Oilers vs. Kings Postgame: Life Without Hemsky?

Los Angeles Kings: 3

Edmonton Oilers: 1

That was a depressing game to watch.  Not only were the Oilers thoroughly outplayed by the injury-racked Kings, but Ales Hemsky went to the danger areas and was rewarded with a nasty shot into the boards, courtesy of Michal Handzus.  He did not return to the game.

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

1. Andrew Cogliano.  Cogliano had a very good game, using his speed to generate chances and showing an unexpected physical edge.  He paced the Oilers with four shots and won the faceoff leading to Ryan Potulny’s goal.

2. Jeff Deslauriers.  Say what you will about the Matt Greene goal, without Deslauriers tonight the Oilers wouldn’t have been in the game as late as the third period.  He was very sharp for most of the night, only getting beat by a bizarre Wayne Simmonds shot and a powerful blast from Greene.

3. Ethan Moreau.  A fine game from Moreau, who is always involved (for both good and bad) and who meshed well with Cogliano and Ryan Potulny.  He won the puck along the boards after the Cogliano faceoff to get the puck back to Sheldon Souray (which would lead to the Potulny goal) and had a strong night on the whole.  Also, after taking four penalties in five games, he’s gone two in a row without taking one.

Random Thoughts

Brutal, brutal quote from Pat Quinn tonight:

I don’t know if it’s a funk.  Maybe we’re playing where we are.

That’s scary stuff, scarier because it could very well be true.

The Michal Handzus hit on Ales Hemsky got him a two minute minor for boarding, but it should have been five and a game.  I honestly think that if Hemsky hadn’t gone down there wouldn’t even have been a call (Brandon Segal threw a nearly identical hit on Visnovsky earlier in the game and got away scott-free).  The Handzus hit was one part boarding, one part cross-checking, and one part hitting from behind.  Hemsky left the game and did not return with an "upper body injury", and based on what I saw I have to wonder if he’s suffered another concussion.  Quinn declined to expand on the injury after the game, but Hemsky’s head seemed to go hard into the boards.

Good on both Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios for going after Handzus later in the game; it was a cheap shot and somehow a two minute penalty doesn’t seem to compensate for possibly losing a star player for some length of time.

Dustin Penner had an ugly game; he seemed a step behind all night and he didn’t generate much.  With Hemsky gone and not much production coming from elsewhere in the lineup, the Oilers couldn’t overcome his poor play tonight.

Speaking of ugly games, Liam Reddox has slowed down a ton since impressing immediately after being recalled.  He was on the ice for seven shots tonight, and none of them were directed at Jon Quick.  If this team is ever healthy enough to start sending players out, he’s probably earned a trip back to Springfield.

  • Rob...

    Was it outside of every Oiler's comfort zone to go after Kopitar even slightly after the Hemsky incident? My biggest worry with this team the last several seasons has been that every other team out there knows they can target our 'best' player without having to worry about the health of their own.

    When Quinn got fined early this season, for running his mouth to the media about going 'old school', I thought that maybe things were going to change. Instead it's been the same-old same-old.

    Going after Handzus was not the answer. It might have worked for the game, but once Hemsky returns do you think it would make the next team's checkers think twice about whether they just complete their checks or try to erase him?

  • Hemmercules

    I really, honestly think that bottoming out is on management's radar. The team is slipping further and further beneath .500, and a lot of players are either being inconsistent or consistently bad… which is no surprise when you look at the group we have.

    You HAVE to think they are considering the possibility as the seasons rolls along here. Honestly, we're about 24th place right now. There's no need for a playoff push… deadline deals to maybe get the team to 8th in the West.

    Let the team perform to its strengths. Which are few and far between. Then have a fire sale on deadline day and send some of these "vets" or "journeymen" or whatever the hell else we have lying around over the age of 30 and let's get a real rebuild going.

    Tambo would look like a real hero long term if we actually got someone in the draft who can breathe life into this team.

    • Chaz

      "Let the team perform to its strengths. Which are few and far between. Then have a fire sale on deadline day and send some of these "vets" or "journeymen" or whatever the hell else we have lying around over the age of 30 and let's get a real rebuild going."

      X2

      • Hemmercules

        I'm fine with having a bad period where we figure out who needs to go where and what we need as a team as we slowly build towards excellence.

        That is not what is happening now.

        OILERS: If you're going to make us suffer, at least let it be for a good reason.

    • Dan the Man

      Wow, it took almost 8 years to make MacT want to quit and it sounds like it's taken this team all of 25 games to make Quinn feel the same way.

      You can always find excuses for not winning, injuries, unlucky bounces, bad officiating, 2 games in 2 nights, first game back after a long road trip, etc…., lord knows this team uses them all but there is really no excuse for lack of effort.

  • Hemmercules

    Good Lord Nickxero I hope you are right. I hope you somehow have a connection to think this because it actually gets me excited, the thouht of a rebuild I mean! I hate watching my beloved Oil while in the dark side of my heart hoping for losses to make it more obvious that this is what the team needs! This team cannot attract free agents (case in point the Heatley saga among others) so a rebuild is the only option, with players not eligable for UFA til the age of 26, it is the only way to get good talent and keep it here in the City of…. Champions??

  • daveeed

    Although I did like Souray/Staios (and I think Jacques was actually trying to get in there too) trying to get after Handzus, not shocked he wouldn't fight either. Souray's post game comments were dead on about the hit though, LA lost a checking center for 2 minutes, we lost our best player for half the game (and maybe longer).

    After seeing Reddox get labelled twice, Hemsky last night and Souray go head first into the board too, I think its time some of the Oiler heavy hitters (I'm thinking Jacques, Stortini, Stone, Strudwick when he's back, Moreau…and to a lesser extent Souray & maybe Smid) to ignore going after the guy who did it (probably a 4th liner) and return the favor to the best players on the other team. Run their star into the boards the same way, the others team have been doing it to us all year and get a couple minutes in the box.

    I really hate saying the above, but let's face it, the respect for player's on the other team is gone in today's NHL it seems, why should the Oilers show any respect to other teams then continually get clobbered all year? I'm not saying they should be running other teams stars every game, but when the other team does it to you, return the favor.

    Normally I would be swearing at the TV if Moreau took an over-exuberant roughing call in the offensive zone late in the game, but if he would have boarded Kopitar or elbowed him in the face and rearranged his nose or chiclets I would have given him a standing ovation on the way to the penalty box, and I wouldn't have been alone.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Do you think the league would react favourably to retaliation in kind for an illegal hit?

      The problem you've observed is that the Oilers have lost a star player as a result of a dangerous play.

      How angry would you be if they lost Jacques or Souray or Smid to suspension if they turned around and made the same hit on Kopitar, now that the refs have been made aware they missed an important call?

      It's one thing to suggest that our tough guys make life difficult for their superstars, but advocating the dangerous play as a reaction is… stupid.

      They fined Quinn for suggesting an eye-for-an-eye approach. They would most certainly suspend any of Edmonton's grit tried what you're suggesting.

      • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

        While I don't agree with the whole eye for an eye theory, why aren't we at least hitting the other teams stars with clean hits?

        I remember back when we went to the cup, that year during the regular season when we hit we did well when we didn't we sucked. Come that playoff year we hit all the time, why does it take until the playoffs for us to start playing well?

        We should just play playoff hockey now, just to get there and if we lose in 4 straight oh well.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            I probably shouldn't have replied to your post as I knew where you stood on the issue.

            So if one guy gets sent down and two get called up, does that mean hemsky to the IR?

          • Dan the Man

            Agreed, the NHL would be all over that. The NHL does not want another Steve Moore type of incident but you can definitely make life more difficult for someone like Kopitar without getting suspended.

          • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

            Exactly. We've got enough guys on the team (and taking a balanced approach to the lines would help with this) to ensure that Kopitar gets hit at least once every shift, no matter what the matchup. As long as they're not playing way out of position to do it, that would have been great in my eyes.

      • daveeed

        If they league were to suspend an Oiler for retaliation, they would have to suspend the opposing team's player for the initial dirty hit too, at least in my opinion, as it would only be logical.

        If an Oiler got suspended for a game or two for returning the favor I can live with that, absolutely. It sends the 'eye-for-an-eye' message in the future, which would hopefully make opposing think twice when he has an Oiler's back to him a few feet from the boards.

        And last night, I can't remember the Kings player but earlier in the game an Oiler got boarded in the same manner as Hemsky in the Oilers end of the ice (I think in the 1st period), no call at all. The commentators mentioned it at the time. Later in the game, Handzus does pretty much the same play, gets two minutes. If an Oiler returned the favor, he should have got two minutes, you can't give him more than that for the same play if they were to call it consistently.

        Like I said in my first post, I don't like advocating something like that…BUT…I am sick of seeing our players get boarded and no suspensions come out of it. If we are not returning the favor, it will continue to happen, again, in my opinion.

        • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

          In regards to the retaliation they wouldn't have to. They sometimes only call retaliation penalties so they really could do whatever they wanted to.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Reddox down, Macdonald and O'marra up.

    I was wondering about Macdonald, I read his line was the best line in Springfield.

  • daveeed

    OK I guess to clarify, I would much rather see hard clean hits as payback, I guess I just venting frustration at the amount of times Oiler players have been boarded this year (with no suspensions to the players who are doing it).

    Like Ogden Bro Jr.; I'd rather see the Oilers laying out lots of hits like the Cup run. But, look at who they had to do the hitting back then: Harvey, Laraque, Moreau, Peca, Torres, Winchester up front and Pronger, Smith, Spacek, Staios, Ulanov, and Greene on the back end.

    They just don't have the roster to play that way right now.

      • daveeed

        I just looked at the NHL website too to see the hit totals the last few years. Kinda surprising our numbers weren't higher that year, though like you said, the games we didn't hit we seemed to lose (and that's what I remember too). And it's not like they didn't lose games, we squeaked into 8th that year.

        Jacques really skews that total, 69 hits out of 447, that's like roughly 15% of the total team hits. And he's 1 of 26 players who have recorded a hit.

  • Bob Loblaw

    I think that we don't sign any more long term contracts to average players. If we wait enough years, we'll start scraping the bottom of the barrel and be eligible for the bottom 5 picks of the entry draft like the Hawks.

    It's obvious that nobody wants to trade with us and no free agents want to come here so…
    overpay the restricted free agents and improve through the draft.

    It's pretty sad when our team is expecting Jordan Eberle and a revitalized Dustin Penner to be our driving stars for next year.

    The cupboard is bare and the food on the table is rotten.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    as far as going after a guy who bashes your top player, remember bertuzzi's problems. yes, hemksy has to be protected, but not by chasing handzus up and down the ice trying to kill him. hit kopitar hard and often, as close to clean as possible. take a penalty or two, but hit their stars. hard.

    YOW! potulny just scored another goal! beat the heat!