True Confessions


Faster than oil companies have gouged us again with a four-cent increase at the gas pumps to mark the first day of spring, optimism over the Edmonton Oilers playoff chances has grown in leaps and bounds after Thursday’s 8-1 laugher over the feeble Colorado Avalanche.

And why not? Just as sure as Shell, Petro-Can and their big oil bully brethren slap on a dry latex glove, ignore the lube and probe our wallets, the cakewalk in Denver has hopes high.

Like I said last week, I suspect the Oilers are destined to snag one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference and put the brakes on a two-year stretch out of the post-season in spite of themselves (please send Brownlee is an idiot e-mails to if you must).

But, even if they don’t, these first 70 games have reinforced some notions I had when this season began, dispelled others and provided a revelation or two along the way.

Upon further review…

Dwayne Roloson has more fight in him than any goaltender I’ve seen in a long time and he’s hands-down the Oilers MVP.

I had Roloson pegged as a grossly over-priced back-up to Mathieu Garon in October, but he’s blown that out of the water with 26 straight starts and a stretch drive that defies his birth certificate.

“We know what we’ve got in here,” Roloson told me before the team hit the road. “We know what we can do. I try not to read the papers or get caught up in what other people think. My job is to play.”

Roloson isn’t the best technical goaltender. He isn’t blessed with ridiculous reflexes or remarkable physical tools. But he competes like hell and has as much brass as anybody on this team. One more year, please.

Craig MacTavish won’t be fired between now and the start of training camp next September, but I don’t see him behind the bench next season.

I can see MacTavish stepping away and taking another position, or leaving the team altogether. He’s a competitive, dedicated coach, but he’s aging, and fast, before our eyes.


  • I’m not convinced Tom Gilbert is as good as his numbers, 4-36-40, because he’s fattening up on second assists, but I’ve got no doubt he could help GM Steve Tambellini land a proven top-six forward via trade this off-season. Who could Tambellini get for Gilbert and Robert Nilsson?
  • Sam Gagner is better suited as a centre than on the wing, preferably on the second line, so for crying out loud, (memo to whoever is coaching this outfit) leave him there. With his first NHL hat-trick in Colorado, Second-Half Sam has 13 points in his last eight games. Come to think of it, the way he’s playing, Sam reminds of me of Henri Richard of the 1957 Montreal Canadiens.
  • Tambellini needs to get out from under Dustin Penner’s contract, either by trade or buy out. Penner’s gone from 29 goals with Anaheim in 2006-07 to 23 last season. He has 14 this season. PDP is going to settle in as a 17-20-goal scorer long-term. He’s not worth $4.25 million a season.
  • Roloson’s dogged determination aside, there’s a pretty good chance the Oilers have knackered Jeff Deslauriers with the way they’ve mishandled him. Even with Garon gone, Deslauriers hasn’t started since Nov. 30.

Grumpy old men

Did anybody out there hear Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean of Sportsnet whining about what they considered an over-the-top goal celebration by Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 50th in a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay?

“I would have given him a shot,” sniffed Kypreos, perhaps best-remembered by NHL fans for lying face down unconscious in a puddle of his own blood after he got KTFO by Ryan Vandenbussche.

Kypreos and MacLean, who made his mark by making the Columbus Blue Jackets the laughingstock of the league during his tenure as GM before getting sacked, didn’t like it that Ovechkin dropped his stick on the ice, then treated it as if it was too hot to pick up. “I’d have just given him a shove,” added MacLean.

Who, exactly, appointed Don Cherry, he of the double-breasted jackets made of Christmas wrap, Kypreos and MacLean the No Fun Police?

One more thing…

I’m guessing Ales Kotalik doesn’t read OilersNation and I haven’t introduced myself to him in the dressing room yet, but he’s pretty much shoved my own words up my backside, hasn’t he?

Tuesday I wrote: “When I look a Kotalik, I see a big version of German Titov, a pretty good player who did nothing in Oilers silks when they acquired him from Pittsburgh at the deadline in 2000. Titov chipped in four assists in the seven games he played with Edmonton and then, thankfully, moved on.”

Since then, Kotalik scored the winning goal in a shootout against St. Louis at Rexall Place and scored a goal and added three assists in the romp over the pitiful Avalanche.

I’ve written stupid things before. I’ll write them again.

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

  • Chaz

    @ Nickler:
    No problem. I long ago stopped using the "Quote" function as I too had trouble with it. The "reply" function is about as high-tech as I like to get.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    Librarian Mike wrote:

    “That’s sick!”
    “Holy crap”
    (Youtube comments on Ovechkin’s 50th goal)
    “That’s sick”
    “Holy crap”
    (Youtube comments on Kypreos getting speedbagged by Vandenbussche)

    Wow, that's sick! Holy Crap!

  • Milli wrote:

    I was totally wrong, all over this kid, like why is he still getting thrown out there game after game….then….I realized, god forbid, Mact was right….

    He employed the ol, throw him in the deep end to teach him how to swim technique.
    I'm also torn up at the fact that MacT was right in getting Gagner to play a tougher, more checking role at the beginning of the season, because his game looks like it's really starting to round off, and he's going hard to the corners and the front of the net.

  • Archaeologuy

    @ Librarian Mike:

    he did win the Jack Adams award.

    I love Don Cherry, but you need to take him with a grain of salt. He mostly says it like it is and rarely apologizes for what he says. In a politically correct world its a nice break once a week.

    He was dead wrong about Ovechkin. Honestly though, I dont understand how he can call out anyone on issues of style.

  • Milli

    The funny thing would be, once kypreos gave him a shot, the next shift Ovie would plaster him into the boards, and probably, just for fun score again. The guy is GOLD. He is great for the no fun league, and, as much as they want, he is the new face of the GAME.

    Gagner has been good, real good. I was totally wrong, all over this kid, like why is he still getting thrown out there game after game….then….I realized, god forbid, Mact was right….the kid is GOOD, REAL GOOD.

  • J-Bird

    FFS, if Mac isn't fired (or step down) after they either miss the playoffs, or lose in 4 or 5 games in the first round, put me on suicide watch man. I can't take it any more!

  • Librarian Mike

    And as for Don Cherry, I suppose he has earned the right to complain ever since he won the … oh wait, he hasn't won anything…never mind. STFU old man!

  • Librarian Mike


    "That's sick!"

    "Holy crap"

    (Youtube comments on Ovechkin's 50th goal)


    "That's sick"

    "Holy crap"

    (Youtube comments on Kypreos getting speedbagged by Vandenbussche)

  • Quinn

    I’ve written stupid things before. I’ll write them again

    Stuff like this is why I love getting my news from here instead of the MSM.

    And I don't agree with you on Gilbert. With Gilbert, Grebeshkov, Visnovsky, Smid and Souray (crap that was hard to type) I think the Oilers have a league class defensive core, especially if Peckham takes the next step. I think O'Sullivan may fit the need on the top line (fingers crossed) and there may be free agent pick ups out there who can fill a second line winger. Unless of course we properly use our PDP in a consistent role there, instead of trying to fit-square-peg-round-hole grinders on the top lines (ie Pouliot or other possible scoring wingers in the system).

  • BROWNLEE wrote:

    “I would have given him a shot,” sniffed Kypreos, perhaps best-remembered by NHL fans for lying face down unconscious in a puddle of his own blood after he got KTFO by Ryan Vandenbussche.

    HAHA YES! Man, I thought his skull was going to burst out of his face last night. He was SOO angry. He looked like Arnold in Total Recall when he falls out the window onto the surface of Mars in that dream.

    Why was he so enraged? Was it because he barely scored 50 goals his entire career? And Ovie has done it three times?

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ David Staples:
    I'm not saying Kotalik is a keeper, but I wrote him off as somebody who'd do next-to-nothing in the stretch drive, as was the case with Titov. Four points in one game, even against the stiffs in Denver, is more memorable than anything Titov did while playing out the string in Edmonton.

  • Chaz

    Kypreos embarrased himself with that rant last night. Get over it Nick! The whole, "That's not how you should celebrate a goal in the NHL" routine makes them look even older and stuffier than they actually are. God forbid someone in this league demonstrates that they have a personality.

    Also, kudos Robin for admitting Kotalik made you put your foot in your Mouth. You hear a lot of reporters say "I told you so" when they are right about something, but not usually the other way around. Speaking of which, a few of my buddies and I were dissing Horcs last night as he put in the game winner. I love when the Oil shut us up like that.

    Big game tonight. Any word on the starting goalie? Can someone go wake up Mac T and ask him for me?

  • swany

    I rather see OV celebrate than Kypreos sliding feet first into Grant with the intent to knock him out of the series, he's a real piece of work, on the Oil, RB I still say Mact thinks this is his lineup for the playoffs, I don't see Storts finding his way back in the lineup with the team starting to go. As for Red-Ox on the third line he might just be a good fit there his pass to Pies was great. Hemmer didn't get any points but he did set up Souray in close and was the player to start the first PP goal. And the guy on HF that SUGGESTED Hemmer might be wanting a trade give your head a shake, all he says are good things about playing here. If the 1st line start finishing this team could suprise a team the Sharks are ripe again this year.

  • David Staples

    You're sure about Kotalik? Some skill, yes, but I'm still not sold.

    Just how bad are Penner's practice and workout habits, but he's getting the job done on the ice.

  • Robin Brownlee

    @ dw:
    It's ridiculous that some people want to take the fun out of game and mute the pure joy displayed by somebody like Ovechkin. Hell, it was a milestone goal, not a meaningless empty-netter in Game 23 of the season.

    Same with the noted duck hunting celebration by Selanne several years back. I talked with Teemu about that goal during a trip to Anaheim a few years ago and while he admitted in hindsight the celebration was over-the-top, it was a spur of the moment thing.
    Personally, I loved it, but that's because Selanne, for all his talent and accolades, was a team guy first, not a look-at-me type.

    It's a matter of taste, I guess, and as an old schooler I tend to err on the side of "act like you've done it before," but there are goals and there are BIG goals.

  • junglehawk

    Book The Parade!
    with the way the Oilers have gone this season it wouldn't be suprising to expect the score to read 8-1 Chicago tonight…and Kypreos is an idiot can't stand watching him, can anyone say MacT the next "Assistant President of Hockey Operations" shh, no one is supposed to know

  • dw

    Ovechkin's celebration was no more over the top than Jagr or Selanne throwing their glove up in the air and pretending to shoot it down. The media should be relishing another 50 goal season by one of the brightest stars in the NHL but because Cherry stirred up this BS a while back people are now pissing and moaning about it. Ridiculous.

    However, Kypreos would have alot of experience watching the other team celebrate while he is on the ice, so perhaps he knows more than I.

  • Tombo

    "Who, exactly, appointed Don Cherry, he of the double-breasted jackets made of Christmas wrap, Kypreos and MacLean the No Fun Police?"

    Lol Christmas wrap, very nice.

    Congrats to Alexander the Great, the haters can all suck it.

  • Archaeologuy

    Im hopin for a Draft Day splash from the puppet and his master this year.

    is that more than a gut feeling about MacT stepping away? It does look like Dorian Gray finally looked at his picture, but is vanity the only cure for the 8 year itch that is Craig MacTavish?

  • Wanye Gretz

    "“I would have given him a shot,” sniffed Kypreos, perhaps best-remembered by NHL fans for lying face down unconscious in a puddle of his own blood after he got KTFO by Ryan Vandenbussche."

    OMG Classic