Oilers working on their power-play

Jason Gregor
March 23 2009 01:59PM

linejuggling

The Oilers skated this morning except for Souray, Roloson, Reddox and Nilsson. Nilsson just walked by me during practice and I jokingly asked him if he will be in the doghouse for missing the skate. He laughed and said he got the green light not to skate today. He bruised his knee on the road trip, so they gave him the day off today, but said he will play tomorrow.

Souray and Roloson are just getting rest, and while Reddox told us he feels fine, he clearly doesn't have clearance from the medical staff to play. With four extra forwards there is no need to rush him back.

Lots of PP work in practice today. Both the first and second unit spent close to 20 minutes working on quick puck movement and lots of shots. They still don’t shoot enough with the man advantage and clearly the message is to get more rubber on goal.

If the Oilers can win the special teams battle, their chances of winning are much higher because this season they’ve become pretty effective 5-on-5.

Look at the recent road trip. The Oilers were +2 on special teams in Colorado, +1 in Chicago and then -1 in Minnesota. They won the games where they won the special teams. In the 12 games prior to Colorado, the Oilers never won the special teams games and they went 4-3-5 in that stretch.

If this team can improve their PP and their PK in the final ten games they are a lock to make the playoffs.

Oh! Line juggling

If the first line was producing as little as they have been lately you would of seen a change in personnel, but don’t expect O’Sullivan, Hemksy and Horcoff to be split up anytime soon.

Hemsky has two goals in this last 13, while Horcoff has two (both on the PP) as well. They aren’t producing five-on-five, but MacTavish will not split them up.

“In times before I would have changed that line if it wasn’t productive, but now I think they have to work themselves through it. The other lines are playing okay, so I don’t want to switch them, but they (first line) has the capability of working themselves through it. I see a lot of potential on that line, and I expect them to produce very soon.”

If the first line wakes up it would make life much easier for the Oilers and their loyal fans. O’Sullivan is 1-1-2 and –4 in the last six. Hemsky is 0-2-2 and –3, while Horcoff is 2-0-2 and –2. Horcoff averaged 20:39 of ice-time during this stretch, Hemsky 18:25 and O’Sullivan 20:07.

Compare their production to the 2nd line:

  • Gagner: 4-4-8... +3 and 16:16 of icetime.
  • Kotalik: 1-3-4... +2 and 14:25 of icetime.
  • Nilsson: 2-4-6... +4 and 13:38 of icetime.

Horcoff and O’Sullivan kill penalties so that is the where they get most of their extra minutes, but even if you take away those three minutes a game the production of the first line is well below Gagner’s line.

We constantly hear how this is the FUN time of the season, and the time where your go-to-players need to show up. Gagner and company have upped their game, and it's time that Hemsky et al follow suit.

They play the most minutes within the forwards and they need to start producing to make life a bit easier for their team, and most importantly that would allow MacTavish to rest Roloson for a game. He will play tomorrow against Detroit, and right now it seems as long as he gets rest on off days, he will play until the Oilers have secured a playoff spot. Phoenix to Anaheim is a much easier back-to-back than Denver to Colorado, so don’t be surprised if the Colossal Fossil plays both of those.

Clarify Eberle

In case you missed my post on JW's article about Eberle's contract and how the Oilers were allowed to sign him:

He signed a three-year entry level deal that kicks in next year if he makes the team.

He is playing the remainder of this season on a “Futures” contract. It allows a player to play a maximum of 25 games. These types of contracts are common in the AHL and ECHL. They don’t count under the 50 team contracts.

While the Oilers didn’t confirm this, I would suspect that Eberle’s agent wanted a three-year deal in place before his client played on the “futures” contract in the AHL.

Eberle will play the RW with Potulny, and the LW will be either Schremp, Willis or Stone according to Rob Daum.

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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 DK0
March 23 2009, 02:07PM
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If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a Pun-Picture worth a thousand puns?

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#2 Nickler
March 23 2009, 02:11PM
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Interesting numbers for the second line. Do you think if MacT put the second line in with first line minutes that it might light a fire under the 19-10-83 line or would it take away from the second line production by facing the oponents top players?

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#3 Dennis
March 23 2009, 02:13PM
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Yeah, this club did alright on that stretch considering they were getting ripped on ST. I think they were outscored 3-16 from the game at SJ until the OTW vs the Blues.

I don't even think they have the win the ST battle; as long as they can finish even I'll like their chances because we're steady on the EV tip.

BTW, I'm not in the least sold on the 12-89-21 line. They've been together since last Tues vs Stl and here's what they did:

vs Stl: absolutely nothing at Col: they tear up the third period but it's against a crappy/young team. at Chi: the line gets owned chances-wise but 89 scores on the PP off a sweet pass from 12. at Min: outchanced once again.

So, good on 'em for being able to take down the Avs but we're talking a small segment sample here and the numbers are being pumped by one period at EV and some PP stats.

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#4 Reggie
March 23 2009, 02:16PM
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How much of the struggles of the first line is because Horcoff has no energy left ? he's been used so much in the faceoff circle, etc.

He is constantly missing passes, missing one timers, not making plays with the puck, etc.

I think cutting down on his minutes a bit will make him more effective.

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#5 Zamboni Driver
March 23 2009, 02:29PM
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Good jugglers are kinda like good bowlers.... If you spend enough time at either to be good...you spend WAY too much time at it.

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#6 Chris
March 23 2009, 02:36PM
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I have staunchly advocated playing O'Sullivan on the first line since his arrival. I think the line works well, but will only really produce when Hemsky gets going... It's hard for Horcoff or O'Sullivan to really take matters into their own hands when Hemsky is the guy who always has the puck. I also like Kotalik better on the second line right wing. I laughed out loud during the ST Louis post game interview, when Kotalik said that his role in Buffalo, "wasn't about goal scoring anymore"; and when asked by Tencer if he was more comfortable on the right side, Kotalik answered, "The game has changed over the years, you know they are using the trap on the left side, you know with the way teams back-checking over the last couple years I wasn't effective.... I was moved to the right side and had been playing better for two and a half years, and I definately feel better, I can make more plays, and I can see the ice better..." I wish MacT had asked the same question, and gotten an honest answer back on March 4th... That said, I'm happy with the current set of lines... I'm also much happier with the results.

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#7 humantorch
March 23 2009, 02:48PM
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Hemsky has two goals in this last 13, while Horcoff has two (both on the PP) as well. They aren’t producing five-on-five, but MacTavish will not split them up. “In times before I would have changed that line if it wasn’t productive, but now I think they have to work themselves through it. The other lines are playing okay, so I don’t want to switch them, but they (first line) has the capability of working themselves through it. I see a lot of potential on that line, and I expect them to produce very soon.”

AAARRRRGHGHGGHGHGHAK;DLFL;KTER;OIF;IFGD;LHDFG;LKJ

i think i just had a stroke.

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#8 Dennis
March 23 2009, 02:51PM
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The new 10 line has been generating enough big opps that you'd bet they'll break out soon.

I haven't seen the same from the new 89 line outside of that period in Col

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#9 HBomb
March 23 2009, 03:11PM
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New line combo idea for the day (assuming they don't go with MacIntyre tomorrow night and replace him with Pouliot):

Penner Horcoff Hemsky - proven power vs. power trio; want to get Horcoff and Hemsky going? Go with what's known to work.

Nilsson Gagner Kotalik - soft minute munchers; don't mess with "success"

O'Sullivan Pouliot Cogliano - many reasons for this one: 13 showed chemistry with 19, 13 and 78 have played together, 13 and 19 are both finishers while 78 is a playmaker, and 13 should be on the damn RW and not playing C. Beyond that, all three guys have shown flashes of being competent two way players, so the trio wouldn't have to be babysat.

Moreau Brodziak Pisani - a fourth line in name only; reminds me of the combo of Moreau-Reasoner-Pisani from the 2003 playoffs. This line could probably hold it's own in secondary tough minute assignments.

That would be my latest and greatest idea. If they're hell bent on Stortini over Pouliot, Pisani moves up a line and Cogliano shifts over to center.

At least, that's how it would be if I were running the team. Which I'm not. Oh well....

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#10 SquidRx
March 23 2009, 03:19PM
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Dennis wrote:

I don’t even think they have the win the ST battle; as long as they can finish even I’ll like their chances because we’re steady on the EV tip.

I read this and had to look back at the top of the post. I could have sworn this was a DeepOil statement.

*holds head trying to keep it in one piece while attempting to translate Dennis's post*

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#11 swany
March 23 2009, 03:32PM
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We play the Wings next I would bet money that Mact and the team would like to send a message to the Wings in case they meet in the first round. Roli will start and Mact will have the same lineup as minny except i think Storts goes in for Mac, This game is the perfect game to show us fans and the Wings that the Oil CAN beat them, as for the first line they had about 3 chances in the first against Minny I to think they are just about ready to brake out and score a bunch. I have liked all the lines of late, even Penner has been using his size and holding on to the puck maybe Moreau had some influence.

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#12 The Towel Boy
March 23 2009, 03:35PM
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*stares at picture above for a full 4 minutes and 34 seconds*

....OHhhhhhhhhh!.....LINE juggling. HAHAHA!

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#13 swany
March 23 2009, 03:35PM
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HBomb wrote:

New line combo idea for the day (assuming they don’t go with MacIntyre tomorrow night and replace him with Pouliot): Penner Horcoff Hemsky - proven power vs. power trio; want to get Horcoff and Hemsky going? Go with what’s known to work. Nilsson Gagner Kotalik - soft minute munchers; don’t mess with “success” O’Sullivan Pouliot Cogliano - many reasons for this one: 13 showed chemistry with 19, 13 and 78 have played together, 13 and 19 are both finishers while 78 is a playmaker, and 13 should be on the damn RW and not playing C. Beyond that, all three guys have shown flashes of being competent two way players, so the trio wouldn’t have to be babysat. Moreau Brodziak Pisani - a fourth line in name only; reminds me of the combo of Moreau-Reasoner-Pisani from the 2003 playoffs. This line could probably hold it’s own in secondary tough minute assignments. That would be my latest and greatest idea. If they’re hell bent on Stortini over Pouliot, Pisani moves up a line and Cogliano shifts over to center. At least, that’s how it would be if I were running the team. Which I’m not. Oh well….

2 years in Oiler colors COGS HAS NEVER PLAYED WING HERE it won't happen, even with the Kid line Cogs plays centre, GAgner has shown of late that he is also better at centre, the lines are working lets let the first line bust out then we will have 4 lines that can score.

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#14 baggedmilk
March 23 2009, 03:43PM
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Gregor,

What I want to know is why you're not trying to take a round out of the blonde chick from those pictures on the Just A Game website. Sweet goblets of goodness she's a fire cracker.

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#15 SquidRx
March 23 2009, 03:48PM
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@ HBomb: I don't know HBomb. I have been watching O'Sully's play quite closely since his arrival and I stand impressed. I've notice he rarely loses a battle for the puck and although the numbers aren't piling up I've liked his offensive sense. I think we waste him playing with Cogs and Pernando Fisani. I think the first line should stay as O'Shemcoff. If anything I would play Pens-Cogs-Pou together. Just my thoughts.

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#16 HBomb
March 23 2009, 03:55PM
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SquidRX: I agree, I like O'Sullivan too. A lot. But I also like it when Hemsky and Horcoff, this team's two best all-around forwards, are going. They do that best with Dustin Penner.

O'Sullivan and Hemsky as a duo will get their minutes over the next couple years, rest assured. My personal hope is those two with Gagner on a somewhat-sheltered offensive 1st line, while Cogliano plays RW on a two-way power vs power line with Horcoff at centre and a guy like Frolov, Gagne or Michalek on LW. A guy is allowed to dream.

swany: Just because Cogliano's only played center here so far doesn't mean that's where he should be. The kid is terrible on faceoffs. I keep reading that this organization envisions him as an upgraded Marchant, and that means 3rd line duty long term. Frankly, it might be selling him short. He should be in the top six next season (2nd line RW makes the most sense), when the team brings in a quality veteran to center the 3rd line (like they should have LAST summer).

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#17 Jason Gregor
March 23 2009, 04:01PM
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HBomb wrote:

Just because Cogliano’s only played center here so far doesn’t mean that’s where he should be. The kid is terrible on faceoffs. I keep reading that this organization envisions him as an upgraded Marchant, and that means 3rd line duty long term. Frankly, it might be selling him short. He should be in the top six next season (2nd line RW makes the most sense), when the team brings in a quality veteran to center the 3rd line (like they should have LAST summer).

If you play him on second line, then you are saying putting him back with Nilsson and Gagner, so then you would have him in the middle and Gagner back on the wing? Why would you change that.

baggedmilk wrote:

Gregor, What I want to know is why you’re not trying to take a round out of the blonde chick from those pictures on the Just A Game website. Sweet goblets of goodness she’s a fire cracker.

I never kiss and tell man. And yes she is quite the sexy lass.

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#18 willy fisterbotom
March 23 2009, 04:03PM
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does eberle join the oilers for practice time after the falcons season is over???

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#19 SquidRx
March 23 2009, 04:15PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

If you play him on second line, then you are saying putting him back with Nilsson and Gagner, so then you would have him in the middle and Gagner back on the wing? Why would you change that.

I think Hbomb is moving Gags up to the 1st line center and Horcoff is centering Cogs and Robear (or who ever takes Robear's spot when he is back in the dog house). I too wonder why they keep Cogs at center given his faceoff prowess (~sarcasm~), but given that there are those in the Oiler organization with far more hockey knowledge then me, I'm sure that option has gone through the MacBlender and the blade must have broke. If they could move him from center I suspect they would have already. Cogs is going to be the 3rd line center as long as we have Gags and Whiffcoff.

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#20 The Menace
March 23 2009, 04:33PM
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DK0 wrote:

Phoenix to Anaheim is a much easier back-to-back than Denver to Colorado

The boys must have racked up the frequent flyer miles on the Denver to Colorado trip. It's the altitude that kills you!

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#21 topshelf FMNF
March 23 2009, 04:44PM
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@ swany: I agree Penner looks much more comfortable in the role he has now.

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#22 W.T.
March 23 2009, 04:59PM
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W.T. says don't mix up anything when the boys are playing as well as they are. Sure Roli is first star every game but it is still a team game, win as a team lose as a team.

W.T. never thought Oilers had a chance to make the playoffs but it appears they will.

W.T. says Oilers will blowout Wings, about 5-1.

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#23 DK0
March 23 2009, 05:13PM
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@ The Menace: I wrote no such thing!

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#24 swany
March 23 2009, 05:15PM
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If Penner played the way he is now on the 1st line he would still be there. He is using his size for a change, and really taking the puck to the net, i hope Storts draws in against the Wings. Penner, Brods, and Storts will keep that puck down low and work the Wings NON physical D. It's the forwards for the wings that Scare me, Detriots Goaltending is a joke. If the Oilers can get the puck to the net they will beat Detriot, but if they are caseing the Wings all over the ice it will be a long night.

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#25 The Menace
March 23 2009, 05:18PM
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@ DK0: That's actually a quote from gregor - I don't know how your name got in there. I may have misclicked!

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#26 SquidRx
March 23 2009, 05:22PM
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The Menace wrote:

@ DK0: That’s actually a quote from gregor - I don’t know how your name got in there. I may have misclicked!

When I tried to quote Dennis earlier it put the wrong name in as well, but I caught it before I posted. I erased it all and quoted again and it was okay. I don't think you misclicked. There seems to be a bit of a ghost in the machine. Can it be ridden?

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#27 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 23 2009, 05:31PM
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I have a question,

How do teams have jerseys ready to go for the players they want to draft? Like if Eberle was 22nd overall, how did they have a jersey with his name on it?

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#28 The Menace
March 23 2009, 05:35PM
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I hope this year we can draft some smallish, quick forwards with good hands to fill some of the holes here.

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#29 David S
March 23 2009, 09:19PM
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swany wrote:

We play the Wings next I would bet money that Mact and the team would like to send a message to the Wings in case they meet in the first round.

Nothing against you man, but the only message we'll be sending Detroit any time soon is "come and get it". The only way we win this one is if...uhhh...aw frak it.

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#30 sam
March 23 2009, 10:46PM
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i would have to agree with Dennis. Kotalik has picked up his game, but over a six game period, he got all his points in one game. I think the first line has had some real grade A chances over the last few games. O'Sullivan is snake bitten, and has some serious luck issues lol!, but he is getting good chances. I also think he has earned a lot of ice time in a short period with the Oilers because he has a great two way game to go with those offensive skills.

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#31 Tom
March 24 2009, 12:06AM
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Is that picture of Penner's off-season training regimen?

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#32 deepoil
March 24 2009, 07:05AM
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SquidRx wrote:

Dennis wrote: I don’t even think they have the win the ST battle; as long as they can finish even I’ll like their chances because we’re steady on the EV tip. I read this and had to look back at the top of the post. I could have sworn this was a DeepOil statement. *holds head trying to keep it in one piece while attempting to translate Dennis’s post*

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Sports/Hemsky+feels+underappreciated/1421448/story.html

This is what happens to your powerplay when you alienate your budget star at $4mm per year.... and the sheep wonder why we have to overpay UFA's to come to this asylum in Siberia.

Sorry slimeRX -I am not Dennis

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#33 deepoil
March 24 2009, 07:07AM
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Tom wrote:

Is that picture of Penner’s off-season training regimen?

No he works at an all you can eat buffet in Manitoba... do you want fries with your pizza

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#34 deepoil
March 24 2009, 07:14AM
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Jack "FMNF" Bauer wrote:

I have a question, How do teams have jerseys ready to go for the players they want to draft? Like if Eberle was 22nd overall, how did they have a jersey with his name on it?

According to the Barry Fraser scouting trick, the NHL supplys the team with the names and they attach the name using velcro..... sorry to spoil the suprise here... for some reason I have not seen Fraser in PV, but I remember now that he scouted from Cabo via television prior to the NHL network.... sorry to hear that winter is still there in Edmonton, had to hide from the sun yesterday under a Palapa.

Golfing today at 1PM - rumor has it that there were only 3500 for the oil kings playoff game last night, is that what happens when the oil extract all the disposable income for playoff deposits and then campaign for people to buy CAPITAL tickets.... during a WHL playoff run

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#35 deepoil
March 24 2009, 07:19AM
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willy fisterbotom wrote:

does eberle join the oilers for practice time after the falcons season is over???

No the oilers are only allowed 4 additional players - Gregor addressed this in the past.

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#36 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 24 2009, 02:44PM
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"Sorry slimeRX -I am not Dennis"

Hey Deepshît, just because someone else makes some connets that sounds like the half-breed retard lunatic you are, doesnt mean you have to go all "im off my meds!!" kind of stupid and insult them.

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