Let’s Avoid Discussing That 6-1 Loss

Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle flies through the air after scoring his first career goal on the Calgary Flames during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Edmonton October 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

Yeah, I know there was a game tonight. I watched it, and the only two points I have much interest in talking about are a) another lovely shorthanded goal for Jordan Eberle and b) Dany Heatley being on my fantasy team. Beyond that, the less said the better.

After not allowing a power-play goal over their first two games (both wins), the Oilers have allowed at least one in each of their last four (all losses) and have averaged more than two goals against per game over that time period. Their 66.7% kill rate currently sits dead last in the NHL. The current personnel probably deserve a few more games to try and figure things out (it’s possible, however unlikely, that this is just an ugly stretch) but if they can’t right the ship Tom Renney doesn’t have much in the way of options to spell them with. Perhaps it’s time to try Andrew Cogliano again, given that this is a rebuilding year anyway?

I’m not sure what’s up with Dustin Penner, who already has three goals on the season, but somehow he ranks eighth among Oilers forwards in even-strength ice-time, despite clearly being one of the team’s three best forwards. I know that everyone’s eager to watch the kids, but I’m a little surprised to see that all three of the big rookies (plus Andrew Cogliano) are getting more minutes five on five than last season’s MVP.

I was thinking about the proposed new arena for a bit tonight, and while I don’t want to wade back in to the discussion about whether or not the city should be handing over big piles of cash to build it, I will say one thing: I sure hope it seats more people. Given the level of interest in Edmonton, there’s no reason that this city shouldn’t have one of the bigger arenas in the league, and that becomes especially true if taxpayer money is involved, as more seats mean more fans have an opportunity to take advantage of the new building.

There was a funny argument in the comments section about (what else) Shawn Horcoff, with a few commenters engaging regular Kip Drodry over how useless/useful he is. Drodry characterized Horcoff’s three goals this season in the following way:

 

He did score a few times this year, all beauties. Remember the one goal that Eberle burnt 2 defensemen and the goalie and then the puck was left there for Horcoff to tap in. Awesome Goal! Remember the one Eberle banged in of him. Awesome Goal. Remember the one Hall banged in of him. Awesome for the third time. Blind hate? Really? It not hate, its stating the obvious.

 

I didn’t remember it that way, so I thought we might review the video:

I believe the video above, where Horcoff picked up a loose puck and fired in a backhanded goal after after Jordan Eberle couldn’t get a shot away, was characterized as “Remember the one Eberle banged in of him.”

This beauty here, where Horcoff’s speed and forecheck result in a turnover (despite the fact that it was a 1-on-3 situation), with Horcoff eventually banging in the rebound, was described as “Remember the one Hall banged in of him.”

Sadly, NHL.com doesn’t have a video of Horcoff’s first goal against Calgary (instead, the video links to a Kiprusoff save on Paajarvi), but in the interests of fairness I’ll cede the point in that case.

When people talk about blind Horcoff hate, this is precisely what we mean, since I think it’s obvious that giving him no credit for any of his goals isn’t a credible point of view.

While I think Nikolai Khabibulin’s been relatively solid when he’s been healthy over his time with the Oilers, I’m going to be interested to see what share of the workload he gets this season. Given that this is a rebuilding year, one would hope that Devan Dubnyk gets a bunch of games in.

The Oilers’ current shots leader is Kurtis Foster, with 22, which is a nice number that perhaps indicates that things will eventually start going his way. Less encouraging are Jim Vandermeer’s team-leading nine giveaways, which would be bad even if he were a puck-moving defenceman.

Still on giveaways/takeaways, I found it interesting that Horcoff and Eberle both lead the team with six, and that Horcoff has a single giveaway while Eberle has three. On the other end of the spectrum, Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano have combined for 12 giveaways and only one takeaway. It’s early for all these numbers, but for the three veterans they fit in with their pattern from last season.

Sticking with Horcoff, two years ago he was one of the league’s most reliable faceoff men. What happened?

  • Rogue

    Well, this is certainly the team to get us a top 3 draft pick. Most players looked bad last night. Penner seems lack lustre. Horc missed a couple of easy goals, tho he worked hard. D is a mess. Struds and Van were horrendous. D is way too soft. That game shows what a group of small forwards has to put up with, when playing a big, aggressive,skilled team. We need to be a bigger team up front and a punishing team on the back to be an contender.

    JW, I would like you or LT to project 4 years from now and tell me how many on this current squad will still be on this team. I see 6 forwards and 3 dmen. The rest will be adios amigos, eventually.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Horc is a very useful player, nay, a championship calibre player, who is just miscast. He is probably one of the best 3rd line centers in the game. Maybe even second line center. Sure, he flubs one-timers (like the gift from JE last night) and he has stone hands when he mucks around, but he stands out on this team because he does not run a fire drill in his own zone. He knows exactly what to do in his own zone, and we cannot say that about any kids out there yet. Too much is expected from him and paid to him, but he is the kind of player we need. We could use Brodziak back too, same reasons. Probably Tambi’s only bad move so far.

  • OB1 – i guess last 4 years have been the dismantling of the club then by your standards ? Where have you been last 4 years ? Looking more like the rookies are being left in charge of protecting the veterans,than the veterans protecting the rookies . Sharks made pinballs of our squad last nite , and nobody seemed to bother to protect our smaller players or stick up for them . What gives here ? Peckham and MacIntyre out of lineup and our squad becomes Scotties little Softies again ?

    How some of you can misconscrue 3 weeks of a rebuild and ignor last 4 years of collapse or so befuddles me . How are we any better than last 4 seasons beyond the rookies – we’re not !

    • Wax Man Riley

      Also, by your rebuilding standards, every team will win the cup every year? Or just 29 management teams in the league are ineffective. Detroit’s management team is because they didn’t win the cup last year. San Jose’s management is too, because they didn’t win the cup last year either….or the year before. There is so much bad management in this league it is amazing there is a league at all.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      The only people suprised by this are those that overated the squad going in (and if memory serves me correct you were in that group)

      I didn’t agree with the way they built the team this year, but it’s clear they were going scortched earth again.

  • JDP

    Our defence in bad. Jim Vandermeer? Many people on this site were exicited on his arrival. He is slow and can’t make a pass. Smid and Gilbert are just as bad. I dont mind what the organization did with the forwards but they sure missed the boat when it comes to the defence.

  • I forgot to mention it above, but Shawn Belle’s numbers in Oklahoma look pretty good: 8GP – 1G – 6A – 7PTS, -2. Especially once one realizes that there isn’t a plus player on the team; Brad Moran leads the way with an even rating.

    • Wax Man Riley

      A rebuild doesn’t mean you add a couple players and win the Cup over night. It means you put time in to develop your talent and take a few years to compete, then add the proper role players to your developed core. This is the first year of the Oil explosion, only Wanye on Kool-Aid has planned the parade for this spring. Were you drinking from the same cup?

    • Really? Because the Oilers added 2 of the CHL’s 3 best players from last season and a WHC all-star to their lineup who are all under 21 years old.

      Losing hard for another season all but guarantees another high impact rookie. It seems that even keeping Khabibulin in net cant help these Oilers avoid the losses.

      At this point, I might as well change my star to be Jim Vandermeer, because he’s doing the most out there to accomplish the team’s ultimate goal of rebuilding through the draft.

      • REALLY ! Your expecting a rebuild to be successfull this time by same people that were in charge (responsible ) to build out team for past 3 seasons to be a contender , but whom accomplished thru their insight and dealings to put us in last place to begin with ? If i were to put your business into bankrupsy , would you even bother giving me the opportunity to be in charge of a rebuild – i think not .

        Take away the 3 rookies and how’s the rebuild turning out ? Worse than last year so far and we don’t even have injuries as an excuse to be honest . What difference is Renney making for that matter ? Dead last already and looking worse than last years squad is not exactly what one could call a step in the right direction !

        • The right direction is straight to the bottom of the NHL. You make a decent point about trusting the management to accomplish their goal given their complete lack of success doing the same before this.

          The only difference between this team and last year’s is that this club looks like the one that management promised it was going to ice. Veterans jetisoned, rookies on the ice in all situations, in every way looking like a team in year 2 of rebuild.

          This club shouldnt even consider winning until at least next season (after drafting their centreman).

          Take away the 3 rookies and what does this rebuild look like?! It DOESNT look like a rebuild WITHOUT the rookies. That’s the point. Changing the face of the team by replacing older players with younger more promising ones. Rebuild.

          The 5 on 5 isnt that bad (that’s a good thing), but the special teams are brutal. That’s going to get better as these guys learn how to play.

          Have you already forgtotten Michel Therrien calling his Penguins team (Sidney Crosby’s Penguin team) the WORST defensive squad in the NHL? During a rebuild these thing happen.

          The Oilers are right on track. Now if Taylor Hall would finally get that damned goal…

  • a lg dubl dubl

    Never too early to assess the job management has done to make this club what it is . New direction with new management seems to be edging ever so closer . Might as well bring up a few more rookies to develop in the interim , as others of bubble , veteran and defence doing little anyways . With new management we might discover one(or more) that can grade/assess and trade talent far better than incumbents can ?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Statistically, what constitutes either a giveaway or takeaway? If an opposing player “picks an Oilers’ pocket”, is this a takeaway? We see lots of these as the Oilers seem weak on the puck (not a new characteristic).

    Not much Renney can do with this sad sack collection of veteran NHL players. I agree with some of the other posters that the young guns aren’t particularly the problem. The club is back to its 30th place in the NHL standings, after only six games. Are we already at dive for five?

  • a lg dubl dubl

    IMO the tandem of Strudwick and Vandemeer has got to go, why they were paired up is beyond me san jose skated circles around them all night.

    I hope Renney lets SMAC play more the next few games replace him with Stortini at least SMAC has a purpose even with just 3-5 min of ice time. I also think Jones and Stortini are the same type of player and having both on the ice at the same time is pointless

    Tambolini reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy has to do something with the goalies and call someone up that can “threaten” the players with if i play like sh*t that guy in the press box will take my place on the ice, i.e belle/petiot for vandermeer or cogliano for reddox/motin. The players on the ice need that attitude of i can be replaced just as easily as i made it in the line up.

    Hall/Eberle/Paarvi were the best Oilers on the ice last night IMO at least they tried to make things happen

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Ugly game.

    Our slapdash defense has been exposed the last few games, with little hope for better results from the guys sent to the farm. Forget puck movers, we need solid players in our own end first.

    If management bites the bullet and deals Penner or Hemsky this year, getting a young potentially top-pair defenseman in return is essential.

    Winning the lottery and getting Larsson in the draft wouldn’t hurt either, but someone like him and a guy like Marincin (if he develops to plan) are 3 years away from impacting an NHL roster.

  • Eric Johnson

    The game wasn’t entirely awful.

    The Oilers had the sharks on their heels for the first 10 mins. They were drawing penalties but when your powerplay is completely ineffective and unable to capitalize it’s hard to win games.

    Case and Point. SJ’s PP was lethal.

    If the Oilers were able to bury even one extra goal with the man advantage early in the game and not look so gun shy in their own end on the PK we have a different game.

    ALl of those things are coachable. We only looked bad 5on5 once SJ had a 3 goal lead.

    My question is, where the heck are Cogliano’s hands? Poor kid has Marchant-itis right now.

    • kilzone55

      what do the oilers do longterm?

      Is Gagner gonna ever really be a top centrmen who can win draws? and put up 70pts plus? The two major issues the oilers face imho…is a legitimate Top centerman with size….and a stud defensman who can anchor the blueline.

      Can Taylor Hall be that centerman? Can Ryan Whitney develop into that stud dman? what are your thoughts?

  • Watching LastPlaceHockey is tough at times*** We remember that San Jose was in the Final 4 last year yes? and the team that beat them went on to win the big silver jar…right?
    …and we need to discuss any of that game at all?

    OK for me i’d like to see #2 switched out for Belle as soon as possible…our goalie needs to backup DD for two games and come back in for the Cup Champs next Friday nite…Penner is Penner and a much needed wake up call could come his way by sitting in the press box next week to have Smac draw in for the Flames in cowtown. if need be, he sits again until we play the Hawks.

    There are going to be a whole lotta THESE games to endure this year.

    ***bright spot: Eberle

  • Penner saw less ice yesterday because he was really terrible whenever he was on. Most of our so called veterans were. Horcoff had a bad game, Whitney, Vandermeer, Studwick, Gilbert, Stortini were all awful. Brule didn’t do much good, Cogs skated to fast and, forgot how he did on the spot last game.

    Actually, come to think of it. It’s easier to mention the players that did ok. And among these we find all of our younger guns. They seemed to me like the only ones trying to get the puck towards goal and didn’t give the puck to (insert random Sharks name here) when possible.

    The game wasn’t that far from us until we (or well, mostly Vandermeer) gave it away.

    We need D’s that can actually move the puck. The only thing they’re winning are numbers in the GiveAway-column. And we also need a 4th line worth playing. Our special teams need sorted up and we need to be able to stop the puck from going cross the blue-line once we’re in on a PP. We lost the puck numerous of time when our D wasn’t there/coudln’t manage to stop the puck.

    As soon as our non-kids get a grip we are going to do just fine. Our young players isn’t our problem, our vets are.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Even if you accept that all of the work on Horcoff’s goals was done by players who are not Horcoff, who cares? I thought we were supposed to celebrate those rugged few with the balls to go to the front of the net and suffer the punishment? Goals don’t bounce in off players who are floating around the perimeter.