"You stink!" "You stink worse!" This, in essence, is what the Battle of Alberta has come down to. With the Edmonton Oilers winless in 12 games and the Calgary Flames getting no sniff in the last nine, tomorrow night’s meeting in Cowtown shapes up like a purse fight. A slapping match.
So numb are some fans during a faceplant that now stands at 0-10-2 after Thursday’s 2-1 loss to St. Louis, they’re taking solace in knowing the Flames will show up Saturday with their asses in the breeze and their pants around their knees in the middle of a 0-6-3 embarrassment.
Given the circumstances, I guess there’s something to be said for that schadenfreude thing, but on top of taking comfort in Calgary’s sudden and shocking ineptitude, I’m thinking fans might be in for a helluva game.
Just when it looks like the fight has been taken out of the Oilers — and it has looked that way — I wouldn’t be surprised if they, and the Flames for that matter, show up for the puck drop hacked off and ready to go.
I’d like to think both teams are sick of gagging on the stench of defeat and that both outfits could stand to blow off some steam. That could make for a memorable tilt. And, it says here, another Oilers loss that runs the Dirty Dozen to Unlucky 13.
That would set up Monday’s game against Carolina at Rexall Place, the NHL version of The Biggest Loser, quite nicely.
You call the shots
With GM Steve Tambellini locked in the fetal position and unlikely to pull the trigger on anything except the handgun he’s been putting in his mouth when he’s home alone — no commitment there, either — I’d like to pick your brains about some scenarios he might be facing between now and July 1.
- Sheldon Souray has provided the list of teams he’s be willing to waive his no-movement clause for in a trade. The teams include Dallas, Los Angeles and Anaheim. Keeping in mind the salary cap, who do you ask for when you pick up the telephone and talk to Joe Nieuwendyk, Dean Lombardi and Bob Murray? Please, resist the urge to make suggestions that amount to dry-fisting the aforementioned GMs.
- The lottery is done and the Oilers, after finishing 30th, retain first pick in the lottery. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford has the third pick behind Edmonton and Toronto (which goes to Boston). Rutherford offers you his pick straight up for Dustin Penner. Do you make that deal?
- Agent Jiri Crha puts in a call the day after the Entry Draft and informs you Ales Hemsky wants to be traded. After you sh*t yourself, which three teams do you call and who do you ask for?
A new angle?
While it goes without saying it’s difficult for anybody in the Oilers line-up to distinguish themselves with the team face down in a puddle of puke, I’ve got to admit I haven’t liked the looks of Jeff Deslauriers in weeks.
I’ve gone on the record repeatedly saying I like Deslauriers willingness to battle. I think, against most odds, he’s shown he can be an NHL goaltender, but he’s got some flaws in his technique that are alarming.
First, his angles. There’s no way Deslauriers should be giving up goals on the short side, like he has in his last two games. He’s either playing too deep in the net or losing the angle altogether. Probably both.
Second, Deslauriers is an atrocious puck-handler. I’ve known that since he fed Joffrey Lupul a gimme in the slot during an AHL game between the Edmonton Roadrunners and Cincinnati Mighty Ducks at The Pond during the lockout, but six years later? Either learn how to handle the puck or leave the damn thing alone.
If Deslauriers doesn’t perform markedly better than Devan Dubnyk in the Oilers remaining games, he’s going to make it impossible to justify keeping him ahead of Dubnyk. I expected him to be better than this.
This and that
- There aren’t a lot of issues I disagree with Bob Stauffer on, but his suggestion signing Jaromir Jagr might be a good thing for the Oilers in the sense it could take pressure off the younger players, like say a Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, in the short-term is one of them. So, what, we’re going to pay $4-5 million for a babysitter now? And what pressure? This team will be, or should be, in rebuild mode until the start of the 2012-13 season.
- We haven’t heard an official update on the status of Nikolai Khabibulin since surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. There are whispers, none I can trace back to team sources, there’s some obvious doubt a 37-year-old like Khabibulin will come back from the surgery. Should I feel guilty for not feeling that’s a bad thing?
- If you think I’m being pessimistic by saying it’ll take the rest of this season and two more to do a proper rebuild, think again. Agent Ritch Winter phoned me twice Wednesday while I was on the air with Jason Gregor, pitching the same seven-year timeline he sold Rob Tychkowski at The Sun a week or so ago. Sorry, Ritch. Not buying 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.