Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Robet Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
You have to look far and wide to find a more damning loss than the one they pitched last night.
By the time the game was 30 minutes old you couldn’t tell which team was second last in the West and which team was fighting for its playoff life. The Desert Dogs looked like the playoff team and the Oilers looked like something a dog leaves behind on the neighbour’s lawn.
They’ve got eight games left and can’t afford to lose many more.
“We’re running out of defeats, that’s the problem,” said head coach Craig MacTavish, whose club lost for the third game in a row to fall into ninth place. “You don’t want to spend one here today.”
But they did.
from the CP via the Globe and Mail,
The Edmonton Oilers had the Detroit Red Wings on the ropes for two and a half periods, but their failure to deliver a knockout punch left them in a precarious position in the tight Western Conference playoff race….
“Those are the games that drive you to drink,” said Oilers forward Dustin Penner. “It doesn’t feel good. I’d say that feels worse than losing 10-2. Especially at this point of the season with the way we have been playing and who we were playing tonight. That one stings.”
Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish admitted it was tough to take the loss when he felt his team had done so much right in the contest.
“A game like that leaves everybody with a heavy heart,” he said. “It’s an incredible sense of disappointment. But at the same time we played pretty well and in a lot of ways outstanding. The way we checked and killed penalties. It’s disappointing but we’ll take some solace in that.
“It’s going to be quite the nine-game stretch here down to the end.”
from Dan Barnes of the Edmonton Journal,
Ales Hemsky is a frustrated star struggling to reconcile the good of the team with what he sees as his diminished role in it….
“I’m just trying to do exactly what they want. I’m becoming a checker,” he said with obvious displeasure after Monday’s practice. “We’re just doing what we have to do to win games. I’m not complaining. It’s important to win the games. I just don’t feel as important as I did before when they were riding me. I don’t feel they use me as much as they did before. If they don’t give me the confidence or trust me, I will never be playing the way I was before, the way they want.
“I’m just saying I don’t care about points. I know I didn’t play my best hockey. I can be better and I know they will need me. But they have got to show me they need me. Ride me. It’s 10 games. I will feel important and I will get better every game.”
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
The most excellent sources of Journal columnist Dan Barnes have told him the Oilers will make a go at Hossa this July, but we can only hope this effort is met with failure, or that it’s reconsidered. Even if Hossa wants top dollar, and even if did choose to sign in Edmonton, the Oilers would be committing salary cap suicide if they offered him $8 or $9 or $10 million a year.
Last summer, this pursuit of Hossa apparently took the focus off of the signing of Curtis Glencross, who could have been had for tens of thousands more, not hundreds of thousands, and certainly not millions. But Glencross was precisely the kind of small move the Oilers needed to make last summer. It wouldn’t have been a home-run signing, but it would have been a sharp double to right field.
There’s no quick fix in this modern NHL, no way for a bottom team to sign up that star player to a massive deal and challenge for the Cup, because the top player won’t make a salary sacrifice to play on a bottom or mid-level team. He will only do that, maybe, to play on the right Stanley Cup contender.
While on the Hossa subject, check out Eric Duhatschek’s story at the Globe and Mail on Marian and his time with Detroit.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Their March swoon allowed the surging Vancouver Canucks to leap-frog the Hawks in the race for home-ice advantage. But with a game in hand, the Hawks had their chance to reclaim fourth Friday night with the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center, a team the Hawks had defeated three previous times this season.
But when things are going bad, it doesn’t matter who comes to town as the Hawks fell 5-4 in a shootout in a back-and-forth contest before a crowd of 22,151. The loss was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive and seventh out of their last eight games, but they did manage a point to pull even with the Canucks in the West with 12 games remaining.
An Edmonton artist is auctioning a painting he did of Chris Pronger.
David Staples of The Cult of Hockey has the story.
From Jim Matheson at The Edmonton Journal, via Faceoff.com:
Dave Hunter has three Stanley Cup rings, two that he keeps in a safety deposit box and the third he keeps around the house. He could flash it for some his oilfield clients, a little show and tell, but he doesn’t.
“My fingers got too fat ... the ring doesn’t fit like it used to,” said the self-deprecating former Edmonton Oilers winger, who has no trouble discussing his Battle of the Bulge.
Hunter, 51, says he’s about 280 pounds now, somewhat north of his robust playing weight. When he quit hockey in 1989, Hunter laughingly said he would never set foot in a gym again. He has been in a gym, but not often.
continued… with a profile on life after hockey, plus some memories with the Oilers
“We don’t have as many points as we should have had after the last 10 games. If we would have had those points, we wouldn’t be talking about Columbus or St. Louis. We’d be talking about challenging Vancouver….”
-Sheldon Souray of the Edmonton Oilers. More from Souray via JoAnne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal.
via Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
“Of course, we want to go in there and beat ‘em, be a spoiler,” Smyth said. “And we’re still not mathematically out of it ourselves. So, it’s a big game for us too.”
The Avs entered Friday in 15th place overall in the Western Conference, 11 points out of the eighth — and last — playoff spot with 14 games left.
A “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcast, in front of what will be a sold-out crowd, is always a great time in a city such as Edmonton. Smyth, who experienced many such nights with the Oilers, said few things compare.
“It’s an awesome atmosphere,” he said. “It’s going to be an energized building, and it’s exciting to play in. But we want to come out with the win, and we want to make it a quieter building.”
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
It might be a helluva good idea for the Oilers to rent out some beautiful houses on the river valley, houses with great views of the city, near good schools, so that when new veteran players come to town, they can be rapidly set up in excellent quarters, nearby to their teammates.
How about the team buying up some houses in Daryl Katz’s neighborhood? Then the players and their kids can go for a dip in that his pool. That might even have kept a society lady like Lauren Pronger happy….
Over-paying any player is the new dread disease of NHL management. Why couldn’t all the Oiler contracts be so fine as Hemsky’s $4 million a year deal? I know there are reasonable answers to this question, but it’s also an issue that haunts the Oilers, a franchise that is pressed right up against the top end of the cap, but isn’t pressed right up against the top end of the standings.
Some NHL hockey bosses, such as Ken Holland, spend dozens and dozens of hours with their top prospects, impressing on them the lessons they will need to learn if they are going to make it as good people and good players. If an NHL exec isn’t doing this, if it’s not out there constantly teaching and mentoring these young draft picks, that NHL team is squandering its talent base.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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