GDB 77: This is it

Jason Gregor
March 31 2009 12:03PM

gdb77

Tonight is do or die for the Oilers. I know they have five more games, but if they lose in regulation tonight they won't make playoffs. We all know this but let's go on record saying: a loss puts them three back of the Ducks, and possibly five back of Nashville if they beat Columbus. Five games remaining won't be enough time to make up those points.

Unfortunately a win doesn't guarantee they make the playoffs, but for their psyche they need a win tonight. The players had another closed door meeting before practice yesterday. Having another one after a loss tonight becomes redundant, and if the message didn't sink in after yesterday's session it never will.

Rather than be upset, frustrated, annoyed, pissed off or scared, Oiler fans should embrace tonight's game. It will be the most intense game you have witnessed all season. You will race home, kiss the wife, play with the kids for a few minutes but YOU know that come 7:30 you will be planted firmly on the coach, bevy in hand, chips in the bowl, leaning forward towards the TV with your hands clenched waiting for the puck to drop.

And you know you will be filled with nervous anticipation. There will be at least two dust ups tonight, four or five big hits and hopefully many goals. Rexall Place will be loud, because even though the masses are pissed and ready to hang MacT, most of you can't bring yourself not to cheer for your team in such a meaningful game.  That's being an Oilers fan folks.

Games like tonight are what make sports great. All those dud games in Nov, Dec and Sunday against the Wild are a distant memory now. Tonight all you care about is seeing a win, because at least that keeps the dream alive for a few more games.

A loss tonight and the dream is over for another season. No possible drunk chicks flashing you on Whyte, no chance the wife watches the game in just an Oiler jersey and no house parties or nights out watching the playoffs with the Boys.

It is excruciatingly simple for the Oilers: Win and you stay alive. Lose and you play out the string.

Good to see it's the Ducks

The Ducks are the perfect opponent for a game of this magnitude. They play tough, physical and have loads of top-end skill. If the Oilers dont show up tonight they will not only lose, but get humiliated at home. The Ducks bring out the emotion of the Oilers. The Oilers actually play with a pulse when the Human Rake and company come to town.

More often than not this year the Oilers have looked as prepared as your drunk Uncle emceeing a family wedding. You know the guy who thinks he is funny at the family summer picnic, yet when he gets on the mic at the wedding his stories suck, his jokes are stolen from some lame website, and the program rolls as smoothly as the Best Man's toast about the groom and his past conquests.

The Oilers will be ready to play tonight. I dont know if they will win, but tonight's effort will be one of the few times this year that they are prepared. There was a playoff energy in the locker room this morning. Players smiled when asked about the intensity, and expected physical play tonight.

Last December when the Ducks came to town the Oilers played their best home game of the year even though they lost in a SO. They out shot the Ducks 53-36, they killed off seven of eight powerplays and engaged the Ducks physically at every turn. In fact, the Ducks are only 2 for 19 on the PP against the Oilers this year. I cant explain why when you look at the Ducks firepower, but the Oilers PK is actually good against them.

The Oilers won both games in Anaheim, despite being outshot in both. Expect the trend of the home team getting more shots to continue this evening.

The Oilers just wrapped up a crisp morning skate. There wasnt much standing around, passes were on the tape, they actually scored some goals in practice and to a man they looked ready. The only concern is that even in practice, it looked like Horcoff was still struggling to finish.

The most frustrating thing to watch today was Grebeshkov in a shooting drill. He scored on three consecutive slap shots, two from the high slot and another from blueline. Why he doesn't shoot during the game remains a mystery. Though he did have three shots on goal the last time the Ducks were in town, so he might actually take a shot tonight. He has a measly 53 shots on net this year.

They didnt do any line rushes, but there wont be any lineup changes, outside of Peckham drawing in for Smid.

COLOSSAL FOSSIL SETS RECORD

Tonight Dwayne Roloson will become the oldest goalie to play in 60 games in a season. The CF will start his start his 33rd consecutive game tonight, and like most games during the previous 32 he will need to be one of their top three players if the Oilers hope to stay in the playoff race.

Enjoy the afternoon planning your playoff experience tonight, hopefully for Oiler fans you get a few more opportunities to feel the anticipation and excitement this April.

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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 bobchamp
March 31 2009, 12:10PM
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Bought a new Oilers jersey last night. That's gotta be good luck. If the Oilers make the playoffs, it'll forever be my "lucky jersey".

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#2 5Cups without another in sight
March 31 2009, 12:11PM
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so right Gregor. Loved how you put Rishaug on the spot last night. He just would not put his jock on the block, would he?

As you said last night, this is a must win. A win guarnatees fcuk all, but a win at least says the next game has meaning.

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#3 5Cups without another in sight
March 31 2009, 12:13PM
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@ bobchamp: Tell me it wasn't a ducks jersey? Was it a cole jersey on sale? Why would you buy a new oiler jersey? You should ask Katz for an interest contingent loan. Oil win, you pay full price, Oilers lose, he gives you 20% for every point the oil finish out fhe playoffs

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#4 Greg MC
March 31 2009, 12:16PM
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3-2 Oil. Come on boys, rock tha joint tonight!

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#5 Corchins
March 31 2009, 12:16PM
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Couldn't agree more Gregor .... well hopefully we get to see at least one playoffs intensity game start to finish!!!!

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#6 Mike Krushelnyski
March 31 2009, 12:17PM
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Hopefully there are no schedule conflicts tonight and special guest Intensity will be able to show up for a change

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#7 jeanshorts
March 31 2009, 12:23PM
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bobchamp wrote:

Bought a new Oilers jersey last night.

5Cups without another in sight wrote:

Tell me it wasn’t a ducks jersey?

Wait.......what?

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#8 Hoodlum
March 31 2009, 12:34PM
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Great article Gregor. It got me thinking about how great it is to be a fan. If these games didn't matter, we wouldn't feel the way about the game tonight that we do, and truth be told, even given the situation that the boys have put themselves in, I enjoy this nervous anticipation. Like it or not, these ARE our playoffs. And I'm as pumped for the next 5 games as I will be in mid April, when we face Detroit or San Jose. GOILERS

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#9 jayoilfan
March 31 2009, 12:37PM
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OOOOHHH Baby! This is so intense, even now sitting at work with 7 hours to go till puck drop, what am I going to do!!!!! This evening will be a big rush to watch the game, swim lessons for my son and all. I probably wont be able to see all the first period as I have to get my older son to bed (wife takes care of the younger one). After that though the TV is mine!!!!

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#10 Peter Pan
March 31 2009, 12:37PM
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@ Gregor:

I know you won't admit it due the "Media Code", but man... you love the Oilers. AWESOME GREGOR!

I'm pumped that the boyz will be pumped.

Both goalies playing well... Oil 2 - 1. Pisani both goals!

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#11 swany
March 31 2009, 12:40PM
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I smeel a Duck killing 5-1 Oil with Hemmer, and Kotalik with 2 apiece

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#12 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 12:47PM
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Quit playin games with my heart Oilers! Please let the Ch value of the on ice product out weigh the value of Gr.

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#13 rindog
March 31 2009, 12:50PM
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Gregor,

You couldn't have summed it up any better than you did with this quote:

"...even though the masses are pissed and ready to hang MacT, most of you can’t bring yourself not to cheer for your team in such a meaningful game."

That has been the the theme for years now.

Regardless of how fans feel about the coach - most of them still want the team to win.

I am the biggest proponent of getting MacT out of here and missing the playoffs would all but guarantee that.

That being said - I would love to see some post season action....

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#14 The Towel Boy
March 31 2009, 12:51PM
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Gregor...you just pumped me up. I'm stoked now.

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#15 Hoodlum
March 31 2009, 12:52PM
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I'm waiting on a call for tickets and if it comes through in the next hour, I'm saying EFF work and driving down from For Mac

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#16 The Towel Boy
March 31 2009, 01:00PM
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I haven't been out for a Justice League gathering in a while. The Oil could use my help. I shall ready my keyboard and dual beer guzzler helmet for the night ahead.

JUSTICE LEAGUE!!!....ASSEMBLLLLLLLLE!!!

*blows on conch to sound call to arms*

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#17 swany
March 31 2009, 01:03PM
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From TSN the Preds will be without Erat, and Legwand for the rest of the season, could the hockey gods be smiling down on our PEO (Poor Edmonton Oilers)

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#18 Dennis
March 31 2009, 01:07PM
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The remaining sked is too tough and the club's not good enough to roll with it. Points squandered against the lessers look huge when you can't beat the mores.

Season over.

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#19 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 01:08PM
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There wasnt much standing around, passes were on the tape, they actually scored some goals in practice and to a man they looked ready.

Fun question: is this because their offense was brilliant or their defense was weak? Because it's great to hear about them scoring in practice - but it's less great to hear that they couldn't stop goals against, even in practice.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding - just wanted to point out that lots of goals in practice isn't automatically a good thing.

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#20 mazola
March 31 2009, 01:15PM
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Everyone has to step up.

Except for MacT. He has to step down.

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#21 I'm a Scientist!
March 31 2009, 01:22PM
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I have started growing a playoff beard. This may be the closest we get to playoffs, but i don't care. Can you imagine how boring games in Detroit and San Jose are right now? Whoopidy doo... playing for first place.. probably going to win... As an oilers fan we have NO idea what is going to happen, NO idea what team will show up... this is great! I hope i don't have to shave for quite awhile...

*looks in the mirror and has visions of being Sourayesque*

Siiiiigh.

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#22 I'm a Scientist!
March 31 2009, 01:24PM
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@ Archaeologuy: I predict a 2:1 Ch:Gr ratio at the beginning of the game. But i see that sliding a bit in the second...perhaps a 1.3:1 ratio...then ramped right back up to a 3:1 ratio in the third. Should be interesting and i plan on graphing it all out to support our theory.

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#23 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
March 31 2009, 01:24PM
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"There was a playoff energy in the locker room this morning. Players smiled when asked about the intensity, and expected physical play tonight."

Thats all well and good, but you and everyone else knows that these useless bag of amatuers arent capable of bringing it the remaining 4 games after this.

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#24 Caloilfan
March 31 2009, 01:25PM
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this is probably the world's worst place to do this, but does anyone wanna buy tickets for Thursday's game? I figured I'd offer them to the Nation before trying stubhub or something...they are nosebleed seats - section 301, top row, but center ice - certainly not the worst seats in RX1. $48 / each...I've got seats 1&2. call or txt four oh three eight three five zero five sixty six

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#25 Nickler
March 31 2009, 01:25PM
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@ Dennis:

I may be disapointed but I'm not a quitter

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#26 Chaz
March 31 2009, 01:30PM
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@ Caloilfan: That's a Southern Alberta area code. What's your game Caloilfan? What's your game?...

Just kidding. If I were you though, I'd wait to sell them until after we crush the ducks tonight. You might get more dough for them.

Oh and is it just coincidence that Syncrude announced today that it actually killed 1600 ducks in it's tailings pond last year, not 500 as originally reported? Dead ducks in Alberta? Killed from exposure to Oli?....Hello?...Is this thing on?

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#27 Thorn
March 31 2009, 01:32PM
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Hey Jason, I totally agree with your "Intensity" prediction, but I have a better one that you can put money on: The shovel crew will get more icetime than our 4th line because the Rexall ice conditions SUCK!!!!!!!!!

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#28 Smokin' Ray - NNC
March 31 2009, 01:39PM
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IT'S GAME DAY!!! GO OILERS!

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#29 Smokin' Ray - NNC
March 31 2009, 01:40PM
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What's with the comment numbers? 49042. That's a lot of comments.

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#30 DK0
March 31 2009, 01:44PM
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Every Oilers broadcast this season should have ended the second the buzzer went and then dropped the black screen with the words "Lost" on it, leaving everyone to be like WTF? But now they are out of the playoffs? But Hemsky shot Pronger in the past? HOW DOES HE EXIST NOW THEN?TIME TRAVEL? AAHHHHH!

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#31 Phil
March 31 2009, 01:51PM
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Thanks fer gettin' me amped Gregor.

MutherF*CK a Duck.

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#32 Dennis
March 31 2009, 01:55PM
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Nickler: I'm not quitting, either, but whether I believe or not has nothing to do with how the team's going to fare.

Gregor: any lineup changes for tonight?

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#33 Rob
March 31 2009, 01:56PM
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Gregor you made my day for sure! I havent been this tense about a game since 2006.

I read that peckham and strudwick were practicing on a line together today, is that true?? That pair worries me a bit. Peckham can really lay a hit but also take a penalty at a bad time.

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#34 Ssseth
March 31 2009, 01:59PM
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Inspirational GDB Gregor, well done. Tencer (and the Oilers PR team) could take a lesson or two from you. You can't manufacture emotion, but you can inspire it.

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#35 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 02:01PM
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Dennis wrote:

I’m not quitting, either, but whether I believe or not has nothing to do with how the team’s going to fare.

On the other hand, it may impact how many of the dollars you spend end up in the pockets of the Oilers' organization.

Which was in all likelihood the real reason for the clip Tencer put up the other day.

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#36 BURKEtheTURD
March 31 2009, 02:04PM
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Well Done Gregor

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#37 The Towel Boy
March 31 2009, 02:04PM
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Dennis wrote:

Gregor: any lineup changes for tonight?

Jason Gregor wrote:

They didnt do any line rushes, but there wont be any lineup changes, outside of Peckham drawing in for Smid.
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#38 Jason Gregor
March 31 2009, 02:32PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I’m kidding, I’m kidding - just wanted to point out that lots of goals in practice isn’t automatically a good thing.

The drills were horseshoe type drills...not 3 on 2's or anything... It had nothing to do with defence, and half the goals were on Deslauriers.

The fact is they score about once every 20 shots on most days but had about five or six every 20 is a big difference. Guys were shooting to score, which doesn't happen every practice. No team does it.

It was more a reflection of a different attitude, a more focused one. Trust me, I watch practice lots, and most days it is pretty much the same. But the morning skate today was more intense. Shows the players understand the importance of the game. We'll see if that transfers to the game.

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#39 Jason Gregor
March 31 2009, 02:38PM
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Rob wrote:

I read that peckham and strudwick were practicing on a line together today, is that true?? That pair worries me a bit. Peckham can really lay a hit but also take a penalty at a bad time.

Yep they are paired together, but don't expect lots of minutes for Peckham. MacTavish talked about making sure he was out there in good matchups only.

I do expect Peckham to drop the mitts though. He has 48 PIMS in only 10 games...I suspect it to be really physical early...and then settle into a typical playoff-type game.

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#40 offside
March 31 2009, 02:43PM
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What's the convenience fee on that ticket? And who is the special guest?

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#41 Caloilfan
March 31 2009, 02:48PM
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@ Chaz:

the lure of the oil knows no area code bounds...what can I tell ya? I'd love to make the trip up on Thursday, just impossible to do right now. Have secured my standing room tickets for the playoff's though - I'ma high roller I tell ya!

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#42 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 02:50PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

I didn't actually expect you to expand on that point, but I'm glad you did.

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#43 Dennis
March 31 2009, 02:50PM
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I'd expect Peckham to try and get into a scrap as well. And I'd expect the top four D to continue sagging - in some cases - with the extra workload brought on by the absence of 5.

Gregor: I think 10's got some kind of wrist injury. He's getting absolutely nothing on his shots and there has to be a reason why.

JW: what clip are you talking about regarding Tencer's show?

BTW, I don't feel tense about tonight because I pretty much made my peace after the events on Sunday. The Preds and BJ's came up with huge road wins and we once again crapped the Rexall bed. Combine that with three gimme games on the remainder of the Blues sked and it was pretty much over.

I sulked about that all Sunday night and all yesterday and I thought about how much it sucked that I"m not gonna get to enjoy my team in the playoffs for the third year in a row. But today I started thinking about all the intriguing playoff matchups I might be able to get to enjoy and that cheered me up a little.

In the meantime, I'll root like shag that we win the last six games but the dye's been cast, IMO.

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#44 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 02:59PM
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Dennis wrote:

JW: what clip are you talking about regarding Tencer’s show?

See Wanye's post below (with the giant FMNF picture). A bunch of unidentified Oilers' players emotionlessly petitioned for fan support.

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#45 RLH
March 31 2009, 03:17PM
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The wife wearing nothing but an Oilers jersey? Dear God, why didn't I ever think of that? Time to send the kids to grandma!

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#46 BUCK75 - FMNF
March 31 2009, 03:17PM
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I noticed David Staples comment on this:

In fact, things have gotten so bad for the Oilers at home, the players have taken this desperate measure of looking into the camera and practically begging fans for their support tonight and the rest of this six-game homestand that was gift-wrapped to them from the NHL schedulers. I'm sorry, isn't this Canadian hockey? Isn't that support already there?

This coming from the Duck's Blogger on Payroll Adam Brady.

Isn't that a kick in the nuts - good job oilers.

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#47 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 03:27PM
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@ BUCK75 - FMNF:

I hope someone loses their job over this. I really do. Now we're living in a Siberian Tundra, we cant win, our coach publicly rips guys if he doesnt personally like them, AND THE FANS HATE THE TEAM. Or at least that's our public image.

Hey Hossa you wanna play for us?

*Hossa raises eyebrows and mumbles something...we think he said I'll call you, but we know he wont call*

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#48 Jason Gregor
March 31 2009, 03:30PM
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Preds have announced that Erat is out for season with broken leg. Legwand has a broken cheekbone and Arnott is out with Concussion. Not word on how long Legwand and Arnott are out for, but it looks like both are out for tonight.

If they beat the Jackets without those three then they deserve to make the playoffs.

Dennis wrote:

Gregor: I think 10’s got some kind of wrist injury. He’s getting absolutely nothing on his shots and there has to be a reason why.

He was shooting lots in practice today, so I wouldn't think he has an injury. His shots have looked lethargic lately, and I think it is more a guy who is pressing and has ZERO confidence in his shot right now.

An injury would explain why he can't seem to score, but he had no ice packs or the red marks that are there after icing, so it doesn't seem to be there. But then again he played 48 games with a bum shoulder last year, so he could be hiding it.

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#49 Jonathan Willis
March 31 2009, 03:31PM
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@ BUCK75 - FMNF:

I wonder if Adam Brady really believes the schedulers were doing the Oilers any favours this year. He must not be aware of the first 30 games of the season.

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#50 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 03:49PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

An injury would explain why he can’t seem to score, but he had no ice packs or the red marks that are there after icing, so it doesn’t seem to be there. But then again he played 48 games with a bum shoulder last year, so he could be hiding it.

Jason, Horcoff is, IMO, not as physical as he was before (not that he was very physical before). Is he mentally past the shoulder injury? Maybe it's just my imagination.

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