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?

  • OilFan

    If we get another good draft pick great. But you guys really think just because we get another pick we will be better. Look at Atlanta what did all there draft picks do for them ?

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    I don’t know why everyone is up in arms about the game last night. The Oilers were clearly overmatched by a bigger, talented, and more veteran team which is what should have been expected going in.

    We do not have the defensive talent to hang with any of the top teams this year. The only games they have looked decent in were the season opener against a slower Flames team and the rematch with the Wild last week. Putting Vandermeer with Strudwick last night was funny to watch – slow and slower. That being said, if the goal is to finish in a lottery pick position again while protecting the kids then this is the way to do it. Late season I would hope to see Plante and/or Petry given a developmental cup of tea in the NHL so they can see the difference in speed of the game and be better prepared for it next season.

    FWIW, I disagree with Hrudey’s rant on CBC re: play JDD or DD instead of Khabi to go for the #1 pick again. Unless Kelly is blind, the Bulin Wall has 5-hole issues and a suspect glove (not to mention slower lateral movement due to age). Khabi will not keep the team out of the bottom behind the current blue line, and if I were Tambi I would want him to play enough to get in a groove come the trade deadline when he could hopefully be unloaded. While this hurts JDD and DD development wise, JDD has already been screwed enough that another year really does not matter, and it looks like Roy is the goalie of the future not one of our current backups.

  • @ Kip:

    Those are two of Horcoff’s three goals this season – the two available on NHL.com. So I may not have nailed your order (although one came from Hall and the other from Eberle) but those certaily are two of the three goals you described, and in no world do any of the three descriptions you made apply to those two goals.

    Unless your descriptions refer to preseason play.

  • NsxZero

    WALK THE TALK ? Talking of a proper rebuild and putting it into effect are clearly two different visions by present personnel additions . Winning culture being established by heavy losses – thats a new one . All Tams has ever accomplished is talk , and never put this team in a position to walk that talk . The vision is far from the implimentation here . After 4 years of same scenario , don’t you think it is time to put in new vision that can actually do more than just the talk ?

    A structure the rookies can competently grow in would help for starters . Voids being adequately filled from years past might be more pressing than rookies being bought into a culture not set up to be a winner due to inadequate supportive personnel . Face it, we do not have adequate personnel to make Tams vision a success to begin with .Nor does his vision show any way of making it happen other than useless talk . He set the goals and has never yet ever reached them – yet somehow still remains to make matters worse again ?

    How can every year of getting worse make us competitive ? It might be a good idea to let Hall go back to a winning culture in junior than expose him to a long season of losing here. Yet , he deserves to be here over many others . Tams should have had in place a team that could properly support an infusion of dynamic rookies . Once again he failed miserably in that regard as usual . Nothing much changes other than the talk !

  • positivebrontefan

    What other options did Tamby have madjam?
    SHould he have traded the entire Oiler roster for the Maple Leafs like Peter Pocklington tried to do in the eighties?
    I think he did as much as he could by unloading what dead weight that he could. Would you rather we had POS and Ethan Moron back?

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Oh he had lots of options.

      But it appears the tank job was on based on the moves they did (didn’t) make.

      I’m at peace with another lotto pick.

  • smiliegirl15

    In retrospect maybe we needed to draft from backend , seeing as we already had Eberle and Paajarvi as competent rookies .Omark no slouch either but dimiutive once again . Example : Gudblanson , putting all those players they wanted to get rid of for maybe that McIlrath they were so high on trying to trade down to get , as well as Marincin deal they did get . Now that would have made for a good defensive crew down the line on a slow rebuild , and made sense .

    I realize having to pass on Hall(especially) and/or Seguin would have been difficult , but conventional wisdom is you rebuild from backend as they don’t come a dime a dozen to begin with . Now that should have left us in position having gone that way to pick up another highly rated forward at the end of this season in retrospect to help ease the burden of passing on Hall and Seguin this season . Could Cogs and Brule also have been in play to help find defence and size or even a bigger forward . If your going to gut and build on size, at same time you have to cut back on diminutive players at some point sooner than later .This could have been that time with more insight to be honest .

    • D-Man

      You’re kidding right?? Don’t get me wrong – there were a couple of decent defensemen on the board at last years draft, but are you suggesting that we should have passed on either Hall or Seguin… Wow..

      You are right about building a team on the backend, but even then Fowler, Gundbranson, etc are still significant drop offs in comparison. You draft the best player available and trade for your needs; not the other way around…

  • smiliegirl15

    Pass on Hall AND Seguin! I had to read that twice to make sure I’d read it right. Yes D is important but passing on not just one but both of Hall and Seguin would have been moronic! Watching Hall play and how much try that kid has should be inspirational to the rest of the team if nothing else.

    Since Renney is sold on letting the kids have more ice time, he should be playing DD more too, at least one of these first games. I’m not sold on Renney but we’ll see how things go as the season goes on. Losing doesn’t hurt as much when you have games like the Minnie game the other night. We definitely need to improve on our PP and PK.

  • positivebrontefan

    Like wise OB1. I cant wait to see who we are going to end up with. I hope there is a standout centerman that we end up having an option to draft.

    Like a bunch of us have said; Exciting last place hockey.

    It’s gonna take some patience though.