Editor's note: after yet another dispiriting Oilers loss, Benjamin Massey, formerly of the Copper & Blue, stormed out of stately Massey Manor throwing sheafs of paper into the air and declaring that he will not once again dignify this glorified ECHL team with his genius.
As a result, the Copper & Blue has been forced to scrounge around the hockey world for somebody to write this post-game post. For this reason, we are forced to bid a fond Copper & Blue welcome to "the voices inside Steve Tambellini's head".
Another fantastic game from my boys, the Edmonton Oilers! I know what you're thinking, "are you cracked, you old coot, we lost 4-2 and were outshot a million to one," but hear me out! Hear me out!
You see, there are more important things in hockey than outshooting or even outscoring. This is a radical concept I know, but my entire construction of the team bears tribute to this. You stand agape of Jean-Francois Jacques and his continued employment on an NHL roster. You recoil in horror as he stands around aimlessly somewhere near Joe Thornton as one of the best players in the league is unmolested and allowed to bang in the most trivial of scoring opportunities.
But look at how Jacques plays. He's strong. He's fast. Then look at how Joe Thornton plays. See any similarities there? We employ a player who is functionally identical to Joe Thornton at a fraction of the price! I can only assume that the differences in results are due to bad puck luck. After all, we are committed to winning now, which is why Shawn Horcoff continues to play twenty minutes a night while his arm is dangling from his torso by a piece of tendon no thicker than a strand of spaghetti and why Nikolai Khabibulin is being paid so handsomely to roll around on the couch eating Doritos.
Trust me, my faithful, this team is more radiant than you can imagine!I hear your scepticism, my friends, and truly it wounds me to the core. "Steve," you say (or rather you would if I would permit petty blogfolk access to my magnificence), "why, why, why did you give $15 million to an elderly goaltender with a history of injuries and then saddle us with Jeff Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk as his backups? Why?"
Well, perhaps you'd understand when Khabibulin punched you in the face wearing his Stanley Cup ring! You cannot place a price on guys who've won before. That's why Steve Staios still has a job, because he's a winner! How were we to know that our oft-injured goaltender would become injured? We figured that Deslauriers might have to play five minutes or so because Khabibulin got so bored from the shots he wasn't facing he went into the stands to buy a hot dog, but that's it! And we'd have made him get us one of those salty pretzels!
Yes, Devan was... he struggled a bit. He made some nice saves and he has good lateral movement, but clearly he's not ready to face the shooting gallery of the San Jose Sharks. Perhaps other managers would have shielded the promising, young goaltender from this confidence-shredding display behind an ailing and unready team. But what fools! How can you learn how to swim if you are not thrown right into the deep end? When I was a child my mother threw me off a diving board! I spent ten minutes without oxygen but it never did me any harm!
And Dustin Penner. What an ineffective game from him. Now you see why I tried to trade him for Dany Heatley who, lest we forget, looked excellent tonight. Heatley was playing with some of the best players in the NHL whereas Penner was playing with guys who wouldn't be the best players in the AHL, which only proves my point further! A real star elevates the game of the dregs he was playing with! As your "Derek Zona" has so aptly shown, Penner can't even succeed with the great Jean-Francois Jacques at his side.
Finally, even with the team missing a forward because of my refusal to call somebody up and my insistence that Ryan Stone or Fernando Pisani would be able to play, Zack Stortini and Jason Strudwick were pretty much invisible. How brilliant. That's what you want from your big men.
No, my pilgrims, speak not of a "fall for Hall". We are not flaggin' for Seguin. From where I stand, high atop the huge pyramid I have built in my office, I see the playoffs on the horizon, the Stanley Cup beckoning. I would change nothing, nothing, about this team. Except maybe I wouldn't have Penner, Cogliano, and Smid on it.
Also, that Hemsky kid. He's a little... big and tough for a scoring forward, isn't he? Must trade him for Tyler Bozak. Prendergast, make a note!
The Copper & Blue "Don't Worry, Readers, Ben Came Back and Beat Up Tambellini with a Duffel Bag Full of Doorknobs" Reverse Three Stars:
18th Star: F Dustin Penner. Ugh. Poor fat Penner. Probably only the second-best Penner in the system on this night. We talked about this a bit in the game-day thread: on the power play, Penner's still banging and crashing in front and trying to be a screening, tipping machine. But it's not working. Most of Sheldon Souray's CANNONATING DRIVES don't get as far as Penner since the opponents see them coming and they're blocked right off the stick, and we have no other play. So Penner stands, and stands, and tussles a bit, and then goes to the bench. His even strength play is better, but not enough, considering what we need from him.
He's got all the skill in the world, he keeps trying, and this year it's obvious that his conditioning isn't letting him down. Unfortunately he needs to change his approach before it's too late. He is, bluntly, playing on rotating lines with the injured, idiots, and Sam Gagner from night to night. He's not going to be able to get away with the stuff that Horpensky could. At some point he has to pull a Keith Tkachuk and start dragging his crappy linemates along for the ride.
19th Star: D Steve Staios. Skate, skate, skate, get puck, juggle puck, turn puck over, skate, skate, skate, faceoff at centre ice.
20th Star: F Jean-Francois Jacques. Even worse than that.
He's just not an NHL player, guys. I'm beginning to run out of ways to say it. He never belonged in the NHL, not for a second. The sort of mistakes he makes would have us shaking our head at a freshly drafted rookie, but Jacques is in his mid-twenties. He has played hundreds of professional games. He's spent more time playing and practicing in the NHL than your average freshly drafted boy. Injuries are only so much of an excuse: clearly, his physical tools are all there. He's as big and strong and fast as advertised.
He just has no damned clue. Maybe being big and strong and fast was enough for him in the QMJHL and he just never got out of his bad habits because he never had to, and now he's in the NHL and it's clearly too late. This guy should just start studying for his Czech citizenship already because he's gonna need it.
27 points: Jason Strudwick
22 points: Steve Staios
20 points: Ethan Moreau
14 points: Jeff Deslauriers
12 points: Jean-Francois Jacques
11 points: Mike Comrie, Nikolai Khabibulin
9 points: Sam Gagner, Tom Gilbert
8 points: Denis Grebeshkov, Sheldon Souray, Patrick O'Sullivan
4 points: Ales Hemsky, Theo Peckham
3 points: Devan Dubnyk, Shawn Horcoff, Patrick O'Sullivan, Ryan Stone
2 points: Andrew Cogliano
1 point: Dustin Penner, Ryan Potulny