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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – What’s with the Refs?

It’s our very first ever playoff edition of the Mailbag! As always, I’ve taken your questions and sent them to our writers to get the answers that you need in your life. I’ve said it many times before, but this segment is entirely dependent on you guys and I need questions for next week. If you have something you’d like to ask you can email me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk.com.

1) Joe asks – Did the Oilers get a free lesson in playoff hockey in Game 1 of the series? They seemed nervous and unsure of themselves.

Lowetide:

Started nervous, righted the ship and played 10+ solid minutes in the first. Parade to the penalty box ruined flow, left them tentative. Aggressive Sharks won the day. I’d say six minutes of nervous, 10 minutes of good, 44 minutes of ‘what the hell happened there?’

Jason Gregor:

I didn’t think so. They were too revved up, took too many penalties and their passing wasn’t sharp. They were their own worst enemy, and I didn’t see the Sharks doing “veteran” things to hurt them. Some of the Sharks most effective players were young guys.

Jason Strudwick:

The speed of the playoffs is a big change. Everything happens so fast and every play is critical. There is an adjustment period. They came out with it lot more intensity in Game 2 and seemed ready to rumble.

Robin Brownlee:

Lesson? No. Nerves and being unsure of yourself boil down to inexperience and the inability to seize the moment rather than letting it seize you. Looked like a different team in Game 2.

Jonathan Willis:

That was certainly the dominant narrative in the press coming out of Game 1. It’s a plausible story; it might even be true. But this wouldn’t be the first time a team – be it veteran or young, regular season or playoffs – sat back too much with an early lead and then found themselves unable to claw their way back into the game.

Chris the Intern:

I wouldn’t call it a lesson in a sense that they weren’t expecting what was to come, I think they were nervous and uneasy, but that’s the process with playoff hockey. Their second game showed that they do know how to perform… they just needed to get the first game of nerves out of the way.

Baggedmilk:

The Oilers took six penalties on Wednesday night and that left them shorthanded for over half a period. It’s pretty tough to win when you’re in the penalty box that often. Not a great recipe for success.

Cam Lewis: 

The team got off to a hot start, grabbing a 2-0 lead and then reverted into a shell trying to defend it. Rather than continuing to force the issue, they stayed back and let the experienced Sharks work their way back into the game. It could be a nerves thing, or it could have been the Sharks just being a good team and capitalizing on what the Oilers gave them.

2) Chris asks – I understand why the Oilers would want to give people a taste of the playoff environment but I don’t agree with them handing out concourse passes. What do you think about offering tickets to an already overcrowded concourse?

Lowetide:

I think it was an interesting idea, but am certain season ticket holders and fans who purchased game tickets were displeased. One suspects this runs its course in short order.

Jason Gregor:

As a season ticket holder, I wasn’t a fan. I didn’t like it and think it is a slap in face to those who pay huge prices for seats to now endure even longer lines for food, beer and washrooms.

Jason Strudwick:

No issue with it at all. If people want to buy them why not sell them?

Robin Brownlee:

If there isn’t a demand for these kinds of tickets they won’t sell.

Jonathan Willis:

Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. The Oilers have a shiny new publicly subsidized building already designed to rake in the cash, and should worry a little bit more about giving the optimal experience to their long-suffering season ticket holders rather than scraping for every available dollar.

Chris the Intern:

Definitely unnecessary and a cash-grab. I wasn’t in the arena myself but from what I heard it was overcrowded and a pain in the ass.

Baggedmilk:

As someone that got caught in the bathroom lines at Rogers Place I can say from experience that the extra people added to the problem. I was even talking to some ushers and they said they had absolutely no direction about what the concourse passes entitled people to do. The guy at the top of my section said he had to kick people off the stairs a bunch of times and that it was a huge hassle.

Cam Lewis: 

It’s unfortunate there wasn’t more effort put into some kind of big, outdoor viewing area for fans to gather for free. Something like what the Leafs and Raptors do outside the Air Canada Centre in Toronto would be great for downtown Edmonton.

3) Krystal asks – I had a really great time at the game on Wednesday night but a rough morning on Thursday. What are your tips for getting through a long playoff run?

Lowetide:

Drink water through the day, and match one water/wobbly pop through the evening. Also, have a good bit to eat somewhere between 4pm-7pm and maybe a cracker around midnight. Greasy spoon restaurant nearby the following morning also recommended.

Jason Gregor:

Hydrate. Drinking water regularly during game days and nights is easiest fix. And be sure to get a good night sleep the day before a game. And if you can slide in a nap before the brutal 8:30 starts I’d try that also. I’d go for more vodka/waters and avoid pop as a mix. The sugar will crush you the next day.

Jason Strudwick:

Go to bed early on non-Oilers playoff game nights. Find a friend with a steam shower for the morning afters. Don’t be afraid to mix in a water. Stick to China whites.

Robin Brownlee:

A rough morning because . . ? Would have to know the reasons why to provide any tips.

Jonathan Willis:

I’d just try to enjoy it while it lasts, ride the rollercoaster and drink plenty of coffee the next morning. No matter how good your team, a long playoff run is a rare occurrence, and you’re going to remember the experience for a long time afterwards.

Chris the Intern:

Vanilla Latte’s from Starbucks, and non-stop ogling at Connor McDavid.

Baggedmilk:

You and me both! Here’s what I do. I make a survival pack that includes a Gatorade (BLUE!), some beef jerky, coke bottle candies, and two Tylenol cold and flu tablets. Works like magic.

Cam Lewis: 

Water.

4) Lester asks – I know that using referees as an excuse for a loss is weak but I would like to know what the panel thinks of the officiating so far and throughout the season. I, personally, have found it very inconsistent from even a period to period basis.

Lowetide:

Uneven, but the Oilers made it easy with some truly poor decisions.

Jason Gregor:

I have had little issue with it. Refs aren’t perfect. My issue is more with the NHL’s head honchos unwillingness to instruct the refs to call all the obstruction. Make no mistake the league decides how much they want called. In 2006 coming out of the lockout they did not want refs to let up on obstruction calls and they didn’t. But in the last decade, we are now back to allowing too much obstruction/slashing etc. Don’t blame the refs, blame the league for allowing it.

Jason Strudwick:

I can’t stand when people blame the refs. Every fan base, coaching staff, group of players, media, training staff and mascot blame the refs. It is the same everywhere. LET IT GO! Your team isn’t getting screwed more than the other squad. The league does not have an agenda. If it hasn’t balanced out this year it will next year of the year after.  Video review is making it worse. Everyone thinks the game should be called perfectly. Take away video review.

Robin Brownlee:

It is weak. Referees have not been consistent because they seldom are consistent, and that’s a problem. I find that complaints about officials are most often made by fans of teams that lost — even if it’s framed as a general discussion about the officiating. Not a coincidence.

Jonathan Willis:

I think that’s a discussion we can (and do) have every year, because every year the officiating is imperfect. And if you ever feel really bad about it, wait a game or two and follow some fans of the opposing team. There were some angry, angry Sharks fans after Game 2; more, I think, than Oilers fans after Game 1. Generally these things even out.

Chris the Intern:

Yeah I’m not blaming anything on the referees, but it’s extremely frustrating watching the calls being made in our current series vs the Habs/Rangers for example. In the Habs series, the refs are letting shots after the whistle go which is great! It’s playoffs, let them play. I think the officials have been calling too tight of a game for it being playoffs in our series and it’s annoying.

Baggedmilk:

I think I wrote about 75 wrap ups this year (give or take a couple) and I probably complained about the refs in almost all of them.

Cam Lewis: 

It wasn’t perfect, but search refs on twitter and you’ll see that every single fanbase thinks the zebras have an agenda against them. The Oilers play a pretty physical game, some will let it be, some won’t. Nature of the beast.

5) Blake asks – What is the greatest playoff performance you can remember or that sticks out in your mind?

Lowetide:

Mark Messier versus Chicago May 8, 1990.

Jason Gregor:

Gretzky in 1985. He was unreal. He had 17 goals and 47 points in 18 games. He averaged 2.6 points per game. In the freaking playoffs.

Jason Strudwick:

Lebron James two years ago. He got his group to the final against the Warriors. A team that was full of injured players. He dragged his team as far as he could and then ran out of gas against a very very good Warriors team. Even though they lost he was amazing!

Robin Brownlee:

The Oilers coming back from a 3-1 deficit in games against Colorado to win the series in seven games in 1998 ranks up there for me.

Jonathan Willis:

That’s tough, because how do you narrow it down to just one? I’ve seen some crazy goaltending performances – from Patrick Roy to Dominik Hasek to Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Jonathan Quick. The 2009 Penguins run was something else, for both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Chris Pronger in 2006 was incredible. The two that really came to mind were the unlikeliest ones, though: Fernando Pisani in 2006 and Michael Leighton in 2010. Both players came out of nowhere to play critical roles in their team’s surprise runs.

Chris the Intern:

Zack Kassian, April 14th, 2017. Jokes aside, he played amazing. I really enjoyed watching Dwayne Roloson shut the door in the conference finals in 2006.

Baggedmilk:

Pisani’s OT winner in Game 5 of the 2006 Cup run will always stick out to me. I was at a bar and my cousin threw a full pitcher of the beer in the air and no one even cared that they got covered in it.

That said, my favourite playoff goal of all-time is Steve Yzerman’s OT winner against St. Louis. Pretty sure Jon Casey still hasn’t seen it go in.

Cam Lewis: 

Easily Jean-Sebastien Giguere in 2003. That was madness.


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  • paul wodehouse

    …LT>>> EXCELLENT advise for “long playoff runs” for Krystal…is the Commadore@4th ish on Jasper still serving best greasy breakie in the downtown core? Can’t forget Lummers empty netter to seal the deal on the boys first Cup!!!

  • Clyde Frog

    I know it’s flames related, but two things.

    One: how many chairs has Chiarelli smashed in his Oilers tenure?

    Two: I really wish a sports channel would have the unfiltered talk that was captured after the flames last game.

    http://www.q107fm.ca/2017/04/16/listen-flames-broadcasters-forget-their-mics-are-on-rip-in-to-the-flames-nsfw/

    Okay okay a third point: Listening to them ask why they are doing this when the only coverage will be Toronto was hilarious!

    • geoilersgist

      hahahahaha that is hilarious that they forgot their mics were on. I will never not enjoy when that type of thing happens. People love to complain that broadcasters are homers… it seems they are more likely just doing their jobs.

  • Spydyr

    I’m not sure which big brain designed the new barn without enough bathrooms and who approved it. They should take into account every minute spent in line to take a leak is one less minute spent in line to buy an $11 beer or some horrendously overpriced food. Fix the bathroom issue you will make more money in the long run and have a happier fan because you have offered a better experience.

    • ricardo2000

      Really, every major public venue should carefully consider patron comfort and safety. Women are always lining up outside washrooms, while men lack the availability of spots to take a quick tinkle. Smaller pissoirs would be a step, but really, only public servicing and development standards changes would solve this problem.

    • That's My Point

      I totally agree with Spydyr. Went to my first game at Rogers for game 2 and went directly to the bathroom line as as the period was over and missed 8 minutes of the next period. WTF? How is this building already in need of renovations to add more bathrooms. Some in the line are suggesting adding porta-potties in the concourse. I thought the guy behind me was going to just pee on the floor while in the line up to get into the washroom. They would make more money if you could pee and buy a drink in the same intermission. Next intermission went directly to the looong line up for drinks and barely made the puck drop for the next period. Something is not right. This needs fixing before next season for sure.

  • Serious Gord

    1. The speed of the game in the game goes to 11 in the playoffs. It takes a bit of time to adapt. Some can’t.

    2. Willis is bang-on. OEG is doing long term damage to the reputation of Rogers centre. And it already has several issues with how it treats the lower fare paying customers. The lack of an outside free gathering space was deliberate – they want the dough. It’s similar to how the Argos destroyed their fanbase by blackIng out games – you lose the younger feeder fanbase.

    3. Drink whiskey (preferably bourbon) neat. It’s hard to drink fast but the taste gets better and better. Accompany that with water throughout the evening. Take two Tylenol (some prefer Advil) before bedding down.

    The added benefit is that though you may be intoxicated you will largely have your wits about you which can be very handy when others around you do not.

    4. I wish they called the game the way the NFL does – to the letter regardless is whether it’s exhibition or the super bowl. Scoring would be much higher as would fighting.

    5. Gretz singlehandedly beating the leafs in game six. Greatest game played by the second-greatest player.

  • tileguy

    J.G. Wrote, “Make no mistake the league decides how much they want called.”
    Lets go down that path (for fun), anything else the league decides when it comes to instructing the refs?

  • CMG30

    Na, reffing is biased against teams like Edmonton. Sure, every team gets a lame call now and then but it’s really what goes on game in and game out that makes the difference. It’s become so blatant in the past few years that a different blogger did a detailed analysis, re-watching games to put the job the refs did into a somewhat scientific context and discovered what fans at rexall new to be true: Edmonton gets more penalties for softer infractions while opposing teams got away with the same infractions more of the time. http://www.theoilersrig.com/2017/01/oilers-referees-2016-2017/

  • Dr. Merkwurdigliebe

    Favourite playoff performances: Bill Ranford in the 1990 Finals vs Boston. The ice was tilted all series long, and Billy stoned the Bruins. Curtis Joseph vs the Dallas Stars in 1997.

  • Here is Struddys comment regarding the playoffs.

    “The speed of the playoffs is a big change. Everything happens so fast and every play is critical. There is an adjustment period.”

    The refs get exposed for this very reason, they are not above the new paradigm, they get found wanting. Personally I pay to watch the PLAYERS decide the outcome, so when some me show like Tim Peel decides he is going to keep a lid on it and curate the content, I have a problem with that. He curates because “he” feels “he” is losing control and evidently I’m supposed to accept that “he” is worthy of that right. I struggle with that acceptance, a lot, i mentioned it to him, as did a few thousand of the tribe. Sorry to hear you can’t stand it Struddy. We will try and change…… never. :))

  • Neumann

    The strangest thing about the refs is that 97 hasn’t drawn a single penalty yet. With some of the soft calls we’ve seen so fsr through 3 games it is surprising to see the regular season leader in penalties drawn not earn one.

  • ricardo2000

    I agree that the refs are inconsistent, but this is part of the beauty of sports. There is no such thing as a perfect game. As an example, bridge players know there is a difference between the best possible game, and the best game possible. In bridge, if any team scores more than 65% of the maximum number of points, everyone in the room knows, for a fact, that they cheated. There are THREE teams on the ice. If we subsitute robots for refs, eventually there will be robots playing the game, and robots watching the game. Finally, as the playoffs progress, the NHL will select the best zebras to advance, based on the quality of the game, and the officiating.

  • Oilerz4life

    It’s the playoffs, let them play. I understand the odd call, but half the game on the penalty parade is just stupid. The reffing is super lame, and thats wording it so the comment will go through in this bogus new format.

  • Stick boy

    I think the league should loosen up on the grabbing and clutching infractions. If you watch a game from the 80’s you could pretty much wrestle a guy to the ice if he got close enough for you to grab him in turn you saw less slashing and stick infractions that caused injury. Plus it makes players stay away from defenders because they know they can grab them and there will be no call. Example: watch old Bobby Orr highlights he could skate end to end and a defender never gets within 3 feet of him. So it can be done. Like I said I believe it will lead to less stick infraction injuries. Why slash a guys finger off if you can just grab on to him.(Crosby)

  • McDynasty97

    My most memorable moment was that Pisani OT shorty. I was watching it with my mother-in-law who is quite short and round. When he scored I flipped out! I lifted her up and hugged her so tight that she peed herself! If I could pinpoint a single moment as an oiler fan that got me through the decade of darkness it would be that moment!
    Go OILERS Go!!

  • Just Red

    I do not comment on here much but it is getting hard to read one writers responses to this weekly article that I believe is suppose to be for fun. If you don’t want to take it for what it is just don’t answer the questions. It’s not hard to see why a career change became nessasary for you.