over….. Ur head

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        The guy averages about 10 give-a-ways a game and he is a top 6 man. Watch him play more often, he's horrible in his own end and when a game is close he even loses the one thing he is supposed to be good at, moving the puck.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          Were you of the same opinion last year when he put up 45 points and was a plus 6? Of course you were, he has struggled out of the gate for sure, but he will round into form.

          • stilldrinkingthekoolaid

            Yeah, you're right I was. I am being a bit overly negative to make my point, but I just think (when our guys are healthy) he does not fit into the top six. With Lubo, Grebs, Souray, and Smid I think we have a really solid top 4. Gilbert just lacks the toughness around the net and although grebs might have more give-a-aways, it seems like Gilberts lead directly to opposing scoring chances because they always take place in front of our net. I think Grebs does a lot of the same things, just better than Gilbert does them. And addressing the 45 points (I don't think he will get 40 this year) I agree with Brownlee when he mentions the second-assist effect.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I still think Smid and Staios are our only defensive forwards in the top 6. Lubo and Souray get burnt on the rush as much as Gilbert and Grebs turn the puck over with passes. It has been nice to see Smid be able to be a #4, might make it easier to deal one of the offesnive d-men.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          Gilbert has 13 all year so 10 a game is no where near close. He is also our top shot blocker on d right now. He may not be putting up the points, but like Horcoff too many people are on him simply because of his money.

          Chorney has a higher giveaway rate then Gilbert, but he gets praised as if he is a god on here.

  • Life could get ugly for the Wings in the next year or two. Lidstrom has to be nearing the end, Franzen/Zetts and to a lesser extent Rafalski/Dasyuk are on the wrong side of 30 (or close) with contracts that will bring them to shady pines.

    • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

      Write a complete sentence. Discuss . . .

      Don't get ahead of yourself. How he's playing a month from now will matter a lot more. He's a longshot, at best, no matter what the timing.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Easy there Booger. Are you seriously carving me about my grammar and sentence structure???…this is a hockey forum not grade 9 English. As far as the issue goes, its probably something legitimate to talk about…With the way he's playing it warrants conversation which is something myself and many of my Oil brethren have started to discuss..so I'm hardly 'getting ahead of myself.' Simmma.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Howard looked brutal, if you can't move to one side of the net to the other without tripping you shouldn't be in the NHL.

    Missed the third period, but Bulin 5 goals? Now I see that is on 45 shots, but still.

    Our defense needs someone right now, Peckham didn't look that great and Chorney and Strudwick make errors as well. Need another defensive d-man.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        Well it's good to know that Bulin wasn't the reason we fell apart, but falling apart like that can't be happening this often.

    • Our defence just needs to learn how to get out of the way of Bulin's view and stop kicking pucks in our own net. A bunch were scored off screened shots last night. The Helm goal was a perfect slap shot from the slot so can't really blame Habby on that either IMO.

    • You can't blame Bulin alone for those goals… He was subject to a shelling from the Wings while our defenders skated around without spirit. Bulin did the best he could with no one to help him.

      At this point, I'd happily have my goat Staios come back, if only to shake things up.