Oilers vs. Blue Jackets Post-Game: All Hail The New First Line

Jonathan Willis
October 22 2009 10:38PM

  • Edmonton Oilers: 6
  • Columbus Blue Jackets: 4

 

Oilers Three Stars, According To Me

  1. Dustin Penner.  I'm not sure if everyone's abandoned the 'Penner's fat and lazy' story line that has been overplayed for the last two years, but it's pretty clear that after a five point (two goals, three assists) effort and a standing ovation from the crowd at Rexall, the average fan is more than willing to give him a fresh slate.
  2. Lubomir Visnovsky.  Visnovsky had three points on the night and played a calm, cerebral game while the rest of the Oilers' puck-moving defence corps (Gilbert to some degree, but especially Grebeshkov) were busy with brain cramps and giveaways.  He also scored the game winner.
  3. Ales Hemsky.  It's not every night that the third star manages five points, but Hemsky recorded a goal and four assists tonight, and looked as good as he's looked since, well... the Columbus game last year.

Turning Point

I'm actually not a big believer in turning points, but if there was one tonight I thought it was when Dustin Penner charged the net with the puck right after the Oilers went down four to one.  He'd end up scoring a goal just 17 seconds after Kristian Huselius had put Columbus ahead by three goals.

Random Thoughts

  • Brutal, brutal night for Denis Grebeshkov.  He was a big part of the reason that Columbus had a four to one lead to start the game.
  • I've been calling on Sam Gagner to replace Shawn Horcoff on the top powerplay unit for roughly a year and a half, and with his performance tonight maybe he'll get a prolonged look. 
  • The Oilers powerplay scored three goals (including Nilsson's empty-netter) against the league's best penalty-kill.  Entering this game, Columbus had scored three short-handed goals while allowing only one powerplay goal against.
  • Dustin Penner shot the puck 11 times tonight.  That's more shots than J-F Jacques, Andrew Cogliano, and Ethan Moreau have had all season.
  • Horcoff and Moreau were playing together late.  Despite Quinn's aversion to matching lines, I wonder if this team may be moving toward a designated hard-matched checking line.

From the Press Conference

"Right now, [Penner]'s a complete player."
"That gap where we gave up was less our forward line than our defence."
I'm sure it's just how [Gilbert and Grebeshkov] been taught and how they've played for several years. A lot of teams have played that contained sort of way for many years... are these guys capable? I believe they are, yes."

Comment of the Night

Ronaldo, 2:08 PM:

 

It seems like it has been like FOREVER since they like last played. Hurry up 7:30pm.

 

6-3 Oilers (Pennerx2, Gagner, Vish, Cogs, Nilsson)

GOOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Not a perfect prediction, but substitute Hemsky for Cogliano and give Columbus one more goal and it would have been bang on.  Pretty impressive.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 common sense
October 22 2009, 10:52PM
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Right now Penner is the MVP on this team and Horcoff is the team's most overpaid player. Smid is the team's most improved player from last year. Gilbert seems content with that big contract.

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#2 Chris.
October 22 2009, 10:57PM
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Just got home from RX1... That was something special.

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#3 GLoKz0r
October 22 2009, 10:58PM
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That first line had me as hard as a diamond in an ice storm. I haven't felt like this since I climbed the rope in gym class for the first time.

I can't get over what a difference an off-season can make for a player. When I selected Penner as my star for the year (and subsequently in my draft), I figured it was a bit of a gamble... wish I had that kind of gambling sense whenever I hit the casino.

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#4 paul
October 22 2009, 10:59PM
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Penner played great... To be precise he dominated. I haven't seen someone dominate a game quite as handily in a while.

Good job on the prediction

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#5 Chris.
October 22 2009, 11:12PM
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I sure hope that tonight will be remembered as the debut of a long overdue legit Oiler first line; Instead of being forgotten as a random occurence, or just a flukey performance. If Penner-Gagner-Hemmer can even remain even somewhat as dangerous as they were tonight on a consistant basis it's a whole new game... I haven't seen an Oiler line dominate offensively like that since Weight and Guerin played together. Now all we need is to get healthy, have Horcoff rediscover some of the old magic with Comrie, and learn to defend in our own zone...

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#6 Deans
October 22 2009, 11:13PM
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Can we retire the PDP moniker? Penner retired donairs and beers from his diet, its only natural that we sacrifice as well

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#7 Oilchange64
October 22 2009, 11:14PM
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Just got home from the game. My random thoughts.... 1) Don't know what happened in that scrum in front of the net towards the end of the 2nd, but Penner was severely p/o/'d after, and was even more on fire. Totally dominated from there on in. 2) Thank whatever god you want that the Heatley trade never happened. 3) I don't get to go to a lot of games, but that was truly special and probably - no certainly - the best game I have attended in person. 4) Had the company's tickets - the guy I took said he wanted to see 10 goals - last one an empty netter by the Oil. I am going to be very cautious doing business with him. But a great guy to be at a hockey game with. 5) Still some pretty awful defence. The play in our own end is downright scary.

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#8 The Towel Boy
October 22 2009, 11:15PM
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That was pure awesomeness wrapped in a soft flour tortilla of greatness. Penner was everywhere tonight. It seemed whenever he touched the puck the Oilers had a scoring chance. 11 shots by Penner alone!?! Wow.

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#9 BigE57
October 22 2009, 11:17PM
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Wow, Penner-Gagner-Hemsky......who knew?

And wasn't Smid in the minors at the beginning of last season?

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#10 Ogden Brother
October 22 2009, 11:20PM
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Oil vs BJ's .... most would expect a dominate power forward performance...who would have thought it would be from Penner?

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#11 AlbertaRanger
October 22 2009, 11:20PM
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Dustin Penner with a five-point night? Am I dreaming? Unfreakingbeleivable!

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#12 Morgan
October 22 2009, 11:22PM
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Looks like we found a first line.Only took the management of the team 5 years to realize Horcoff is NOT a first line centre.

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#13 SirFozz
October 22 2009, 11:22PM
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I'm just coming down from that game now. What a high! Nice job guys. If they can keep steady production from these 3, it really makes this team deeper. Awesome!

Penner is 4th for goals and points and third for +/- in the league according to TSN. (Smid is 2nd in =/-). Again, awesome!

Thanks for the comment of the night shout-out J-Dub.

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#14 Ninjafoot
October 22 2009, 11:25PM
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I lve the result, and no doubt it was an exciting game to watch. however in future if we could skip the whole "fall behind 4-1" scenario I would be okay with that. : )

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#15 Ogden Brother
October 22 2009, 11:30PM
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Penner is the third lowest paid player out of the top 15 scorers.

What a contract by Lowe!!!

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#16 DonDon
October 22 2009, 11:32PM
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Wow! What a surprise to beat Columbus after being down 4 to 1. And guys suffering from the 'flu. As stated earlier, good thing the Heatley trade didn't go through and no thanks to Tambellini. Still need a shutdown centre, perhaps trade Gilbert to a U.S. team while there is still some value. With the Oil on the road playing Calgary and Vancouver next, we'll soon find out if this team is for real.

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#17 TDSM31
October 22 2009, 11:47PM
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Last year this game would have ended 9-2 for the visitors. A great sign tonight for the rest of the year (I hope). Still, we need to tighten up in our own end. I miss Big Sexy.

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#18 Dave
October 22 2009, 11:49PM
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Wow, Safeway Score & Win doesn't seem so crazy any more.

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#19 homerer
October 22 2009, 11:57PM
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wow the one ice girl can barely skate!!

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#20 Discharger
October 22 2009, 11:59PM
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GLoKz0r wrote:

That first line had me as hard as a diamond in an ice storm. I haven't felt like this since I climbed the rope in gym class for the first time.

I can't get over what a difference an off-season can make for a player. When I selected Penner as my star for the year (and subsequently in my draft), I figured it was a bit of a gamble... wish I had that kind of gambling sense whenever I hit the casino.

Lucky for me that our head to head in our hockey pool is over.

I pity whoever you're matched up against this week.

Great game tonight.

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#21 Mad Hatter
October 23 2009, 12:09AM
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"I wonder if this team may be moving toward a designated hard-matched checking line."

The potential of a bonafied "hard-matched checking line" should be examined in my opinion. As it will cater to the specific skill set of Horcoff, an individual who had no place on the first line. And at the very least some sort of return will be received on that insane contract.

Penner-Gagner-Hemsky..Bravo Mr. Quinn...Great combination.

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#22 Scuba Steve
October 23 2009, 12:27AM
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BigE57 wrote:

Wow, Penner-Gagner-Hemsky......who knew?

And wasn't Smid in the minors at the beginning of last season?

Pretty much everyone who has watched the Oilers over the last couple years knew that line would eventually be #1, I'm glad it's starting to pay off.

Getting Souray back will be a nice boost, but I'm a lot more comfortable with Chorney on the ice vs. Staois.

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#23 Hax
October 23 2009, 12:27AM
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That was an awesome performance by Penner. He could have had a few more goals tonight! It was really nice to see a top line produce like that.

I've seen that ice girl that can barely skate lol.

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#24 BarryS
October 23 2009, 12:32AM
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Best thing tonight: Oilers made a barely average goalie look like a barely average goalie instead of all world like they did with average goalies last year.

Good thing we have an above average goalie though, since our team defence was as bad as the BJ's.

Difference, Khabby actually made several stellar saves while Garon never made a single good one.

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#25 Hemmertime
October 23 2009, 01:18AM
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@Scuba Steve

Agreed with Chorney seems safer than Staios

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#26 Phil
October 23 2009, 01:41AM
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Okay, I'm not going to rehash any of the Penner commentary... what's been said has been said, he had an amazing game... spectacular stuff...

But I think come Saturday, we are going to see Penner go into the Saddledome and put on a show. Even though he won't have a 5 point game against the Flamers, I still see him having a big impact on the game in some way shape or form.

The streak he's on right now is... unbelievable.. he's too hot to be shutdown ATM and that new line with him, Hemsky and Gags is going to want to do damage.

Penner is a prideful guy, I think he's going to bless us with another gem performance come Saturday at the Saddleballz in Cowtown.

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#27 Sour
October 23 2009, 02:22AM
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Dear Dany,

Thank you for envoking your no-trade clause.

Signed, The Oiler Faithful

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#28 nullterm
October 23 2009, 03:07AM
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PDP = Potent Dustin Penner

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#29 hide.the.beer.klima.is.here
October 23 2009, 04:28AM
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common sense wrote:

Right now Penner is the MVP on this team and Horcoff is the team's most overpaid player. Smid is the team's most improved player from last year. Gilbert seems content with that big contract.

Errrr... I think you mean Penner is the most improved player.

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#30 hide.the.beer.klima.is.here
October 23 2009, 04:45AM
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Take it easy on Shawn Horsecock... it's not easy skating with a wallet in your back pocket that is stuffed with millions.

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#31 Hemmertime
October 23 2009, 05:22AM
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PDP=Past Dustin Penner

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#32 Petr's Jofa
October 23 2009, 06:05AM
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Are we still all worked up about the shots for and against or is there something to the fact that the Oilers tend to shoot more in games where they are behind and need a goal rather then when they are winning?

Game 1 Calgary (L)- Trailed the Flames 2-1 most of the game and outshot them 34-21.

Game 2 Dallas (SOW)- Tie game most of the way, and Dallas dominated the shot clock in the last 20 minutes and ended up outshot 34-24

Game 3 - Calgary (L) - Edmonton in front from the 1st period up ontil 1.5 sec left in the 3rd. Shots 28-28.

Game 4 - Montreal (W) - Edmonton lead from the 1st period onwards. Outshot 19-35

Game 5 - Nashville (W) - Edmonton destroyed Nashville and lead throughout despite being outshot 41 - 20.

Game 6 - Chicago - (L) Edmonton was out classed trail throughout and was badly outshot 38-19.

Game 7 - Minnesota (W) They were outshot 31-19 but the shot clock was close up until Edmonton took the lead.

Game 8 - Vancouver (W) 41-20. IN a 1-1 game after two Edmonton only trailed the Canucks 240=19 on the shot clock. Then they took the lead in teh thrid forcing Vancouver to press and outchoot the Oil 40-29.

Game 9 vs Columbus (W) - Shots were even the entire game as Edmonton pressed to tie it and then Columbus tried to to the same. 28-28

So really the only games that the Oilers have been outshot in, when they should have been trying to pouring it on, are the SOW against Dallas and the loss to Chicago.

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#33 Petr's Jofa
October 23 2009, 06:08AM
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Man, I wish I had that Edit button.... Sits back and waits for 1st comment about only being outshot 240-19. (not to mention the other typos_

The above is what happens when dyslexics are distracted from their internet postings by co-workers who 'need' to get stuff done.

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#35 Dustin Terpstra
October 23 2009, 07:02AM
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All Hail my star DUSTIN PENNER!!!! And my goat Staios is still ain't doing squat but riding the press box. 7-7-14 for Penner which is only 2 points behind Ovechkin's 9-7-16 not to shabby.

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#36 OilBaron
October 23 2009, 07:04AM
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Wow, Grebeshkov had a bad night. Not his defensive partner Gilbert who spent the night letting Columbus have a free pass to the front of the net and in front of the net? Grebs has his moments, Gilbert has been awful more than just tonight.

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#37 Lofty
October 23 2009, 07:39AM
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OilBaron wrote:

Wow, Grebeshkov had a bad night. Not his defensive partner Gilbert who spent the night letting Columbus have a free pass to the front of the net and in front of the net? Grebs has his moments, Gilbert has been awful more than just tonight.

I agree but for some reason everyone elses seems to see it the other way? I stll can't figure out why Gilbert turned away from the play on that one goal (3rd maybe?) in front of the oil net.

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#38 BK16
October 23 2009, 07:41AM
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@Scuba Steve

I agree, I've liked Chorney's game. However, when Staios is back I would pull Jason "the puck is a grenade" Strudwick out of the line-up.

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#39 Chris.
October 23 2009, 07:43AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I notice a lot of people creditting the resurgence to Gagner vs. Horcoff; it seems to me the bigger switch is PEnner vs. Jacques.

Dustin Penner had more points last night than J-F Jacques has on his career.

I noticed this also... Penner was clearly the offensive catalyst last night; and both Hemsky and Gagner benifited. The first line needed someone to lead... who'd a thunk it'd be Penner? Great effort by all three... and an honorable mention to Lubo who was also incredible.

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#40 jayoilfan
October 23 2009, 07:53AM
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WOW! I turned the game on in the second and saw it was 3-1 for the BJs. Then they scored shortly afterwards to make it 4-1. I was a bit angry but then Penner got this second right afterwards then Hemsky again before the end of the period and I was like "they're totally going to make a game of this" and boy did they ever.!

Penner looked fabulous. I really hope they can keep the chemistry going and keep this line togther.

As someone said, it is lots of fun to watch this team again and the fight they have. They don't stop working for the goals. Quinn is doing a fine job.

Go Oilers Go!

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#41 Timbo
October 23 2009, 08:13AM
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Is it just me who noticed, but Hemsky had that twinkle in his eye and smile on his face that has been missing for a long long time...

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#42 BigE57
October 23 2009, 08:17AM
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Scuba Steve wrote:

Pretty much everyone who has watched the Oilers over the last couple years knew that line would eventually be #1, I'm glad it's starting to pay off.

Getting Souray back will be a nice boost, but I'm a lot more comfortable with Chorney on the ice vs. Staois.

I guess I should have included a mark of sarcasm on my Penner comment.

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#43 Colin
October 23 2009, 08:32AM
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Now if only we could shore up that Defense.

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#44 Oil Fever
October 23 2009, 08:32AM
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Dustin Terpstra wrote:

All Hail my star DUSTIN PENNER!!!! And my goat Staios is still ain't doing squat but riding the press box. 7-7-14 for Penner which is only 2 points behind Ovechkin's 9-7-16 not to shabby.

You DO realize Staios is injured???

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#45 Bucknuck
October 23 2009, 08:45AM
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What I think is astounding is that in a one point game with a minute left Nilsson was even on the ice to score that EN goal. I wouldn't have thought he would be in that position.

All you Horcoff haters are the same people who wanted to give Penner away for a bag of pucks last year so just give it a rest already. He may be overpaid, but he is still a great player who leaves it all on the ice every night.

For the record I believe the Macblender last year did give Gagner some time on the number one line but it didn't last long as it didn't create much. Last nights monster had to do with Hemsky and Penner completely dominating the opposition, Gagner enjoyed the ride I am sure.

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#46 Smokin' Ray
October 23 2009, 08:55AM
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HAPPY BIRTHDAY GREGOR! Hope you have a good day.

@BINGOFUEL: You should have a Birthday post for Gregor.

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#47 blu
October 23 2009, 08:57AM
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It makes me sad to see some of Grebs play ecently vs his play last night. While people have singled him out from last night, it seemed to me that Gilbert made some ugly plays and missed a lot of assignments.

OMG-Shoot-Penner lead to Lights-Out-Penner, who was only bested by Standing-O-Penner. If he can keep shooting and standing in front of the net like that, the question of who Hemmer is supposed to pass too has been answered handily.

I think all those who were hating on the Bulin Wall can stop now.

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#48 Dan the Man
October 23 2009, 08:59AM
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Nobody has mentioned how we finally didn't whiff on an empty netter. Great game but it was still very scary watching them defend that lead at the end and we owe Torres and Chimera for taking a couple of stupid penalties.

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#49 I'm a Scientist!
October 23 2009, 09:02AM
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Timbo wrote:

Is it just me who noticed, but Hemsky had that twinkle in his eye and smile on his face that has been missing for a long long time...

I noticed that too... even when we were behind on the scoresheet, after a couple of goals Hemmer and Penner both seemed to be having the time of their lives.

I am also very encouraged by the relaxed attitude Penner has in interviews after the game. He was joking around and having a good time! It is good to see somebody having so much fun out there...much like Ovechkin, just enjoying the game!

Here's hoping he never slumps and all of us fans hop back on the PDP bandwagon...

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#50 smiliegirl15
October 23 2009, 09:04AM
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PDP - Power forward Dustin Penner

Go Power Penner!! This is the power forward they wanted in the first place. Bob S said in the postgame show last night (in not so many words) that Quinn has been great for Penner. When he turned over the puck in the beginning of the game last night, last year he probably would have found his butt stapled to the bench. This year he's told to get out there and get it back and that's exactly what he did, and more!

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