Lamentable Streaks

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks

The Edmonton Oilers have been very bad this season, and especially of late. That badness is reflected in the individual statistics of their skaters.

What follows is completely unfair; I’ve cherry-picked numbers over the last few games, and my only rule was that these had to be current streaks that included last night’s game. I’ve tried to make each player look as bad as I possibly can. Following this list of failure is another list; four players who I struggled to make look bad, and so decided to make look good for the sake of contrast.

The Ugly List

  • Gilbert Brule: 15GP – 3G – 0A – 3PTS, -4
  • Andrew Cogliano: 22GP – 1G – 2A – 3PTS, -12
  • Mike Comrie: 10GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS, -5
  • Tom Gilbert: 8GP – 0G – 0A – 0PTS, -4
  • Denis Grebeshkov: 9GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, -5
  • Shawn Horcoff: 14GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, -11
  • Jean-Francois Jacques: 13GP – 1G -2A – 3PTS, -3
  • Ethan Moreau: 30GP – 0G – 2A – 2PTS, -17
  • Robert Nilsson: 13GP – 0G – 5A – 5PTS, -10
  • Patrick O’Sullivan: 10GP – 0G – 4A – 4PTS, -6
  • Fernando Pisani: 19GP – 2G – 0A – 2PTS, -10
  • Ryan Potulny: 12GP – 3G – 1A – 4PTS, -9
  • Ladislav Smid: 20GP – 0G – 0A – 0PTS, -8
  • Sheldon Souray: 18GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS, -14
  • Steve Staios: 25GP – 0G – 0A – 0PTS, -22
  • Ryan Stone: 15GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, -1
  • Jason Strudwick: 11GP – 0G – 0A – 0PTS, -9
  • Lubomir Visnovsky: 11GP – 0G – 1A – 1PTS, -8

There’s a veritable smorgasbord of disappointment; any of these players can be made to look bad using the above statistics.


  • Sam Gagner: 17GP – 6G – 8A – 14PTS, even
  • Dustin Penner: 9GP – 2G – 3A – 5PTS, even
  • Marc Pouliot: 10GP – 2G – 2A – 4PTS, -1
  • Zack Stortini: 7GP – 0G – 3A – 3PTS, +4

Lest anyone reading this get too hopeful, Dustin Penner has collapsed offensively from his early season performance, Sam Gagner’s out of the lineup with a serious knee injury, Marc Pouliot is an oft-injured depth player and Zack Stortini is a frequent healthy scratch.

The Point

Aside from discouraging everyone who reads this, I do have a point: basically, that just about any complementary player is going to look bad in the current situation. The fact that some players are looking passable is a real positive: Sam Gagner is playing as well as he’s ever played, and has emerged into a difference maker on the ice. Even when he isn’t contributing offensively, Dustin Penner doesn’t get lit up (he was plus-1 last night), and that has real value. Zack Stortini can be effective in a certain role, and we may finally be seeing Marc Pouliot arrive as an NHL player.

At the same time, the team needs to be careful not to undervalue players like Andrew Cogliano or Patrick O’Sullivan. They’ve struggled of late, they’ve struggled all season, but the odds are really, really good that they’re better than they currently look. That statement is true, to a greater or lesser extent, for most of the guys in the lineup. Just like in 2006-07, there are pieces in place that have value.

The trick is figuring out which ones.

    • Dan the Man

      Oilers on ice futility is now matching their management and coaching futility – it was bound to happen ! Do Oiler fans have any faith or trust left to have management and coaching remain in place for rebuilding and or retooling ? I know i do not want present management or coaching part of either process , or it will be a very elongated and drawn out process that will once again prove to be continuing disasterous . Oiler fans deserve a lot better than obligatory lip service and or excuses from Oiler organization and it's team .Time for Katz to bring out the hatchet and stop the bleeding !!

  • HottScarrison

    On Valentines day lets show our love for these bunch of losers by havin a brown bag night. And boo the living %$^* out of Horcoff an Moreau….maybe then those &^*U*^'s will take the hint.

    effin ^%$%%^'s

  • @ HottScarrison:

    The hint being what, exactly? Are we going to say this is a case where all these players have stopped trying?

    That seems improbable to me. What seems more probable to me is that Steve Tambellini & Kevin Lowe are incredibly bad at their high-paying jobs.

    • HottScarrison

      Just venting…I feel better.

      That we as fans deserve better than what we are getting right now. Thats true about Tamblowe(s) but we can do something anything to show our displeasure. Your stats show 4 players that are maybe trying. And one sits in the PB lately. Whose decision is that? Quinn, Tamblowe(s)…..who knows.

      I hate booing but something to show those greedy pigs how we feel.

      Im still a fan but give me anything to cheer about. Im being ignorant right now and its nothing personal. just a glorified vent session.

      Go oil!

    • HottScarrison

      While "stopped trying" is probably a stretch, most of these guys definately aren't giving 100%. That much is obvious.
      There are probably exceptions – Gagner, Brule maybe – but for the most part you can see these guys have mentally checked out for the year.
      Not that I blame them at this point, but man I feel sorry for the people paying to watch the games.
      Quinn basically said as much last night regarding Moreau and Pisani, when he said nobody would want these guys in a trade. He might of been talking "skill-wise", but something tells me he was referencing their level of effort and comptitiveness.

  • brucechris

    To be quite honest, at this point I question Horcoff's presence on the bench (as opposed to the pressbox) as some backwards and corrupt union conspiracy. He's a well respected guy in the NHLPA or some nonsense, isn't he?

    Please. Please don't tell me that the coaches can't see that he deserves it. Needs it even. Please don't say their hands are tied by a strong presence of Old Boys' Club.

    This is the kind of stuff that can sink a team 1st pick or not.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    JW: how much do you estimate would cost the club to try and bury some of these vets in the minors?

    if we do look like an AHL team, we better give some AHL guys the chance to rub elbows with the NHL elite:

    Horc, Moreau, and Staios for starters.

    – they hinder the younger core development
    – I doubt they will be here next season anyways
    – I doubt anyone will pick them off waivers

  • Dyckster

    Anyone of the Oil who have been the subject of trade talks lately are on the "Ugly List". Let's hope the 29 other NHL GM's don't subscribe to ON….yeesh. We are fubr.

    • Agreed. I've had several shoulder separations. While they "heal" to some extent in that the pain goes away, it gets easier and easier to separate the shoulder on the next big impact.

      The only REAL option is to have the ligament repaired in surgery. My guess is Horcoff is just trying to make it through to the end of the season. Why he doesn't shut it down is beyond me as he's become TOTALLY ineffective to the point he's actually hurting the team.

      • I'm ready to come out and declare my "man crush" for Horcoff, if that's what the Horcoff haters feel obliged to call it. In my opinion, he is playing through the pain – both of the season and of his shoulder – because of his dedication to the team, and regardless of how effective he is, this is the type of quality we as fans should want in a player. It would be much easier for him to bail and have the surgery he needs, but he hasn't: he's sticking it out, suffering through it with his teammates (and the rest of us fans).

        And don't think that I can't see how ineffective he is right now as I'm not blind or an idiot, and neither is he. He is living through the frustration that we all feel for him on a daily basis. I also haven't heard any excuses or complaints from him about this because he knows that it wouldn't do him or the team any good.

        He may or may not ever recover from what he's going through on the ice, and it is unlikely that he'll ever live up to the offensive expectations that come with the size of his contract, but I'll continue to support him as long as he maintains his composure and dedication to the team. If there was ever a good season to quit on, this would be it, and he hasn't.

        • It's a fair point. Horcoff has constantly exceeded expectations placed on him at every stage of his career. When he went down prior to the all star break everyone was calling him Scorecoff and wanting to father his children.

          08-09 Dustin Penner should serve as a prime example of players who can bounce back. Given Horcoff's work ethic – which can't be denied by the harshest of haters – it is certainly possible he can return to the form that got him the contract – over paid or not.

          Still, with a 30th place team – someone's gotta get nuked.

          "Gotta nuke somethin' " – Nelson Muntz

          • Maggie the Monkey

            "Still, with a 30th place team – someone's gotta get nuked.

            "Gotta nuke somethin' " – Nelson Muntz"

            Lowe and Tambellini's houses get my vote. There's no need to be violent, all family members and pets can be evacuated first, but Lowe's forfeited any glory day paraphernalia that's lying around after this season.

            Edit: Karen Lee Gartner may remove her Olympic medals, though. She shouldn't be made to suffer for this madness.

        • Horcoff recently had a cortizone shot on the shoulder. I read somewhere that he may also have a ankle/leg injury. Watch his skating and you'll understand.

          Horcoff has been booed at games whenever he touches the puck. At a game recently, Horcoff got an assist and fans booed because of it.

          I've basically had it with fans running players out of town. There's a reason why players don't want to come to Edmonton. I've mentioned them in this thread by how Horcoff is being treated by "so called" Oilers fans.

          • Horcoff has earned every boo he received. If he's too hurt to play he should sit out and get himself better.

            Being upset with the terrible performances of players who make 100X the wage of the common man, earned from the ticket revenue paid from the pockets of those common men, does not make people "so called" fans.

          • Maggie the Monkey

            Hmm… Evidently I disagree. While I wouldn't say that somebody who is booing isn't a fan, because it clearly shows some passion for the team, I just wish that they wouldn't. Picking on individuals almost never helps, especially when the whole team is in such rough shape. Would benching Horcoff really help the Oilers right now?

            And on a related note, as I argued on a posting earlier, I think that Horcoff playing through his injury and pain is a testament to his commitment to the team. Do we really want a team of Joni Pitkanens?

          • Pitkanen is tied with Lidstrom, Niedermayer, and Weber for scoring by defensemen. Likely because he didnt push his body beyond what it was capable of doing when he was injured. He'd be leading our defense right now in scoring.

            My only problem with what Jasmine said was that she used the "so called fans" line on a group of people that booed a terrible player who is getting grossly over-paid.

          • Maggie the Monkey

            I probably should have checked the stats before picking on Joni, but it doesn't fundamentally change the argument: I'd still rather have players who are willing to push themselves physically than guys who aren't. If Pitkanen is having a career year because he's avoided any minor injury that might have sidelined him, I (sincerely) congratulate him. How much more of an influence could he have been throughout his career if he'd stuck it out better, though?

            I know that I'm not in a position to fairly judge Joni, or any other player, for that matter. We as fans really don't know who's playing through what, who has the highest tolerance of pain, and who's so soft that they won't push through a mild charley-horse. Brownlee does, though, and from what I remember, he implied on many occasions that Pitkanen was soft. I've never heard Niedermayer or Lidstrom referred to that way – don't you think that this might be directly related to why they have had significantly more successful careers than a player with Pitkanan's reputation?

          • I totally agree that players who push themselves and have a high pain tolerance are desireable. I thought Gator was an absolute warrior, but that only counts if the player can still play. If he can be effective in some capacity. Joni might be soft, but he's still effective. (dont get me wrong, if Joni was nearly as tough as a guy like Smith he would be a MUCH better player, but he isnt and he is still a good player)

            So I ask, what is more desireable? Being tough or being effective?

          • Maggie the Monkey

            We're falling away from the original context of Horcoff's play, I think. You asserted that he, and the team, would be better off if he sat out until he was healthy, and I disagreed. He clearly doesn't have a lot left in the tank this season, but I have no doubt that it's not from a lack of effort or caring. I will always admire a player giving it all he's got, whether it's Horcoff, MacIntire, Gator, or Smyth. It bothers me when one of them goes through a rough stretch or is put in a role where they're not able to succeed and fans turn on them. And, as mentioned earlier, do you really think that they'd be better off without Horcoff on the ice?

            My comparison to Pitkanen had more to do with whether or not we would value what Horcoff has to bring to the table if he was as soft a player as Pitkanen is, or at least as soft as he used to be as an Oiler. (I've seen him play as a Cane twice, and you can guess which games they were.)

            To answer the question at the end of your post, I'd agree that being effective is more valuable than being tough as a general principle. Given the specific options available to the injured Horcoff this season, though, I'm reasoning that he can only offer what (little) effectiveness that he can by being tough. This is more valuable, in my opinion, than if he sat out and didn't play at all, as a player like Pitkanen almost certainly would.

          • I see your point. I havent been sold on Horcoff's health since his shoulder injury (before the contract was signed), but I didnt think he was THIS bad. I have to think that if his skills havent been SO greatly diminished then he must be really injured again.

            There isnt much good a guy can do on a 30th place team if he's defensively incapable and offensively snake bitten. If the guy is hurt for the rest of the season then the Oil can use the Space allowed to them once he is on the LTIR to acquire short term bad contracts on playoff bound teams who want to add guys in other trades but cant (for picks or prospects). That's just my take.

          • Maggie the Monkey

            I think we're preaching from the same choir-book here, Jasmine. I don't like it when classy players get booed, regardless of how badly they are performing on the ice. In recent history, this includes Horcoff and Cory Cross, neither of which warranted the abuse. Save it for clowns from other teams like Claude Lemieux or Steve Downie.

  • "At the same time, the team needs to be careful not to undervalue players like Andrew Cogliano. He's struggled of late, he's struggled all season, but the odds are really, really good that he's better than he currently looks."


  • If Horc truly has an injury shouldn't managment dictate this is the year to get it fixed. Nothing to gain anymore, well actuall given his plus minus the DFF could be in jeopardy if he sits. Seriously JW don't you think if he was injured he would be in surgery given there position?

  • Dan the Man

    Last spring for the 3rd year in a row my 9 year old son decided to play Lacrosse after the hockey season ended. His coach, who decided that her priority was drafting playmates for her daughter, scooped up all of the girls available in the draft including many that have never played Lacrosse before. All of the other coaches scooped up the best players available based on how the kids ranked after evaluations.

    Needless to say the team was not competitive in the least. They looked like they belonged in a different league than the other teams and never really came close to winning a game all season long.

    Towards the end of the season most of the kids had given up because they knew that even if they played their best they had no hope of even keeping the score respectable. Other teams actually felt sorry for them and would use the games to practice skills such as passing and shooting instead of trying to run up the score.

    I bring this up because the Oilers have become my son’s Lacrosse team.

  • There is a local journalist and radio jockey that want people to believe that there is an acutal market out there for Ethan Moreau. The more they back this story up the more ridiculous they look. I've said it before and I'll say it again 'Why would any GM in the NHL trade for Ethan Moreau?" What is he doing so good here that another team would want him?

  • Dan the Man

    RE: Horcoff

    I mentioned this in the other thread, but I strongly believe he's playing through some fairly serious injury issues.

    The only other possibility I can think of is that he's totally imploded

    I totally disagree, as there would be no reason for him to finish off the season if he was badly injured. Horcoff has always been a hustling center who skated his ars off both ways, finding holes in the offensive zone and covering and checking players in the defensive zone. He has noticeably lost a step in his legs, and does not want to be physical anymore (maybe because of shoulder) The bottom line is he doesn't and never had a lot of talent, it was the biggest contract robbery in NHL, we are just seeing Horcoff on the downside of career even though he should be in his prime. I will bet anyone anytime he will never score more the 25g or 65p HE IS DONE!

  • Dan the Man

    The reason Penner doesnt get lit up is because he plays against the other teams Moreau, Pisani and Horcoff line, you would have to try and be scored on in order for players of that ilk to get one by you.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I said HE IS DONE!! He has zero offensive talent my friend. He created offence with his hustle and quickness, but now too many players are quicker and faster then Horcoff. Focus on him next game, he cannot beat anyone outside anymore, he has no skills to go inside. Cannot stay with his guy on defense. Having the worst plus/minus is not a fluke when you look at it over the long haul. It shows you have no offesive ability and you cannot keep up on the defensive side I will even go a step further and say, Horcoff couldnt and will not make the worst team in the NHL (the Oilers) in 2 years. AWEFUL AWEFUL AWEFUL!!!!!

  • Maggie the Monkey

    Hmm… that's odd: for some reason I can't edit my post.

    Anyway, for the record, what I mean by "good season" is "gawd awful season from hell", of course.

  • Dominoiler

    "Being upset with the terrible performances of players who make 100X the wage of the common man, earned from the ticket revenue paid from the pockets of those common men, does not make people "so called" fans."

    – maybe the common man should wake the f'up and not cry about money he/she is pissing away.. it is their own damn fault for spending money, and my own damn fault for spending so much damn time (time = money), on a worthless steaming pile of nothing that is the connection between the common man and these athletes…

    They owe you nothing, because you can never receive anything from them outside of what worth you come up with in your own mind…

    The salaries of professional athletes are simply a reflection of statistical mechanics, mapping the stupidity of the common man's spending habits (and time wasting habits – to include myself in the condemned population)…

    • Not true, not true. They owe the paying public entertainment, afterall that's the service they provide. When that service does not meet expectations I fully support the consumer's right to go to the customer service desk and vent their frustration. It just so happens to be that the customer service desk is located at ice level in Rexall Place and only on game days.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Well said (though I do think fans have the right to boo…. just not much more then that)

      Everyone is always worried about the $$$ entertainers make. The only ones to blame are the fans.

  • Dominoiler

    You pay to be entertained, ok..
    Yet there is no guarantee that you will be entertained.. therefore you are paying for the chance to be entertained…

    Paying to be entertained by the current oilers (outside of cheering for the shutout breaking goal or a few odd plays at best) is simply a bad bet..

    Maliciously attacking a player (prob too harsh of wording, but it prob reflects peak levels) with criticism /verbal abuse is the way, it seems to me, that some fans are trying to recoup some of their unachieved entertainment value.. dissatisfaction, right!?.. voicing that is a personal choice made in connection to the original personal choice of paying for the chance to be entertained… You made the first bad bet and are blaming someone else for it…

    I dunno.. for me it comes down to this.. its your own damn fault for caring… which is kind of a worthless conclusion because once you come to it, ambivalence follows…

  • evryone agree,s shaun horcoff cant be traded because of his contract.if he is going to be an oiler for the next few years i for one will hope he rebounds next year. what good comes of booing a player on your team