GDB XII: Stopping a snowball

Jason Gregor
October 27 2009 01:47PM

The Oilers will try to stop a two game losing streak versus North West opponents tonight, when the surprising Colorado Avalanche come to town.

The Avs are 8-1-2 this year, and 4-1-2 on the road and overall they are averaging 3.4 goals per game, and giving up only 2.2 The Avs are similar to the Oilers in that they have consistently been out shot.

Shots by Period:

 

1st period

2nd period

3rd period

Avs
79
119
81
Avs' opposition
125
114
133
Oilers
91
87
90
Oil's opposition
113
132
120

The Oilers have been a bit better in shot differential the past few games, but they lost both of those.

Mike Comrie returns to the lineup tonight and here is how they practiced this morning.

Penner — Gagner — Hemsky
Comrie — Horcoff — O’Sullivan
Jacques — Brule — Nilsson
Moreau —Cogliano — Stortini

Gilbert — Grebeshkov
Smid — Visnovsky
Strudwick — Chorney

Fernando Pisani skated with the team for the first time in almost a month, but he needs a few more practices before he is ready. He could make his debut in Boston on Saturday or Long Island on Monday.

When they do activate him, they will probably put Souray on retroactive LTIR in order to have enough cap space to activate Pisani.

The suggestion that the Avs are coming back to earth is off-base at this point. They haven’t lost a game in regulation since Oct 8th, and since then they have won six and lost in OT in Minnesota.

The Avs have beaten the Wings twice in the last week, and they also have wins over the Bruins and Sharks this season. Their special teams have been great so far.

They are 7th on the PP with 12 goals in 45 chances for 26.7%, and their PK is 6th at 84.3%, and they were a perfect 8-8 on the PK v. Detroit this past Saturday.

Craig Anderson has played in all eleven games for the Avs and his .936 SV % and 2.14 GGA are both in the top ten. The Oilers will have to get him moving side-to-side if they want to get some past him. He is a big guy who plays the angles very well, and they won’t beat him from the outside.

Money management

Pat Quinn was 30 minutes late for his usual press conference this morning, and the reason was he and the coaching staff was meeting with management discussing what they will do with Pisani. Pisani might be ready Thursday, but it’s more realistic we will see him Saturday, and I’m guessing the organization was discussing who comes out, but also how they can fit him in money-wise.

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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 Eddie Shore
October 27 2009, 09:00PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Based on what? 10 games?

Gagner may very well hang on to that spot between Hemsky and Penner. It may even be the best thing for the team.

But Horcoff's still the best centre on this team and one of the three best forwards. I'll need a lot more than ten games to convince me otherwise.

How about 82 games last year plus the ten this year?

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#102 RossCreekNation
October 27 2009, 09:00PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Sure, but can he do Horcoff's job just as good or better for 3 mill cheaper? I think so.

I think O'Sullivan could be kind of a poor-mans Horcoff. Could he do Horcoff's job 'as good or better for 3 mill cheaper' - thats a stretch. He may give better value for $, but he'll still be a step down from Horcoff... at least at this point in time.

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#103 SirFozz
October 27 2009, 09:01PM
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@ Sandra

Do you think he'd clear waivers on the way back up if he managed to on the way down?

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#104 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:02PM
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@Eddie Shore

Well, then you were watching a different Horcoff than I was. He wasn't great - probably not even worth the contract - but he was damned important to the team last season.

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#105 Archaeologuy
October 27 2009, 09:02PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I guess we have a different definition of "Best", but I grant you he isnt the worst centre in the history of the NHL. Still, I look at the Cap, I look at the numbers on the team and Horcoff and I cant come up with any other outcomes outside of demotion to the AHL or a buyout unless the Oilers plan on dealing away talent.

I mean, if this were the year 2000 what would I care? But that's not the case. Limited space and it needs to be earned. If the Oilers had spent the 1 million dollars to get a good 3rd line centre Horcoff's faceoffs would be cut in half and his necessity to the team would become a fraction of what it is.

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#106 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:03PM
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Meanwhile, Horcoff makes two great plays in his own end, but nobody notices because they're busy watching Comrie float by hoping for a puck.

Good stuff.

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#107 Shaun Doe
October 27 2009, 09:04PM
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I would like to see the Oilers burn their first Powerplay of the night by just shooting the puck from every angle regardless of open lanes or not. They just hold and hold waiting for that perfect play to appear and it seldom seems to materialize. So our players just circle and cycle wasting time. Just shoot the damned puck

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#108 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:04PM
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Archaeologuy:

Which three forwards on this team are better than Horcoff?

Which centre?

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#109 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:05PM
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Shaun:

They had a fairly good first powerplay. At least three very decent chances.

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#110 Archaeologuy
October 27 2009, 09:05PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

I think O'Sullivan could be kind of a poor-mans Horcoff. Could he do Horcoff's job 'as good or better for 3 mill cheaper' - thats a stretch. He may give better value for $, but he'll still be a step down from Horcoff... at least at this point in time.

Save the 2.5-3 million dollars and re-invest some of that to a real 3rd line centre. The team doesnt need to hang its hopes on 1 centre all the time.

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#111 Eddie Shore
October 27 2009, 09:05PM
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@Jonathan Willis

~ No, you're right.

Sadly, Horcoff gets 5.5 million to produce more than 2 points in 10 games, despite however many few defensive battles he actually wins.

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#112 David S
October 27 2009, 09:05PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

"Gilbert needs help with his crossword puzzle because he struggles with politics and history..."

...and defense...

Well played sir!

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#113 Shaun Doe
October 27 2009, 09:06PM
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yeah the first powerplay generated some shots but the second just seemed... well inept.

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#114 Librarian Mike
October 27 2009, 09:07PM
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Shaun Doe wrote:

I would like to see the Oilers burn their first Powerplay of the night by just shooting the puck from every angle regardless of open lanes or not. They just hold and hold waiting for that perfect play to appear and it seldom seems to materialize. So our players just circle and cycle wasting time. Just shoot the damned puck

That's what O'Sullivan's been doing. Unfortunately, he couldn't hit water if he was in a boat.

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#115 Lofty
October 27 2009, 09:07PM
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SirFozz wrote:

I chose Sully as my star because he shoots the puck but now I keep hoping he passes instead.

Its brutal watching his shot selection... especially on the 5 on 3 PP.

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#116 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:08PM
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@Eddie Shore

Horcoff's had a very bad start. It's true and I don't argue it.

But he was vital last season, and it's only been ten games. If this continues to the 25-game mark, I'll be sold.

But as of right now, Anze Kopitar is on pace for 70 goals and Vincent Lecavalier is on pace for 9.

You're reading too much, too early.

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#117 Eddie Shore
October 27 2009, 09:09PM
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@Jonathan Willis

It's not that stats Jonathan that trouble me, it's the play that I see with my eyes. He is playing horribly and showing no signs of improving.

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#118 Wanye
October 27 2009, 09:09PM
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Wow, the Horcoff Hated Squadron is fully deployed on this fine evening.

I will say this - the team looks sick. As in flu sick. Watching this game has probably given me a mild case of the H1N1 virus.

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#119 Eddie Shore
October 27 2009, 09:12PM
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@Wanye

Horcoff may be taking the brunt of my digust towards the way this team is playing right now. However, he needs to be better. Much better.

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#120 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:12PM
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Doug MacLean's an idiot.

Craig Anderson - as I and a bunch of others shouted all summer - was an obvious candidate for a breakout season. Just brutally, brutally obvious.

'No name defence'? I know Scott Hannan's had a rough few years, but c'mon. Kyle Quincey was a gem last season and was the key guy coming back in the Ryan Smyth trade. Brett Clark's been playing (and being underrated) forever. Ruslan Salei's a solid vet. An J-M Liles has been scoring points (although not doing much else) for years too.

As for Foote, given that he's played 2nd-pairing all season, it's hard to say he's leading this defence corps. And I think MacLean would find that his old team has a rather different opinion of Foote's leadership after that stunt he pulled.

But whatever. Whooduf thunk that Anderson could be a starter?

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#121 Travis Dakin
October 27 2009, 09:13PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Doug MacLean's an idiot.

Craig Anderson - as I and a bunch of others shouted all summer - was an obvious candidate for a breakout season. Just brutally, brutally obvious.

'No name defence'? I know Scott Hannan's had a rough few years, but c'mon. Kyle Quincey was a gem last season and was the key guy coming back in the Ryan Smyth trade. Brett Clark's been playing (and being underrated) forever. Ruslan Salei's a solid vet. An J-M Liles has been scoring points (although not doing much else) for years too.

As for Foote, given that he's played 2nd-pairing all season, it's hard to say he's leading this defence corps. And I think MacLean would find that his old team has a rather different opinion of Foote's leadership after that stunt he pulled.

But whatever. Whooduf thunk that Anderson could be a starter?

What stunt was that again????

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#122 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:14PM
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Gunner:

You cited his two points.

I've watched Horcoff play, and yeah he hasn't been good. But people have these stretches; before that five point game, what were people here saying about Hemsky?

Or, on a different note, what happened to preseason Nikolai Khabibulin?

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#123 Travis Dakin
October 27 2009, 09:14PM
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@Wanye

It lives....

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#124 Wanye
October 27 2009, 09:14PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Horcoff may be taking the brunt of my digust towards the way this team is playing right now. However, he needs to be better. Much better.

Agreed. He is he injured or something?

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#125 SirFozz
October 27 2009, 09:14PM
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Who's this Wayne character? Sounds vaguely familiar.

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#126 Wanye
October 27 2009, 09:15PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

It lives....

Quite. Trying to make this thing into a proper thing has turned out to be quite the trick to pull off, much more difficult than I had anticipated.

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#127 Archaeologuy
October 27 2009, 09:16PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Archaeologuy:

Which three forwards on this team are better than Horcoff?

Which centre?

Forwards Offensively Better Than Horc: Hemsky, Penner, Gagner, Cogliano, Comrie *special mention goes to Nilsson, Jacques, and Stone who have all been better this year

Centers: Gagner, Comrie, Cogliano

Defensively better than Horc: The entire team, as he leads the Oilers in the lowest +/- rating with a -6.

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#128 Eddie Shore
October 27 2009, 09:17PM
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@Archaeologuy

Hate to correct you sir, but -7 after thus far tonight.

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#129 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:17PM
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Travis:

http://dispatch.com/live/content/bluejackets/stories/2008/03/01/arace01.ART_ART_03-01-08_C1_V49GNET.html?sid=101

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#130 Eddie Shore
October 27 2009, 09:17PM
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K boys, get you're sh*t together and don't make me regret watching tonite.

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#131 Archaeologuy
October 27 2009, 09:18PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Hate to correct you sir, but -7 after thus far tonight.

Dont let anyone say I never gave him the benefit of the doubt

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#132 Librarian Mike
October 27 2009, 09:19PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Okay, I'm curious and you're the guy to ask. When I think of Horcoff, I can't help but be reminded of Bobby Holik: i.e. a good, solid shutdown guy who's pretty good offensively as a support player, but whom has signed a monster contract he will never earn.

Is that fair?

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#133 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:20PM
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Arch:

The worst defensive players on the Anaheim Ducks last season: Rob Niedermayer and Sami Pahlsson, with a -17 rating.

Yet somehow GM's regard both as useful defensive forwards.

As for the notion that Comrie and Cogliano are better centres than Horcoff, how do you explain Quinn's treatment of them?

Or were you just putting forth an obviously farcical comment?

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#134 Wanye
October 27 2009, 09:20PM
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GOILERZ

2-1 Oilers win. Book dat

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#135 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:21PM
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Take that last play for instance.

Two forwards and one defenceman deep, with O'Sullivan ambling along behind his own net, and which forward is sitting high and breaks up the Colorado rush?

Go ahead, tell me.

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#136 jeanshorts
October 27 2009, 09:22PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Take that last play for instance.

Two forwards and one defenceman deep, with O'Sullivan ambling along behind his own net, and which forward is sitting high and breaks up the Colorado rush?

Go ahead, tell me.

YEAH BUT HE DIDN'T SCORE A HATTRICK AFTER THE BREAK OUT! WORTHLESS!

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#137 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:23PM
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Librarian Mike:

Yeah, if Horcoff can't get close to the 70-point mark again that's probably fair. He's not as mean as Holik, and Holik never had the same level of offense in his career years as Horcoff did, but they're probably comparable examples.

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#138 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:25PM
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Sorry, O'Sullivan was obviously behind the Colorado net.

Of interest: all three Oilers forwards were at the Colorado goal line - one made it back when Grebeshkov pinched and the puck came loose.

That's my problem with people who just "watch" the game. We all look for, and see, different things.

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#139 Archaeologuy
October 27 2009, 09:26PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Is Niedermayer in the NHL this year?

Comrie was ill for a few games, and clearly Quinn doesnt want that fragile ego Horcoff owns to shatter under the weight of his miserable start. It's for his confidence that he gets so much PP time.

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#140 SirFozz
October 27 2009, 09:26PM
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I love the phrase "activating their D". Makes me thing of "transform and roll out".

*i'm a nerd*

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#141 RossCreekNation
October 27 2009, 09:28PM
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@Archaeologuy

Rob Niedermeyer is in New Jersey.

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#142 Librarian Mike
October 27 2009, 09:29PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Is Niedermayer in the NHL this year?

Comrie was ill for a few games, and clearly Quinn doesnt want that fragile ego Horcoff owns to shatter under the weight of his miserable start. It's for his confidence that he gets so much PP time.

Is Niedermayer in the NHL this year?

He's in New Jersey, so they can experience the less-talented version of Niedermayer hockey.

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#143 RossCreekNation
October 27 2009, 09:29PM
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@Librarian Mike

LOL

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#144 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:30PM
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Arch:

Lou Lamoriello signed him. Said good things about him too.

As for Horc's powerplay time, it's been reduced this year. As I've been asking for it to be for two years now, since they need his skillset elsewhere.

As for ego, guess how many Oilers have a more favourable faceoff starting position than Horcoff? Eleven.

No, Quinn knows what he has, and he's using him the way he should.

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#145 AlbertaRanger
October 27 2009, 09:32PM
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Forget about defence. Just breathe on somebody!

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#146 SirFozz
October 27 2009, 09:34PM
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SCORE A GOAL!!!

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#147 Andrew W
October 27 2009, 09:34PM
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@Archaeologuy

First of all, the question clearly reads "Which three forwards on this team are better than Horcoff?", not "Which three OFFENSIVE players...", making your answer highly misleading. Not placing any value at all on his defensive abilities is ridiculous. Would anybody consider Marc Pouliot the equivalent player to Sammy Pahlsson?

Furthermore, even based on offensive boxcars alone, only one player on that list have ever had more points in a season than Horcoff's career high.

He's struggling this year. I don't think anybody anywhere is denying that. This doesn't make Comrie a more valuable player just because he's had a better offensive start.

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#148 Librarian Mike
October 27 2009, 09:34PM
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I love these factoids on Sportsnet. "Hemsky uses a shorter stick than Souray." WHO CARES?!?

PS: That's what she said...

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#149 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:35PM
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Librarian Mike:

I won't rest until I know his level of crossword ability.

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#150 Jonathan Willis
October 27 2009, 09:35PM
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Librarian Mike:

I won't rest until I know his level of crossword ability.

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