What we gave up to get here (hat tip to David S)
Relatively speaking, Devan Dubnyk is making progress when it comes to the tricky business of getting the hang of the goaltending game, even if he got lit up like a cheap cigar as the Edmonton Oilers took a 7-2 butt-kicking from the St. Louis Blues Monday.
As sieve-like as Dubnyk was in his first NHL start, fishing those seven pucks out of his net on 26 shots, his Andre Racicot impression pales in comparison to his first game as a goaltender — a 13-1 loss in minor hockey after his dad coughed up all that money for pads. He got past that. He’ll get past this.
Dubnyk wasn’t very good against the Blues, and he didn’t get much help, as the 15th-place Oilers embarrassed themselves good and plenty in a meeting of have-not bottom-feeders in the Western Conference.
That said, let’s not get carried away writing Dubnyk off, as some people no doubt will after a regrettable debut. Doing that, based on one bad night and hideous numbers after just two NHL appearances, is as ridiculous a stance as suggesting before this debacle Dubnyk was somehow a better prospect than Jeff Deslauriers, with no NHL experience as evidence to back it up.
But, yes, it was truly ugly.
Look Ma, no hands
Dubnyk, stuck behind Nikolai Khabibulin and Deslauriers in the Oilers crease pecking order, isn’t nearly as bad as his teammates helped him look against the Blues and their juggernaut power play. That’s obvious. Of course, that isn’t much solace to frustrated Oilers fans, who’ve seen their team win once in their last eight tries at home.
"Devan will remember this game for a long time, I’m sure," coach Pat Quinn said of Dubnyk, who had his parents in the sell-out crowd. "He was kind of left out to hang by his teammates."
Kind of? Counting a relief appearance in a 7-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, Dubnyk has now allowed 10 goals on 50 shots, which will play hell with his saves-percentage and put a dent in his confidence.
After all, it’s not like he’s going to get a lot of chances to redeem himself, even with Khabibulin out. Deslauriers made 14 straight starts before the Blues came calling and he’ll carry the load until Khabibulin gets back.
Dubnyk might get a start against either Toronto Dec. 30 or Calgary the next night. A little more help might be an idea if he does.
You know things are in the sh*thouse when the coach sounds like a beaten man 36 games into the season and the housemen and fart catchers, those charged with finding silver linings in the septic tank, are carving ass.
Quinn was running a quart low on piss and vinegar compared to past games during his post-game availability with reporters last night, leaving most of the zingers to those who are usually sunshine and light.
Props, then, to Dan Tencer of 630 CHED, who didn’t play patty-cake on his post-game show. Milhouse got all revved up and ripped the Oilers good and plenty. Red his cheeks were. Furnace red.
"The most embarrassing loss of the season for the Oilers," began Tencer, just getting started after the Oilers made it four straight losses at Rexall Place. "They were just flat-out embarrassed on this homestand… You cannot lose 7-2 to the St. Louis Blues." Apparently you can, Dan. Apparently you can.
Given all the above, I can only wonder if owner Daryl Katz has seen enough and is taking notes and names — GM Steve Tambellini and president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, for starters. How long will Katz sit silent paying the bills while this franchise spirals into nothingness?
— Captain Ethan Moreau keeps digging himself deeper in the estimation of fans, and his tantrum late in the game, when he tripped and then cross-checked T.J. Oshie to the ice after a clean hit, just adds ammunition to those arguing No. 18 should have the "C" ripped off his chest.
"I don’t like to get hit when it’s 6-2," Moreau said. "I’m not going to allow that to happen."
What, Moreau is frustrated? He didn’t pay 100 bucks to get into the rink and inhale this stink.
— If I’m Tambellini or Lowe, assuming they still have jobs when the Christmas roster freeze is lifted, I’m picking up the phone and calling old pal Scott Howson in Columbus to see if there’s room to make a deal that can shake up both teams. Problem for a problem? Fine. Spare parts for spare parts? OK. Both outfits are dead in the water right now.
— The good news is that after they lose in Minnesota Wednesday, the Oilers play six of their first nine games after the Christmas break at home. The bad news is they’re 8-9-2 at Rexall Place.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.