Remember the kerfuffle in Cowtown this month when player-turned-TV-guy Mike Peca said Jay Bouwmeester was easy to play against and, essentially, soft? The Edmonton Oilers have a team full of players just like that.
The Oilers not only got drubbed 6-1 by the San Jose Sharks at Rexall Place Saturday, they got roughed up like weaklings handing over their lunch money in the schoolyard. When the Sharks imposed their physical will, the Oilers couldn’t, or wouldn’t, muster a response.
With all the talk that the Oilers were going to be tougher this season as a means to ride shotgun for youngsters like Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle, Saturday’s roll-over had to be particularly difficult for fans to watch.
Sadly, despite the return of tough guy Steve MacIntyre, who watched from the press box, and the addition of Jim Vandermeer and big Kurtis Foster, we’ve seen this movie how many times before?
Lots of team-tough talk. No action.
PLEASE, SIR, CAN I HAVE ANOTHER?
With MacIntyre watching from the cheap seats and willing Theo Peckham out with a sore hand, the Oilers spent all night turning the other cheek as the Sharks had their way.
Where was the response after Scott Nichol, who wouldn’t be six feet tall if he stood on an Edmonton phone book, knocked the starch out of Andrew Cogliano? Did anybody in an Oilers jersey even think of pushing back when the Sharks leaned on them, which was often?
Did Vandermeer, who duked it out with MacIntyre a couple years ago, show up? No. What about Foster, who stands six-foot-five and weighs 225 pounds? Nope. Big Dustin Penner, the Shying Fridge? Nada. Jason Strudwick? What about Tom Gilbert? Right. Has he ever put a glove, let alone a fist, in somebody’s face?
Oh, wait, Zack Stortini had a scrap with Jamal Mayers — one in which Mayers was assessed an instigator penalty for pushing the issue. Zack, of course, seldom needs a written invitation. As for everybody else, not so much.
TALK IS CHEAP
Before anybody gets carried away, I’m not complaining about the Oilers not icing a line-up full of thugs who regularly top the punch parade over at Hockeyfights.com because that’s not the answer. A reprise of the Broad Street Bullies we don’t need.
I’m not talking about forcing a limited player like MacIntyre into the line-up every night because that won’t work, either (and, last time I checked, he can’t kill penalties). He can be a positive factor in 40-50 games a year and probably no more.
I’m not even necessarily talking about the gloves hitting the ice and punches being thrown, although that’s often the most direct approach if opponents try to run you out of your own rink, which the Sharks did.
Is it too much to ask, though, that somebody plays like they’re just a bit pissed off after Cogliano gets steamrolled? Is it unreasonable to expect a more robust, physical tone to the game when that happens?
To see a player in Copper and Blue not named Stortini or MacIntyre push-back? Apparently, it is, despite all the tough talk in pre-season.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.