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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#101 17
October 14 2009, 06:55PM
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Wow, what a crazy first half of the first period.

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#102 vern
October 14 2009, 06:57PM
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That fourth line so many have been complaining about, has been the oilers best line so far.

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#103 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 06:57PM
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@Jason Gregor

Samuel?

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#104 vern
October 14 2009, 07:00PM
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Did Penner just hit someone?

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#105 freeze
October 14 2009, 07:07PM
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yikes, this is what I expected them to do to us but it doesn't make it any better to watch!

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#106 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 07:07PM
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Shots 14-4 Hawks

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#107 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 07:10PM
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Pierre is arousing me with his Brent Seabrook talk :-)

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#108 vern
October 14 2009, 07:12PM
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Dion may get jelous

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#109 Harlie
October 14 2009, 07:13PM
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Hemmer and Commie are looking suspect so far tonight. Hopefully their games turn around, we need all cylinders firing against this team.

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#110 RossCreekNation
October 14 2009, 07:18PM
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vern wrote:

Dion may get jelous

Haha. Not sure which way you meant, cuz of me or cuz of Pierre, but it works either way.

Dion is kinda like the hot bimbo gf, in that ya I kinda like her; she'll do for now kind-of-way, but guys like Seabrook & Shea Weber are 'wifey' material...

... relatively speaking, of course lol

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#111 vern
October 14 2009, 07:27PM
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I was talking about Pierre and his dion man crush. I try to ignore the fact that your a flames fan.

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#112 Jerry Curry
October 14 2009, 07:28PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Haha. Not sure which way you meant, cuz of me or cuz of Pierre, but it works either way.

Dion is kinda like the hot bimbo gf, in that ya I kinda like her; she'll do for now kind-of-way, but guys like Seabrook & Shea Weber are 'wifey' material...

... relatively speaking, of course lol

hehe. I like the analogy but bimbo and dion seem all askew. Quest for Fire Troglodyte grunt material.

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#113 Shaun Doe
October 14 2009, 07:28PM
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Yeah so Chicago looks like a team on a different level out there right now. The Oil are riding out the storm...

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#114 Salvo
October 14 2009, 07:31PM
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@Shaun Doe

The Oil look like little kids at their own blue line. Chicago has put fear into them for sure. Composure. yes, please.

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#115 Librarian Mike
October 14 2009, 07:44PM
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I missed the first period, as I'm at work. Judging by the 2nd so far, it looks like a pretty good game.

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#116 Harlie
October 14 2009, 07:45PM
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and the floodgates..

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#117 Salvo
October 14 2009, 07:48PM
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Versteeg slips through three Oilers looking behind the net.

They are doing whatever they want against the Oilers.

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#118 Alon
October 14 2009, 07:50PM
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Salvo wrote:

Versteeg slips through three Oilers looking behind the net.

They are doing whatever they want against the Oilers.

Versteeg was Strudwicks man. Lubo was doing the right thing. Gagner was there to pick up the trailer, Strudwick didnt engage

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#119 freeze
October 14 2009, 07:54PM
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Struds is soooo slow. He gets spun around so often.

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#120 Deans
October 14 2009, 07:54PM
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Pierre is bang on with his analysis. Not enough pressure on the points

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#121 freeze
October 14 2009, 07:55PM
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Aren't we supposed to get a lift from a kill like that?

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#122 Salvo
October 14 2009, 07:56PM
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They are awful right now. So sluggish. Off.

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#123 Shaun Doe
October 14 2009, 07:57PM
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@Deans

I was thinking the same thing to myself during the first period. It looks like international ice there with all the distance between the players downlow and the blueline. Its not like Chicago is devoid of bombs from the point either.

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#124 freeze
October 14 2009, 07:58PM
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yikes, the score could easily be 6-1.

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#125 Salvo
October 14 2009, 07:59PM
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@Deans

I'm going to vomit if I hear Miller say "and the oilers can't clear AGAIN"

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#126 Salvo
October 14 2009, 07:59PM
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@Deans

I'm going to vomit if I hear Miller say "and the oilers can't clear AGAIN"

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#127 Deans
October 14 2009, 07:59PM
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Sketchy D play makes for great hockey. I'll take this with a .575 record over winning the division and being a boring team like Calgary.

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#128 Shaun Doe
October 14 2009, 07:59PM
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Man Hemsky has been brutal in this game (and pretty much the majority of the season). Either he is injured or going through some sevre growing pains in this new system. Ugh Penalty Shot weeeeee

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#129 Deans
October 14 2009, 08:00PM
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If Bulin keeps playing like this, The Oil will make the playoffs

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#130 Harlie
October 14 2009, 08:00PM
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KHABBI with the BIG stop on the penalty shot.

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#131 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:00PM
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Huzzah for elderly Russians! What'd I miss???

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#132 17
October 14 2009, 08:04PM
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30-10 shots for the Hawks. Unreal. It's amazing how much space the Hawks have to make some of the plays/passes. Unreal.

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#133 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:04PM
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@Alon

Ya, he knew it was his fault. "Strudwick scores!!!"

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#134 Oilchange64
October 14 2009, 08:05PM
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Well that has been ugly. Wonder what Quinn will have to say at the intermission. They all look like they are playing hung over or something.

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#135 Lofty
October 14 2009, 08:06PM
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Strudwick looks like a pylon holding a stick. When is Souray coming back!

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#136 SirFozz
October 14 2009, 08:06PM
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Just turned it on for the last few minutes of second...YIKES!!! Oilers look not so good.

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#137 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:06PM
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@Deans

Indeed. I must remember that is the goal this year because the Hawks are a reminder that the Oilers aren't all that close to real playoff competition.

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#138 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:07PM
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these kinds of games are going to give Quinn a stroke. or at least lock jaw...

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#139 Oilchange64
October 14 2009, 08:09PM
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MacT should be able to comment on this game - should look familiar.

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#140 Robin Brownlee
October 14 2009, 08:12PM
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Forty-one shots allowed in Nashville, but apparently it was no big deal because Deslauriers was so good. If it ends up being 6-1 the other way tonight and the shots are 45-20, will people still shrug over how porous the defensive play is?

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#141 David S
October 14 2009, 08:15PM
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Salvo wrote:

Indeed. I must remember that is the goal this year because the Hawks are a reminder that the Oilers aren't all that close to real playoff competition.

To be fair, the Hawks will probably make at least the semis this year. We stay within 2 and it'll be a decent night.

However, this might be some indication of how things would go if we were playing in the first round.

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#142 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:16PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Y'know Robin, if you really understood hockey as well as the average anonymous internet nerd, you wouldn't have to ask these silly questions. Once we get Kovalchuk the defensive problems are OVER.

I don't need the ~, right?

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#143 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:23PM
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@Robin Brownlee

No shrugging but a completely different game brought by the Oilers---or lack thereof.

Navel Gazing, fear and deep dish pizza come to mind.

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#144 Travis Dakin
October 14 2009, 08:28PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Forty-one shots allowed in Nashville, but apparently it was no big deal because Deslauriers was so good. If it ends up being 6-1 the other way tonight and the shots are 45-20, will people still shrug over how porous the defensive play is?

It's amazing how fast the attitude shifts.

COME ON HEMSKY DO SOEMTHING!!!!!!!!!!

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#145 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:33PM
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geez, have 37 & 77 ever worked a PP before?!

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#146 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:33PM
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Somebody help Khabby. The shining light.

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#147 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:34PM
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I am really impressed with the Hawks checking. It's like 2004 Calgary with a sh*t-tonne of skill.

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#148 Travis Dakin
October 14 2009, 08:35PM
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This turned into some ugly hockey....

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#149 Travis Dakin
October 14 2009, 08:36PM
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Hello Penner again.... what?

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#150 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:36PM
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no goal!!

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