GDB XXII: Preventing another Avalanche

Jason Gregor
November 18 2009 11:49AM

It's quite amusing how after one blow-out loss to Vancouver, many thought the Avalanche bubble had burst, and they were destined for the bottom of the standings. I don’t think they will stay in the top two in the West division, but I don’t see them plummeting to the bottom either. They are 5-4-1 in their last ten, and if they play like that in ten game segments the rest of the year, they will be right in the mix.

Unlike the Oilers right now, the Avalanche understand and play the system their coach wants. They clog up the neutral zone if they get a lead, and while they give up a lot of shots, many come from the outside. And they don't turn the puck over very often in the neutral zone.

The biggest surprise in Colorado has been Ryan O’Reilly. The second-round pick this past summer is in double digits in points (15) and +/- (12). The best way to describe his game is mature. He is just as good away from the puck as he is when he has it.

Pat Quinn, and his predecessor, has tried urging the Oilers younger players to realize that if they make smart plays in their own zone and away from the puck that it will ultimately lead to more offence. So far though, Quinn hasn’t been able to get the kids and some of his veterans to understand this concept.

When you watch the game tonight, take a few shifts and watch what O’Reilly does. Don’t watch the play, focus on O’Reilly. Then pick an Oiler and do the same. You might be surprised in the results.

Up-tempo

The Oilers had an up-tempo morning skate. They had more jump than usual, and the pace was quicker. Speaking with them after practice it is clear they realize they need to be more aggressive and have more energy in their game.

The Oilers are 2-6-2 in the last ten and begin a five-game home stand tonight. After games against the Avs, Hawks, Coyotes, Kings and Sharks they head back on the road for six games. If they don’t get seven points out of ten at home, they could be in serious trouble heading on the road.

New lines

Pat Quinn shuffled his lines again this morning:

Penner — Horcoff — Hemsky
Reddox — O’Sullivan — Brule
Strudwick — Cogliano — Comrie
Moreau — Potulny — Stortini

Gilbert — Souray
Smid — Visnovsky
Staios — Arsene

Deslauriers

Quinn has got to get some secondary scoring going so it is no surprise he has juggled the lines again. At this point I don’t think there is any combination that would give him a better chance, so he is going with completely new combinations.

It looks like he is reverting back to having some sort of grit/physical presence on his bottom three lines. Sam Gagner wasn’t in any of the lines, but I spoke to him after practice and he said he is ready to go. When I asked Quinn he admitted that Gagner is likely to play, so that will change the lineup.

If Gagner goes you have to think that Strudwick will move back to the blue line, unless Quinn wants more size up front. Mike Comrie still isn’t feeling right. His energy level isn’t where he wants it to be, but he said he is feeling a bit better today. That would explain why he has looked a step behind that past few games.

We could see a battle of the back ups tonight. Craig Anderson has played 20 games already for the Avalanche and last week Joe Sacco said he would try to get him some rest. When you consider the Oilers have faced a back up in 8 of their 21 games so far it wouldn’t surprise me if Peter Budaj gets the start tonight.

Injury update

J.F Jacques skated this morning, but won’t return until Saturday at the earliest. Robert Nilsson wasn’t even on the ice this morning, and he is still suffering with concussion-like symptoms. Ryan Stone didn’t practice with the team and his still has soreness in his knee, so unfortunately he is at least another week away.

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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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#151 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 08:38PM
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Academy Award winning actor Adrian Brody plays for the Avalanche????? That nose is unmistakable!

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#152 Wanyes bastard child
November 18 2009, 08:39PM
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ronaldo was quicke.. WOOOOOOOOOOO Gagner!!!!

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#153 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 08:39PM
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@SirFozz

It's pretty common knowledge that 17 year old dudes in track suits to a far better job at scraping the ice than a hot girl in tight pants and a "top".

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#154 Eddie Shore
November 18 2009, 08:41PM
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I'm not even going to get excited.

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#155 Brandon
November 18 2009, 08:42PM
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That's my star.....

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#156 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 08:42PM
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Maybe Gagner should work with Hemsky in practice and show him how to score on open nets.

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#157 Shaun Doe
November 18 2009, 08:42PM
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Anyone remember the last time an oiler laid out to swat the puck out of the zone?

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#158 SirFozz
November 18 2009, 08:43PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

I'm not even going to get excited.

I will. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!!!!!! Comeback time!

*knows disappointment most likely awaits*

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#159 David S
November 18 2009, 08:43PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

It's pretty common knowledge that 17 year old dudes in track suits to a far better job at scraping the ice than a hot girl in tight pants and a "top".

And they are brutal track suits too. Won't even get the gay guys going.

Lose - lose I imagine.

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#160 Maggie the Monkey
November 18 2009, 08:44PM
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I'm all for the coach sending a message, but I'm not sure if playing Staios on the pp over Gilbert is the right message.

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#161 Lofty
November 18 2009, 08:45PM
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Cogs, Brule and Gagner... might be something worth playing with. Small, but Brule brings some jam/grit/sandpaper.

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#162 Eddie Shore
November 18 2009, 08:46PM
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Hejduk sounds like he has a set of nuts in his mouth.

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#163 Maggie the Monkey
November 18 2009, 08:48PM
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Lofty wrote:

Cogs, Brule and Gagner... might be something worth playing with. Small, but Brule brings some jam/grit/sandpaper.

The word you're looking for is "crust". Just ask Quinn.

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#164 Tooles
November 18 2009, 08:51PM
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I like my crust with a little bit of jam.

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#165 Lofty
November 18 2009, 08:53PM
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I like grime... its the best of both grit and jam

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#166 Shaun Doe
November 18 2009, 08:54PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Hejduk sounds like he has a set of nuts in his mouth.

Well he deffinetly has the Oilers nuts in the palm of his soft buttery hands thats for sure.

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#167 Eddie Shore
November 18 2009, 08:56PM
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@Shaun Doe

Either way makes him gay.

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#168 Eddie Shore
November 18 2009, 09:03PM
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Look what happens when we move around.

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#169 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 09:04PM
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Battle of the backup's!

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#170 Brandon
November 18 2009, 09:04PM
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LETS GO OILERS!!!!!

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#171 Tooles
November 18 2009, 09:14PM
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PATTY O!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#172 Oilchange64
November 18 2009, 09:14PM
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Finally - 20+ games in - my star comes thru!

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#173 Shaun Doe
November 18 2009, 09:14PM
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GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAATLLLLLLLLLLLL *find the hiddne message*

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#174 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 09:14PM
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HOLYCRAPDIDEVERYONESEETHAT????

O'SULLIVAN HIT THE NET!!!!!!

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#175 Eddie Shore
November 18 2009, 09:15PM
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Ok now I'll get excited.

ahem...

SULLLLLLLLLYYYYYYY

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#176 Brandon
November 18 2009, 09:15PM
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@jeanshorts

yeah, did you see that pig fly by too?

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#177 Lofty
November 18 2009, 09:16PM
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That was all Brule

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#178 SirFozz
November 18 2009, 09:16PM
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Hopes are up now. Common Oilers, lets finish this.

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#179 Eddie Shore
November 18 2009, 09:18PM
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We're going to need at least 3 more before this lead is comfortable.

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#180 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 09:21PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

We're going to need at least 3 more before this lead is comfortable.

Remember the Detroit game?

Mmmm Hmmmm.

I won't be comfortable until it's at least a 10 goal lead and half the Avalanche are dead. And even then....

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#181 Eric Johnson
November 18 2009, 09:23PM
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I get it Sharp, you make TV's....

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#182 rubbertrout
November 18 2009, 09:25PM
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HEY GREGOR LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE OWES ME A BEER!

Pay up sucka!

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#183 Eric Johnson
November 18 2009, 09:26PM
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Wow...Reddox. thank you kid.

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#184 Eric Johnson
November 18 2009, 09:27PM
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rubbertrout wrote:

HEY GREGOR LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE OWES ME A BEER!

Pay up sucka!

WELL DONE BUDDY.

That is going to be one sweet brew. NICE!!

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#185 rubbertrout
November 18 2009, 09:30PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Done...easy money on my part.

Book it. Sully is cash money when I have a wager on him.

And . . . HEMMER HITS AN OPEN NET!

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#186 Eric Johnson
November 18 2009, 09:30PM
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oh my god.... really?...wow

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#187 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 09:30PM
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HOLY CRAP A COMEBACK WIN!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, Hemsky should have passed that to Penner. The one time he doesn't pass.....

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#188 Eric Johnson
November 18 2009, 09:31PM
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Moreau hasn't come back.... Concussion?

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#189 rubbertrout
November 18 2009, 09:32PM
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Eric Johnson wrote:

WELL DONE BUDDY.

That is going to be one sweet brew. NICE!!

The funny thing is I'll be watching Saturday from a box. The beer will be free but I'll still drink the sweet nectar of the heroin beer at Gregor's expense. What's the only thing better than free beer? Beer won on a bet that's what!

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#190 Brandon
November 18 2009, 09:32PM
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@Eric Johnson

probably

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#191 SirFozz
November 18 2009, 09:32PM
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OMG OILERS WIN! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT BUTTER!

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#192 rubbertrout
November 18 2009, 09:33PM
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Eric Johnson wrote:

Moreau hasn't come back.... Concussion?

Can we dare to hope?

*Edit* I take that back. As frustrating as he is to watch I don't wish him any injury. That's not cool.

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#193 Eric Johnson
November 18 2009, 09:33PM
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wow.... we've beat the Av's twice in two weeks, nice.

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#194 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 18 2009, 09:34PM
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Worst star of the night: The Colorado Avalanche for losing to a dog team like Edmonton.

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#195 SirFozz
November 18 2009, 09:38PM
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A WIN, now on to step two, trade Gilbert.

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#196 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 09:38PM
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Can this team please pick between being crappy and being decent? Either play hard every game, win or lose, or play garbage every game and get us a number one pick. There's no history of heart problems in my family, but I'm pretty sure I'm half way to developing one from these last 4 years alone.

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#197 Travis Dakin
November 18 2009, 09:40PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Can this team please pick between being crappy and being decent? Either play hard every game, win or lose, or play garbage every game and get us a number one pick. There's no history of heart problems in my family, but I'm pretty sure I'm half way to developing one from these last 4 years alone.

I've always said I am going to die watching this team and I meant LITERALLY die! I'm way too emotionally invested in them. It's not right.

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#198 jeanshorts
November 18 2009, 09:44PM
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Is anyone else excited for Willis to point out which line was actually the 4th line, and not the third like everyone suggested???

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#199 Brandon
November 18 2009, 09:46PM
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@jeanshorts

we had 4 lines? I thought after Stortini got his instigator, and thecaptianEthanMoreau left we only had 3 lines?

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#200 SirFozz
November 18 2009, 09:48PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Is anyone else excited for Willis to point out which line was actually the 4th line, and not the third like everyone suggested???

Well the fourth line is the one with Comrie....and usually Nilsson so I'd say we went with 1,2,3 and 5 tonight.

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