Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sitting on a mountain of regret

“It’s just the mental mistakes and the stubbornness, I don’t get it.”—
Coach Craig MacTavish, on recurring mistakes that have haunted the team all season.
It's never a good sign when the guy whose exact job it is to make his team "get" why they keep losing doesn't himself seem to get, you know, why his team keeps losing. I mean, sure, I understand that part of the reason you go into interviews and throw up your hands with statements like these is to shame your club into getting its shit together. But I don't know — this season, it feels like there's been more behind Craig MacTavish's post-game chidings than a predilection for tough love and motivational posturing; there's an undeniable tinge of bewilderment, a palpable sense of exasperation. These are the musings of a man who just doesn't get why his club doesn't win. As a fan who, already has trouble working up the enthusiasm to hunch in front of his computer and squint at a choppy video stream of the Oilers getting their asses handed to them by a theoretically inferior Maple Leafs club, this is a concern for me.

Had some time on my hands on this cold and dreary afternoon in Toronto, so I went and took a look at the kind of stuff MacT is saying after each Oilers loss. (I'm missing a game or two here where I couldn't readily find a post-game MacT quote. Feel free to fill in the blanks.) No doubt about it, the Silver Fox is an thoughtful, eloquent man, probably the best coach interview in the game, and there are some fine observances made. But man, you know that point when you're just kind of getting sick of your job and all the things that the little adversities that you used to work really hard at overcoming start to seem like frustratingly insurmountable annoyances? You think you're fooling everyone into thinking that you still care, but that underlying negativity permeates everything you say about your work?

I can't help but think this is the point that MacT has reached.

Oct. 23: 3-0 loss to Chicago
“In the first period we weren’t ready to play at the start again,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We’ve gotten away with it in at least two of the first four games. We knew it wasn’t going to be long before it bit us in the rear end and it took a good chunk out of us.”

“Rolie was our best player,” MacTavish said. “It’s unfortunate it had to be on a night like this when our team didn’t play very well.”
Oct. 26: 6-3 loss to Vancouver
Our penalty killing was bad. It was brutal,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “When they’re 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on their special teams, you can’t overcome that. You’ve got to be able to kill the penalties.”
Oct. 28: 1-0 OT loss to Boston
I was expecting a lot more and I’ve seen enough not to expect it now,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “Roli kept us in it and we were going to put some window dressing on it if we were able to win the game in overtime or a shootout. But it would have just masked what has been plaguing us for the last number of games, almost since the inception of the season.

We haven’t, as a team, been able to dominate anybody. It’s time for us to realize that,” he said. “It was hidden in the record but that is over.”
Oct. 31: 3-1 loss to Nashville
“[Nashville goaltender Pekka] Rinne played well, but I have seen it enough to know that we have to be more productive,” MacTavish said. “A constant for us has been missed shots. We are not producing offensively. It’s that simple.”
Nov. 5: 5-4 L to Columbus
“It’s a painful, painful lesson,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “There’s a right way to play this game and a wrong way to play it and we got on the wrong side of it early and it looked like we were going to get away with it. But we didn’t.”

“The thing that I said at the end of the second period was, ‘Let’s just go out there and have a good third period and not be sitting on a bunch of regret,”’ he said. “And we’re sitting on a mountain of regret right now.”
Nov. 14: 5-2 L to Toronto
“I give credit because they are a hard-working group that is structured and we lack that structure in our game right now,” MacTavish said. “And that’s why we got pounded.”
The Oilers line up against the Avalanche for second time this season tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Will this be one of those games where the MacT's Oilers "get it"? Or will we be left once again sitting on a mountain of regret?


Black Dog said...

yeah, something is wrong with this team, despite a good run in that first fifteen games. Too many points left on the table, too many poor performances and simple mistakes repeated.

I am glad for the benchings today and hope that it sparks those sent to the pressbox and also those who it might have been (a fair size list of underperformers).

There was discussion a couple of weeks ago (the Pens' game) that MacT may be losing this team. It subsided after the two wins at the end of the trip but to me its still a nagging possibility.

My verification - 'raptura' - broght on by Asia, certainly not the weather here in T.O.

amw said...

i've always been a strong MacT supporter -- i think he was brilliant in '06 and has done well in other years when he didn't have any real talent on his team.

but this year is different because he actually HAS talent. he knows that the excuses for underachieving are gone -- the fans won't accept anything less than a playoff round or 3 this season. and the new owner isn't going to sit back and watch the team squander a chance to be respectable no matter how much Lowe loves his coach...

so, what to do? start benching guys. Penner has, what, one goal in his last 11? maybe it's time for him to sit for a game. Gebeshkov insists on giving up possession at the worst time? take a seat for a shift or a period. PK not doing the job? well, hard to sit out your best penalty killers, but perhaps the player that took that unnecessary hook in the offensive zone could take an early shower...

MacT has got to show us he can manage this team before they get him fired. starting tonight.

andy grabia said...

But man, you know that point when you're just kind of getting sick of your job and all the things that the little adversities that you used to work really hard at overcoming start to seem like frustratingly insurmountable annoyances? You think you're fooling everyone into thinking that you still care, but that underlying negativity permeates everything you say about your work?

I think you've perfectly captured how I've felt for the past year about blogging about the Edmonton Oilers.

Doogie2K said...

If you can subscribe to the Oilers' podcast, there's a game during the road trip -- I think it's Pittsburgh -- where he sounds absolutely furious. He's been getting inconsistent effort at best all year, and while the team got away with it early, they're 4-7-1 the last twelve, and they've been exposed.

There's been a lot of speculation, especially around LT's, that MacT's on the hot seat, and when you see all the quotes lined up like that, it really drives home that air of desperation that wasn't there in past years, that I can recall.

Verification: undecon(taminate?)

Kirsten said...

This sounds an awful lot like Lemaire last season just before he almost announced retirement and then decided to stay.

The northwest division was supposed to be a five team race. I'm not seeing that at the moment.

spOILer said...

I think you're really stretching. Especially the "I don't get it" segment.

Nathan Fairbairn said...

Hhhhhh. Fuck, this team is frustrating. Seems like they can always find a way to lose. It may not be fair, but I'm really pissed at Horcoff right now. I mean, he worked really hard all night and generally played a solid game, but, fuck, man, you've got to be able to score on an open net. That's just ridiculous.

techmonkey said...

From the Edmonton Sun:

"It looked like Reddox's goal was going to stand up as the winner until the third period cluster puck."

Granted, I don't read many hockey stories, but is saying it was a cluster puck, is this a common hockey term?

If not, +1 for the tabloid Sun!

Doogie2K said...

is this a common hockey term?

It is now.

Speaking of mountains of regret, sounds like Penner's having his shoved right up his ass by the coach.

Rock Deputy said...

If a player plays poorly it's his fault. If the whole team plays poorly—it's the coach's fault.

amw's right. This team has talent. And if MacT can't create anything with that talent then the Oilers organization should find someone who can.

word verification: elfrol
"Tha MacTaaavish can ro t'n el-frol th'bloody good e's bro'us."

Doogie2K said...

My MMO roots are showing, because when I saw elfrol, it reminded me of when I first created my Hunter. Aaaaaaanyway.

(Verification: preinis. Insert your own joke here.)

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