GDB minus-3: Thinning out the ranks

Jason Gregor
September 23 2009 10:08AM

pat-quinn-motivate

The next three games will sort out pretenders from the contenders when it comes to who makes the final roster.

The Oilers are icing a squad that includes players who have all played in the NHL, and the Flames roster is fairly close as well. These rosters will give the coaches a more clear evaluation of which guys can produce and compete in the regular season.

The biggest surprise for tonight is that J.F Jacques gets to ride shotgun with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Even Jacques himself is surprised he’s been given a chance to skate beside Horcoff throughout the pre-season.

"I didn’t expect to be given this chance, and it has been great. I just have to continue to show the coaches I can contribute. Even now, though, I wouldn’t expect to start the year in the top six."

Jacques isn’t alone in that thought process, but if he continues to hit and chip in with some points, Quinn might shock everyone and leave him there.

Quinn hasn’t been happy with the play of some of his veterans to this point in the pre-season. He feels some are only playing hard when they have the puck, but aren’t working hard enough without it. He did admit that it might be because it was the early pre-season games, but starting tonight that excuse goes out the window.

Here’s the lineup for tonight's tilt.

Jacques — Horcoff — Hemsky Comrie — O’Sullivan — Stone Moreau — Cogliano — Brennan Penner — Brule — Nilsson Souray — Gilbert Visnovsky — Grebeshkov Smid — Strudwick Khabibulin and Deslauriers

Quinn has a one mucker/grinder type of player on every line, and yesterday he admitted he is more about finding pairs than a complete trio. Dominant and even consistent lines are rare in today’s game. The Ducks have one in Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan. The Sharks have Setoguchi, Thornton and Heatley, but they are rare in today’s game.

And tonight’s lineup also has three offensive oriented lines, and Moreau’s grinder-like line. I get the sense that Quinn might lean more to that type of roster, rather than two top lines, a checking line and 4th line of crashers and bangers. He seems like he's leaning toward having someone with grit on each line.

Most of the returning forwards have talked about how this system forces them to work harder and skate much more. Quinn wants them to be a much better puck-retrieving team, and that could be why he wants one gritty/physical player on each line. Someone needs to be able to go get the puck. Of course he will want Hemsky, Gagner, Comrie and O’Sullivan to compete hard and go get the puck as well.

Quick Hitters

Steve Staios was skating Monday with Theo Peckham and Toni Rajala when the rest of the team had the day off. He has some sort of upper body injury it looks like, but it didn’t look too serious based on how he practiced yesterday with the entire team.

Brennan is itching to drop the mitts and show the coaching staff he can excel in that department. Look for him to find a partner tonight. He was joking yesterday that he has been too much of a choir boy so far.

This is two straight games that we’ve seen Nilsson play the right side. He said openly before camp that he is just as comfortable on either wing, and if O’Sullivan stays in the middle of on the left side, there is a void after Hemsky on the RW. Nilsson needs to be more of an impact if he wants to win that job. So far in camp he has been just okay.

****UPDATE****

The Flames will ice a veteran-heavy lineup as well tonight.

Sjostrom Jokinen Iginla Bourque Langkow Dawes Glencross Lundmark Fleury Stuart Jaffrey Prust

Phaneuf Giordano Kronwall Stralman Regehr Bouwmeester Pardy

Kiprusoff looks like he will start in goal.

Interesing to note that Sjostrom gets a shot on the top line similar to Jacques for the Oilers. They Flames brought an extra D-man, so one will sit, and it looked like Pardy, Stralman or Kronwall would be that guy.

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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 Ender the Dragon
September 23 2009, 10:13AM
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I'm surprised to see Comrie on the wing and O'Sullivan in the middle. I would have expected that to be the other way around.

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#2 Ender the Dragon
September 23 2009, 10:14AM
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Maybe Comrie's face-offs are just that bad?

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#3 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 10:14AM
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Do or die time for some of these guys.

I gotta say I like the hard line Quinn is taking so far. No free rides.

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#4 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 10:16AM
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@ Ender the Dragon: I think being preseason they have to answer the question of Sully in the middle. If there is an injury or a trade, they sould know how he performs in the middle. IMHO

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#5 InconclusivelyStupid
September 23 2009, 10:17AM
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Any chance that Brennan actually takes the enforcer role away from Mac? I know Quinn likes him, but is he able to play more minutes that Macintyre can?

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#6 Mitchy-boy
September 23 2009, 10:23AM
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i like the idea of a banger/crasher on each line. Makes sense and its unique. I dont know of anyone else who does this??

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#7 BingBong
September 23 2009, 10:26AM
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InconclusivelyStupid wrote:

Any chance that Brennan actually takes the enforcer role away from Mac? I know Quinn likes him, but is he able to play more minutes that Macintyre can?

Quinn has repeatedly said that he doesn't want a guy on the roster who can only fight, which by definition would be Mac. I've read that Brennan can actually skate/play, so Quinn must be leaning towards him. I would think Mac is in trouble.

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#8 InconclusivelyStupid
September 23 2009, 10:26AM
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Mitchy-boy wrote:

i like the idea of a banger/crasher on each line. Makes sense and its unique. I dont know of anyone else who does this??

The Leafs. All they have is bangers and crashers.

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#9 Joey Moss
September 23 2009, 10:30AM
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I've heard consistent lines are rare in today's game. Consistent lines are rare in today's game.

*time for some more critical editing. critical editing.

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#10 Legion
September 23 2009, 10:30AM
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headed to game tonight won't be play by play twittering that's too much work from 5 seats from the top

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#11 Sandra
September 23 2009, 10:31AM
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Too bad Pisani got "injured" might be an excuse for him.But the waiver wire can sort it out for him.

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#12 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 10:33AM
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Kip Brennan's AHL career numbers:

237GP - 24G - 16A - 40PTS - 1196 PIM which works out to an average of 82GP - 8G - 6A - 14PTS - 414 PIM.

In the AHL.

If he makes the roster, it will be a big shot.

The one guy who does look like a threat at this point is Ryan Stone, and if he makes the team I think the guy out of luck will be Robert Nilsson.

Gregor notes a hole at RW; I wonder if Gagner might not move back there (he's played it in the past) leaving something like:

Hemsky Gagner Pisani Stortini Stone

for depth on the right side.

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#13 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 10:34AM
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I remember when the Oilers took out Detroit in the first round in '06. Brad Winchester actually was slated in on the top line with Horcoff and Hemsky.

This would appear to be a similar approach by Quinn. I like it.

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#14 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 10:34AM
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@ Sandra:

Quinn said himself that Pisani shouldn't be worried.

He's not going to hit the waiver wire.

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#15 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 10:34AM
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@ Fiveandagame:

It was with Smyth and Horcoff, actually. Hemsky played on a scoring line with Sergei Samsonov and Jarret Stoll.

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#16 DonDon
September 23 2009, 10:35AM
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"The next three games will sort out pretenders from the contenders when it comes to who makes the final roster."

In the end, unfortunately, contracts will dominate with this NHL franchise, even though many contracts are toxic. In a perfect world, where contracts aren't guaranteed, coaches/GMs can replace pretenders with contenders and get under the salary cap.

Would Moreau, Staois and Nilsson make the team if they didn't have their locked-in contracts?

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#17 blu
September 23 2009, 10:37AM
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I wish I was going to the game. I actually get out to precious few, sadly. Might watch on TeH web, as I love seeing the desperate play of those working their asses off to make it. Eager to see the type of team Q will ice this season.

I also approve of the no free rides.

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#18 The Menace
September 23 2009, 10:37AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

I’m surprised to see Comrie on the wing and O’Sullivan in the middle. I would have expected that to be the other way around.

I agree with fiveandagame. It's preseason - why not try it out now and see what sticks?

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#19 Jay
September 23 2009, 10:38AM
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@ InconclusivelyStupid: InconclusivelyStupid wrote:

The Leafs. All they have is bangers and crashers.

Ha! anyone play nhl 09 and pick a shitty team, then notice every player on that team's player type is grinder? that's when you know your effed

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#20 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 23 2009, 10:40AM
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What is Pisani's injury?

I'd like to see Brennan and McGratton go. If Brennan can go with him I would be pretty impressed.

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#21 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 10:41AM
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Wasn't MacIntyre in the ECHL before we put him in the NHL last year?

If he could do it, Brennan could do it, and from appearances he's the better skater. I don't think Stone can boast the reputation or the ability with his fists that Brennan has so he might be a good depth guy to keep as the 14th forward.

Also what about putting Stortini on the third line with Moreau and Cogliano?

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#22 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 10:42AM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Thank you for that...totally forgot about that Smyth character.

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#23 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 23 2009, 10:44AM
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@ Fiveandagame: 07-08 he was in Providence of the AHL. Thing is he can only play 3-5 minutes a game and a good chunk of guys won't fight him anyways.

I find it odd that Brennan is considered more of a heavy then Stortini, yet they are the same size.

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#24 StickHandler
September 23 2009, 10:45AM
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this is all good gregor but waht I want to know is how your roast went at the comic strip on monday. Did anyone from the nation go???

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#25 oilman007
September 23 2009, 10:50AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

I think the guys out of luck if Stone makes the team is Pouliot/Brule. I'm thinking a 4th line of Moreau-Stortini-Pisani, didn't Stortini play centre in junior?He is 13-7 for 65% on the dot in the NHL. Small sample size but better than anybody else no?

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#26 venue
September 23 2009, 10:50AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

I find it odd that Brennan is considered more of a heavy then Stortini

By who?

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#27 rubbertrout
September 23 2009, 10:51AM
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I'm waiting for Brownlee to give Gregor grief for trying to gaze into the crystal ball and determine who will be on the roster come opening day.

*hides under desk

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#28 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 23 2009, 10:55AM
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@ venue: By many posters on here and other sites. He was thought as of a replacement for Macintyre if he makes the team. After all he fights the bigger guys.

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#29 Harlie
September 23 2009, 10:58AM
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i'm hopin for a Brennan tilt tonight. hopefully right up on the boards where I'll be sitting. It will be interesting to see if Ales actually tries tonight. Too bad Eberle isn't playing as it would have been a treat to see him. I hope I get through all three periods without blacking out from the RX-1 Reebs. I normally have to check the Sports section of the paper the next day after a sporting event that I actually go to as it is usually a drink fest. haha!

Might hit up Ruth's Chris for a bite before the game. I've never ben there. Any comments? Any other places downtown you guys would suggest? I'm thinking the Hotel Mac's lounge, Joey's downtown, 4 Rooms, Ruth's etc. Any other ideas??

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#30 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 23 2009, 10:59AM
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@ Harlie: Anywhere but the York Hotel.

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#31 RossCreek
September 23 2009, 11:04AM
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StickHandler wrote:

this is all good gregor but waht I want to know is how your roast went at the comic strip on monday. Did anyone from the nation go???

Wanye, where's your report?

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#32 RossCreek
September 23 2009, 11:05AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

@ Harlie: Anywhere but the York Hotel.

LOL

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#33 RossCreek
September 23 2009, 11:07AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I wonder if Gagner might not move back there (he’s played it in the past) leaving something like: Hemsky Gagner Pisani Stortini Stone

I've wondered that myself. I think I'd go with it

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#34 swany
September 23 2009, 11:08AM
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Quinn is OLD school in some ways, remember Slats had Dave on Gretzky's line to make sure no one went near him. Maybe JFJ on Hemmer's line is so we don't see RR take cheap shots at him. JFJ scored alot in the AHL could Quinn be seeing if he can do that up here with better linemates. If JFJ keeps up, protect, hits and finishes off his chances is it possible he could be the new Big Dave.

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#35 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 11:17AM
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@ Fiveandagame:

Yeah, but MacIntyre can't play, at least not at the NHL level.

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#36 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 11:26AM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Thats what I mean. Wouldn't having Brennan bang and crash for 8 mins a game be a better use of a roster spot that MacIntyre for 3 mins a game?

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#37 venue
September 23 2009, 11:28AM
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Is Brennan really that much better?

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#38 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 11:29AM
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@ venue: I guess we'll see tonight.

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#39 RossCreek
September 23 2009, 11:29AM
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If they want to keep Breenan instead, they will deal MacIntyre somewhere they want him - like in the east. No chance they waive him and then have a Vancouver or a Colorado march right back in here with him.

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#40 Ender the Dragon
September 23 2009, 11:30AM
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swany wrote:

If JFJ keeps up, protect, hits and finishes off his chances is it possible he could be the new Big Dave.

Cementhead Jr.

I like it, to a point; in 82-83, Semenko had 27 points in 75 games. In his last 3 seasons with the Oil, however, Semenko dropped to 17, 18, and 18 points respectively. I can almost justify having JFJ ride shotgun on the top-line in today's NHL if he can put up the same 27 points Semenko started with. Almost. 30 to 40 would make that decision a lot easier. But if he's going to put up 18 points in an enforcer role, I think I'd rather take my chances on the referees and roll the dice on Sully or even Penner in that slot.

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#41 venue
September 23 2009, 11:33AM
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hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC_AioP_UIo

hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRvFqkbixv8&feature=related

hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ck-cCk_HBNA

hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ibdoa-2_aM

hxxp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsom40270ss

A video tribute....

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#42 Ogden Brother
September 23 2009, 11:35AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

swany wrote: If JFJ keeps up, protect, hits and finishes off his chances is it possible he could be the new Big Dave. Cementhead Jr. I like it, to a point; in 82-83, Semenko had 27 points in 75 games. In his last 3 seasons with the Oil, however, Semenko dropped to 17, 18, and 18 points respectively. I can almost justify having JFJ ride shotgun on the top-line in today’s NHL if he can put up the same 27 points Semenko started with. Almost. 30 to 40 would make that decision a lot easier. But if he’s going to put up 18 points in an enforcer role, I think I’d rather take my chances on the referees and roll the dice on Sully or even Penner in that slot.

I was alot easier to justify Semenko on the top line when Gretz/Kurri were potting 100 - 150 goals between the two of them...I don't know if we could have JfJ scoring 10 when we'll be lucky to get 50 out of Horc/Hemmer.

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#43 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 23 2009, 11:37AM
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@ RossCreek: I think this is the biggest thing. Not sure if VAN takes him, but did COL every replace Lapierre? From what I read and heard there would probably be a bunch of teams looking at Macintyre, why not deal him for a 4th round pick if we can?

That is if Brennan is any good. There is a chance tomorrow morning Brennan will be sent to the AHL.

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#44 ScubaSteve
September 23 2009, 11:38AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Quinn said himself that Pisani shouldn’t be worried. He’s not going to hit the waiver wire.

That baffles me, since he's been preaching performance over history. For the money, Pisani is an anchor. At 1-1.3 mil, Pisani is a solid 4th liner. This is a guy we should try to move, throw in a draft pick to sweeten the deal, and pick up a veteran minor leaguer for springfield.

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#45 venue
September 23 2009, 11:47AM
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A good read for you all..

hxxp://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/2009/09/22/principe_tambellini/

Tambellini offers a little insight on the roster heading towards the start of the season.

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#46 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 23 2009, 11:54AM
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@ venue: I don't know that is about the samething we here every year. No one is guranteed a spot and some youngster is close to making the team.

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#47 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2009, 11:55AM
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Quinn likes Jacques, this is another opportunity for JF to take the next step and become a full time NHL'er.

Good hands as well as quickness along with the grit we all know he has, he could be our breakout player this year. 28 goals 50 pts would be a good first year if he can hold his own on that line. We just need 3 or 4 players to have above average years to change the mood on this team.

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#48 venue
September 23 2009, 11:56AM
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@ Ogden Brother Jr.: This year I actually believe it. Maybe I'm just drinking the kool-aid but it would be refreshing to see them actually follow through.

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#49 Jason Gregor
September 23 2009, 11:56AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

I’m surprised to see Comrie on the wing and O’Sullivan in the middle. I would have expected that to be the other way around.

Comrie played the wing last game, but at the morning skate today it looks like Comrie will play the middle tonight and O'Sullivan the wing. They have switched.

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#50 Fiveandagame
September 23 2009, 11:57AM
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@ venue: Thanks for the link. I think there will be a bit of a shake up here. It may be Minor but I can't help but think it would be a good thing for all.

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