GDB VI: This time *we* have Bulin...

Jason Gregor
October 14 2009 09:26AM

Last year the Oilers rolled into the Windy City feeling pretty good about themselves toting a perfect 4-0 record. Dwayne Roloson got his first start of the season that night, which was also a Wednesday, but Nikolai Khabibulin was the star earning a 3-0 win.

Fast forward to tonight.

The Oilers are back in Chicago, sporting a nice 3-1-1 record. And like last year, they have three wins in games where they were out shot.

But there are some distinct differences to last year.

This time Khabibulin is on their team. The Oilers have 19 goals, with eleven different forwards having at least one. Last year it took them nine games to get 20 goals, and only eight forwards scored in the first ten games.

Three players, Dustin Penner, Denis Grebeshkov (how’s that goat pick going Wanye?) and Mike Comrie are averaging a point a game. In fact, the only skaters who don’t have a point yet are Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios.

The Oilers are getting balanced scoring from all four lines.

  • Hemsky, Horcoff and Jacques have combined for three goals and eight points.
  • Gagner, O’Sullivan and Stone have three goals and eight points.
  • Brule, Penner and Comrie have six goals and 14 points.
  • Moreau, Cogliano and Stortini have tallied four goals and seven points.
  • Hell, even the blueliners are chipping in.

In 2007/08 Grebeshkov had a measly 34 shots in 71 games. Last year he fired 62 shots in 72 games, but he already has nine shots in five games this season.

Two years ago Ladislav Smid had four assists in 65, while last year he registered eleven apples in 60 games, but this year he is on fire with three assists in five games. The problem for Smid is he doesn’t have a shot on goal yet, and his goalless streak is at 130 games.

His last goal came in the final game of the 2006/07, season when he scored in Calgary. Smid hasn’t scored since Gagner was drafted.

Even Jason Strudwick is on a scoring binge, having two points in three games, although maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised considering he set a career high with nine points last season.

But the two biggest differences I’ve seen so far is their willingness to play physical, and that they’ve been ready from the drop of the puck.

The Oilers haven’t been dominated early in game so far. They’ve outscored their opponents 9-3 in the first period so far. Getting behind early, or getting dominated territorially were chronic problems last year, and so far they’ve managed to avoid that.

Their inability to close out games has been an issue, and one they will need to rectify, but it they can continually get out to good starts, then they’ll have the chance to work on protecting the lead or at least finishing strong.

In their first five games last year the Oilers had 87 hits, and so far this year they have 107. Jacques (21), Stone (17) and Brule (14) and Stortini (10) have combined for 62, and it isn’t surprising to see all of them on a different line. The first three weren’t here last year, and you can’t underestimate their value in making this Oiler team more physical.

Last season the Oilers could go half a period without a hit, or any energy that could possibly reverse the momentum in their favour. This year, that hasn’t been the case, and if they keep playing physical it shouldn’t change. None of the other forwards are hitting more than before, it’s just that the three new forwards are hitting and are making an impact every game.

Game notes

  • It’s true that Moreau plays well v. Chicago with 10 goals and 18 points in 28 career games, but they are his second favourite team to play. In 44 career games against Phoenix he has 17 goals.
  • Penner loves playing the Hawks more. He has eight goals in 14 games, the most goals against any NHL team.
  • O’Sullivan has lit the lamp six times in 12 career games against the Blackhawks. The only team O’Sullivan feasted on more was the Oilers, with six goals and nine points in nine career games.
  • Khabibulin also thrives against the Hawks, with a record of 12-6-1, a 2.16 GAA, .929 S% and three shutouts. The only team he has shut out more is the Kings.
  • The Hawks have 18 goals through five games with Patrick Sharp 4-3-7, Patrick Kane 3-4-7, Kris Versteeg 1-5-6 and Brent Seabrook 1-4-5 leading the way.
  • Jonathon Toews only has one assist thus far, while free agent signing Tomas Kopecky has zero points and is -4 with the Hawks.
  • Like the Oilers the Hawks have four guys with double digits in hits: Seabrook (16), Troy Brouwer (15), Dustin Byfuglien (15) and John Madden with 12.
  • The Hawks are great in the draw. Toews is 60%, Dave Bolland 56.4%, John Madden 55.4% and Colin Fraser 53.3%.
  • Horcoff is 56.9% in the draws, while Brule is 46.5%, Cogliano 43.8% and Gagner 39.5%. 
  • As a team the Oilers are 50.6% overall, which puts them 12th in the NHL. The Hawks are 3rd best in the dot winning 56.4% of their faceoffs. The Oilers will need to bear down tonight.
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Morghasm
October 14 2009, 02:10PM
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@Harlie

Another good option for low rates, no brick&mortar is ING direct - I've had my mortgage with them for the past few years, solid service, good flexibility, and they had by far the best rate back when I was shopping around.

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#52 Morghasm
October 14 2009, 02:16PM
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@Ender

I agree, it kills me to see Cogs dragging those two lumberers around the ice. I'd much rather see him lined up with a banger who has speed (to open up the space), and another fast guy with good hands (for all the amazing play-making).

Cogs + MC + PDP would be solid. or with Stone + Sully. Or some combination thereof. Come to think of it, pretty much anyone other than Moreau.

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#54 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 14 2009, 02:26PM
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Morghasm wrote:

I agree, it kills me to see Cogs dragging those two lumberers around the ice. I'd much rather see him lined up with a banger who has speed (to open up the space), and another fast guy with good hands (for all the amazing play-making).

Cogs + MC + PDP would be solid. or with Stone + Sully. Or some combination thereof. Come to think of it, pretty much anyone other than Moreau.

You know I hate seeing Cogliano where he is, but at the sametime we are winning and playing well. How do you start mixing lines now? I could see if we go on a drought, but right now every line seems to be producing.

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#55 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 14 2009, 02:31PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

So you think that adding a faceoff guy/PK guy would have been better than adding Comrie at $1.25 million?

You are either hanging with Wanye and are 15 BLs deep, or completely off your rocker.

A proven 60 point guy, who has great offensive instincts at a bargain price, is not the guy I would be getting rid of for Vern Fiddler, Reasoner or any other other so-called faceoff/pk specialist.

Remember the team is 50% in the dot this year. The coaches have put an onus on the wingers helping out more and it working. No need to think crazy and suggest they need a 4th line centre more than Comrie.

60 points? Gregor that is reaching. He was a 60 point man, but right now I think you have to call him a 40 point man. For the record I like Comrie, but was it the smart move? Right now it is and maybe it will be for the whole year, but this team didn't need to add another player like Comrie. O'Sullivan, Gagner and Cogliano will all put up similiar numbers to Comrie by seasons end, unless something drastic happens and Comrie breaks out at 30 years old.

I just don't understand the logic of adding more and more offensive guys and less defesnive guys. If people are fine with the current lineup then no complaining when we are allowing 40+ shots against non-playoff teams.

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#56 I'm a Scientist!
October 14 2009, 02:36PM
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Game Prediction: 4-3 Chicago...Oilers up 3-2 until there are 3 minutes left in the game. Goals by Hemsky, Stone and Penner. I predict that during the game, Patrick Kane will order a drink from a near by vendor then beat the hell out of them when they give the wrong change.

God, i hope i am wrong about the score...

*goes to the Church of Scientology and sits in the first pew to pray to the intergalactic God to do his best to make me wrong*

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#57 quicksilver ballet
October 14 2009, 02:40PM
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Skidplate wrote:

Definitely. I was thinking the same thing the other night. Only our game was more important as it was a playoff game. Man that series sucked.

I remember Dave Lumley skating by their bench late in the game their last visit here during the reg season and proclaimed "you sucks are going out 3 straight" Bernie Nichols doing the Pumpernickel celebration in game 5 here.

Terry Jones called the Oilers all a bunch of weak knee'd whimps. $18.00 for a seat in the reds back then

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#58 Tracie
October 14 2009, 02:41PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

You know I hate seeing Cogliano where he is, but at the sametime we are winning and playing well. How do you start mixing lines now? I could see if we go on a drought, but right now every line seems to be producing.

And it is also good to note that Gags had some success with chopper and Storts and Cogs had a goal and an assist with that line on Monday. I think that they open up the ice for these guys and with Cogs' speed, it makes him dangerous with all that space...just a thought.

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#59 Ender
October 14 2009, 02:50PM
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Morghasm wrote:

Cogs + MC + PDP would be solid. or with Stone + Sully.

Stone, Sully, and Cogs might be nice, but to be honest Gags has earned the second line, so this wouldn't be a promotion for Cogs so much as a demotion for Gags. And the naysayers may chirp, but we don't have a realistic alternative for Horc in the top 6 yet, so that means only one of Gags or Cogs can play there. Unless you put Cogs on the wing, which isn't completely crazy.

I still can't get used to talking about Stone like he's a regular Oiler who belongs in the top six. I mean, I get that he's doing ok, and I like the fact that Quinn has come in and picked the guys he felt were players with a fresh set of eyes. I just keep feeling like . . . who is this guy? Can I trust him? This is my team we're talking about here . . . important responsibilities and all that. I know Cogs. I don't know this Stone guy all that well yet. Does anyone else feel what I'm driving at here?

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#60 Ogden Brother
October 14 2009, 02:51PM
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Gregor/Willis/a handful of others that I debated regarding the cap:

It is looking more and more like their will be little to no drop in the salary cap next year:

hxxp://community.foxsports.com/spector/blog/2009/10/13/no_significant_decline_in_nhl_salary_cap

This was also supported recently by Bob Gainey on Gregors show.

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#61 Ogden Brother
October 14 2009, 02:53PM
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Ender wrote:

Morghasm wrote:

Cogs + MC + PDP would be solid. or with Stone + Sully.

Stone, Sully, and Cogs might be nice, but to be honest Gags has earned the second line, so this wouldn't be a promotion for Cogs so much as a demotion for Gags. And the naysayers may chirp, but we don't have a realistic alternative for Horc in the top 6 yet, so that means only one of Gags or Cogs can play there. Unless you put Cogs on the wing, which isn't completely crazy.

I still can't get used to talking about Stone like he's a regular Oiler who belongs in the top six. I mean, I get that he's doing ok, and I like the fact that Quinn has come in and picked the guys he felt were players with a fresh set of eyes. I just keep feeling like . . . who is this guy? Can I trust him? This is my team we're talking about here . . . important responsibilities and all that. I know Cogs. I don't know this Stone guy all that well yet. Does anyone else feel what I'm driving at here?

My thoughts exactly regarding Stone...though I must admit he's been a plesant suprise. I just dont' see him as a long term solution.

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#62 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 14 2009, 02:57PM
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Anybody notice that the pay-per-view games are against the bottom-feeders of the league? Aren't these supposed to be games that I'm willing to pay to watch?

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#63 I'm a Scientist!
October 14 2009, 02:59PM
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Would you rather pay to watch a win or a loss?

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#64 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 14 2009, 03:01PM
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@I'm a Scientist!

I'm from Winnipeg. It's easier to have friends over and split the cost of the game if Edmonton's playing a team that people actually cheer for, haha!

I'd pay to watch Edmonton/Calgary, even if it ends in a loss.

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#65 Morghasm
October 14 2009, 03:18PM
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@ Ogden Brother @ Ender the Dragon

re: Stone - I feel like he has done well to date in the specific role that I envisioned for him. The way I see it his job is to crash and bang, win battles, be in the right place at the right time. So far so good. I don't think he's top 6, but he is a solid 3rd line choice.

So to move Cogs away from Moreau (without stealing Gagner's earned spot on line 2), I would love to see:

PDP-Horc-Hemsky JFJ-Gags-Sully Comrie-Cogs-Stone Moreau-Brule-Storts

Gives Cogs way better talent to work with, keeps Gags up with Sully (and JFJ who is apparently good enough for the 1st line, although I don't see it)...

And I might swap Cogs to wing and Comrie back to centre - i LOVE Cogs on the wing with all the room to fly up and down the ice.

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#66 Morghasm
October 14 2009, 03:19PM
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dammit, still haven't mastered the line breaks in this new commenting system.

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#67 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 14 2009, 03:30PM
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PDP's been playing well this year, and I don't have an issue with the lines as you've listed them. The only problem I see is that Quinn wants physicality on every long, which PDP certainly would not bring alongside Horcoff and Hemsky.

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#68 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 14 2009, 03:31PM
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Edit button:

Long = line

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#69 Jimmy Carson #12
October 14 2009, 03:41PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

40 shots dont matter if they are low percentage shots from outside the scoring zone.

In my opinion the high shot total against is fine. In fact it can show that the defense is playing well. Often a shot from a bad spot by the oposition is the result of them having no other play. No room to skate no pass to make so they dump it to the net.

I'll take that from the oil. Remember that if the goalies are controling the rebouds well then many of those shots are turnovers. The oil get it back. with the puck moving ability of the oilers' D-men thats a good thing.

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#70 Ender
October 14 2009, 03:42PM
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Morghasm wrote:

@ Ogden Brother @ Ender the Dragon

re: Stone - I feel like he has done well to date in the specific role that I envisioned for him. The way I see it his job is to crash and bang, win battles, be in the right place at the right time. So far so good. I don't think he's top 6, but he is a solid 3rd line choice.

So to move Cogs away from Moreau (without stealing Gagner's earned spot on line 2), I would love to see:

PDP-Horc-Hemsky JFJ-Gags-Sully Comrie-Cogs-Stone Moreau-Brule-Storts

Gives Cogs way better talent to work with, keeps Gags up with Sully (and JFJ who is apparently good enough for the 1st line, although I don't see it)...

And I might swap Cogs to wing and Comrie back to centre - i LOVE Cogs on the wing with all the room to fly up and down the ice.

Agreed on all points. (Even the Penner thing; he's my goat this year, but as long as he's putting up a point per game I can't argue your logic at all with any kind of credibility.) You are very smart.

:-)

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#71 Jon
October 14 2009, 03:55PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

60 points? Gregor that is reaching. He was a 60 point man, but right now I think you have to call him a 40 point man. For the record I like Comrie, but was it the smart move? Right now it is and maybe it will be for the whole year, but this team didn't need to add another player like Comrie. O'Sullivan, Gagner and Cogliano will all put up similiar numbers to Comrie by seasons end, unless something drastic happens and Comrie breaks out at 30 years old.

I just don't understand the logic of adding more and more offensive guys and less defesnive guys. If people are fine with the current lineup then no complaining when we are allowing 40+ shots against non-playoff teams.

If Comrie played a full season he would have scored 60, 61, 40, 62, 57, 52, 35 points each year of his career.

I don't know how you can look at that and say that he's not a ~60 point scorer. Especially when you consider that he is still in his prime, and that the 52 and 35 seasons were on the worst team in the league.

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#72 The Towel Boy
October 14 2009, 03:56PM
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I predict an 8-2 Oilers win in a thrilling overtime victory. Yes, they'll score 6 goals in OT. GOOIILLLLLERS!!!!1!!

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#73 Jonathan Willis
October 14 2009, 04:01PM
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@Jon

Excpt of course that Comrie's numbers on the worst team in the league were way better than when he got traded to Ottawa, because Ottawa had other options to hand ice-time to.

A guy who was on pace for 60 points three times in seven seasons is not a 60-point guy. He might be, but by your averages he's a 50-point guy.

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#74 Jonathan Willis
October 14 2009, 04:02PM
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@Ogden Brother

Interesting. It's coming from Bettman, so I don't exactly buy it yet, but it certainly adds some wieght to your side of the argument.

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#75 Skidplate
October 14 2009, 04:04PM
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@quicksilver ballet

Yes, the team was a little too full of themselves at times back then. I remember a story on CHED about how some players were at a bar arguing with someone and stating that they "owed this town". Young and rich brings different problems than most of us have to deal with.

Sure would be nice to get seats at that price now.

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#76 I'm a Scientist!
October 14 2009, 04:16PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

I predict an 8-2 Oilers win in a thrilling overtime victory. Yes, they'll score 6 goals in OT. GOOIILLLLLERS!!!!1!!

Sigh, you are probably right. I don't know what i was thinking! I am pretty excited to watch that OT though, should be a close, edge of your seat sort of thing...

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#77 Ender
October 14 2009, 04:34PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

I predict an 8-2 Oilers win in a thrilling overtime victory. Yes, they'll score 6 goals in OT. GOOIILLLLLERS!!!!1!!

Six goals in OT means five of them get called back. I don't know if my 'ol ticker can take that. I mean, I'm all about the drama, but . . . sheesh!

4-3 Oil. Yes, in OT. Stupid extra point better not come back to haunt us in April.

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#78 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 14 2009, 04:35PM
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Ender wrote:

Six goals in OT means five of them get called back. I don't know if my 'ol ticker can take that. I mean, I'm all about the drama, but . . . sheesh!

4-3 Oil. Yes, in OT. Stupid extra point better not come back to haunt us in April.

Or early whistles, haha! Did you catch the CGY/CBJ games last night?

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#79 Jon
October 14 2009, 04:39PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Excpt of course that Comrie's numbers on the worst team in the league were way better than when he got traded to Ottawa, because Ottawa had other options to hand ice-time to.

A guy who was on pace for 60 points three times in seven seasons is not a 60-point guy. He might be, but by your averages he's a 50-point guy.

There's no real excuse for having a year like that, playing top minutes on a bad team should still allow you to get a decent amount of points. The guy just had a bad year for whatever reason.

The point is he's hit the 60 point mark multiple times, and has been close to hitting it a few more times. Many more times than he's been far out of reach of 60. I wasn't arguing what his career average is, just that at the age of 29 he is very capable of hitting 60 points this year....and judging by his play thus far, probably will be a 60 point guy for us.

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#80 Ogden Brother
October 14 2009, 04:40PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Interesting. It's coming from Bettman, so I don't exactly buy it yet, but it certainly adds some wieght to your side of the argument.

True enough, I'd like know if Gainey had his own info or if he was simply regurgitating what he got from the league.

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#82 David S
October 14 2009, 05:20PM
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Well boys, I think this will be a tough game. I'll say 5-3 Chicago, the 5th being an empty-netter. We're getting better, but I think not in Chicago's league yet.

Having said that, Gregor on his show today thinks the Oil have a chance. Who knows. He might well be right.

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#83 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 05:56PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Unrealted topic, but what is the talk of Gilbert for Stafford? We would have to swap a prospect for Tallinder in the deal as well? Is there any legs to this?

Ha, I just posted a similar take in Brownlee's last article...

With talk from Matty of Tom Gilbert to Buffalo for Drew Stafford in at least 2 recent articles, do you think there's any smoke there? He's mentioned the $ difference being an issue, but is it possible that there's something there for a package? Perhaps Gilbert & Cogliano to Buf for Stafford & ?? (Toni Lydman might work $ wise but I'm not a fan; Jochen Hecht - meh; Rivet, hmmm decent replacement for Staios' role). Would you move Cogliano & Gilbert to Buffalo to get Stafford + (and what would the + have to be if you were GM for a day)?

Paul Gaustad would actually be a stellar pickup.

Gilbert & Cogliano for Stafford & ??

Thoughts?

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#84 jybute
October 14 2009, 05:57PM
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Website has a great new look. Blah blah blah blah....... Like every moderated forum out there on the interweb. Replies/posts page should start at the first thing posted.

I shouldn't have to go to the previous page the first time I'm looking at a webpage if I want to see the first posts that were made. I open up JG's wonderfully insightful words, go to the bottom of the page where the replies are. What do I see first? The 51st post that's what. Something about a good mortgage rate somewhere???? I don't know what the hell is going on.

Anyway..... Go Oil.

Chris Pronger rules!!!!

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#85 David S
October 14 2009, 06:06PM
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I guess some guys are more used to sites like HF boards, where most of the posters aren't old enough or don't make enough dough to qualify for mortgages.

~And yeah, hitting "Previous" or "1" TOTALLY screws up the experience.~

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#86 David S
October 14 2009, 06:06PM
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I guess some guys are more used to sites like HF boards, where most of the posters aren't old enough or don't make enough dough to qualify for mortgages.

~And yeah, hitting "Previous" or "1" TOTALLY screws up the experience.~

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#87 David S
October 14 2009, 06:07PM
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Bingofuel/Mods- Can you delete post # 86. Not sure how that happened.

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#88 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 06:11PM
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@David S

Don't forget comment # 87

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#89 Mike Krushelnyski
October 14 2009, 06:11PM
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Haha Penner in the pre-game interview: "The coaching change has helped a lot of guys."

Too bad they didn't cut back to MacT after that

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#90 David S
October 14 2009, 06:12PM
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^ Correct sir!

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#91 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 06:14PM
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@David S

Comments 88, 90 & 91 can go too. K, enufF already.

Penner interview was funny. Did he look MacT in the eye right thru the camera?

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#92 freeze
October 14 2009, 06:42PM
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wow, good start.

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#93 jeanshorts
October 14 2009, 06:42PM
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Well, so much for the shutout......

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#94 Lofty
October 14 2009, 06:43PM
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Hemsky you forgot something when you left the zone!!!

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#95 17
October 14 2009, 06:44PM
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you could almost feel that goal coming when they didn't get it out.

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#96 17
October 14 2009, 06:46PM
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Way to go Cogliano!

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#97 freeze
October 14 2009, 06:46PM
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nice comeback! :D

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#98 jeanshorts
October 14 2009, 06:46PM
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I LOVE THIS KID! Sign him to a 50948 year extension!

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#99 Oilitsinyoutogive
October 14 2009, 06:47PM
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i dont really care who is in net. It could be a 10yo kid. All i want is no more goals in the first Minute, no more goals in the last minute and no more goals lofted from the blue line, is that really to much to ask?? I know its early but all last year it sucked being down 1-0 after 20secs, and i see its happened a few times this year.

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