Just play

Let’s face it, the Oilers playoff hopes are slim. Yes, I know it sucks. Oiler fans are frustrated with what is looking like another year of non-playoff action at Rexall. I don’t need to get into all the percentages of the team making it. You all know those already.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Chasing from behind late in the season is very hard to do. Every point you miss out on adding to your total seems like a killer. All the three-point games other teams play in can feel like a knife through your playoff heart! Making up serious ground the last section of the season is nearly impossible.

I have been in playoff races where our team was in the playoffs looking to hold onto a spot. I have also been in race where we were trying to make up ground. The advantage is always with the team over the line, not the one chasing.

Back in 2005-2006 I was playing with the New York Rangers. All the experts picked us to finish last. We caught many teams by surprise and finished in sixth place that year.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Photo: Robert Kowal/Wikimedia

We were very good early but could not win to save our lives over the last quarter of the season; the Olympics really took a lot out of our guys who went. Henrik Lundqvist was a rookie that year. He was great for us but he ran out of juice and it really hurt our team.

We had built up such a big point total early that we were able to run on fumes and still get into the playoffs. We held down third place in the conference until the New Jersey Devils got hot and ran off eleven straight wins! We lost our last five and they overtook us for third in the conference.

We ended up playing them in the playoffs. They ran our show and we were done in four straight. Momentum is huge heading into the playoffs. You cannot just turn on the switch and get after it, unless of course you are the LA Kings from last year.

Being in a playoff position is huge this time of the year. As a team you feel better about where you are at. You know you literally hold your own destiny in your hands. Even though we really struggled to win games down the stretch that year in New York we knew we were a playoff team.

A few years earlier in the 1999-2000 season, I was fighting to get into the playoffs with the Vancouver Canucks. We had a younger group of players with guys like Bertuzzi, Naslund and Morrison.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Photo: Brendan Lee/Wikimedia

We had a slow start but really started to find our way as the season went on. Luckily we had a captain named Mark Messier. I will never forget him telling us during a team meeting to just go out and play. Don’t worry about the outside noise of the media or what other teams do. Just play and have fun.

From that point on I remember how much fun it was to come to the rink every day. We were young and trying to make up a bunch of points to get into the playoffs. That time is some of my fondest memories in hockey. Being young and just going out to play. No pressure, no one expected us to make it.

Ironically the team we could catch with two games left was the Edmonton Oilers. We needed to beat them and then win our last game versus San Jose. After the loss to us we needed the Flames to beat the Oilers. I talked to some of my buddies on the Flames team and they promised me they would give the Oilers a loss if we could beat them first.

The game between us and the Oilers was a playoff game. It was very intense. Both teams were flying. It was tied until late in the third when we committed a big turnover. My team mate Denis Pederson came around our net and threw a huge pizza right up the middle of the ice. It was intercepted. It ended up in the back of our net.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I remember us all being crushed on the bench. Denis was crying afterwards. It really was a brutal way to end such a fun run. I felt really badly for Denis, he had been a big part of us turning the year around.

The Oilers made the playoffs that year. We did make it the next year.

I will never forget that run we put together that season. We came out of nowhere and almost made it. The current Oilers are a little like that Canucks team from over ten years ago. Lots of young players trying to make an improbable run into the playoffs.

The odds of their making it are a lot less then that Canucks team’s was. If I were Ralph Krueger I wouldn’t tell them that. They can figure it out.

That year in Vancouver we were running on passion. That is it. We wanted it so badly we didn’t care what everyone else said. Sure, they were right in the end but we almost proved them wrong. One pizza killed us. I think it was pepperoni.

Let’s hear you!!!

That year in Vancouver I remember the fans really getting behind us. GM Place was rocking. There is no better feeling for a player that knowing your home rink is going to be a loud place to play your home games.

I remember the fans in New York with their chant of "Let’s go Rangers!" I loved that. I actually have the audio of that on my Ipod. It was pretty cool to hear from ice level.

I never got the chance to hear Oiler fans really go nuts. I never played a playoff game for the Oilers. I was around the city for that crazy run to game seven with Pronger, Peca and the boys. The city was on fire and the crowds were incredible.

This Oiler team needs some of that noise and enthusiasm in Rexall from tonight till the end of the season. I know, winning and excitement brings the noise from fans. Maybe just the one time the egg can come before the chicken.


Recently around the Nation Network

  • bazmagoo

    If this team wants to hear a ticking crowd they should give us somthing to be excited about. I know I feel stupid when I get excited and end up being made a fool by a loosing team

  • bazmagoo

    It’s a shame the Oilers are likely to miss the playoffs again, but I see lots of improvements. Just need one big truculent forward, probably 2 better defencemen than we have currently and we will be in the playoffs next time around.

    Still hoping for a magical 9-0 run to end the season!

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

    Mama let em play….let em play….

    Yes. Let them play it out and support them as best we can.

    Right now, they’re almost certainly going to be picking 9th to 12th in the Entry Draft.
    I don’t see a big difference bewtween 9 and 12 in terms of quality of the players involved.

    So Go Hard! boys….take em wide Bucky!… and let the chips fall where they may.

  • ghostofberanek

    Yes, thank you Struds! How about the fans at Rexall cheer the team on BEFORE they start winning the game. What a novel concept, providing your team with emotional motivation when they need it the most.
    I know I’ll be cheering loudly tonight.

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

    Struds, I’m not frustrated at the players and not even the coaching staff. What I am frustrated is at is Oilers management and ownership for not trying to address the well known and well documented deficiencies on this club. Ineffectual management.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It’s unfortunate they can’t just tack these last 9 nothing games onto the Lockout.

    If it’s not too much of a problem Jason, could you ask Mrs. Katz to give Daryl his manly parts back. He could sure use them for a week or two soon.

  • Rocket

    It must be tough for the players to stay motivated when they know they won’t make the playoffs.

    It’s also tough for fans to close out the season watching The Oilers play contending teams but I’ll still be here supporting the team.

    Beats watching The Flames anyday.

  • book¡e


    Regardless of how loud the fans cheer for the Oilers at home games, the team’s future success depends on addition by subtraction. Emotional motivation is not the problem, the problem is filling obvious holes on the roster by displacing the parts that don’t work or fit, and there are lots of them.

    The team needs two much better and bigger centres, some grit at forwards, and two NHL-ready defencemen. Can management afford to keep Gagner? How will management move Belanger’s and Eager’s contracts to open slots? What to do with Horcoff and Smyth as with age and wear-and-tear they are rapidly becoming liabilities to make the playoffs? Is there a place for Hemsky on the roster? And what about Jones?

    The results based on the Oilers’ performance this truncated season (once again missing the playoffs — the mark of a losing team) indicate the rebuild seems to be one step forward and one step back.

    • ghostofberanek

      I fail to see what exactly this has to do with tonights game. This is our team, and it’s a young team. I would imagine it means a lot to them to hear their fans cheering them on.

      Yeesh, lighten up.

  • book¡e

    Well, I know I’ve been guilty of getting down on the team when they play crappy. Like I said before, I enjoyed the dynasty years, so this has been like payback from hell.

    Nevertheless, I fondly remember playing in a minor hockey tournament, where we were down 3-0 with 3 minutes to play. We won 7-3!

    Go Oilers!

    (Sad thought of the day… when 40-year-olds still get their identity by a peewee game almost 30 years ago.)

  • book¡e

    If the Oilers show up and play with some urgency, the crowd will get behind them.

    It looks to me that too much lately the other team has been ‘out-urgencying’ the Oilers (excepting Hall). This will keep the crowd quiet.

    If you want the chants and the roars – show effort. A full 60 minutes will likely translate into wins, or at least well played loses. The typical Edmonton fans would be pleased with either.

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

        I have mixed emotions about this one….I too was there in 2006 and in the 80’s….and I am the type of guy who is naturally boistrous and inclined to cheer harder when they get down a goal and need us the most…..BUT….there’s a part of me that says….these guys are making millions to play a game…and, CUT MY TICKET PRICE in half and I’ll be the chicken or the egg or whatever it is Strudwig wants us to be!

        And if your response is, that it’s not about the money…..THEN CUT MY TICKET price in half!

        (I’m old and I repeat myself sometimes)

  • ghostofberanek

    Well struds you may not have been around for many of the oilers games in the last ten years before the rebuild but I was. Rexhall has always been a loud barn and the oilers faithful have always supported their team. For you to say maybe the chicken should come before the egg really is a crock. We supported them when they sucked ( because we knew they sucked and it wasn’t their fault. Bad Canadian dollar bad ownership situation. No one wanted to come to edmonton. What can you do? We supported the hell out of the team the year the went to the final. Loudest barn ever!! I was there it was deafening at rexhall in 06 in the playoffs. Then everyone decides the want to be somewhere else. Heart break again. Management then decides that it is rebuild time. So comes three or four more years of absolute futility and questionable decisions by management. We put up with it and supported the team all the way because we knew it had to happen. What you are seeing now is people are fed up. We can see the talent on the team we know its there. Why are we still losing? Why has management not addressed key issues with the lineup that have been there for years. You want the fans to come back and cheer this team on for no reason? I say they have given us no reason to cheer! Now I understand that hall and nuge and the rest of the young stars where not around for that and it’s kind of unfair to them, but the edmonton fans have been kicked in the nuts for to long and we need to see some progress. Again it’s not the players fault it’s managements. There better be some improvement this summer or there could be a lot of people that are going to be very disappointed. I personally am a diehard fan. I live and breath oilers hockey. As soon as the lockout was done I was back and d herring for my favorite team. Maybe once just once this team can put the fans first and win one for us. Just once. Please. Now that would seriously be putting the chicken before the egg.

    • ghostofberanek

      Wow, the sense of entitlement among some Oiler fans is beyond belief. I sometimes wonder, had it not been for that crazy atmosphere in ’06, if the Oilers would have made it to the finals. Even when the other team scored first, we cheered. We’re one of the most blessed franchises in hockey history, and we were due to go through times like these like every other team out there. Name me one team that didn’t suck the hind banana for 5+ years at least once.

      • ghostofberanek

        First of all we have been bad for 20 yrs not 5. Second of all if you think it’s a sense of entitlement that I am no longer willing to accept losing then you got it. The simple fact is this management made this rebuild happen and we have a team of young stars that are trying to make there way in the best league in the world. It comes from upstairs and we need to really improve this team this summer before hall gets fed up and wants out or nuge or yak. The time is now.

        Oh and by the way I am one of the loudest fans there. I have season tickets and am always cheering. I am not one of the negative nellies that are often on this site being world class jackasses. I am just sick of losing and not doing anything about it.

        • ghostofberanek

          You can’t say we’ve sucked for the last 20 years, as I seem to remember some big playoff wins in the 90’s. Todd Marchant, busting down the right side in game 7 and beating Moog shortside etc. We were also in the finals 7 years ago, which is still one more time then St. Louis, Florida, Minnesota and so on.
          With all due respect, you sound exactly like one of those negative nellies you speak of. If you went into this season expecting the playoffs, I’m not sure you’ve watched as much of the Oilers as you claim. I might just be drinking the koolaid, but I honestly believe that this summer we’ll see some of those aggressive moves we’ve been longing for.

  • JBD

    I was at the home opener and the place was buzzing and it was wonderful being there until the game actually started. But when Yakupov scored the place went crazy again. The fans would like to see some consistency, and they enjoy a loud building just as much.

  • There’s really nothing else that can be done at this point. We have 9 more games to play and it doesn’t matter what the odds of us making the playoffs are. We still have to play the games and I expect every last player to give it their all.

    I don’t live in Edmonton so I won’t be at any of the remaining games this season. All I know is if I paid good money to go see my favourite NHL team play, I would make sure that my support was heard. Get loud Rexall. Don’t sit around like a bunch of grumpy old people waiting for one of our favourite scapegoats to screw up.

  • ghostofberanek

    Jason, you have lots of experience playing in this type of situation as illustrated, heres a question that might be relevant to our current dilemma, on those teams you played with as the tension and heat was jacked up did the teams that made the playoffs become more physical as a group and more willing to sacrifice for the team and become nastier and harder to play against and did they slowly start leaving red spots out on the ice after games or did they all just make sure they went to bed with their system handbooks tucked under their pillows??

    Of course when you are a total underdog its a good thing to go out there with a fun attitude and try to get lucky by playing loosey goosey but we are trying to build a winning attitude here now and we want to have the men experience a letdown when we dont make the playoffs, we want a bad taste in their mouths over the summer, they are mostly young and full of piss and vinigar so let them grow, let them decide how accepting of losing and underachieving they want to be on a scale dictated by their NHL peers and measured by playoff appearances.

    I think we should be fighting to the last breath and jackng up the intensity every game till the fat lady sings. When this team is more experienced we can play the fun game but now we need to be deadly serious about what we are doing and why we are doing it, we need to feel the heat of missing the playoffs, expectations here in Edmonton have fallen for Decades and its time to stop drop and roll, we need to set the bar on an entirely new level ASAP and this means it shouldnt be “fun” to play here for another two or three years when the whip stops cracking.

    There is nothing fun about not making the grade, and the playoffs are the grade we need to make before we can even think about having fun out there on the ice.

    If you have an experienced team and roster and a solidly understood system then that fun option exists and Messier can make the comment, but take away those factors and I highly doubt the Messier I watched for all these years is talking about much fun. All Messier needed as an on-ice general was a team that played consistant, fun or pressured as long as the consistancy was there he could engineer wins and change games with his generalmanship skills and dynamic vision and anticipation. Very few people carry the tangible ability to back up that statement and Messier is one of them. he meant it, but what he was really looking for was a consistant platform he could work with and he knew that a less pressured team would likely produce more consistant system execution for 60 mins thereby giving him as an individual a better set of dynamic opportunitys to win the game on his own, exactly as Wayne taught him to do, useing his head not his hands.

    I know you are a seasoned pro and of course I defer to your real-life tangible experiences before my own extrapolations and guesses as a fan, you must get some real chuckles hearing how fans see the games you guys play in .

    There is still this nagging memory for me of a team that learned over two short years to HATE teams who took points from them, to HATE teams that made their job of making the playoffs harder, a team that learned in two short years how to take pride in their work and to defend it mightily, that team became a Dynasty and I was lucky enough to see it ALL unfold before my own eyes.

    I remember a team that you just didnt want to play against if they were not winning, if they were even beginning to tilt south they got nasty and very dangerous, their internal compass was hairtrigger and as soon as they felt another team had attitude they reacted and exploded with a passion and a drive that matched their developing talent.

    I think they hated bagskates and long practices and their coaches learned to teach them to direct their negative energys in the right places, lose and you suffer, learn to accept and hate the suffering because the coaches arent changeing and its not getting easier and then get pissed off Royally at your dilemma and go out and find the source of it all and hurt it more than the suffering hurts you when you lose, its that sweetly simple. The only way to cause MORE pain to the cause of YOUR pain is to WIN HOCKEY GAMES, and that means breaking down every man on the other side every night, just like the bagskates come consistantly after every loss, and anger you should feel and urge to retaliate should also be consistant after every embarrasing bush-league bagskae intended to embarrass you not run you down. Remember its the individual opponents you face who are pushing you into the bagskates and stealing your lunch money in the playground here every night. Get mad, unless there is no catalyst to make you feel any emotion at all as seems to be the case .

    You need emotional managment to support a winning atmosphere, and this means sometimes you need to MANUFACTURE that emotion from outside the playaction on the ice, but you need to also keep it focused in the right direction which is external to the locker room, it is in fact the opponents as individuals. It may be daunting to consider taking on the toughest team in the NHL in 7 game series, but if you have a managment system that can break them down to individuals its not so scary, and if you are pissed off and motivated by more than your paycheque then the idea of every man crushing just the one across from him for 60 mins doesnt seem so big of a deal, it becomes doable. You can defeat their system defeat their superstars, defeat their crowd support, defeat their coaching, you can utterly rip opponents apart if your emotional energy is catalysed focused and engaged in the right areas for only 60 full minutes, it is lapses in these areas that cause teams to lose games. And yes believe it or not the ability to do this starts being developed off the ice and through Intuative Dynamic Analysis being applied liberally to everything the team does.

    I agree Jason you cant just ” turn it on” at the NHL level, you need to “build it in”. On that note I follow the NewAge Hockey Systems Intuative Dynamic managment philosophys for this very reason, the NHS consolidates the majority of traditional hockey ideas and tactics into a condensed set of dynamic patterns and “builds them in” to your hockey perspective, it is an entirely new way of thinking to many many people.

    Moma2s NewAge Hockey System creates an entirely new communications platform, the system was designed to use Intuative Dynamic Analysis to specificlly teach that “winning feeling” to create a cerebral muscle memory of that specific set of dynamic experiences, and have them be interpreted and expressed consistantly by individuals on the ice as emotional inuts and outputs which lead them to the tangible action of manifesting on demand the “winning feeling”.

    It is sometimes better to leave the light on and burning than it is to constantly be turning it on and off. I believe their is a hidden energy savings to be had if you understand that concept, and yes the concepts dynamics are incorporated into the NHS already,ha ha ha. Its all about keeping the flow going man, just keeping the flow moving along with as few interruptions as possible.

    • StHenriOilBomb

      Your last post was 1309 words.

      The entire GDB was 826.

      Struds’ article was 1032.

      Start your own blog, and have someone proof it for you. Please stop trying to hi-jack this one. There’s only so much scrolling I can do.

      Also, how much time do you spend every day writing these essays to nobody?

      I am sorry if you have some sort of emotional or cognitive disorder that causes you to obsess like this. I will stop calling you on it now because I worry that is the case and I don’t want to upset anyone.

      Have a good night.

      admins: any way to install an ‘ignore’ button?

      • bcoilers

        You sound a little neurotic, but to each their own, why do you count words? Is there some point to it? Is it that time again already?

        I wish there was a wee little Midol icon available somewhere I could send to you, you sound like you need a friend. Anything remotely hockey related might be nice to see in your posts. Sorry for pushng back a little there champ.Ha ha ha.

        No Mas! No Mas!

  • ghostofberanek

    I have been going to Oiler games since the early 70’s.The Coliseum was known as the library. Time to step it up Edmonton fans. I know many people sit on their hands at a hockey game, why would you pay 100 – 300 a ticket to sit on your hands. Time to get the old Chicago stadium mentality and shake rexalls foundations.My 49th bday today I want a crucial victory for a present .Back in the day I was known as the rockingest Oiler fan. I couldn’t talk for days after a game
    Lets step it up people .Anybody with extra tickets I will show you how it is done Go Oilers Go

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

    Also, In the GREATEST series ever played, the 72 Super Series, Team Canada got booed on home ice and wasn’t warmly welcomed on Russian ice…and they did what needed to be done…they dug down, banded together, and kicked those Russians right in the frickin perogies….AND there were no chickens in Russian in those days and very few eggs.

  • metallicat

    The egg before the chicken?

    I think we’ve been supplying the so called egg ever since 2006. How many sellouts since then? What more can we give as fans? We are addicted to this team, and can’t give up any more.

    We need some reciprocation in the form of results and success. Show me something on the ice to cheer for.

  • bcoilers

    This is terrable. Fire tambellini for doing nothing at the deadline. Blues add a couple pieces and win 6 in a row. we do nothing and are about to lose 4 in a row. dubnyk is not the goalie of the future, just a decent back up.

  • bcoilers

    I want to believe the team will improve, but I have an uneasy feeling about the future for the Oilers. I just don’t trust KLowe and Tambo to get it done. You can tell they are hesitant to take risks for fear of mucking it up, and that’s not a good characteristic for a management team of a professional sports organization. Also, Souray said some stupid things about the organization, but he publicly apologized and said he wanted to play for the Oilers. Tambo should have accepted his apology and moved on, instead of trying to destroy his career. We sure need a Souray-type now. Bad management.

  • bcoilers

    Good write up Jason.

    Also, great story about you and your wife and your two little one’s on the CTV news. You guys are doing a great job as parents and for that I give you guys mad respect! Good luck and I wish you and your family heath and happiness!!