GDB III: Line shake-ups against the Flames

Jason Gregor
October 08 2009 11:15AM

Even though the Oilers are averaging four goals a game, Pat Quinn has decided to shake up all four of his lines.

Dustin Penner will skate with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Sam Gagner will centre JF Jacques and Patrick O’Sullivan, while Mike Comrie moves to the LW beside Gilbert Brule and Ryan Stone. Andrew Cogliano is back in the middle between Ethan Moreau and Zack Stortini.

And it looks like Jason Strudwick will see his first action alongside Lubomir Visnovsky. Steve Staios is out because of his head and Robert Nilsson will take a seat upstairs.

It's obvious why Penner is up on the first line, but it's a bit surprising that he was moved there to jump-start Horcoff and Hemsky. Those two haven’t been good at all, and hands up how many of you thought Penner would be used as a spark-plug for others.

It's a credit to Penner, because he is in good shape. He isn’t labouring skating up and down the ice, and in fact, he looks just as fresh late in the game as he does early.

Moving Comrie to the wing is a bit of a surprise, considering he is 80% in the draws so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes a few of the draws playing with Brule. Gagner’s play has earned him a promotion and maybe he can somehow help O’Sullivan finish off the great scoring chances he has missed so far this season.

With all the shuffling, Quinn has remained true to his belief that he needs at least one banger on all of his lines.

The Oilers are expecting a more physical game from the Flames tonight. Last Saturday the Oilers were clearly the aggressor, and the Flames will try to match that.

And look for Quinn to match up Horcoff’s line versus Phaneuf and Regehr tonight. Those two have struggled in their own zone so far this year, and while Quinn doesn’t go out of his way to match lines look for him to try and get Hemsky away from Bouwmeester tonight.

Stone leads the Oilers with nine hits, and while he isn’t the best skater, he has been very consistent at finishing all of his checks. He has had two big hits, and landing a big hit is as tough as scoring a goal. If Stone continues to get at least one every two games, he’ll stick on the roster.

Smid has struggled, but I think Grebeshkov has been worse. However, his two points earned him a pass for another game. Quinn wants Nikolai Khabibulin to find his game and expect him to play tonight and Saturday against the Habs. It seems Tom Renney is doing the same with Grebeshkov. His play hasn’t been that much better, but the coaching staff believes his overall game is better than Smid's and they are hoping Grebeshkov finds some consistency soon.

Steve MacIntyre continues to practice as a D-man, and unless the coaches feel they need a super heavyweight in a game, I don’t expect him to get in the line-up soon.

Wayne Fleming worked a lot with Horcoff, Cogliano, Brule and Gagner on draws this morning. Gagner is a woeful 29% so far this year and he needs to improve drastically. Cogliano went against Brule for two different sets of five, and then he went against Stortini. Stortini was strictly trying power moves, and it looked they there were trying to get Cogliano more comfortable against a big centreman in the draw. Considering the Oilers don't have a big middle man, it makes sense to put Stortini in there strictly for the strength factor.

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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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#1 z
October 08 2009, 11:17AM
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good thing Horcoff is staying on the first line, he has really earned it like how Gagner earned that fourth line time.

:|

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#2 BUCK75
October 08 2009, 11:18AM
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Not sure why they need to mix things up? they didn't play that bad the other night except 1 goofed play.

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#3 Hemmercules
October 08 2009, 11:29AM
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z wrote:

good thing Horcoff is staying on the first line, he has really earned it like how Gagner earned that fourth line time.

:|

Give the guy a break, 2 games. Great on the dot in both games. Name me another center on this team to put with Hemsky thats defensively responsible enough to play there???

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#4 Smokin' Ray
October 08 2009, 11:40AM
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Yeah, I really don't get Comrie on the wing either. Why not have him on the 4th line instead of Cogliano?

I really don't think that Smid has been bad at all. He hasn't been overly great, but not bad enough to sit.

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#5 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 11:42AM
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Nice to hear they are working on draws.

Not sure I agree with Comrie going to wing, like you said he has been a beast. I guess that could be a quick fix though if need be.

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#6 I'm a Scientist!
October 08 2009, 11:43AM
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Yikes. I am scared for the new line combos. Comrie with Brule and Stone? Err... Cogliano with Stortini and Moreau? Yikes.

I guess i shouldn't pass judgement yet... time will tell.

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#7 Dyckster
October 08 2009, 11:46AM
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Yikes,

Lubo with Strudwick? No offence to the big man but that pairing makes no sense. Is it cuz Visnovsky is still not 100% healthy, or is his play dictating the 3rd d pair assigment?

Is this "Mac Blender" with a purpose? I hope so.

No matter though, I can hardly wait for the game...Go Oilers!

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#8 Dyckster
October 08 2009, 11:48AM
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Scientist,

You totally one upped me in the "Yikes" department, well done!

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#9 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 11:48AM
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I guess my question is what is Quinn looking for from his forwards? Offense has been there, guys aren't being pushed around as much.

Is he afraid Bulin might let in 6 goals and is trying for more offense or is he looking for line combos that can play defense as well?

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#10 Jonathan Willis
October 08 2009, 11:52AM
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"...hands up how many of you thought Penner would be used as a spark-plug for others."

Derek, put your hand up.

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#11 JimmyCarson#12
October 08 2009, 11:54AM
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Hey Gregor,

Just curious about what the PP and PK units will look like. Any change to them with the changes to the other lines?

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#12 aoilguy
October 08 2009, 11:54AM
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Reasoner is great at face offs, is he not a UFA???

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#13 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 11:56AM
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aoilguy wrote:

Reasoner is great at face offs, is he not a UFA???

He re-signed in Atlanta, I think two years this time.

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#14 VicOiler
October 08 2009, 11:57AM
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This is the 3rd game with the "real" roster. Quinn is still trying to find the best pairs. His strategy seems to to be to find a a good pair and then insert a banger to complete the line.

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#15 AlbertaRanger
October 08 2009, 12:01PM
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I don't think it would be a bad idea to split up Hemmer and Horcoff? I'm just saying...

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#16 I'm a Scientist!
October 08 2009, 12:01PM
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@Dyckster

I think it is very worthy of a 'Yikes', so not too surprising we had the same thought.

I was also going to mention the MacBlender... glad i left that one for you!

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#17 Mr DeBakey
October 08 2009, 12:02PM
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"how many of you thought Penner would be used as a spark-plug for others" . .

Mine is up! Horcoff/Hemsky usually are better when Manitoba Fats is on their left side

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#18 Oilman007
October 08 2009, 12:02PM
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Sigh Cogs, back to the sacrificial grinder line.

Good to see Penner back where he belongs though. As good as he is playing with Brule and Nilsson/Cogs this team goes as far as Hemsky carries it so it is important to get him going.

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#19 AlbertaRanger
October 08 2009, 12:06PM
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And another thing... I got pretty tired of the MacT-blenders the last few seasons, but juggling up these lines is a bit understandable coming from Quinn. He wants every line to match Calgary's physical style. I hope The Oilers set a tone to the game like they did on Saturday night.

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#20 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 12:08PM
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AlbertaRanger wrote:

I don't think it would be a bad idea to split up Hemmer and Horcoff? I'm just saying...

I know stats say we should keep them together, but I agree that we could try something differnt for one game. Why not we are trying everything else.

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#21 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 12:10PM
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It's actually understandable by every coach in the NHL, it just took some of us longer to figure that out. Go to hfboards or Hockeybuzz and there are fans from accross the league complaining about blenders.

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#22 Ogden Brother
October 08 2009, 12:11PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I know stats say we should keep them together, but I agree that we could try something differnt for one game. Why not we are trying everything else.

It might be worth a shot, but the last couple of years was VERY ugly for Hemsky when he didn't have Horc with him.

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#23 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 12:11PM
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Is there a reason I have to hit reply twice to reply to someone. Last comment was for comment 19.

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#24 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 12:13PM
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As ugly as him looking like a spare pr*ck at a wedding, which he kinda looks like right now.

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#25 David S
October 08 2009, 12:14PM
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VicOiler wrote:

This is the 3rd game with the "real" roster. Quinn is still trying to find the best pairs. His strategy seems to to be to find a a good pair and then insert a banger to complete the line.

Except when that banger completely neutralizes that line. See: JFJ.

On that note, not sure how having JFJ on Gagner's line rates as a "promotion", more like a demotion. Guy is borderline useless. Cogs/Gagner/Stortini was a pretty decent line last game (I was there). Don't see why you wouldn't play that line for more minutes as the promotion.

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#26 David S
October 08 2009, 12:16PM
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Hmmm...

I have this strange craving for Oodle Noodle all of a sudden...

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#27 MattL
October 08 2009, 12:17PM
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Great, another case of the Mac-errr... Pat-Blender... Anyone need any more proof that ALL coaches juggle their lines? Even 2 games into the season?

Hopefully Penner doesn't rebel against this promotion by dogging it for the next few games... the guy doesn't like pressure/spotlight/success/adulation/diets.

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#28 Ogden Brother
October 08 2009, 12:19PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

As ugly as him looking like a spare pr*ck at a wedding, which he kinda looks like right now.

That pretty much wraps it up.

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#29 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 08 2009, 12:19PM
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I'm kind of interested (even though it was only mentioned briefly in this article) in hearing more about SMac as a D-man. It's the first I've heard of this. Is he showing any promise?

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#30 Harlie
October 08 2009, 12:24PM
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nothing like waking up this morning and seeing a carpet of white outside.

*In my best Christmas falsetto..."It's beginning to look a lot like the top of Quinn's dome"*

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#31 David S
October 08 2009, 12:27PM
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Hey Jason - what happened to Brownlee's "Irritants" clip last week? I've been on the JAG site every day to check it out. I know last Thursday's broadcast was a bit of a trainwreck, but that would have made it even better for listening.

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#32 Jonathan Willis
October 08 2009, 12:31PM
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aoilguy wrote:

Reasoner is great at face offs, is he not a UFA???

Reasoner, as mentioned above, has been re-signed by Atlanta, but there are some guys out there who might help the PK.

Gratton, McAmmond, Peca and Calder are all still unsigned and must be getting deperate.

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#33 Skidrow Gutterbum
October 08 2009, 12:33PM
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I thought JDD might start one of these next 2 home games, I guess most likely he will start in Nashville Monday, I'm thinking 'Bulin will be primed to play the Hawks next Wed.

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#34 Oil Fever
October 08 2009, 12:39PM
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z wrote:

good thing Horcoff is staying on the first line, he has really earned it like how Gagner earned that fourth line time.

:|

Well put Joey Moss!! Watch your back though, there are a few Snorecoff lovers here that will defend him to the bitter end!!! Not too sure exactly what game they're watching though?!? Or if they are even Oiler Faithful?

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#35 Ogden Brother
October 08 2009, 12:47PM
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Oil Fever wrote:

Well put Joey Moss!! Watch your back though, there are a few Snorecoff lovers here that will defend him to the bitter end!!! Not too sure exactly what game they're watching though?!? Or if they are even Oiler Faithful?

So what exactly has Hemsky done to stay on line 1.

Every metric you look at, Horc is still the teams best option for C #1.

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#36 Maverick
October 08 2009, 12:54PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

So what exactly has Hemsky done to stay on line 1.

Every metric you look at, Horc is still the teams best option for C #1.

Weird, I don't remember Oil Fever saying anything about Hemsky.

If Horcoff deserves to stay on line 1, then I am cheering for the wrong team.

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#37 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 12:55PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Reasoner, as mentioned above, has been re-signed by Atlanta, but there are some guys out there who might help the PK.

Gratton, McAmmond, Peca and Calder are all still unsigned and must be getting deperate.

I think we are better off with what we have for now. Let's do a wait and see before signing borderline nhlers. Again when did they start working on the PK, last Wednesday?

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#38 @steamingcoil.com
October 08 2009, 12:56PM
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@BUCK75

no worries, quinn is just checking to see who can play with who in real time

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#39 SportsDad
October 08 2009, 12:56PM
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I recall them saying on the Oilers brodcast last year that Steve MacIntyre played defence growing up and that was why he was used to making point shots. This was mentioned after his first goal. Also, HockeyDB has him listed as defense - http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=31013

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#40 aoiguy
October 08 2009, 12:56PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Reasoner, as mentioned above, has been re-signed by Atlanta, but there are some guys out there who might help the PK.

Gratton, McAmmond, Peca and Calder are all still unsigned and must be getting deperate.

But Peca wont play here "its too much tavel"

But honestly how much would anyone of them cost the oil?

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#41 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 08 2009, 12:56PM
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Maverick wrote:

Weird, I don't remember Oil Fever saying anything about Hemsky.

If Horcoff deserves to stay on line 1, then I am cheering for the wrong team.

I think his question was in response to your suggestion that Horcoff needs to earn his top line minutes. If all players are being put in the same situation, and Hemsky is underachieving right now, your logic suggests that he shouldn't be given a free pass either.

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#42 Ogden Brother
October 08 2009, 12:58PM
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Maverick wrote:

Weird, I don't remember Oil Fever saying anything about Hemsky.

If Horcoff deserves to stay on line 1, then I am cheering for the wrong team.

The orginal point (from Joey) was that Horc hasn't done enough in 2 games to deserve to stay on line #1.... Hemsky has been equally weak.

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#43 @steamingcoil.com
October 08 2009, 12:58PM
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i like what macT said on the panel last night: horcoff is the best 3 on 5 centre in the league, maybe thats why he beat him like a rented mule last year

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#44 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 08 2009, 12:58PM
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SportsDad wrote:

I recall them saying on the Oilers brodcast last year that Steve MacIntyre played defence growing up and that was why he was used to making point shots. This was mentioned after his first goal. Also, HockeyDB has him listed as defense - http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=31013

Taking it at face value, I kind of like that. It allows us to keep the big body in the game and offers him a chance to show us something else he can do.

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#45 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 08 2009, 12:59PM
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aoiguy wrote:

But Peca wont play here "its too much tavel"

But honestly how much would anyone of them cost the oil?

700k

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#46 brian glynn
October 08 2009, 12:59PM
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Lubo looked absolutely lost against Dallas. He was changing at the wrong time, and he ran right into Gilbert on a different one.

Grebs was brutal too, but his 2 points masked the terribleness of his play for the rest of the night. The guy beside me at the game kept calling him 'Garbagekov', I almost stabbed him in the throat. He was playing like garbage, we all get the joke with his name, don't say it every f*cking time.

Hopefully the energy is there again tonight, I'd like to see Souray ragdoll Dion.

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#47 aoilguy
October 08 2009, 01:01PM
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well lets drop one of the hand tools (poo) and pick upa power tools (peca)

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#48 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
October 08 2009, 01:02PM
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@brian glynn

We'd all like to see Phaneuf get what's coming to him.

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#49 BarryS
October 08 2009, 01:05PM
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Oilman007 wrote:

Sigh Cogs, back to the sacrificial grinder line.

Good to see Penner back where he belongs though. As good as he is playing with Brule and Nilsson/Cogs this team goes as far as Hemsky carries it so it is important to get him going.

It only took gag's two games to work his way off 4th line, no reason for gog's to not do likewise.

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#50 smiliegirl15
October 08 2009, 01:07PM
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Peca might be grateful to play in the NHL anywhere at this point. He would certainly help our faceoff percentage. Maybe his attitude would be better this time around - look what it did for Comrie...

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