GDB LII: Bag skates and the Blues

Jason Gregor
January 28 2010 11:52AM

Back on December 21st the Blues scored four powerplay goals in a 7-2 drubbing of the Oilers at Rexall Place. They won their next game before losing six straight, firing Andy Murray in the process and replacing him with Davis Payne, an Oiler draft pick in 1989.

Under Payne, the second youngest coach in the NHL at 39, the Blues are 6-5-2 and are five points back of 8th place Calgary. The Blues have the 7th best road record in the league, 14-8-4, but it’s they stink at home, 9-14-4, and that’s why they are in 13th place in the west.

Brad Boyes leads the Blues with 34 points, and only Nashville Patrik Hornqvist (33) and Boston, Patrice Bergeron (33), have a leading scorer with fewer points. The Blues have eight guys with ten or more goals with Andy McDonald leading the way with 16. They don’t score a bunch and they don’t give up a lot of goals.

O’Sullivan and Stortini out

The Oilers only had 12 skaters and the goalies on the ice this morning. Penner, Horcoff, Moreau, Pisani, Souray, Visnvosky, Jacques and Pouliot didn’t skate. The last two aren’t veterans and must be resting some minor bumps and bruises. Patrick O’Sullivan and Zack Stortini were on the ice for an extra 25 minutes skating and doing drills, and neither will play tonight.

O’Sullivan was asked what the message was from the coaches?

“I need to be better, more consistent. I expect more out of myself. It’s embarrassing for me, but that’s the point of it I think. It’s not fun skating like that. I haven’t done this since my first year. I’m gonna take the message and be better the next game I get to play.”

Of course he isn’t happy not playing, no player would be and I’d expect to see more jump in his game when he gets back in the lineup.

Quinn mentioned O’Sullivan sat out because he wasn’t meeting the coaches’ expectations, while Stortini was just caught up in the numbers game. Depending on how the team plays tonight, I’d expect both to play in Calgary on Saturday. Quinn made it very clear that there were many other candidates who could easily have been given the pass to the pressbox.

Two lines are set for sure:

Penner — Gagner — Nilsson
Moreau — Horcoff — Pisani

It sounds like Potulny is playing with Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule, so that leaves Andrew Cogliano to skate with Jacques and Pouliot.

I’d like to see Brule play with Gagner and Penner once he gets up to speed. Brule and Penner have worked well together and now is the time to start looking at some line combinations that could work for next season.

I don’t see any of those three being moved, so why not use the final games to let them find some chemistry and continuity. If you look ahead those three along with Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle and the potential top-pick could be their top-six next season, so why not find out if those three can click as a line.

Devan Dubnyk was on the ice 20 minutes before practice working with Freddy Chabot. Actually Chabot had a camera and was taking pictures of him from different angles, sliding across the crease and challenging the shooter. Dubnyk will not play tonight, as Jeff Deslauriers will get another crack. He gave up a weak goal early against Chicago, but played decent after that.

Quinn said the decision was made yesterday at practice. He felt Deslauriers practiced better and looked more crisp so Deslauriers will get a shot to win his first game of 2010.

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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 Oilman
January 28 2010, 11:54AM
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From Police Officer in Dog River all the way to head coach of the Blues....way to go Davis!

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#2 The Towel Boy
January 28 2010, 11:57AM
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Hehehe...O'Lanterns.

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#3 Jonathan Willis
January 28 2010, 11:59AM
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Zach Stortini is a better hockey player than Jean-Francois Jacques. That may be damning with faint praise, but it's true and doubly so if Jacques is nursing injuries.

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#4 Bucknuck
January 28 2010, 12:03PM
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Gregor do you think that Tambellini might choose to keep O'Sullivan to prove he didn't make a mistake or is the Irish Inconsisto being shopped?

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#5 Ball Buster
January 28 2010, 12:07PM
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Obvious comment of the day:

Nilsson on the top line, even with Comrie and Brule coming back, smacks of Tambellini asking Quinn for a showcase.

I wonder what team needs Nilsson's skill set though?

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any teams out there sorely missing a complementary 2nd liner who can put in 10 minutes of so-so hockey and help out on the 2nd PP unit. I mean, Sykora cleared waivers just last week didn't he?

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#6 Duke
January 28 2010, 12:09PM
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Can anyone tell me why the last place team in the NHL consistently allows the veterans to sit out practice? Way to set an example boys! For me this is a glaring sign that the leaders are not of the ilk don the beloved Copper and Blue. I'm thinking ACME can be the new sponsor down at Rexall 0.75.

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#7 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 28 2010, 12:18PM
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@Duke

I was thinking the samething, but I'd hate to see one of them get injuried in practice taking them off the trade block.

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#8 Fro
January 28 2010, 12:19PM
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For some reason I like POS and feel like he is going to bite us when he is not an Oiler, but man he has not been living up to his potential lately.

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#9 Fro
January 28 2010, 12:22PM
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I also do not understand why only half the team is practising. Does this happen on every team?

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#10 Jmask5
January 28 2010, 12:23PM
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Is it a coincidence that every forward acquired as a result of the Pronger trade has had Stone Hands?

Lupul, Cole, POS all couldn't find the back of the net with a GPS.

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#11 swade
January 28 2010, 12:29PM
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Oh Patches O'Hullihan! Finally the coaches sit your sorry @ss!

Go Play Intramurals brother!

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#12 Harlie
January 28 2010, 12:31PM
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I'm glad to hear that O'Sullivan is paying for his craptastic play of late. Last game he was a total powderpuff just floating around. C'mon man, you are making millions of dollars a year in an occupation where it is expected that you get hurt or hurt someone. So take off the glass suit and get your hands dirty already.

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#13 McCreeper
January 28 2010, 12:33PM
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In other news:

hemsky and khabibulan were spotted as far away from here as possibe drunk texting horcoff to come join them

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#14 Jonathan Willis
January 28 2010, 12:36PM
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In fairness to O'Sullivan, he does have seven points in his last 10 games.

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#15 Fro
January 28 2010, 12:38PM
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Anyone tell me why some of my comments are not getting through?

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#16 Duke
January 28 2010, 12:41PM
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@Fro

@Fro

BLOCKED!!

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#17 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 28 2010, 12:42PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I've liked the guy as of late, but I guess Quinn wants more. This is the problem with the team, we have someone that is playing well at a desginated role why do we have to add to that role?

Let the players play the roles they are suppose to and fill the holes that come from that via trade or free agency this off-season.

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#18 freeze
January 28 2010, 12:42PM
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Fro wrote:

Anyone tell me why some of my comments are not getting through?

Are ya cussin'?

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#19 Gunner
January 28 2010, 12:46PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Zach Stortini is a better hockey player than Jean-Francois Jacques. That may be damning with faint praise, but it's true and doubly so if Jacques is nursing injuries.

JFJ can actually get in and hit the defense where Zach is just too slow. Don't get me wrong, I like Zach as a hockey player more than JFJ but his footspeed is brutal.

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#20 Harlie
January 28 2010, 12:46PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

In fairness to O'Sullivan, he does have seven points in his last 10 games.

classic case of the stats not telling the whole story. He's been in the right place offensively but defensively he hasn't been in the right place and even in the offensive zone unless the puck landed on his stick he wasn't digging hard for it. As I said before I like the guy, I just don't like how he's been playing as of late. I know he has the tools...he just has to use them.

p.s i paid particular attention to O'Sullivan's play during the last game and that is why I was so hard on him during that GDB. He played terribly even though his name came up on the stats.

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#21 Librarian Mike
January 28 2010, 12:47PM
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Fro wrote:

I also do not understand why only half the team is practising. Does this happen on every team?

Only half the team ever shows up for games, so why confuse them?

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#22 bob loblaws law blog
January 28 2010, 12:48PM
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patches o'hulihan? haha

if you can dodge a wrench.....

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#23 Bucknuck
January 28 2010, 12:50PM
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Librarian Mike wrote:

Only half the team ever shows up for games, so why confuse them?

zing!

sad but true...

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#24 Jonathan Willis
January 28 2010, 12:56PM
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@ Harlie:

Well, I don't want to give O'Sullivan too much credit (he's been bad) but is he one of the two worst forwards on the team right now?

I doubt it, but there may be other items (showcasing, for example) coming into play here.

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#25 Fro
January 28 2010, 12:58PM
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Nah, being pleasant as a peach - just trying to provide a story....

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#26 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 28 2010, 12:59PM
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So if you were trying to deal O'Sullivan would sitting him now be the way to go? Just seems odd that Nilsson who hasn't really done much lately gets in over him and on the first line yet.

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#27 Fro
January 28 2010, 12:59PM
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Sad but true indeed, but I don't understand why they tolerate this.

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#28 Harlie
January 28 2010, 01:01PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Harlie:

Well, I don't want to give O'Sullivan too much credit (he's been bad) but is he one of the two worst forwards on the team right now?

I doubt it, but there may be other items (showcasing, for example) coming into play here.

yeah it could be showcasing someone else and/or it may be a sitdown to show him and the rest of the team that floating around getting the easy points isn't allowed. Something about one rotten apple wrecking the rest comes to mind.

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#29 El Duke
January 28 2010, 01:07PM
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You can shine a turd but it is still a turd.

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#30 Tracie
January 28 2010, 01:10PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Maybe they are trying to show case Nilsson and Sully drew the short straw.

It also upsets me that veterans aren't practising. Penner is quoted in the Sun and Journal of wanting to step up his game and be the player he was at the beginning of the season, and then he doesn't come to practice? Horcoff, Moreau et al all could use the practice so why aren't they out there? Not even counting the fact that they are the veterans on the team and the leaders...shouldn't they be trying to teach hard work ethic and teamwork thru example? If we lose Souray, and Staios, who on the team is left to show these guys how to play with heart and hard work all the time??? I would bring back Gator and Smytty just for that reason!!!

Moreau used to be a hard worker, showing up to practice, blocking shots, last on the ice, etc...then he got the "C" and decided to coast into retirement! Man, he makes me angry!

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#31 Bucknuck
January 28 2010, 01:10PM
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Nilsson has looked pretty good the last few weeks. I see him hustling on changes, using his body, and being a mover out there.

Last point I noticed O'Sullivan get was giftwrapped from the defenseman on the opposing team. O'Sullivan will look good in the pressbox.

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#32 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
January 28 2010, 01:13PM
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@Tracie

It drives me nuts, the other day an optional skate at least 15 showed up so that is good. We are the worse team in the league if nothing else go out and practice shooting or taking faceoffs. I don't really care if they have full practices every gameday, but if you don't want a divider in the locker room then don't divide practice.

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#33 Racki
January 28 2010, 01:27PM
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Hope to see Brule back with Gagner/Penner soon as well. Those guys look great together.

And the Magic man is bound to completely disappear soon.

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#35 HOFFFF
January 28 2010, 01:30PM
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Maybe POS is sitting because he is part of a 3 way trade involving Carolina? Which is supposed to be announced this afternoon. * Just wishful thinking *

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#36 Rigger
January 28 2010, 01:36PM
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Duke wrote:

Can anyone tell me why the last place team in the NHL consistently allows the veterans to sit out practice? Way to set an example boys! For me this is a glaring sign that the leaders are not of the ilk don the beloved Copper and Blue. I'm thinking ACME can be the new sponsor down at Rexall 0.75.

I've wondered that for awhile myself. Moreau missing the bag skate, and then playing the next day raised my eyebrow, but it seems a lot of the vets don't feel they need to show up for practice. Not sure if they're nursing something, but doesn't matter because the young guys come to practice when they aren't always up to snuff.

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#37 Dyckster
January 28 2010, 01:43PM
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HOFFFF wrote:

Maybe POS is sitting because he is part of a 3 way trade involving Carolina? Which is supposed to be announced this afternoon. * Just wishful thinking *

Source?

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#38 Ball Buster
January 28 2010, 01:49PM
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@Dyckster

You're kidding, right?

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#39 Travis Dakin
January 28 2010, 01:56PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ Harlie:

Well, I don't want to give O'Sullivan too much credit (he's been bad) but is he one of the two worst forwards on the team right now?

I doubt it, but there may be other items (showcasing, for example) coming into play here.

He's putting up points. That's counter productive to the DFF, er... FFH. Hence Deslauriers starting tonight.

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#40 Fro
January 28 2010, 02:08PM
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I met the former coach of the Oilers today, he told me he is fine. He said he should be back on television in March.

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#41 Tracie
January 28 2010, 02:11PM
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@Fro

Thanks for the update Fro! I've been worried! Ya never want to hope the rumours are true with stuff like that! I appreciate the update!

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#42 Fro
January 28 2010, 02:13PM
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It was at a charity thing this morning In Swift Current. I've been trying to post all day but they keep blocking it for some reason.

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#43 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
January 28 2010, 02:18PM
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bob loblaws law blog wrote:

patches o'hulihan? haha

if you can dodge a wrench.....

...you can dodge a puck? JDD really got the wrong idea when he watched this movie :(

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#44 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 28 2010, 02:19PM
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Fro wrote:

It was at a charity thing this morning In Swift Current. I've been trying to post all day but they keep blocking it for some reason.

probably because all the rumours/speculation about a guy possibly being really sick is a tad off-side.

when/if someone decides to make that public, it should be up to them, not rampant rumours on the inter-web

***gets off high horse and goes back to watching midget porn***

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#45 Jonathan Willis
January 28 2010, 02:23PM
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@ Jason Gregor:

That makes sense too, of course.

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#46 John K
January 28 2010, 02:25PM
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Gunner is on crack. Zach Stortini is a far far more dependable forward defensively than JFJ. Don't take my word for it, go to behindthenet.ca and notice how of all the forwards who have played any real minutes he's the number one player on the whole team when it comes to goals against on per 60 (1.88). THE BEST. Of regulars, JFJ is third worst, behind only Nilsson and Horcoff (3.66).

Forget the stats, watching most of the games of this season, Stortini is really rarely on the ice for a goal against. He is actually a solid checker defensively.

JFJ, on the other hand is subjectively quite awful. I have probably cursed his name individually at least a dozen times for a *crappy* ass back check.

Let me reiterate: JFJ is a massive massive black hole of suck. MASSIVE.

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#47 WT
January 28 2010, 02:28PM
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WT was at the Blackhawk game, section 202 row 23. WT was very very impressed with the Hawks. Reminds a person of how the Oil use to look. During the game the evidence was clear:

-Sourey is figureskating out there. He is not interested in anything except his hair -Pisani, played a hard game, good for him -O'Sullivan, OMG, he is terrible. Stands in the defending zone on his X. Not sure if he wants coaches to look bad with their strategy or what -JDD, had a tough warm up. Some idiot hit him in the head during warm up. -Penner has given up also. Says all the right things but actions speak louder than words

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#48 wes turner
January 28 2010, 02:32PM
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McCreeper wrote:

In other news:

hemsky and khabibulan were spotted as far away from here as possibe drunk texting horcoff to come join them

thanks for the belly laugh.

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#49 Ninjafoot
January 28 2010, 02:37PM
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Gunner wrote:

JFJ can actually get in and hit the defense where Zach is just too slow. Don't get me wrong, I like Zach as a hockey player more than JFJ but his footspeed is brutal.

What we need is someone with Cog's wheels on Stortini's frame.

Let the carnage begin. :)

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#50 OILERSORDEATH
January 28 2010, 03:09PM
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Have the coaches tried Hemmer with Brule before? I think that would be a great combo with Brule the shooter anf Hemmer the playmaker. Before Hemmer was hurt of course.

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