You don’t have to be a fan of the Edmonton Oilers to feel bad about how this season is ending for them or to hope nobody else suffered an injury on the flight home from Pittsburgh today after they got their butts kicked 5-1 by the Penguins. Enough.
With word that captain Shawn Horcoff had his left foot in a walking cast after being hit by a Magnus Paajarvi shot in the third period, I’m trying to figure out exactly what this franchise did to piss off the hockey gods. No team deserves the ridiculous run of bad breaks and injuries the Oilers have endured the past five seasons.
With Ryan Whitney, Taylor Hall and Sam Gagner already out for the season and Ales Hemsky injured again, the Oilers limp home from a five-game road swing after four straight losses with a now-gimpy Horcoff possibly out for some or all of the final 12 games.
There is a no rebuilding plan — not a well-thought out one, not the one the Oilers have undertaken — that can compensate for the loss of so many top-end players from a line-up that is this inexperienced and this overmatched. This is ugly.
It’s going to be a Dirty Dozen.
MAKE IT STOP
Aside from the Oilers having a lock on 30th place and the best odds of winning the NHL draft lottery for a second straight season, you’ll have to look long and hard to find any redeeming qualities or good that can come from these final 12 games.
The overmatched and undermanned Oilers are 23-38-9 and they’ll be lucky to finish this season with more than 25 wins because they only play the equally feeble Colorado Avalanche twice more. I don’t know anybody who wants to see a team gets kicked when it’s down like this.
Whitney had a superb season ended by an ankle injury. Hall was coming on like a freight train and was giving fans something to cheer about when his season came off the rails in a fight with Derek Dorsett. Gagner goes out with a cut hand. Hemsky can’t stay healthy.
Now rookies like Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle get thrown in the deep end because there’s not enough healthy and able bodies to protect them. Ryan Jones becomes a 20-minute-a-night forward. Tom Gilbert continues to lurch around without so much as a shred of help. Devan Dubnyk? Good luck, kid.
With the flawed roster GM Steve Tambellini assembled, 2010-11 was going to be a long season even if everything went as planned. This, the pitch went, was about patience and process. Fans, for the most part, bought in. Now? There is no process in what we’re going to see over the next 12 games. It’s become an unfunny joke.
GET IT OVER WITH
With no definitive word on Horcoff, with Hemsky still out and Whitney, Hall and Gagner reduced to spectators, the Oilers have a three-day break before they face the Phoenix Coyotes. One can only hope nobody falls down the stairs between now and then.
I’d like to have seen Hall take a run at the Calder Trophy and drag Paajarvi and Eberle along with him in terms of enjoying at least a modest bit of personal success. That’s part of the process. But, no.
It would’ve been beneficial for the organization to have Whitney help bring Theo Peckham and Jeff Petry along. Nada. I wanted to get a read on where Gagner is as his fourth NHL season comes to a close. Uh, no.
Likewise, it would have been helpful to see how Dubnyk would perform behind a defence with half-a-chance. This group is not that group. That, too, would have been part of the process. Maybe next year.
All the Oilers, at least what’s left of them, can do is strap on the gear and file out against the Coyotes at Rexall Place on Thursday and do what they can because they get paid handsomely to do so. Then, rinse and repeat 11 more times after that.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.