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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#401 quicksilver ballet
September 23 2009, 10:18PM
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This is going to be a much tougher task for Tambellini and Quinn to come in and clean up all of Kevin Lowe's SHIP!

Even NHL players (NHLPA) and Management(contracts)need to protect their asses from their own incompetence.

Unlike Maximus Desmis Meridius, i was not fugging entertained with this lake of effort.

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#402 quicksilver ballet
September 23 2009, 10:19PM
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Lack sorry:(

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#403 RossCreek
September 23 2009, 10:25PM
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So Brennan's done eh. Nothing Brownlee didn't tell us a week ago.

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#404 rindog
September 23 2009, 10:44PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Wasn’t impressed with Brule at all

Are you basing this on what you saw on TV/Internet or were you actually at the game?

In person, Brule had a very good game. He was quick, made some nice one-on-one moves and some nice plays with the puck, was good on the draws and finished a few nice hits.

What didn't you like about his game tonight?

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#405 The Menace
September 23 2009, 10:47PM
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so what's everyone's thoughts about JFFJ? did he impress enough to stick on the top line?

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#406 Jason Gregor
September 23 2009, 10:51PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I think Penner’s played with everyone; he saw time on the Horcoff, Comrie and Brule lines. Quinn’s been keeping duos together but certain players have moved around a fair bit.

Not really. All the penalties in the first and second caused that, but for the most part Jacques played on the top line, and Penner played a lot with Brule and Nilsson.

Jonathan Willis wrote:

Wasn’t impressed with Brule at all.

Not sure what the computer showed you but he was very solid. Was good in the draw, 58%, won battles for lose pucks and was constantly moving his feet.

I think the fact you want Pouliot instead might have affected your judgement. Everyone has a certain bias towards certain players, but if Brule didn't impress you tonight then I'm not sure what you were looking for.

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#407 Jason Gregor
September 23 2009, 10:53PM
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The Menace wrote:

so what’s everyone’s thoughts about JFFJ? did he impress enough to stick on the top line?

He might get another shot, but if Penner plays like he did I think he'll be back up there.

Jacques would be ahead of Moreau at this point, and push him to 4th line.

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#408 rindog
September 23 2009, 10:55PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I think the fact you want Pouliot instead might have affected your judgement. Everyone has a certain bias towards certain players, but if Brule didn’t impress you tonight then I’m not sure what you were looking for

Brule deserves a spot on this roster based on his camp thus far. The same can not be said for Pouliot, Reddox, Pisani (what do they do about him?).

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#409 rindog
September 23 2009, 10:57PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

He might get another shot, but if Penner plays like he did I think he’ll be back up there.

What do you think of JFJ with O'Sullivan and Comrie for the 2nd line?

We then might be able to see a 3rd line with Brule, Cogliano and Gagner?

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#410 RossCreek
September 23 2009, 11:00PM
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RossCreek wrote:

#193 RossCreek September 20 2009, 1:30 am. Cogliano-Horcoff-Hemsky O’Sullivan-Comrie-Jacques Penner-Gagner-Pisani Moreau-Brule-Stortini Stone-Reddox-MacIntyre

Looks like I got the right forwards... maybe not the right lines.

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#411 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 11:05PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Not really. All the penalties in the first and second caused that, but for the most part Jacques played on the top line, and Penner played a lot with Brule and Nilsson.

True enough; there really wasn't much flow to the game and that messed up the combinations. I wasn't thinking of that when I thought back to who I'd seen Penner with.

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#412 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 11:09PM
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On Brule:

I can't fault the effort. His feet were moving all night, and he was looking for hits.

What I didn't like was that:

a) his hits weren't that effective; I noted on the PK how he took himself out of position to hit the equally diminutive Dawes, but couldn't separate him from the puck and that was just one example

b) I wonder about his positional play, which seemed a little off to me.

Certainly he had more try to his game than some of the veterans out there.

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#413 rindog
September 23 2009, 11:13PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

his hits weren’t that effective; I noted on the PK how he took himself out of position to hit the equally diminutive Dawes, but couldn’t separate him from the puck and that was just one example

That's interesting because I noted a few times where he did a very effective job of hitting a player and then using his stick to retrieve the puck. He actually looked like he understood Quinn's philosophy of being tenacious in his approach to retreiving the puck.

Throw in the offensive effort (speed, moves, etc) and I think Brule did wonders to help his chances of making this team.

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#414 quicksilver ballet
September 23 2009, 11:15PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Quinn see's something in Jacques that McT and others may have overlooked, 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 may be our breakout player this year thanks to Quinn recognizing JF's other abilities.I may be guilty of being overly optimistic but 28 goals 50 pts would be a good first year if he can hold his own on that line. The Oilers have been guilty of mis- judging talent on many occasions .
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#415 rindog
September 23 2009, 11:16PM
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I will say that I DO NOT think Stone helped his chances at all tonight?

I know he has some size, but I barely noticed him in the final 40 minutes fo the game??

Brennan did nothing for me either. I would much rather have MacIntyre than Brennan.

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#416 Charlie
September 23 2009, 11:21PM
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rindog wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: He might get another shot, but if Penner plays like he did I think he’ll be back up there. What do you think of JFJ with O’Sullivan and Comrie for the 2nd line? We then might be able to see a 3rd line with Brule, Cogliano and Gagner?

Looks good to me.

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#417 Jonathan Willis
September 23 2009, 11:32PM
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@ rindog:

It's possible I missed it; the game is small on the computer screen and I missed a good chunk of the first, but I just didn't see it.

Next game maybe I'll key in on Brule; unless you're watching a specific player it's easy to miss things.

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#418 Eric
September 24 2009, 12:11AM
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I agree, I watched Brennan pretty closely because of Quinn's comments about giving him plenty of chances tonight... he didn't really stand out to me.

When is Hemsky gonna wake up??!?!!???!???1111shift+1

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#419 RossCreek
September 24 2009, 12:11AM
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Heard Columbus is shopping Jason Chimera. I'd have more interest in him than Pisani or even Moreau if I were the Oil.

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#420 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 12:15AM
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rindog wrote:

Jonathan Willis wrote: Wasn’t impressed with Brule at all Are you basing this on what you saw on TV/Internet or were you actually at the game? In person, Brule had a very good game. He was quick, made some nice one-on-one moves and some nice plays with the puck, was good on the draws and finished a few nice hits. What didn’t you like about his game tonight?

I would agree, the only Oiler that stood out to me were:

Penner JfJ Souray Brule

in that order

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#421 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 12:18AM
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rindog wrote:

I will say that I DO NOT think Stone helped his chances at all tonight? I know he has some size, but I barely noticed him in the final 40 minutes fo the game?? Brennan did nothing for me either. I would much rather have MacIntyre than Brennan.

Ya Stone looked pretty bad, he's not even that big. He looked down right thin.

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#422 Jason Gregor
September 24 2009, 12:18AM
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rindog wrote:

What do you think of JFJ with O’Sullivan and Comrie for the 2nd line? We then might be able to see a 3rd line with Brule, Cogliano and Gagner?

If O'Sullivan goes to the right side I could see Jacques with them, but Gagner, Cogliano and Brule are all centres. I don't see that as a match.

One of Gagner, Comrie and Cogliano will have to move to the wing, and I think it might be Comrie, but we'll see. Gagner needs to be better in the final two games.

@ Jonathan Willis:

JW, a sad state for the Oilers is that right now they need guys who are at least willing to go make a hit, even if it isn't the most effective.

I've yet to get a sense from Quinn that he is satisfied with his players. I think that is good. Some guys in that room need to be pushed and reminded consistently on what is expected from them.

And watching on a grainy computer screen is tough...enjoy the TSN feed tonight.

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#423 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 12:26AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

rindog wrote: What do you think of JFJ with O’Sullivan and Comrie for the 2nd line? We then might be able to see a 3rd line with Brule, Cogliano and Gagner? If O’Sullivan goes to the right side I could see Jacques with them, but Gagner, Cogliano and Brule are all centres. I don’t see that as a match. One of Gagner, Comrie and Cogliano will have to move to the wing, and I think it might be Comrie, but we’ll see. Gagner needs to be better in the final two games. @ Jonathan Willis: JW, a sad state for the Oilers is that right now they need guys who are at least willing to go make a hit, even if it isn’t the most effective. I’ve yet to get a sense from Quinn that he is satisfied with his players. I think that is good. Some guys in that room need to be pushed and reminded consistently on what is expected from them. And watching on a grainy computer screen is tough…enjoy the TSN feed tonight.

Hey Gregor, is Smid at any risk of being bumped down to #7?

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#424 Eric
September 24 2009, 12:35AM
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We really need Smid's grit in the top 6. After Souray, we are really lacking in that department.

Can't wait to finally watch an Oilers game on television!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOGOOBA!

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#425 ShaunDoe
September 24 2009, 01:16AM
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Gregor or Brownlee:

Is there any sense that the veterans have reacted poorly to Quinns attempts at breaking down the veteran to rookie heirarchy? Could some of the veterans be playing with less get up and go because they resent having their perks taken away? I was just wondering this as the vets truly do look uninspired aside from Souray, Comrie and Penner really. I know part of that is just going through the motions of pre-season but you think they might attack the challenge of adopting a new system with a little more enthusiasm.

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#426 cableguy
September 24 2009, 06:52AM
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ShaunDoe wrote:

the vets truly do look uninspired

so you mean the same as each of the last 3 years?

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#427 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 08:15AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Khabibulin left due to dehydration. Pouliot and Pisani won’t play tomorrow due to some muscle pulls!

"shakes head"

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#428 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 08:17AM
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@ ShaunDoe: To add. Who is Quinn considering vets of the team? To me it sounded like people who have been in the league awhile, so does that mean Hemsky and Penner aren't vets?

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#429 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 08:22AM
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I checked the faceoff stats last night. Was that Horcoff's worse game in a long time? Cogliano is obviously learning how to take draws, but he needs to find consistency. Heck even if Cogliano can get to 45% this year I would be happy.

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#430 rindog
September 24 2009, 08:34AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

If O’Sullivan goes to the right side I could see Jacques with them, but Gagner, Cogliano and Brule are all centres. I don’t see that as a match.

Remember last year when I made the "dumb" suggestion that they try Cogliano on the wing? Evidently there has been some (if not lots) of thought to putting Cogliano on the wing. We know that Brule can play all 3 forward positions. So I think giving that line a shot would make sense. We know the history of the Horcoff, Hemsky & Penner line. It would be dumb to split up Comrie and O'Sullivan at this point. JFJ has shown me that he might be ready for a role on the top two lines (producing as well). The only real negative (on paper) that I see with Gagner, Cogliano and Brule is size and defensive liability. If Quinn gets them out against weaker opposition they might surprise alot of people??

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#431 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 08:37AM
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Brule is a banger though on that line. Gagner does go into the corners and Cogliano was getting his feet wet last year with the defensive side of things.

We are probably going to roll 3 scoring lines this year so maybe like you say you put them against weaker opposition or you make sure you have tough d-men out with them.

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#432 Ender the Dragon
September 24 2009, 08:48AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Khabibulin left due to dehydration.

Of all the things that happened last night, this one has me scratching my head the most. I'm not a professional athletic trainer, but I've been in sports long enough to know that unless you're suffering from a nasty stomach flu and cant keep your pants above your knees, hydration is something very much in the control of the athlete, with a little help from the training staff. What's wrong with Khabi that the fluid he's supposedly drinking isn't staying with him? It better be that he's sick, because if he just isn't drinking enough, he's old enough to know better; that would border on criminal negligence.

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#433 Zamboni Driver
September 24 2009, 08:54AM
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Re: the Veterans.

It's completely stunning to me that this collection of never-done-anythings appear to be pouting because there's a big meany who just doesn't get them (I'm looking at you Mr. Hemsky).

I hope that Quinn/Renney toss one of them on their ears (to pick an uncensorable body part) to send a message that 'We don't give a rat's...ear...who you are, or how much Mr. One-for playoffs thought of you...'

And here, I'm looking at you, Mr. Pisani.

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#434 Jimmy
September 24 2009, 09:03AM
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Eric wrote:

Can’t wait to finally watch an Oilers game on television!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOGOOBA!

I can't wait to finally watch an Oilers game IN PERSON, BABY!

It's been a looong time.

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#435 Jimmy
September 24 2009, 09:04AM
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@ Zamboni Driver:

I like how people are finally turning on Pisani. It seemed like I was the only one who had him for goat this year.

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#436 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 09:10AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: Khabibulin left due to dehydration. Of all the things that happened last night, this one has me scratching my head the most. I’m not a professional athletic trainer, but I’ve been in sports long enough to know that unless you’re suffering from a nasty stomach flu and cant keep your pants above your knees, hydration is something very much in the control of the athlete, with a little help from the training staff. What’s wrong with Khabi that the fluid he’s supposedly drinking isn’t staying with him? It better be that he’s sick, because if he just isn’t drinking enough, he’s old enough to know better; that would border on criminal negligence.

I was right behind the net in the first. He was sucking on his water bottle every 30 seconds. It might have been dehydration, but it certainly wasn't because he wasn't drinking enough.

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#437 Ender the Dragon
September 24 2009, 09:17AM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

What’s wrong with Khabi that the fluid he’s supposedly drinking isn’t staying with him?

Ogden Brother wrote:

He was sucking on his water bottle every 30 seconds. It might have been dehydration, but it certainly wasn’t because he wasn’t drinking enough.

I reasoned that would probably be the case. Good to hear the confirmation, though. I hope he's feeling better by the time the season starts; it would suck to start the regular season with a back-up. The guys will be wound tight enough without having to worry about protecting an inexperienced goalie.

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#438 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 09:26AM
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@ Ogden Brother: Where did you go for the 2nd and 3rd?

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#439 Jimmy
September 24 2009, 09:28AM
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@ Ogden Brother Jr.:

He would have been behind Kipper in the 2nd and Khabby didn't play the 3rd.

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#440 Jason Gregor
September 24 2009, 09:29AM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

I was right behind the net in the first. He was sucking on his water bottle every 30 seconds. It might have been dehydration, but it certainly wasn’t because he wasn’t drinking enough.

Dehydration comes from not having enough liquids in you when you start to sweat it out. Sucking on a water bottle during the game will help, but it won't replenish the body fast enough. It does happen from time to time, and I'd bet it was the 33 degree weather that played a factor. You are right though, that it is on the player to ensure his body has enough fluids.

The veteran perks haven't been taken away just yet. Other than the seating plan in the locker room, and I doubt that plays that much of a factor.

I think some guys are just reacting slower to the system, and some are still thinking too much. But Hemsky needs to be better, as does Horcoff, Grebeshkov, Gilbert..

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#441 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 09:32AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Where did you go for the 2nd and 3rd?

Couldn't see Bulin's drinking habits from way on the other end, and then JDD was in for the 3rd.

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#442 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 09:34AM
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@ Jason Gregor: Come on Gregor, I don't think Bulin was walking around all day with a jeans and a long sleeve shirt on.

So after some time do you buy into Brownlee's theory of the Oilers maybe showcasing Jacques? I can't see it, what is he worth a 4th rounder? Can't see why would dump something that we don't have very much off.

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#443 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 09:34AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: I was right behind the net in the first. He was sucking on his water bottle every 30 seconds. It might have been dehydration, but it certainly wasn’t because he wasn’t drinking enough. Dehydration comes from not having enough liquids in you when you start to sweat it out. Sucking on a water bottle during the game will help, but it won’t replenish the body fast enough. It does happen from time to time, and I’d bet it was the 33 degree weather that played a factor. You are right though, that it is on the player to ensure his body has enough fluids. The veteran perks haven’t been taken away just yet. Other than the seating plan in the locker room, and I doubt that plays that much of a factor. I think some guys are just reacting slower to the system, and some are still thinking too much. But Hemsky needs to be better, as does Horcoff, Grebeshkov, Gilbert..

It certainly was hot in there. First time I've ever been sweating sitting in a hockey arena.

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#444 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 09:35AM
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@ Ogden Brother: Just checking thought maybe you had too many 8 dollar beers and stood up by the beer stand.

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#445 Harlie
September 24 2009, 09:35AM
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ok...I'm a little foggy and groggy from the drinkfest, ahem..uhh I mean the game last night. Being in the front row I had a pretty good view on who was doing well and who wasn't. First off the thing I noticed first was that Fleury actually didn't look too bad. Other than his face looking like a used catcher's mitt from all his hard living he actually looked like he belonged on the ice and in my opinion didn't look too out of place. GlenX played well and proved again how bad of a move it was for us to let him go so easily. RR and Iggy looked like mid season form and the rest of the lames didn't look to bad other than their ugly shirts! The Oilers I was impressed with Penner who always seemed to be in front of the net battling or trying to bat in the loose pucks. JFJ's skating looked pretty good for a tall guy and I thought he played well. I wasn't too happy with Bulin's performance as I thought he played a bit too deep in the net and he let at least one easy one in. Souray was his usual strictly business self. Comrie had a good game and was noticeable on every shift he played. Chipped in a nice goal as well. Chopper was invisisble to me other than one noteable rush and I wouldn't mind waiving him bye-bye (ain't gonna happen but a guy can wish). I saw Nilsson standing around a bit and not moving his feet and getting into the dirty areas like he should. Hemsky looked like a normal human last night and I didn't see any of his trademark dangling. I also thought that Brule looked decent out there. I guess the biggest surprise to me was Fleury's play. That little bugger still has it. Good on him cuz I definitely was not a believer (i'm still not a 100%) but I am rooting for him. A good game overall other than the score. The Diesel lounge across from the Rex wasn't too bad for apre's game drinks but being right next door to a 16,000 person venue doesn't seem to translate to a happening bar as it was friggen dead in there. Didn't stick around too long there. Had a few drinks and a bite to eat at Joey's downtown before the game and the place was packed! Over an hour wait for the patio. Imagine if Joey's was situated next to the Rex!?

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#446 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 09:36AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

@ Jason Gregor: Come on Gregor, I don’t think Bulin was walking around all day with a jeans and a long sleeve shirt on. So after some time do you buy into Brownlee’s theory of the Oilers maybe showcasing Jacques? I can’t see it, what is he worth a 4th rounder? Can’t see why would dump something that we don’t have very much off.

I'm really hoping they hang onto JFJ, he didn't look out of place on that 1st line at all. He might not stick there, but he would certainly add some size to O'sully/Comrie or Gagner+whichever pint sized turd he'd be with.

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#447 Ogden Brother
September 24 2009, 09:37AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. wrote:

@ Ogden Brother: Just checking thought maybe you had too many 8 dollar beers and stood up by the beer stand.

The Ogden sisters wanted to, but I resisted.

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#448 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 09:37AM
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How is it that Penner is it that the 1/3 of last years first line that is actually trying is Penner?

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#449 Ogden Brother Jr.
September 24 2009, 09:40AM
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@ Ogden Brother: How was JFJ on the PK? I knew the guy had it in him to at the very least be the 13th forward. I also wasn't against him being the 12th forward. I also figured someday he could be good enough to be a third liner, but now he is actually throwing his name into the already full top 6.

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#450 smiliegirl15
September 24 2009, 09:53AM
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@ Ogden Brother Jr.: I'd like to buy some punctuation please. I don't think another coffee would straighten out that sentence.

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