Getting started: tell us when, Nik

Robin Brownlee
October 05 2009 04:31PM

Mistakes happen, so it's senseless to get overwrought about Nikolai Khabibulin's all-thumbs bungling on the winning goal by David Moss in the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames at Rexall Place Saturday.

Of more concern for me, with the caveat it's still very early, is that GM Steve Tambellini's big off-season signing hasn't been very good at stopping pucks so far as a member of the Oilers.

I know, WTF Brownlee? It's been ONE game for crying out loud. True that, although I'm looking at pre-season as well as Saturday, and the concerns I've voiced about Khabibulin still nag me.

After shutting out an AHL team disguised in Florida Panthers uniforms 4-0 with 18 saves in his first pre-season appearance, Khabibulin has allowed 12 goals on the 72 shots he's faced since then, including four on 21 shots against Calgary.

That, by any measure and even if it's early, is atrocious. No?

Puck stops here

"It's unfortunate the way we lost, especially after coming back from being down," Khabibulin said of his last-minute faux pas on a loose puck. "In reality, it is one game."

Even with the shutout against the Panthers, Khabibulin finished pre-season with a 2.96 goals-against average and .884 saves percentage in 162 minutes through three appearances.

No worries, insisted many. A guy like Khabibulin will be ready when the puck drops with points on the line. He's a veteran. A Stanley Cup winner. He deserves the benefit of the doubt. Yes, he does. That's still the case.

"Exhibition, I never take it into consideration," Khabibulin said. "Quite honestly, I don’t even know what my stats are in exhibition. It's never on any hockey cards. You'll never find it in any hockey books."

While I'm not going to harp on the fact Khabibulin's saves-percentage through one game that matters is .810 -- I roll my eyes when numbers guys cherry-pick stats to make their case -- I don't think it's a stretch to say he has to be better than he has been. Sooner rather than later.

"We know he's a good player," coach Pat Quinn said today when Jim Matheson of The Journal asked about Khabibulin after practice.

"He's working his way to get his timing like all of our players are. There are a lot of guys who are trying to find their game right now. He's good. He's working hard at it."

Fine. Good. Results, please.

Around the room

-- Forward Marc Pouliot skated for the first time since being put on the shelf after three pre-season appearances with an inflamed pubic bone, also known as pubitis.

"A lot of treatments. I feel good," Pouliot said. "I'm day-to-day. Hopefully, by the end of the week."

Pouliot won't be ready to play against Dallas Tuesday, but he could be available for the rematch with the Flames Thursday or for Saturday's tilt against the Montreal Canadiens.

By the way, for the benefit of whoever it was who was arguing with Jonathan Willis and I about whether Pouliot was a "decent size" based on his vitals of six-foot-one and 195 pounds, an update.

Pouliot is playing this season at 205 pounds and he's actually closer to six-foot-two than six-foot-one. While I'm not going to argue Pouliot plays a robust game, he most certainly is a "decent size" compared to his NHL peers. Now, let's move on. Nothing to see here.

-- Captain Ethan Moreau didn't skate today. The ankle that was bothering him before the season-opener flared up again and kept him off the blades today. No firm word on his status for Tuesday.

-- Steve Staios was packing a lot of ice on his right knee after practice today, the result of being hit by a shot. Staios expects to be fine to play against the Stars.

-- Former University of Alberta Golden Bear Aaron Sorochan is the back-up to Devan Dubnyk with the Springfield Falcons to start the season. Sorochan saw his first action in a 6-2 loss to Providence Sunday, spelling off Dubnyk in the third period.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on Team 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Smokin' Ray
October 05 2009, 04:35PM
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So no news is good news?

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#2 erixon
October 05 2009, 04:35PM
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I think the puck stopping has a lot more to do with the play of the defense rather than the goaltending personally. Grebeshkov, Smid and Staios did not look good, and if you erase that last blunder by Khabibulin, he had no chance on the other goals.

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#3 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
October 05 2009, 04:36PM
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Robin do you think Pouliot will be able to maintain that extra 10lbs through the season? Or is just his off season weight?

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#4 Smokin' Ray
October 05 2009, 04:39PM
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OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM wrote:

Robin do you think Pouliot will be able to maintain that extra 10lbs through the season? Or is just his off season weight?

Seriously? We are worrying about peoples weight? Why? Does it really matter? Who cares as long as he can score goals.

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#5 Oilersordeath
October 05 2009, 04:41PM
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If the Oil play with that kind of intensity through out the season, I can see playoffs in the midst!

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#6 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
October 05 2009, 04:47PM
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@Smokin' Ray

An extra 10lbs can help him win more battles for the puck, which usually results in more scoring chances for the Oil. So yes it really does matter. Do you think guys like Lindros/Lemieux/Jagr would have been so dominating if they were 20-30lbs lighter?

*I'm not comparing Pouliot to those 3 btw.*

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#8 Smokin' Ray
October 05 2009, 04:55PM
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@OvenChicken8

I really don't think it matters how much a guy weighs. (Unless it's a 50lb difference) It's all in your balance and leg strength. Lemieux, IMO, still would have been good if he was 20 lbs lighter. He would still have weighed over 200. Lindros might still be playing if he was lighter as a player. ~Maybe he could've moved out of the way before Stevens makes his brain into mush?~ Maybe. Point is... Pouliot sucks anyways. 10 to 20 pounds isn't going to make a huge difference for any player, nevermind Pouliot.

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#9 BUCK75
October 05 2009, 04:57PM
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So Moreau has a bum ankle. Is that why he almost when ass over tea kettle in the pre-game introductions?

While I don't want to pile on about Khabi after 1 game, the guy gaffed that play like he was an 18 year old rookie. Not a 36 year old, stanley cup winner. He has never been known for his stick handling, maybe he should just worry about stopping the puck instead of being all Marty Brodeur.

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#10 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 05 2009, 04:59PM
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@BUCK75

well, it wouldnt be hockey season in Oil Country if Moreau wasnt day-day or out with an injury of somekind....

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#12 fiveandagame
October 05 2009, 05:18PM
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Smokin' Ray wrote:

@OvenChicken8

I really don't think it matters how much a guy weighs. (Unless it's a 50lb difference) It's all in your balance and leg strength. Lemieux, IMO, still would have been good if he was 20 lbs lighter. He would still have weighed over 200. Lindros might still be playing if he was lighter as a player. ~Maybe he could've moved out of the way before Stevens makes his brain into mush?~ Maybe. Point is... Pouliot sucks anyways. 10 to 20 pounds isn't going to make a huge difference for any player, nevermind Pouliot.

The reason this all came up was many people were harping on about how small the Oilers are, how that they are pushed off the puck and lose battles because of their lack of size.

It was a constant knock on the team by most here. I took exception to Pouliot being excluded from the small group despite being listed only 4lbs heavier than the "diminutive" Gagner

To Mr. Brownlee

Pouliot being up at 205 is a good move for him. And I am thrilled he is most definitely "DECENT" in size. I hope it helps improve his all around game and I am glad I was wrong. I also hope he finds that niche.

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#13 Word
October 05 2009, 05:30PM
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That's a real picture and not a Wanye(tm) MS Paint Doodle. Gatorade Bhulin (street name: Bhulinade) is a real medication consisting of grape soda and ground up antiperspirant that was recently developed by a crack team of Rexall-employed pharmaceutical technologists to help with our illustrious tender's dehydration issues. Unfortunately, during animal testing, when the rhesus monkey goalies kept making bone-headed moves with the puck and allowing a computer simulated David Moss to score gift-wrapped game winners, doctors just assumed that it was because monkeys are retarded... It was actually a side-effect.

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#14 Smokin' Ray
October 05 2009, 05:32PM
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@fiveandagame

I remember the conversation. I just don't buy that kind of excuse. 10 lbs isn't going to turn a soft player into a superstar. It's up to the player. Ask Gagner. He was a force in the 3rd period of last game (including the fight in the 2nd). Because he had to or he's not going to play. He will try and do the same tomorrow. Will he do it? It's up to him, not how much he weighs. Same goes with Pouliot. It's up to him if he can be a force in the NHL, not if he eats another plate of spaghetti. The ball is in his court now.

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#15 quicksilver ballet
October 05 2009, 05:35PM
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Smid bailing on Calgarys second goal was a little week kneed....Smid pulls the chute turns to avoid getting hit with the shot) on Phanuefs shot from the blue line deflecting it into our own net. Selfish play in my books.

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#16 toprightcorner
October 05 2009, 05:40PM
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It's not how big you are, it's how big you play

*Runs off to find wife and tell her this tidbit*

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#17 Jodan
October 05 2009, 05:54PM
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@quicksilver ballet

Really?! Would you put your candy ass in front of a 100mph slap shot?? didn't think so. Besides it's a total fluke goal, it could have happened if he didn't try and get out of the way. then you'd be saying "he should have gotten out of the way and let it hit the boards, instead of trying to be a hero." It was a fluke and I guarantee he wasn't playing selfish.

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#18 Oilitsinyoutogive
October 05 2009, 05:59PM
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Brownlee you get to knock the wall all you want!! Atleast your not one of these people who was in love with him Saturday morning, but then he makes you sick and the season is over come Sunday morning. Its people like that who make it hard not to punch people in the face. I just dont see how so many people are crying the seasons over, when we are one game in??

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#19 Smokin' Ray
October 05 2009, 06:01PM
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@Jodan

And it was at his head. Ouch!

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#21 bingofuel
October 05 2009, 06:29PM
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Comments are kind of glitchy, folks. We're aware of the problem and working on a solution!

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#22 SirFozz
October 05 2009, 06:32PM
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bingofuel wrote:

Comments are kind of glitchy, folks. We're aware of the problem and working on a solution!

Thanks for your tireless work bingofuel. I'll be drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching MNF while you iron this out. Again, thanks.

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#23 bingofuel
October 05 2009, 06:39PM
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SirFozz wrote:

Thanks for your tireless work bingofuel. I'll be drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching MNF while you iron this out. Again, thanks.

No: thank YOU for doing your part. :P

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#24 Matt Henderson
October 05 2009, 06:53PM
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All things considered, I was happy that the team showed some heart out there on Saturday. Khabibulin is a little scary right now but my magic 8 ball said he'd be fine. And the prophetic orb has never steered me wrong before.

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#25 roadrunner
October 05 2009, 06:53PM
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I didn't get a chance to watch the game except for tidbits in the 3rd period so I can't comment on alot. The one thing I did notice however is the Oil looked more committed to being physical. Most of last year they appeared hesitant to be agressive so hopefully they can be more consistant in that aspect this season.

Khabi's gaffe is just that, a gaffe of minor proportions. It happens and will probably happen again. Roli was the worst puck handler I've ever seen and he was bad all the time so I'm willing to forgive just this once... I do however agree with Brownlee that Khabi better start bringing his A-minus game (at least) over the next 20 games or this team is in deep trouble.

Three good games this week to see how they measure up so I'm looking forward to it. They should at least finish .500 for the homestand I'm thinking.

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#26 Oilitsinyoutogive
October 05 2009, 06:56PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Its good to hear you dont think the first game is a pre cursor for his play over rest of the season. Most people ive had the unfortunate pleasure of talking to today have more or less thrown in the towel after 1 game. This bothers me because even with pre-season we could be alot worse off and for now we can atleast put it up to being early. It does worry me hes not playing the the level he can, however i hope his mistakes Saturday are something hes able to grow off of.

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#27 jeanshorts
October 05 2009, 07:10PM
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Well......at least Khabibulin lasted an entire game without getting dried out, right? RIGHT??

*returns to seclusion until the Oilers win a game*

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#28 BarryS
October 05 2009, 07:19PM
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@Robin Brownlee

The thing that bothers me is the seven d and Bulin did not have many games to get to know each other under game conditions. It was clear Bulin has as yet no reason to trust the d to make the right plays and they proved undependable on at least three of the four goals.

I don't think he will be able to carry the d all year any more than Rolli could. The d better start playing the system on five on five as well as the PK or it'll be a long season.

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#29 quicksilver ballet
October 05 2009, 07:31PM
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Jodan wrote:

Really?! Would you put your candy ass in front of a 100mph slap shot?? didn't think so. Besides it's a total fluke goal, it could have happened if he didn't try and get out of the way. then you'd be saying "he should have gotten out of the way and let it hit the boards, instead of trying to be a hero." It was a fluke and I guarantee he wasn't playing selfish.

Guys put themselves in harms way on numerous occasions during every game, i'm not sure you fully appreciate or are aware of what you're watching. What Smid did isn't what Steve Staois would have done or what a Jason Smith would do, Ladislav spun away from the shot trying to avoid being hit at all by that puck. If he had time to bail/turn one way...why couldn't he have bailed the other as to not deflect the puck into our own net. He's soft for a blueliner in even todays game.

I know this may be small to you but it is alot of little things like this that make a big difference (insert image of Horcoff blocking Lidstroms 110 mph slapstot with his up high on his chest during the 2006 run)

He's a candy ass and so are you.

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#30 BarryS
October 05 2009, 07:34PM
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It is not necessary to turn a disagreement into personal attacks.

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#32 EricOG
October 05 2009, 07:45PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Seconded

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#33 quicksilver ballet
October 05 2009, 07:47PM
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I at no time put myself in that return volley Robin, he comes down on me like he's played the game and speaking from experience, i'm wasn't trying to play tough guy.

You think a Souray or Staios or Strudwick would have bailed on that puck like Smid did....what was your opinion on that play Robin?

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#34 Librarian Mike
October 05 2009, 07:48PM
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I have a feeling that everyone at The Pint tomorrow is going to collectively flinch every time Khabibulin leaves his net. Then again, I'm pretty sure that was a mistake he won't be soon making again.

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#35 Hoss
October 05 2009, 07:51PM
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With any luck the Oilers will have a goaltender come up through the system that will actually be a number one within a year or so. I hope so anyway!

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#36 Word
October 05 2009, 07:52PM
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quicksilver ballet wrote:

Guys put themselves in harms way on numerous occasions during every game, i'm not sure you fully appreciate or are aware of what you're watching. What Smid did isn't what Steve Staois would have done or what a Jason Smith would do, Ladislav spun away from the shot trying to avoid being hit at all by that puck. If he had time to bail/turn one way...why couldn't he have bailed the other as to not deflect the puck into our own net. He's soft for a blueliner in even todays game.

I know this may be small to you but it is alot of little things like this that make a big difference (insert image of Horcoff blocking Lidstroms 110 mph slapstot with his up high on his chest during the 2006 run)

He's a candy ass and so are you.

Smid's not even close to being a candy ass or "soft". If anything he probably had a lapse in judgment because of the goal that went in off him during a failed block attempt during preseason against Calgary. Secondly, your statement of "he's soft for a blueliner in todays game", if I understand you, just betrays ignorant nostalgia. Smid is bigger, faster, in better shape, and facing shots at consistently higher velocity than your good 'ole day blueliners. I dig your enthusiasm for self-sacrifice, but if you wanna talk about self-sacrifice for the betterment of the team, maybe we should talk about some of your "examples" retiring.

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#37 99thOilerfan
October 05 2009, 07:58PM
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Good evening

I too am worried, about the Wall but it is not my job on the line,right?

I thought there was some fight in the boys. They did not look too bad... Did they ?

now back to your scheduled name calling..

Good bye and Good luck

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#38 BarryS
October 05 2009, 08:00PM
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quicksilver ballet wrote:

Guys put themselves in harms way on numerous occasions during every game, i'm not sure you fully appreciate or are aware of what you're watching. What Smid did isn't what Steve Staois would have done or what a Jason Smith would do, Ladislav spun away from the shot trying to avoid being hit at all by that puck. If he had time to bail/turn one way...why couldn't he have bailed the other as to not deflect the puck into our own net. He's soft for a blueliner in even todays game.

I know this may be small to you but it is alot of little things like this that make a big difference (insert image of Horcoff blocking Lidstroms 110 mph slapstot with his up high on his chest during the 2006 run)

He's a candy ass and so are you.

By definition the worst player in the best leaque iess better than the best player in the second best leaque. See anyone in the AHL. As for turning away, sometimes the unconscious mind overrules the conscious mind. I agree though, it happens to often its time to retire and Smid is to young to suffer from the bodies auto-eject mechanism.

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#39 BarryS
October 05 2009, 08:03PM
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BarryS wrote:

By definition the worst player in the best leaque iess better than the best player in the second best leaque. See anyone in the AHL. As for turning away, sometimes the unconscious mind overrules the conscious mind. I agree though, it happens to often its time to retire and Smid is to young to suffer from the bodies auto-eject mechanism.

should be is not iess

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#40 Scuba Steve
October 05 2009, 08:05PM
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BarryS wrote:

By definition the worst player in the best leaque iess better than the best player in the second best leaque. See anyone in the AHL. As for turning away, sometimes the unconscious mind overrules the conscious mind. I agree though, it happens to often its time to retire and Smid is to young to suffer from the bodies auto-eject mechanism.

Huh?

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#42 Librarian Mike
October 05 2009, 08:08PM
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I can't help but wonder if this discussion would be happening if it was Souray in that situation. From what I've seen of Smid, he's never struck me as 'soft'. That is, unless that's meant as a euphemism for 'European'.

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#43 Scuba Steve
October 05 2009, 08:10PM
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I agree Robin, Smid was trying to get out of the way of a shot that was up around his face, the weird bounce into the net is just that, a weird bounce.

No one would stand there and take that shot in the chest or neck, just on the off chance that it bounces off him and into the net.

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#44 BarryS
October 05 2009, 08:10PM
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Scuba Steve wrote:

Huh?

See poat 41

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#45 quicksilver ballet
October 05 2009, 08:13PM
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Perhaps i errored in calling Ladislav a soft player...maybe i should have said Smid had poor iminant pain management abilities on this specific play only.

Appologies Mr. Smid.

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#46 Scuba Steve
October 05 2009, 08:16PM
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BarryS wrote:

See poat 41

Now I'm even more confused, first you post sentences that make no sense, with points that aren't relevant to the topic, and then you point me towards a post that's not your own?

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#47 Ogden Brother
October 05 2009, 08:16PM
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@ Admin

I think I must have had a typo in my email addy... I can't seem to log in. Any chance my account could be reset?

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#48 BarryS
October 05 2009, 08:17PM
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That's because Brownlee explained the auto-eject system better

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#49 Wanye
October 05 2009, 08:17PM
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@jeanshorts

OMG JEANSHORTS! SICK AVATAR AND SICKER BIO. NO CAPS LOCK ISN'T BROKEN I AM YELLING THIS

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#50 RossCreekNation
October 05 2009, 08:22PM
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@Robin Brownlee

Hey Robin, I've always wondered what its like to watch the game from upstairs. In comparison to seats throughout the building, where does the pressbox rank?

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