Occasionally, I’m reminded of the time I saw Edmonton Oilers defenseman Boris Mironov stagger out of a taxi in Los Angeles stinking of booze early in the morning after an all-night bender only to have horrified coach Ron Low insist, "You didn’t see that."
Yet another David Staples item over at The Cult of Hockey in The Journal extolling the virtues of Tom Gilbert is one of those occasions — I’m being told I’m not really seeing what I’m seeing. The item is here:
From the headline — Without Tom Gilbert, these Oilers would be hopeless — on down through the item, Staples is directing me to selected statistics and making the argument that in the vast majority of games this season, Gilbert has been a "standout."
The first thing that strikes me is the headline. Haven’t the Oilers been pretty much hopeless even with Gilbert? Of course, I’m just splitting hairs as I read the item with Low’s voice echoing in my ear. That happens when I’m being told I’m hallucinating.
Now, I didn’t just cough up $30 to a taxi driver to help a player avoid a confrontation he was clearly incapable of getting into, as was the case with the blotto Bobo, but I’m pretty darn sure about what I’ve seen with Gilbert this season.
"Standout" is not a word that comes to mind.
THE WAY I SEE IT
The Cult of Hockey is a must-read for me. Staples, as big a fan of the Oilers as there is, is not only an accomplished writer but a fine reporter, so I’m not going to hack on him for this take on Gilbert. He’s offered much the same take before. Staples likes Gilbert and the statistics he chooses to accentuate like Gilbert, too. It’s his opinion. That’s all good.
Likewise, Gilbert’s performance this season is far from the Oilers biggest problem or most glaring shortcoming on a roster that’s full of raw kids, so-so veterans, under-achievers and holes. But a "standout?" Uh, no.
What I see when I’ve watched Gilbert this season is much the same as I’ve seen in past seasons — he’s in over his head when pushed to play a lead role, as he’s been since Ryan Whitney went down with an injury.
I see a good player who can play a complimentary role. A fair number of advanced stats guys were predicting more than that for Gilbert just a couple of seasons ago, when he had 45 points. I didn’t see it them. I don’t see it now. Strictly speaking to his offensive contribution so far this season, Gilbert has produced 5-10-15.
With increased ice time and opportunity in the 19 games since Whitney went out, Gilbert has produced 0-3-3. Yes, there’s way more to the total picture than the boxcars. Blocked shots. The quality of opposition he faces. I get that. Has Gilbert been the best of a bad bunch on the blue line? OK, maybe so. But a "standout?"
I’m not seeing it.
THE WORLD’S LONGEST GAME
If you plan on attending the World’s Longest Hockey Game that starts out at Brent Saik’s Sherwood Park acreage Friday, you’ve got a chance to be part of CBC’s Hockey Day in Canada coverage.
Producer Mike Dodson has let me know that he’d like to include coverage of the 10-day game, being played in support of the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Cross Cancer Institute, as part of CBC’s coverage on Saturday.
While resources are stretched thin with all the events being held across the country, Dodson tells me CBC will happily accept photos and short videos taken at the game. Jeff Marek and Cassie Campbell will attempt to air them. They should be submitted to: :firstname.lastname@example.org.
Like I said earlier this week, if you get the opportunity, get out to Saiker’s Acres — 52269 RR 220 — and cheer on the 40 players attempting to establish a new record for the longest game ever played — the old mark is 241 hours and 25 minutes, established at the 2008 event.
Just as important, Saik is attempting to raise $1 million, almost doubling the $558,000 raised in 2008.
DOESN’T ADD UP
I heard associate coach Ralph Krueger’s explanation for why he mixed up his lines against the Blackhawks, but the game sheet doesn’t add up for me no matter how he justifies his handling of the bench in the absence of Tom Renney.
When I saw that Magnus Paajarvi got less ice time, 10:27, than any other Oiler against the Blackhawks, I had to blink. When I see that Ryan Jones played more (12:53) than Paajarvi and Linus Omark (12:05), it doesn’t register. Yes, 4:35 of the time Jones got was helping the Oilers kill six penalties, but then bump up the 5-on-5 and power-play time for Paajarvi and Omark to compensate.
There’s no how, no way Jones should play more than Paajarvi and Omark. Colin Fraser played more (11:29) than Paajarvi.
WHILE I’M AT IT
— Oilersnation radio makes its debut on TEAM 1260 Saturday at noon. I’m looking forward to it, even if I’m likely to hear a lot of dialogue along the lines that I’m not really seeing what I’m seeing.
Here’s hoping Allan Mitchell draws a big audience and that he calls a load of you-know-what a load of you-know-what when somebody starts shovelling it. Agreement is so, well, disagreeable in radio.
— The likelihood Whitney will finish as Edmonton’s top scorer on the blue line with 27 points despite playing just 35 games simply accentuates the obvious. Even allowing for the subtle skills of the under-appreciated Gilbert, GM Steve Tambellini needs to find another rearguard who has half a clue about helping generate offence.
— Taylor Hall and Dustin Penner are the only Oilers on pace for 20-goal seasons. Unless Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner or Jones get ridiculously hot the rest of the way, this will mark the third straight season the Oilers have had just two players crack the 20-goal plateau.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.