Missed Opportunity

Tyler Pitlick has been granted the skills needed to play in the NHL for a long time. He can skate, shoot and has size. Those three traits have translated into ten year NHL careers for many players. Unfortunately there have also been many players with those three traits that have had a cup of coffee in the NHL. Pitlick needs to ensure this isn’t just a cup of coffee visit.

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Sunday night, as the Oilers were trying to break their eleven game losing streak, an opportunity arose for Tyler Pitlick to help his cause. Tommy Wingels, a player I really like, took a healthy run at Pitlick behind his own net. Pitlick picked up the puck, to Scrivens’ right, and was trying to skate it out of trouble, instead he skated right into it.

Wingels stops him in his tracks. The bad news for Pitlick was that he got hit, good news was that opportunity presented itself. He could show his team mates and the whole Oilers organization a different side of himself.  He should have gotten up, and skated right over to Wingels to engage him. He should have given him a push or said something to him. Done something. Instead he just skated by with no reaction.

Now, I get it… Maybe Pitlick didn’t want to take a penalty. The team was playing a good game, and he may have been afraid to put a very dangerous power play unit of the Sharks on the ice. The fact is, Pitlick is also a young player, unsure of how he should handle those situations. It’s hard to make a split second decision like this, but he should have responded.

There is a need on this Oilers squad for a player with ability in the top nine forwards to play outside the lines. He should get in peoples faces and rub people the wrong way. Trust me, if Pitlick would have gone right at Wingels, and stood up for himself, no one inside the organization — no one who understands how important that part of the game is, at least — would have been disappointed. They would have been thrilled.

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How do you think Gallager from the Habs would have handled being hit like that? Or Burrows? Or Marchand? Would they have skated away? NOT A CHANCE. They would have gone right Wingels. Even Wingels himself would have gone right at someone who did that to him.

None of Gallager, Burrows or Marchand were slam dunks to become NHL players, much less guys who have had the kind of success they have so far. These three can play all over their teams line ups. They can ride shot gun on the top lines or drop down to the fourth line. Their games don’t change. They skate, hit and shoot. They never stop competing! That is why they can play anywhere in the line up. These types of players are so valuable. 

The Oilers do not have a player that can play all over the line up. The type of player that can spark a couple of players that are sleeping through a stretch of games by bringing life and emotion to the trio. There is huge opportunity for Pitlick to be this guy.

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I remember his first training camp. The first time I saw him on the ice I bought into him. I thought it would be a very short time before he was in the NHL. Injuries and a slower development has changed his arrival time but the skill set is there. 

Pitlick needs to separate himself from the rest of the herd by bringing this element of edginess into his game. It does not naturally come to him, but who cares? He needs to step outside his comfort zone to create an NHL career. He needs to assert himself in all situations. This one passed him by.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    He should have skated up to him, all right. And then tapped him with his stick and said: “Good hit. I deserved that.”

    He will learn from it, though. I know it’s a small sample, but I like how Pitlick competes. This team is (at least marginally) better with him in the lineup, and that’s better than a pokey thing in the eye.

    Fighting in that situation proves nothing but immaturity. I think the Oilers have enough of that.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    I’d rather see Pitlick hurt the opposing team by being physical and hurting them on the score sheet, then to try to even the score when it can hurt the Oilers instead. The Oilers have become soft by not being physical around the puck and around the opposing net. Skill is nice to have though being physical on both ends of the ice wins hockey games.

  • Gerald R. Ford

    The measure of Pitlick’s response should not be measured based on whether he reacted immediately after the hit. Rather if the hit impacted Pitlick’s game. I didn’t see any change to Pitclik’s game after the hit, he physically engaged whenever he had a chance so I would say Pitlick handled the hit very well.

    • BubbaZanetti

      Yeah, Strudwick doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he only played 14 years in the NHL. Why do people think they know what should happen on an NHL team when they have never been there. If Struds says it needed to be done, then thats what most NHL players would think when seeing a hit like that. Jeeeez….

      • SweetBabyNuge

        Excellent rationale. They’ve been there, so they know best. I trust you still believe in Lowe and MacTavish, if you care to follow that string of reasoning.

  • Salty

    Nothing I hate more than the fights that break out from clean hits. Pitlick would have looked dumb going after wingels after a good hit. I could understand if maybe one of his teammates got hit like that, but if it’s you, you just like you got embarrassed and are pissed off. Say he does get up, goes after wingels and then gets in a fight and gets dominated. Nobody would be saying, look how pitlick defended himself, they would say, Damn that guy looks like a fool.

  • SweetBabyNuge

    What a foolish article. I don’t understand this mentality of going after guys for a clean hit. Should we go after guys having scored a great goal? After making a perfect pass? Last time I checked, clean hits are part of the game.

    Imagine he went after him and took a penalty. Oilers lose 3-2 in overtime. I would’ve liked to see your article had that happened.

    Give your head a shake.

    • Salty

      I’m sorry but why would you go after someone for scoring a good goal, or a pass? these plays dont injure players, Hits do, you show some pushback so they dont try to injure you again…

  • After seeing the hit on replay, I really don’t mind his response. I have a feeling Eakins is telling guys to not retaliate and take penalties, so his concern was probably trying to keep the coach happy, not the rest of the players.

    Wasn’t a terrible hit, caught him on the shoulder, and he probably felt more dumb for not seeing it coming, as a rookie. He got up and back in the play, I didn’t mind it.

  • pkam

    Pitlick should thank Wingels for teaching him how to play hockey the right way.

    Since he is called up to replace Hendricks, I doubt he will learn to play this way from the rest of the Oilers roster.

  • By getting up and not sulking about the hit……..the message for me was, I can take what I dish out.

    Nothing wrong with that Jason……..I saw you take a hit a time or two and not respond. You can’t fight everyone that hits you.

    Pitlick can save his aggression for players taking liberties with RNH or Hall.

  • i really like his reaction he acknowledged that the play dictated he need to be back in position instead of starting a fight. That is the one issue with goons in the nhl they lose sight of the hockey aspect and try to protect “honour” he got right up and move into a defensive coverage he may have been late but he showed an effort to get back in on the play. He understands what playing for the logo on the front is about and not for the name on his back many of our stars need to take a look at that next time they take exception of let someone else do it on their behalf.

  • He got rocked but it was a clean hit. If he would have gone after Wingles he would have looked like a baby. I agree Pitlick needs to play with an edge and I think he does to an extent. He should have taken his number and returned the favor if the opportunity came up.

  • I echo the sentiment of most of the posters Struds, there’s a time & a place. They play the Sharks tonight in SJ, and I hope Pitlick took a number.

    Let’s hope he gets Wingnuts in the trolley tracks and lays him out with a nice clean check.

    • Jason Strudwick

      So you are going against my idea? What are you basing this on? I know exactly what it takes for a young man to secure a nhl spot. I have seen many players fail because they don’t push themselves.

      But you guys know best. I will step back and adopt your plan.

  • Bucknuck

    I LOVE seeing the hockey player’s point of view. Such interesting insight. I like hearing what you thought of Pitlick. I hope someone is having this exact discussion with him when going over the game.

  • Bucknuck

    You are a dinosaur Mr. Strudwick. Pitlick took the hit like a man , got up and continued to play a smart physical game making room for Hall and the Nuge out there. We needed a win more than anything and Pitlick knew that and did the right play and the smart play end of discussion. We play San Jose numerous times and wee Tommy Wingels will see some payback from Pitlick over time.

  • BubbaZanetti

    Good God, isn’t there more important issue’s that need to be dealt with on this team than whether a player who takes a “clean” hit retaliates ??
    It was a clean hit, something the oilers need to do more of !!
    Also, “Missed Opportunities”….what about the million other missed opportunities from this team, missed goals, missed passes, missed hits, missed assignments, missed emotion, missed intensity and so forth. Tyler Pitlick is the least of this team’s worries.

  • SweetBabyNuge

    This is getting a little bit ridiculous. Struds isn’t suggesting that Pitlick get up and do anything stupid like swing his stick or throw a sucker punch. All he had to do was give Wingles a small bump on the way by and let him know that he will be looking for him later. This takes zero time, takes nothing away from Pitlick’s game, and doesn’t require him to abandon his responsibilities.

    All it does is prove that he isn’t going to roll over and take it. I’m getting sick of watching various Oilers roll over and take it. That is called a losing attitude. Accepting that someone is tougher than you and letting him take liberties is not what winners do on the ice, or in life.

    Oilers fans have been crying for “grit” and “character.” Yet when Mr. Strudwick suggests that a young player trying to crack the roster shows a little bit of said qualities, he gets called a dinosaur.

    No one teaches their son to be a door mat. We teach our kids to stick up for themselves. Or maybe that idea is completely outdated too.

  • BubbaZanetti

    If Petry follows though and makes contact in the n-zone and keeps dominant body position post-hit with his back to his tender facing up-ice he creates a traffic jam with the opponent himself and the official and removes the puck carrier from the zone entry penetration,leaving a 2 on 2 with the Kid well in control and already tracking the middle threat which came in late{key moment because this is where Kiddo saw Petry and his man and made assumption #1 as he was scanning to ocated the middle opponent} and Ference in perfect position to pick out 57 on the corner to give the Kid a safe route out with speed and enough angle on the late middle support coming at him to bust out through the n-zone.

    But Petry is late to his man,misses the stickcheck then doesnt make contact and doesnt pick the player who dumped the puck in ,he makes a token effort to pick the lane then he drops back and his man slips through and pressures the Kid removing one of his two options the Kid had already been tracking the late middle opponent and was counting on Petry removing or slowing his wide man assuming the first pressure to hit him from his left to be coming from the middle,not the lightening fast close he faced from his back left side ,because Petrys man closed so fast and the middle pressure was closing late the Kid took option #2 and went around,Ference was already keyed on the late middle man as he closed on his net , when he saw the threat close from there he slid over and held the corner waiting for the Kid to push it through to him,instead of closing the lane on #57 he didnt commit instead Ference slid back to give a pass option to the Kid,essentially Ference set him up by hovering close enough to the corner to make the kid think he would take the lane and pick #57 out for him,but tricky Ference instead of contacting #57 and bumping him off stride or knocking his man into the net at least,he simply pulls a slippery nipple and backs out leaving the Kid to the Wolves.Ference put the play before the Kids head,he could have taken the corner lane and picked #57 out.These are the Big Leagues.

    2 opportunitys to make greasy contact which could have changed the complexion of the entire playaction.Petry and Ference bailed on incidental contact for whatever their reasons and ultimtely this led to the Kid being pigeonholed into a defined path predicted ranged and tagged with no intervention except maybe a few yells.

    The Kid made three assumptions one that Petry would remove his man,and two that the late coming middle pressure would be his primary concern and three that Ference would pick #57 out so he could skate through.

    One could take the analysis further and hypothesise that the Kid was falling back on solid System processes but not ones his NHL linemates were keying into. IMHO the Kid was doing the right things given the hand he had to play with.I can see why the Kid made his 3 assumptions they were logical,I have a more difficult time explaining Petry and Ferences decision making and lack of physicality and anticipation.

    I might have bumped Ference and Petry both after that clothesline veteran bailout play.

    The hit wasnt dirty but it could have been averted,both Ferrence and Petry should have been apologising in the moment by replying on behalf of the Kid together,not because the hit was bad but to vent their own frustations at their decision making,take it out on the opponents when they make you look stupid.

    On-ice verbal communication is critical but so is on-ice anticipatory incidental contact.Truculence or whatever you need to call it.And sometimes you stand up for a Teammate who pays the Piper to make up for your own mistakes and you take it out on the opponent IN THE MOMENT not later.

    Strudwick , I know this is likely so off-base you are laughing right now,but this is how I see it as non-hockey player,believe it or not.

  • Justincredible

    I never understood going after a guy when he delivers a CLEAN HIT. Last I checked hitting was allowed in hockey. I can understand if liberties were taken on a defenceless player. But this was a clean check. Take it like a man and deliver a clean check back. This having to fight after a big hit is ridiculous. It’s no wonder why we see less and less hard hits. Why would you want to deliver good clean body checks if you’re going to have to fight every time.

  • SweetBabyNuge

    Thanks to Struds for pointing this out. I love hearing the opinion of someone who has been in the trenches, even though its hard for some to understand those trenches!

    I’ve seen so many potential players in Oil country to miss out on an incredible chance to have a career in the NHL because of not having enough push back, abrasion, compete…

    a friend of mine made a career out of playing with an edge. A vet told him early on, that you have to be involved in the game, you have to be on the scoresheet somehow. He did, he wasn’t big, or fast, or have good hands but he made an NHL Career out of being difficult to play against. what if Shawn Belle (remember him?) and his hulking size played with an edge? A nasty edge? how would his career/life/finances be different today if he played with more fire.

    I hope Pitlick heeds the message of a guy who knows the game like Struds!