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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#151 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:36PM
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HUZZAH FLUKE GOAL!!!!

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#152 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:36PM
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Wait... or not?!?!?

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#153 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:36PM
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wtf?!

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#154 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:37PM
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THAT IS IN! MY STAR!!!

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#155 vern
October 14 2009, 08:38PM
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Hey an own goal in the oilers favor for once.

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#156 17
October 14 2009, 08:38PM
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Hey a bounce went out way for once!

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#157 17
October 14 2009, 08:38PM
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our way that is.

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#158 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:39PM
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Poo Czar wrote:

HUZZAH FLUKE GOAL!!!!

One more now. So it's worth what the Oil have given up in the first three games.

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#159 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:41PM
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signs of life!!

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#160 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:43PM
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Moreau = new goat. wtf? Khabby!

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#161 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:44PM
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Time to balance the fluke goal karma account

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#162 Jorge.R
October 14 2009, 08:44PM
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Moreau trying to do his best to get Toews a goal

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#163 Wedge
October 14 2009, 08:46PM
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Good grief - I hope Souray is back soon. He IS our power play. And there is no way he would let those Chicago players dangle through the neutral zone like that. Could somone please throw an open ice hit?

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#164 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:47PM
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@Wedge

yeah, really. the oilers really miss Souray and dare I say it, Staios.

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#165 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:48PM
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freeze wrote:

yeah, really. the oilers really miss Souray and dare I say it, Staios.

You dare NOT, sir!

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#166 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:48PM
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why the hell did Struds just wrap that around the boards?!

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#167 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:49PM
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those are passes from the Oil of yester-year.

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#168 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:50PM
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Brule has been invisible - is he even playing tonight???

Shorty please?

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#169 Travis Dakin
October 14 2009, 08:51PM
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Seriously.... When does Hemsky's season start?

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#170 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:51PM
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freeze wrote:

why the hell did Struds just wrap that around the boards?!

A full index of these questions tonight. Pretty hard to get any game going when you keep giving the puck up at the blue line.

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#171 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:53PM
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I'm totally ok to not see Moreau on the ice for the rest of this game

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#172 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:53PM
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Poo Czar wrote:

Brule has been invisible - is he even playing tonight???

Shorty please?

No doubt, I think Quinn has been limiting him after another neutral zone deke attempt that lead to an odd man rush.

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#173 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:54PM
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nail. in. coffin.

we really didn't have any business making it this close anyway.

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#174 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:54PM
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I so badly want to punch an elderly cab driver right now....

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#175 Wedge
October 14 2009, 08:57PM
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Gilbert did a nice job clearing the front of the net for Khabby - not. Does Vishnovsky still play for the oilers?

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#176 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:57PM
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Miracle???

Also, this McGuire's "Monster" crap has to end at some point. Right? RIGHT?

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#177 freeze
October 14 2009, 08:58PM
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nice.

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#178 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 08:59PM
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YES!!!! ONE MORE!!!

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#179 Salvo
October 14 2009, 08:59PM
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getting interesting. Last year, they wouldn't have even scored on this 6 on 4. right?

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#180 freeze
October 14 2009, 09:01PM
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oh well. I am seriously amazed the score was that close. Quinn is getting a taste of last year, for sure.

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#181 Poo Czar
October 14 2009, 09:01PM
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... or not

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#182 freeze
October 14 2009, 09:02PM
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Grebs is no goat, Wanye. No goat at all. Even if he will eat anything...

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#183 Suntory Hanzo
October 14 2009, 09:04PM
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Watched it...saw thecaptainethanmoreau make a pass. turning point for El Kapitan?

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#184 StrangePhD
October 14 2009, 09:08PM
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Arg...the Oil looked completely outworked tonight. I'm glad to see we can give up that many shots...

On the upside...Penner looked pretty good again.

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#185 jake
October 14 2009, 09:10PM
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Our defense are so soft.

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#186 Wedge
October 14 2009, 09:11PM
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I've been a big Horcoff supporter for a while. You know - "give him time blahblahblah" "He'll come around blahblahblah" But right now I would love to find the biggest bus I can find and throw him under it! We need VETERAN leadership and right now it seems like Souray is the only one that comes close. Yikes - is this what a man-crush on big sexy feels like?

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#187 Victoria
October 14 2009, 09:15PM
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Expected.

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#188 Corsby31
October 14 2009, 09:18PM
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That was FU@KING sick...if we were as good as turning the puck over in our own end as scoring...we would be unstopable...I truly cannot understand how "pros" can't clear a puck out of their own end...Greb's remember this..OFF THE GLASS AND OUT...one more time...OFF THE GLASS AND OUT....just incase you don't understand, it's "hit the glass with the puck in a matter that it goes out of your own end". That goes for the rest of the team as well. Anyway, you SOB'S had better pull your head out of your ass and wake up...we will be needing a much better effort from here on in...Quinn, nip this in the bud right now...I say it's time for a bag skate and maybe a small trade???

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#189 Morgan
October 14 2009, 09:20PM
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This game is indicative of what to expect from the oil this year.They looked tired did not hit.The goalie held them in the game all night long.If the Oil do not out work and out hit the opposition. They will not win often this year.

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#190 BarryS
October 14 2009, 09:24PM
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Given the way Calgary let them off the hook it could be expected the Black Hawks would come out flying.

Given the hawks generally bad goaltending so far, one would expect the Oilers to have come out shooting.

Alas the Hawks did as should have been expected and the Oilers did not.

Perhaps Quinn will have them shooting bucket after bucket of pucks from the point at the net. Then a hour or two of power skating drills, not a bag skate, but proper drills. Like racing from in front of the net to the blue lines.

Then a couple hours practice forecheck against defence in their own end to get the hang of defending 5 on 5.

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#191 freeze
October 14 2009, 09:25PM
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Given the parts of our game that need work; PP, Defence, passing; the schedule doesn't give the coaches much practice time. There is only a couple 2 day breaks between games and the team doesn't get a 3 day break until Nov. 12 (as part of a road trip). Nothing longer than that until the end of Nov.

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#192 BarryS
October 14 2009, 09:26PM
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Wedge wrote:

I've been a big Horcoff supporter for a while. You know - "give him time blahblahblah" "He'll come around blahblahblah" But right now I would love to find the biggest bus I can find and throw him under it! We need VETERAN leadership and right now it seems like Souray is the only one that comes close. Yikes - is this what a man-crush on big sexy feels like?

Given the shot he blocked in the second, it is a wonder he can even shkate.

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#193 Corsby31
October 14 2009, 09:27PM
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BTW, Hemsky....WTF are you doing? I have a small tip for you...It's called Skating...please try it...I have seen you do it before...sometime's very well!!!...Just out of curiosity, (not saying I'm ready for this yet but) what would the return for Hemmer be on the market right now? anyone have any ideas?

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#194 Wedge
October 14 2009, 09:33PM
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@BarryS

Yeah, we all could relax a bit I guess. I just thought about how much the flames suck and I feel better already.

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#195 freeze
October 14 2009, 09:36PM
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@Corsby31

I noticed the same from O'Sullivan. He coasts around too much for my liking.

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#196 Corsby31
October 14 2009, 09:41PM
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I hear ya Freeze...but at least he is getting chances...

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#197 freeze
October 14 2009, 10:01PM
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true that.

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#198 freeze
October 14 2009, 10:07PM
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have a good night, justice league! may your dreams be filled of tight defence and positive corsi.

well, dreams of something tight, however you prefer it...

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#199 Archaeologuy
October 14 2009, 10:11PM
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Well, at least we dont cheer for the leafs

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#200 BarryS
October 14 2009, 10:32PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Well, at least we dont cheer for the leafs

Cheer for the Leafs? That's the definition of Oximoron is it not? I love it how the Centre of Media still think Toronto still has a hockey team.

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