OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD

When they add up the points in the standings at the end of the season to decide the playoff pecking order in the Western Conference, nobody who cheers for the Edmonton Oilers is going to ask how, just how many.

So it went in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place as the Oilers made it four straight victories for the first time since October of last season and are now in the midst of a bonafide playoff push with 13 games to go.

Fans can thank Miikka Kiprusoff, who crapped the bed mightily before getting the hook, as the Flames, now doing a death march into the desert with GM Jay Feaster kicking and screaming after Jay Bouwmeester was dealt to the St. Louis Blues before the game, for that.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kiprusoff, who said last week he wouldn’t report to a new team if the Flames traded him between now and Wednesday’s deadline, is begging to be dealt now, joining Jarome Iginla and Bouwmeester as those granted parole out of Cowtown, but I digress . . .

How the Oilers win matters not one iota at this point because playing well and losing isn’t going to give fans the buzz they’ve been waiting for during six years out of the playoffs. Wins, warts and all, are all that matter if the Oilers are going to stretch the drama to the wire. They’ll need another in the rematch against the Flames in Calgary Wednesday.

DEADLINE DECISIONS

. . . I had my say regarding the trade deadline and what GM Steve Tambellini should and shouldn’t do, so I won’t go through all of that again. Suffice to say, I’m still of the mind Tambellini and Kevin Lowe shouldn’t make any deals between now and Wednesday that puts the short term, a playoff push, ahead of the long-term build they’ve put fans through.

Last week on Jason Gregor’s show I said I could see Ryan Whitney and either Nikolai Khabibulin or Ryan Jones traded by the deadline. They could be (and are) characterized by many fans as spare parts that could land something useful – a pick or a prospect — for down the road without signaling a "we give up" should the team mount the push we’re seeing now. Whitney remains the best bet, but I’d rate Jones a long shot to move now.

. . . Even with these four straight wins and another in Calgary to make it five, I’m not confident the cards are going to fall Edmonton’s way – the last five games of the season look awful tough to me. That said, if the Oilers can hang in until those final five games, I don’t think too many fans are going to scream about this team stalling in its progression toward returning to contention. The make-up of the team? Still some questions there.

. . . Tambellini gave Sportsnet host Gene Principe a whole bunch of nothing Monday night when he asked how trade deadline was shaping up – there’s a shocker – but what we do know is there has been interest in Whitney by the Boston Bruins. Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED also hinted a few days back that a couple of teams have interest in Jones.

THIS AND THAT . . .

. . . I’d love to say it was an April Fool’s gag Monday when I tweeted just after 4 p.m. or so that the Ladislav Smid deal was done and I was waiting on the hearing the financial details, but I wasn’t. Embarrassing, even if I’m not on the beat for any of the MSM outlets any more.

I spent all day at my auto glass shop catching up after the long weekend and I didn’t go near the internet or a radio all day. When I did get home and saw an e-mail from the Oilers on the Smid deal with a time of 3:50 p.m., I assumed it has just happened.

Gregor, who did an item on the details of the new contract a mere seven hours or so earlier, sent me a WTF? text. I laughed out loud. The only consolation was The Globe and Mail was even slower on the draw than I was – which wouldn’t have saved me an "Oh, fuc* moment and a chewing out by the sports editor in my good, old salaried days at the dailies.

. . . Rookie Justin Schultz seems to have found a second wind after struggling through a bit of a lull on the heels of a hot start . . . I haven’t seen Nail Yakupov look better than he did against the Flames. . . Jones seems to be finding his stride and his knack around the net after a slow start in the wake of his eye injury during the lockout.

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

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Yeah…..its like….do you want to sit around all night and stare at the pretty girl…or do you wanna dance with the ugly girl……and by dance I mean…..well…you know what I mean…

    • The Soup Fascist

      I know you are not asking me, but thought I would pass on Gregor’s report that I heard on the way home from the game. Apparently Hemsky is a little knicked up and Krueger decided to rest him. No trade. No benching for performance. No big injury. Gregor reported Ales laughing on bench.

      While at the game I noticed he wasn’t playing, I thought TRADE. Apparently, I am wrong for the first time …… again.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Joining you in the ‘slow on the uptake dep’t’ – the parallels between Iggy and Hall just dawned on me. Quintessential power forward born in Edm. plays all his years for the flames and just as he sails on we have Hall going supernova (to quote LT) – speed/power forward from Calgary getting it done in Oil silks. Lets hope Hall can do to the flames what Iggy, who should be one of every fans’ all time favourite players, did to us for a decade or so…but with playoff success 🙂

    • G Money

      I live in Cowtown, so I have mused on this parallel for a while now. (Edmonton power winger goes supernova playing for the Lamers. And now a Calgary power winger goes supernova playing for the good guys.)

      The problem? Despite his phenomenal individual success, Iggy was never able to bring the Flames to a Cup. So we have to hope that part of the parallel does not carry forward to Hall.

      The advantage? One thing that Calgarians lament is that in all his years with the Flamers, Iggy never really had a gifted playmaking centre. That was *always* the need. (Cammalleri is the closest they’ve had in a while). The Oilers have the Nuge, who will be the best playmaking centre the Oil have had since Doug Weight in his prime. Not to mention Gags if he sticks around.

      They also have a supporting cast (Eberle, MPS, Yak, Hemsky if he sticks around) that will be better than anything Iggy & the Flamers have had.

      Add a couple of solid defenders plus Klefboom and Harski plus a couple of big third and fourth line players that can actually play at an NHL level and the Oil should be a contender.

  • Milli

    Eyes on the prize…

    With Crosby wounded other teams will think they have a chance to win it all. Kipper looks disinterested and seems to still be struggling with his knee.

    If the right options come along – and if KL&T are making it known that they are selling the oil could pick up some real value before the deadline.

    We beat arguably the weakest team in the league last night and, if the puck had bounced the right way for them a couple of times (and maybe if kipper hadn’t started) the oil could have been 4-1 losers…

  • Rob...

    At least half the top teams mail it in for the last week of the regular season. They’re busy resting their stars, healing up, and generally trying to avoid suspensions or new injuries. The only team that would play hard against the Oil will be the a team that doesn’t want to play them in the first round.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Them, and St Louis, and Dallas, and Columbus, and maybe Detroit. (oh yeah, and all the teams below the Oilers in the standings who want to play the role of spoiler and secure thier roles on their perspective teams for next year)

      But I get your point, we may have less to fear from the good teams than we do from the bad ones.

  • Carlos Danger

    the way Hemsky is playing I am surprised he doesn’t have two broken shoulders again. He is taking an awful lot of hits. Magnus needs to dig into the corners some next couple games and give Hemmer a rest, maybe move yak to that line, but I would hate to do that when jones and yak seem to be getting some chemistry going…

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      Not to be a Lama but….he will certainly have two broken shoulders again sometime soon…..hopefully not this season!

      I’m not saying he HAS to be moved……BUT it the Oilers do intend to move him sometime in the next 12 months…..NOW is the time. He may not make it to the summer.

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      OH!?! …. NOW we may make the playoffs BUT !?!

      Where’s the Rama Lama we’ve come to know and love…Where’s the perrenial lottery pick stuff?? and the Tambellini strapped his dog to the roof of the car stuff?!?

      Lama??? Are you going soft on us??? COMON…give us our daily Thumbulini FIX!

    • wiseguy

      Baby steps. Who cares whether we win in the playoffs. Making it in is the goal this year. It isn’t an all or nothing scenario. We knew this team wasn’t going to win the Stanley Cup this year so based on your logic, we shouldn’t even have played the season, just pack it in, and take a draft pick. This mentality is why the Oilers have sucked for so many years with the players all developing a loser mentality.

  • OutDoorRink

    The Oil could have been 4-1 losers last night?

    Not with the way that this team can score goals. How many times do you remember watching the Oilers play Dallas or Detroit or Pittsburgh over the last 6 years, and marvelling at how we could get 5 nice scoring chances with nothing to show for it and the other team gets 1 and it’s in the net?

    That is the difference between teams like the current Oilers and the current Flames.

  • Ogie Oilthorpe

    So.. Yandle. The asking price is a little offense, a defensive prospect, and a 1st round pick.

    Petrell, Teubert, 2013 2nd rounder, 2014 2nd rounder. Oil could probably pick up on 2nd for Jones. Sounds reasonable to me..

    • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

      of course it does……your Ogie Ogilthorpe….

      Where’s the offense and the first round pick!?

      You gonna lead with the Prospect and hope they don’t notice the other two out of three?

      • Ogie Oilthorpe

        I think based on the current transactions we have seen the asking price is a bit over market (minus last nights move by St. Louis), wouldn’t you agree? I was simply saying that I think the package described above might get a deal done.

        A second rounder in this year’s “deep draft” plus another (that we may be able to get for offloading someone else) might be reasonable to the yotes.

        You don’t think Hemsky + first round + Kelfbom is a little steep asking price?

  • Ogie Oilthorpe

    Any word on Eberle and a possible nagging injury he has? After Hall scored last night Eberle never even cheered. He bent over like he was in pain and just kinds drifted while Hall and others celebrated the goal. I rewound and watched the entire play a few times and didn’t see him take a big hit or anything so just wondering.

  • Wendy01

    I too thought that Stumbellini gave Gene nothing last night on the Sportsnet broadcast. Love to play poker against that guy. He’s got a whole lot of nothing going on and it’s all over his face.
    On a brighter note… an ugly win is much better than an ugly loss but still….. ugly is ugly. This team can’t afford to get sucked into the vortex with the Flames when they play them. There was about as much emotion out there last night as my office on a Monday morning.