COGS AND GIBBY: PUNCHING THE CLOCK

Andrew Cogliano and Tom Gilbert take a lot of slag from critics at this site and from fans for real and perceived shortcomings as players, but there is no getting around how reliable and durable they are.

That, in my estimation, is a quality that’s under-appreciated at the best of times in professions across the board and one that should probably be more lauded at the worst of times — like over the past five seasons, a stretch in which the Edmonton Oilers have endured a ridiculous string of injuries.

Reliability and durability might not pull fans out of their seats or provide the kind of sizzle raw talent and skill does, but it provides the kind of steak NHL coaches like Tom Renney rely on when they scratch out their line-ups 82 games a season.

When the puck drops against the struggling Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena this afternoon, Gilbert will be in Edmonton silks for the 323rd straight game. Cogliano will play his 315th consecutive game.

Given the physical demands of the game they play, it’s a remarkable feat, to say the least. Framed by the bad luck and injuries that have plagued the Oilers since the 2006 Stanley Cup final, their games-played streaks are damn near miraculous.

You can count on Cogliano and Gilbert.

UNDER-APPRECIATED

If somebody asks you about the best car you’ve every had, do you think of the reliable, plain-Jane sedan you used to drive, the one that asked for only gas and oil, started no matter how cold it was and never once left you stranded? The car you sold to move up to something with more flash and regretted getting rid of?

Or do you think of the speedy, little drop-top you used to drive, the one that ate up the road with the same gusto of sportswriters at a free buffet and drew nods of approval from the ladies, but was an acute pain in the backside because it spent as much time in the mechanics bay as it did on the road?

It seems to me that Cogliano and Gilbert fall into the first category. While neither are going to deliver the same kind of offensive results and crowd-pleasing displays of raw talent and skill players like Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney will, Renney at least knows they’ll be ready to play when the game begins and the rubber hits the road.

With Hemsky injured again and Whitney, Hall and Sam Gagner out for the remainder of the season, I’d suggest there’s value in that for a team that lost 521 man-games to injury in 2009-10 and will easily surpass 200 man-games lost for the fifth straight year.

IRON MEN

Say what you want about Cogliano being a tweener who is only now finding a niche as a third-line center and penalty killer. Have fun with his sad-sack face-off percentage, if you’d like. He hasn’t missed a game with the Oilers since the start of the 2007-08 season.

In the same time period, Hemsky has missed 99 games. Tonight will be the 100th game he hasn’t played. It’s tough for all that talent to translate to something meaningful on the ice when Hemsky is in street clothes.

Hack away at Gilbert for not being a big-banger — I certainly have — and for occasionally resembling a drowning man in the deep-end of the pool because he is in over his head without Whitney to protect him, but he’s been ready to play every single night since Craig MacTavish was a couple seasons from being shown the door.

Yes, 50 or 60 games a season of Hemsky or Hall or even Gagner is going to produce way more highlight reel moments and points than Cogliano will in 82 games. Likewise, Whitney still leads Edmonton defensemen in scoring despite playing just 35 games this season.

That said, if I’m a GM, there’s always going to be room on my roster for players who have shown the long-term reliability and durability Cogliano and Gilbert have.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • 442Junkie

    That almost sounds like glowing praise for Gilbert. I do realize that no where in this article do you equate durability to what fans expect of, and project on, him. Or, that it makes him worth his contract. However,it’s interesting to see that there is part of his game you do appreciate.

    Maybe there’s method to his butter softness….

    • fuck off

      His buttery softness allows him to absorb hits and grind the puck along the boards at times. Which, of recent he has been doing. True character and durability that one has to respect such as Rueben did in this fine article.

  • Spydyr

    Gilbert would have to hit someone to get hurt.When you play on the perimeter injuries do not happen as often. Playing hard in the corners throwing your weight around. Playing tough makes you more susceptible to injuries. I would rather have a hard nose player that gets hurt once in a while.Then a soft player who brings no fear to his opponents. Sure Gilbert blocks lots of shots .Well that is because he is backing into the goalie too deep allowing for a shot.If he stood more players up at the blueline the blocked shots would drop.Gilbert is an OK 5-6 defencemen maybe 3-4 but definitely not a top pairing defencemen.

    It is like the old time work saying…..no one works no one gets hurt……the harder you play the more chance you have of being injured.

    Playing soft and not getting injured is not an accomplishment…IMO

  • Kodiak

    Spyder……Epic Fail!!!

    How often does Hemsky get hurt delivering a check? How about never. Gilbert playing 25min a game takes twice the physical contact as any forward. Just because he doesn’t initiate it doesn’t mean he doesn’t compete and isn’t getting hit.

  • Spydyr

    @Kodiak

    Hemsky goes to the tough areas of the ice that’s where he gets hurt.Gilbert avoids all physical contact.Sure he gets hit but he tries to avoid contact.You may want that in your defencemen but I would not want that in mine.Your comment about Gilbert having twice the physical contact as any forward if true is a sad statement on the teams lack of size up front.I do not think Gilbert has twice the physical contact as Jones or Brule.

  • ubermiguel

    Gilbert and Cogliano are nice reliable Honda Civics alright, but the NHL is not my daily commute, it’s more like the Indy 500. A Honda Civic might finish every Indy race it’s in, but it’s going to be in last place….much like the Oilers the last 2 years. Hmmm…maybe there’s something to this car analogy. Too many Civics, not enough IndyCars on the Oilers.

  • I was just saying a couple weeks ago that I figure the same thing that happened with Dustin Penner is going to happen with Tom Gilbert; he’s going to be under-appreciated until it’s too late. And then when he gets traded/signs with another team, that’s when everyone’s going to come out of the woodwork to complain about what a loss this was.

    And as for Cogliano, god that boy still frustrates me more times than not, but I’m really glad to see it seems he’s finally “getting it” in terms of realizing he’s not going to be a top liner scoring 40 goals a year, and looks to be settling in nicely to his 2 way, checking line role. I still wish they’d banish him from center though. Put him on the wing!

    • Ender

      Maybe when our own damn players stop carving up the few centers we actually have. At this stage, auditioning for center on the Oilers involves things like ‘breathing’ and ‘getting dressed without help’. Faceoffs and the like are strictly garnish this season, my friend.

    • fuck off

      Cogliano is one of the fastest player in the league and knows how to back check like a pro (at times). One thing you have to have at Center is skating. Unless someone can catch up with Cogs with hands lighter than paper weights; it ain’t happening!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Now that we’ve had the chance to review this article, watch Cogs go down tonight and Gilbert on Sunday afternoon.

    As a fan of a 30th place club 2 yrs running, this bites, we couldn’t beat the Hamilton Bulldogs right now. If this isn’t incompetence confirmed (Lowe and Pendergast), i don’t know what is. [end rant]

    Happy weekend fellow Oiler puckers.

    • Bucknuck

      Umm… last time i checked it wasn’t Pendergast or Lowe who was managing the roster.

      If you want to blame someone in management for the current roster it better be the guy managing the roster. Tambellini has been here for two and a half years and done NOTHING to improve this club in that time. Finishing last to get a draft pick is not brilliance.

      It is a sorry state of affairs.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Unless we’re receiving a lotto pick, usually you’re getting something that’s min 2 yrs away. Where are all the assets we drafted 4-6 yrs ago, thats where i was pointing the finger.

        • Bucknuck

          I have to agree with that particular thought, though we had a LOT of draft picks. It’s the picking that was bad – which is Pendergast and Fraser…

          I don’t know why, but I still defend Lowe. Though I would mind if they cleaned house. I am just very pissed with Tambo, and I don’t understand why people blame Lowe and not him.

          Lowe at least got a team that went to the finals and gave me something to cheer for. Although he did trade Ryan Smyth so for that I won’t mind seeing him go.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Like Tambellini did with Dustin Penner two weeks ago. Top 6 forward out, magic beans in, still playing the same tune here it seems.

            Penner should still be an Oiler, they could’ve done much better at the draft. Should’ve let that tightwad Lombardi walk the plank and leave empty handed.

            Impressive game tonight, the Wings coast for 55 minutes and play 10 minutes of hockey to rip this from Devans grasp.

  • Bucknuck

    Robin, is that you? Oh, its positive Friday, I get it.
    Great article, it was weird to see someone writing something positive about Oilers players, let alone Gilbert and Cogs.
    I have always said that those two are NHL players, they could probably play on 20 other teams in the league. Yet, those are the two the fans seem to want to pick on.
    Yes, Gilby is overpaid, but he is a #4-5 defenseman on even a good team.

  • Aitch

    I’m glad you didn’t make the same mistake that it seems all media are making in relation to Tom Gilbert. Even the Oilers broadcast crew keep harping on the misfact that he hasn’t missed a game in his career, when he missed a few games after having head issues playing the BJs.

    Any way you can put it in simply terms so that Debrusk and Principe can understand it?

  • Bucknuck

    the Whitney praise is out of control.

    Whitney’s a nice fellow and was having a great season but 77 was a good NHLer long before Whitney showed up in town.

    • Yes, Gilbert was a good NHLer before Whitney showed up, but he’s not a lead dog and he struggles when he’s pushed into that role.

      Gilbert was also fine when he was protected by Souray or Visnovsky. You know that because I’m sure you’ve already pulled your shift charts out of your . . . . back pocket and had a look, so stop being such a Dennis. My point stands and it has nothing to do with over-the-top praise for Whitney.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Mr. Brownlees powers are endless. Not every writer could unveil such a prestigious award all willy nilly like this.

      Only the first Donkey award comes with that championship belt, guess that sommbeach Fist won the only one that mattered. The ones to follow in the coming weeks probably only receive on screen recognition.

  • DoubleJ

    I’ve never seen such one sided game by the refs….well maybe the that one women’s game. But this is insane.

    Cog’s is going to have metal teeth by the end of this game.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Good read Mr. B.

    I will readily admit that I have the standard love hate relationship will those two fellas.

    For jebus sakes the effort from cogliano is ridonkulous (since donkey’s seem to be popular tonight). He has displayed the heart of Bucky with hands of..well…Bucky. shame. Now if only we would put him on the wing where he HAS to belong.

    Gilbert is confusing to me. We all say he is softer than a downy quilt but recently I see a spark (followed by a turnover). He can look pretty darn good and then really really bad. Perplexing?????

    For the time being tho we need them, we need healthy durable bodies. No fears of them going down…42 points is out of reach!

  • I tried it at home

    I just want to announce that should I get the chance to post first, not that Im gonna be looking for it, I shall post ‘GOOF”. Four letters, same as fist, but has more of a real world ring to it. You have been warned, etc etc