Hit the road, Jack

Robin Brownlee
November 06 2009 09:29PM

No names, but a reporter asked Ethan Moreau after practice at Clareview Arena today if it might be a good thing that the Edmonton Oilers are heading out on the road for a five-game trip.

A good thing? Where they've lost five straight games? Nothing like a little bonding when the team's in the toilet, right? Look, I get the angle because it's one reporters always lean on at times like this, but I've got to admit I was damn proud of myself for choking back a guffaw at that knee-slapper.

The Oilers are 7-8-1, have lost six of their last seven games and are hanging on edge of the bowl by their fingertips. They can't generate shots. They can't score goals. They can't get the power play going. I'm worried coach Pat Quinn is going to clutch his chest and go down any day now.

Sure, a trip through Denver, Ottawa, Buffalo, Atlanta and Columbus without Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray, with Ales Hemsky banged up and the collective confidence of the team in tatters can't possibly help but sort all that out.

What could possibly go wrong?

HEY, IT COULD WORK

"You get the guys together and get more of a positive energy surrounding our team," Moreau said, dutifully answering the question. "It's worked as an advantage in the past. Hopefully, that's the case."

And hopefully Nikolai Khabibulin doesn't throw his arms in the air and say, "Screw you guys" after facing a barrage of rubber through 16 games with next-to-no run support during a 1-6 slide.

Hopefully, the penalty killing bounces back from an awful night in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers at Rexall Place Thursday. Hopefully, a few bonding brews in Denver or a team stroll down Rideau Street in Ottawa will soothe the many ills ailing the Oilers. Then again, maybe not.

The problem, Ethan, isn't where the games are being played. It's how they're being played. Not enough intensity. Lack of cohesion and persistence in the offensive zone. Too many puck battles lost at both ends of the rink. Lapses in defensive zone coverage. Fading late in games. Too many guys riding the bus, nobody steering it.

Location. Location. Location.

FLY ON THE WALL

Robert Nilsson and Quinn had a heart-to-heart chat at practice today, a conversation that was initiated by the insanely inconsistent Swede, who is widely perceived as one of the first guys to go when the Oilers get healthy.

Quinn mentioned the chat to reporters, but declined to discuss what was said. Luckily for Oilersnation fans, I have a source -- a digital recorder I taped to Nilsson's shoulder pads after slipping the equipment guys $100 to look the other way -- that provides us with an exclusive on the conversation.

Nilsson: "Coach, can we talk?"

Quinn: "F*ck, Ales, what do we have to talk about? You've got mad skills, kid, but skills alone aren't enough. You play. I talk."

Nilsson: "Uh, it's Robert, coach. Robert Nilsson. Hemmer isn't here today. Look, I know I've been horseshit. I feel bad about that and . . ."

Quinn: "You sure have, kid. I've got my ass hanging in the breeze and I can't count on you. That cream-puff you call a shot couldn't break a pane of glass. You're killing me.  I'll tell you again because I like you Patrick, skill alone isn't enough. You've got to play within a team concept, you've got to . . ."

Nilsson: "Uh, it's Robert, coach. Robert Nilsson. Look, I know I've got a bad rap as a slacker. MacT hated my guts. I was looking forward to a clean slate with you, but I'm worried I've f*cked that up already."

Quinn: "Dam straight you have, Ethan. Everybody is puking and shitting themselves with this H1N1 thing. The power play is in the crapper. The PK sucks. Jeezuz H. All I'm asking of you is to show a little leadership and, for f*ck sake, stop taking stupid penalties or I'm going Bobby Orr on you."

Nilsson: "Uh, it's Robert, coach. Robert Nilsson. I can turn things around, I really can, coach. I think that when Horcoff gets back, if you'd put him and I together, we could make something happen. We could . . ."

Quinn: "Horc, thank Christ you're here. Good job, kid. Shoulder's good, eh? Listen, Shawn, do me a favour, OK? Talk to Hemmer. Make sure he's happy, isn't asking for a trade, shit like that. O'Sullivan, too. I don't want the kid down on himself. And where's Nilsson? You tell that kid, and tell him good, if he mails another one in, he's dead to me."

JUST SAYIN'

  • For another kick in the pills the Oilers don't need, Hemsky didn't even skate today and it looks like he's battling through a shoulder injury after getting banged around on the last road trip. That's two days in the last four Hemsky has been held off the ice.
  • J.F. Jacques is still struggling with back spasms, and that's a significant malady for a big player who has to bang to be effective, especially one who has already had back surgery.
  • So, Tom Renney still talks to Jaromir Jagr occasionally, eh? Renney figures Jagr still has some NHL seasons left in him. Too bad about the waivers thing, and that the Oilers won't get a sniff even if he does bolt for North America. Let the rumours -- hello Peter Adler at The Journal -- begin.
  • Beat writers covering the Oilers can no longer travel on the charter with the team because of new regulations in the U.S. No more quick check-ins at private terminals. No more business class seats. No more trolleys of free booze and food rolling up and down the aisles. Commercial travel, baby.
  • Fearless Prediction: Oilers return from the road trip 8-11-2.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • Edmonton's power play is 2-for-18 in the last six games.
  • The Oilers have been outshot in 13 of their 16 games.
  • The Oilers were 8-7-1 for 17 points through 16 games last season.

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 Librarian Mike
November 06 2009, 09:44PM
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Damn Robin, that conversation between Quinn and Nilsson is hilarious. I'd love to see more transcripts of your 'secret shoulderpad confessions'.

Just curious; what's the dumbest question you've ever heard a reporter ask a player? No names are necessary, unless you don't care of course. Thanks.

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#2 Corsby31
November 06 2009, 09:54PM
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lol...very nice Robin...

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#3 Harlie
November 06 2009, 09:58PM
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he's dead to me. LOLZ!

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#4 oilerzz
November 06 2009, 10:10PM
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that's some funny stuff .. nice work

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#5 Da shizznitz
November 06 2009, 10:15PM
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Peter Adler hasn't been at Teh Journal for many years now. Many years.

The moment the managing editor told him he had to work evenings as a copy editor his shoulder flared up and his doctor put him on extended leave.

That was years ago

Hello Peter Adler in Riverbend...

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#6 roughneck
November 06 2009, 10:18PM
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RB you forgot a vladimir update?

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#7 LoDog
November 06 2009, 10:24PM
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Good read, Nlsson is soooo frustrating.

Once we get somewhat healthy and on the same page as Quinn I see the ship righting itself to a degree, but we are doomed to be an almost ran unless we upgrade the roster.

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#8 Garett
November 06 2009, 10:47PM
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LOL, I woke the wife up with my "tee-hee" after reading that article, great stuff RBL, you keep the mood light when most hope is gone for this mis-lead hockey club. If only PQ was still in his playing days, he can only do so much leading from the bench, we need a real leader who's example consists of more than infinite poor solo rushes with the puck and stupid trips to the sin bin.

Good day gentlemen.

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#9 treblecharger
November 06 2009, 10:57PM
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Are you efffin' kiddin' me about scribes having to fly commercial!!! Time to quit if you work in dailies. Sheesh!

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#10 mike
November 06 2009, 11:04PM
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I've been reading blogs and following hockey for a long time. Really I think this site is the best I've ever seen. Ever since Bob Stauffer came in with his tripe about Willis writing six straight, the quality has seem to have gone up 300%. I think you guys are on the brink of something totally different and whatever it is you've done lately, be it rally against the MSM or whatever, I hope the edge stays because lately its the first place I stop every time.

Maybe its because you're not getting paid and its done for the love or something. Good times for me. Thanks dudes.

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#11 RossCreekNation
November 06 2009, 11:21PM
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I'm gonna have to quit my job just to keep up with all the new articles and comments. Thanks a lot ON!

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#12 Robin Brownlee
November 07 2009, 12:14AM
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Da shizznitz wrote:

Peter Adler hasn't been at Teh Journal for many years now. Many years.

The moment the managing editor told him he had to work evenings as a copy editor his shoulder flared up and his doctor put him on extended leave.

That was years ago

Hello Peter Adler in Riverbend...

Yes, but his information shows up regularly in The Journal, either under his own name or leaked to David Staples as Uncle Pedro.

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#13 Death Metal Nightmare
November 07 2009, 01:17AM
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i dont even think Quinn cares that much. sure, its a kick in the junk that he cant get these dudes to perform past MacT's craptastic attempts but who really thought Quinn was going to be some long term coach? the dude steps in on day one and doesnt know any of the players and talks about them out of position, etc... then in scrums he talks about them at some bizarre distance and just mashes them. hes like a lame duck from the outset waiting for Renney and Flemming to take over when he cant kick these young dudes in the balls hard enough to "motivate" them. lets face it, thats all hes here for. and if hes not, his "technical expertise" sure the hell isnt working.

1 year, 2 max and hes gone. maybe theyll give him Tambo's job since Tambo is a puss.

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#14 Rob
November 07 2009, 01:53AM
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Does Ethan Moreau remind anyone else of a squirrel humping a football when he skates down the ice? He's trying to save wear and tear on his blades...maybe that's why he looks like he is skating on his ankles. Is he worn out or does he have residual vision problems? Make 1 or 2 good passes a game and prove me wrong.

Pisani looks totally lost out there. Notwithstanding a horrible history of injury and illness, he just doesn't seem to have a clue. Neither does he seem to be having fun out there on the ice. He has this hang-dog look on his face all the time and I just wonder if he'll ever be able to summon up some semblance of passion for the game ever again.

If either Moreau or Pisani get re-signed here I will be very surprised.

I think Stauffer and RB should be allowed to put the line combos together for a while. They make more sense than Quinn's player moves of late. I apologize in advance for the obvious suck-up but can anyone figure out the rationale of his recent line-ups?

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#15 Nail Yakupov
November 07 2009, 04:19AM
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Friggen hilarious conversation!

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#16 Reagan
November 07 2009, 08:34AM
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Yeah, Not a fan of Staples...

"He's dead to me"...

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#17 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 07 2009, 08:36AM
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Quality article, Brownlee. Really enjoyed it.

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#18 MattL
November 07 2009, 08:40AM
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Man alive, I really want to cheer for Nilsson. It's such a shame to have so much skill, and use so little of it on a regular basis. The guy CAN make spectacular passes, he CAN stick handle as well as almost anyone on the team, but no dice this year.

I keep thinking that if Penner can turn his game around, maybe Row-bear can do it too, but he just keeps floundering. It's got to be in his head, there's nothing wrong with the rest of the guy. Time to fire our sports psychiatrist and hire a new one. FOSPNF.

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#19 Robin Brownlee
November 07 2009, 09:08AM
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ROSTER UPDATE: Expect the Oilers to announce they have recalled Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny from Springfield this morning.

Looks like Hemsky and Jacques are question marks for the start of the trip.

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#20 roughneck
November 07 2009, 09:17AM
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@Death Metal Nightmare

not buying the In Quinn We Trust thing I take it.

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#21 Librarian Mike
November 07 2009, 09:19AM
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@Robin Brownlee

Looks like the Avs are going to choke on some 'Liam Reddox Hockey' tomorrow night.

*Hopes and prays MacT was right about him all along*

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#22 Chris.
November 07 2009, 09:24AM
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Robin wrote: "Fearless Prediction: Oilers return from the road trip 8-11-2."

Agree. How depressing. On the bright side, it's not too late to buy Rush season Tix(?)... apparently it's a lot like hockey; but played with balls.

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#23 roughneck
November 07 2009, 09:29AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

ROSTER UPDATE: Expect the Oilers to announce they have recalled Liam Reddox and Ryan Potulny from Springfield this morning.

Looks like Hemsky and Jacques are question marks for the start of the trip.

Daum.... reddox sucks right now

Oilers... lets call up reddox

the nation..... WTF are we doing here, these a**holes are clueless

wanye......... buddy light anyone?

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#24 Reagan
November 07 2009, 09:31AM
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At least with Potulny and Reddox here, we might have some decent penalty killing.

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#25 freeze
November 07 2009, 09:31AM
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Hemsky out?! Sure, this trip will turn the team around. Sure. Potulny, RedOx; just what the doctor ordered!

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#26 Milli
November 07 2009, 09:43AM
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Beautiful, just beautiful!!!!! I sure picked the wrong week to quit drinking.

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#27 David
November 07 2009, 09:51AM
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mike wrote:

I've been reading blogs and following hockey for a long time. Really I think this site is the best I've ever seen. Ever since Bob Stauffer came in with his tripe about Willis writing six straight, the quality has seem to have gone up 300%. I think you guys are on the brink of something totally different and whatever it is you've done lately, be it rally against the MSM or whatever, I hope the edge stays because lately its the first place I stop every time.

Maybe its because you're not getting paid and its done for the love or something. Good times for me. Thanks dudes.

Are you saying because Willis writes less this site is better?

And I doubt Gregor and Brownlee, who are both professionals, write here for free. I'm going to guess that isn't the case.

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#28 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 07 2009, 10:00AM
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http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/gamecenter/recap/NHL_20091106_VAN@DAL/canucks-rookie-goalie-schneider-comes-up-just-short-against-stars

If JDD doesn't pan out, we should look to pick up Schneider. I've seen him play in person quite a few times with the Moose, and he'll definitely make waves in the next few years.

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#29 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
November 07 2009, 10:15AM
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http://www.coppernblue.com/2009/11/6/1119744/magnus-paajarvi-svensson-concussed

"I came into the zone with the puck on the left, then I dropped the puck inside the blue to Marcus Johansson. A few seconds after, I get an armbagstackling in the head. Helmet and stuff flew off."

MPS Concussed.

Anybody have a list of players in the organization that are healthy?

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#30 Robin Brownlee
November 07 2009, 10:15AM
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David wrote:

Are you saying because Willis writes less this site is better?

And I doubt Gregor and Brownlee, who are both professionals, write here for free. I'm going to guess that isn't the case.

Gregor and I do not write for free.

Our deal with ON clearly states that every Monday morning Wanye must swing by our houses with his shopping cart and provide us with a 50-50 split of his empties from the weekend. That's a big stack, pal. Real money.

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#31 roughneck
November 07 2009, 10:26AM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

http://www.coppernblue.com/2009/11/6/1119744/magnus-paajarvi-svensson-concussed

"I came into the zone with the puck on the left, then I dropped the puck inside the blue to Marcus Johansson. A few seconds after, I get an armbagstackling in the head. Helmet and stuff flew off."

MPS Concussed.

Anybody have a list of players in the organization that are healthy?

armbagstackling........ now theres a wanye word.

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#32 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 07 2009, 10:29AM
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here a question for the ages

sorry i just LOL'ed

who's better Moreau or Nillson ?

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#33 mowgli
November 07 2009, 11:00AM
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@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

Nillson the better skill player, Moreau is a better team player.

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#34 Heatly
November 07 2009, 11:18AM
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Can't wait till tomorrow.

We will win!

3 - 1

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#35 HansBaurMesserschmittWatson
November 07 2009, 11:22AM
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does anyone here play NHL2K10 or PES2010 online on the XBOX360 system ?

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#36 Hands McDangles
November 07 2009, 11:52AM
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Stauffer said on his show Wednesday that he thinks the Oil will finish anywhere from 5th to 11th in the Western Conference...is that even a prediction?

Here is my BOLD prediction...The Oilers will finish somewhere between 4th and 14th in the West.

On Stauffer's prediction...is there anyone in ON that seriously thinks the Oilers have a chance in hell at finishing 5th or even 7th in the Western Conference?

Brownlee...more shoulder pad tape recorder conversations in the future equals more of me laughing and spitting fruit loops on my computer.

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#37 Chamucks Deluxe
November 07 2009, 02:49PM
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50 bucks it was Tencer.

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#38 Chamucks Deluxe
November 07 2009, 02:50PM
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@HansBaurMesserschmittWatson

Add Leppersnatch at your own risk.

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#39 David S
November 07 2009, 03:24PM
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Milli wrote:

Beautiful, just beautiful!!!!! I sure picked the wrong week to quit drinking.

Johnny: [plugging back in the runway lights] Just kidding.

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#40 Librarian Mike
November 07 2009, 04:15PM
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David S wrote:

Johnny: [plugging back in the runway lights] Just kidding.

Haha. My favorite Johnny quote is when they want an update: "Well, first the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat and they turned to oil..."

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#41 Robin Brownlee
November 07 2009, 04:39PM
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Chamucks Deluxe wrote:

50 bucks it was Tencer.

No, it was not Milhouse.

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#42 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 07 2009, 05:48PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

No, it was not Milhouse.

ohhhhhhh snap!

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#43 Paq Twinn
November 07 2009, 06:06PM
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That hidden recorder thing was great.

Who's better is the wrong question, it should be who's worse (Nilsson/Moreau). For the record Ales... no wait, Shawn... no wait, Patrick...no wait, Robert Nilsson is my Goat for this season.

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#44 Robin Brownlee
November 07 2009, 07:20PM
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cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan wrote:

ohhhhhhh snap!

Oooooh. I can just imagine him slamming his glasses down in anger and cursing as he frantically plucks his eyebrows.

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#45 Travis Dakin
November 07 2009, 09:36PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Oooooh. I can just imagine him slamming his glasses down in anger and cursing as he frantically plucks his eyebrows.

Hey man! some of us are forced to pluck! Too many times people misinterpret the unibrow as an angry scowl. It scares kids. Cuts your woman getting abilities down to 1/73rd of potential. No one knows if you're angry, sad or happy.

There is nothing wrong with a little manscaping.

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#46 Robin Brownlee
November 08 2009, 08:49AM
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Heatly wrote:

Can't wait till tomorrow.

We will win!

3 - 1

Avs are 6-0 at home and going for a franchise record seventh straight win at the Pepsi Center to start the season. Oilers are 1-5 on the road.

No Horcoff. No Hemsky. No Souray. No Jacques. No chance.

4-1 Avs

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#47 Quintana
November 08 2009, 11:50AM
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Hey Robin, rumours today...U think Tambi is trying to swap one of our Top D-fence......... K.Lowe had been scouting the lighting ( last 4 games)..........maybe Meszaros for Gilbert?

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#48 roughneck
November 08 2009, 12:23PM
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Quintana wrote:

Hey Robin, rumours today...U think Tambi is trying to swap one of our Top D-fence......... K.Lowe had been scouting the lighting ( last 4 games)..........maybe Meszaros for Gilbert?

oiler top d-fence:: is that like military intelligence?

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#49 David S
November 08 2009, 03:40PM
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Quintana wrote:

Hey Robin, rumours today...U think Tambi is trying to swap one of our Top D-fence......... K.Lowe had been scouting the lighting ( last 4 games)..........maybe Meszaros for Gilbert?

According to Gregor's K Lowe podcast at the JAG site, Lowe is taking a look at potential team Canada players for the Oly's.

Jeez man. The guys at HF boards start rumors if K Lowe changes hands when he wipes his butt. Next thing you hear, its a lock - Gilbert, Moreau and Nilsson for Crosby.

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#50 Nate full of Hate
November 08 2009, 04:38PM
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Avs will win tonight 3-1

Stastny, Wolski, O'Reilly with the goals...

By the numbers:

4- The # of goals Patrick O'Sullivan has scored in 35 games as an Oiler.

70- The # of games Sheldon Souray has missed as an Oiler.

2008-2009 4 losses from a lotto pick.. 2007-2008 5 loses from a lotto pick... 2006-2007 1 loss from a lotto pick...

Trade "the wall", go for Taylor Hall!!!

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