Disbelievers

Jonathan Willis
October 04 2009 11:37AM

That title is certainly wrong when it comes to the grand scheme of things, but it’s a little nuts to toss Nikolai Khabibulin and the Oilers penalty-kill under the bus one game in.

Let’s start with Nikolai Khabibulin’s gaffe. After a lackluster preseason, Khabibulin’s season opener could hardly have gone worse. In a game where the Oilers outshot the Flames 34-to-21, Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves and Khabibulin made only 17. The last goal against was particularly brutal, with Kiprusoff gift-wrapping the puck for Flames forward David Moss with less than a minute left in a 3-3 hockey game.

As everyone here knows, I’m not a believer in Khabibulin; his track record in three of the last four years, along with his propensity towards lower body injuries are the two biggest reasons I’d hoped the Oielrs had pursued someone else.

That said, if you are one of those who believe in the Bulin wall, one game shouldn’t change your mind. After one game, for example, Martin Brodeur has a GAA in excess of 5.00 and a .815 SV% (I know because he’s on my fantasy team). Players have good games and bad games, and while I’m still not a believer in Khabibulin I can honestly say that a 50-save effort in a 1-0 win wouldn’t have changed my mind on him either. Give it ten games, then we’ll talk about what he’s done.

Similarly, I don’t believe in the penalty kill, which went two-for-four on the night, but again it’s too early to change anyone’s mind either way. I maintain that this team needed to bring somebody in, and I don’t think Kelly Buchberger has the coaching chops to propel this unit to even averagish results with the current personnel.

But my message today is that one game is essentially meaningless in evaluating these trends. The evaluation of both the Oilers’ goaltender and special teams will take some time, and if you were a believer during the offseason there’s no reason to change your stripes now.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#151 Ender
October 05 2009, 10:42AM
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Swany wrote:

. . . the Oil went thew that team like a knife threw hot butter . . . we just dominated that game . . . We have a very good team . . . sorry RB this is a playoff team.

While I admire your enthusiasm, I think Jon's comments above can go both ways. I too am cautiously optimistic that the Oil can find a way to squeak into the playoffs, but I think it's a wee bit too soon to refer to the Oilers 'in front of the word 'dominated'. Let's wait until we're not on pace for an 0-82 season, yes?

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#152 Ender
October 05 2009, 10:46AM
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@Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

Never going to happen. Aside from the problems with playing in the Winnipeg market, The Thrashers are bound by two 'no-relocation' contracts; one with their current arena and another with the league. It'll be at least four years before they can even think about leaving Atlanta, let alone moving to a Canadian city.

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#153 Ender
October 05 2009, 11:01AM
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@The Towel Boy

Was just looking at your profile pics on Facebook; the blue & yellow 'Towel Buoy' is priceless. You should definitely go with the yellow duckie mask for your avatar. :-)

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#154 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 05 2009, 11:16AM
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Ender wrote:

Never going to happen. Aside from the problems with playing in the Winnipeg market, The Thrashers are bound by two 'no-relocation' contracts; one with their current arena and another with the league. It'll be at least four years before they can even think about leaving Atlanta, let alone moving to a Canadian city.

If Oilers fans can be optimistic about the playoffs, I can be optimistic about Winnipeg.

The exhibition game against Tampa was the first Oilers game I've seen since I was about 8 years old. My only other option is to drive to Minneapolis (to the tune of about 14 hours and 4 tanks of gas, round trip) to watch whomever they're playing.

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#155 Chumpkins
October 05 2009, 11:41AM
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Great new look to the site. I have faith the Oil will bounce back.

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#156 Senator Theo
October 05 2009, 12:33PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

If Oilers fans can be optimistic about the playoffs, I can be optimistic about Winnipeg.

The exhibition game against Tampa was the first Oilers game I've seen since I was about 8 years old. My only other option is to drive to Minneapolis (to the tune of about 14 hours and 4 tanks of gas, round trip) to watch whomever they're playing.

Are you saying that the Oilers' chances of making the playoffs are roughly the same as the chances of a team relocating to Winnipeg? Even Brownlee would have to think the Oil have more of a shot than that! ;)

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#157 oilfan6
October 05 2009, 05:10PM
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Visnovski omark staios nillison and a 1st round pick to atlanta for a long term signed kovachuk would help edm lots and put them in a nice place in the playoffs. We have too many offencive D and not enough high scoring first line players

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#158 Deep Oil
October 05 2009, 06:06PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

Totally agree Willis. I'm not going to lead the charge in burning Khabibulin's furniture after one screw up and a sub par night....I'll save that for 20 or so games into the season if he fails to impress me.

Tambo has put 4 years on the line here, with the number applying to cap regardless of the circumstances.

Many thoughts on perspiration from no medical condition, mental illness, obesity and other reasons.....

http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/how-to-reduce-over-sweating-stop-excessive-perspiration-15297.html

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