Growing Pains

Lowetide
October 15 2010 07:33AM

Life doesn't always turn out as planned. One minute you're on a big time television show and the next minute you're making straight-to-DVD classics. The window of opportunity can close quickly. Thank goodness there are older folks around to give advice.
 

As we edge closer to decision day on Taylor Hall's season (should they send him down to junior?) fans of the Edmonton Oilers are beginning to see just how large a step it is from junior to the NHL. In pre-season, when the muckers were on the powerplay and the ten-year veteran minor leaguers played with the superstars, Edmonton's kids weaved magic into every shift. As the pre-season wound down, the points dried up. Now that we're into the NHL regular season, time and space have evaporated and the three kids look like, well, kids on many shifts these days.

With the Oilers first loss last night, the coach has an opportunity to change some of the team's structure. Gilbert Brule is either injured or unable to play in Minnesota (he fell down a lot last night) so there may be some changes there. Ryan Jones has probably earned a shift on a regular line, and to me eye Magnus Pääjärvi has played well enough to grab a spot on the Horcoff line. The question becomes who do they demote?

Probably Taylor Hall. He is "in between" right now, not handling the puck much and chasing it a lot. Off the rush, he doesn't appear to have the previous drive to get around NHL veterans and is left to make a less creative play (and sometimes forces a play without success). With kids, it takes about 5 minutes to start losing confidence, so this is an issue Renney needs to address.

Shawn Horcoff has already given some insight into the situation. Quoting Horcoff in the the tsn article: "His shifts are too long. And he has to come back deeper for the puck to open up more ice. You have to overwork to get more ice. He's taking off (too quickly) and the defencemen are right there, but that's the NHL. These things will come. He wants it so badly, he stays out there because he wants it (to make something happen)."

These are common maladies for young players and can be filed under "errors of enthusiasm" at this early juncture. Will he learn from this? His average shift lengths in the first three NHL games have been fine (49 seconds in game #1; 51 seconds in game #2; 46 seconds in game three) but what Horcoff is talking about are a few prolonged shifts per game. Last night he had 5 shifts over one minute, with the longest being 1:26. Jordan Eberle had 7 shifts over one minutes with the longest being 1:40 (PP). The Swedish teenager had 8 shifts over a minute, the longest being 1:24. Checking the TOI totals for the two previous games, they seem to be about the same as last night's in terms of the three young forwards.

I think Taylor Hall might benefit from playing on a lesser line for a few games. Elevate the Swede, get Brule out of the lineup until he's healthy and give Ryan Jones a chance to play with Cogs and Hall on the 3line. Either way, the coach will have to do something soon. Taylor Hall is a very confident young man, but he's also used to a lot of success. OHL to NHL is a massive gap.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 E-Mac
October 15 2010, 07:41AM
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I'd like to see what MPS can do with the better line.

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#2 dawgbone
October 15 2010, 07:47AM
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Paajarvi is almost the first man back every time and neither Brule nor Cogliano seem to have any clue what to do with the puck.

Brule seems like the same chicken with his head cut off that he was in Columbus... lots of skating while being behind the play all the time.

Cogliano is turning into Ethan Moreau Jr with all his shots from horrible angles. At least he's not taking stupid penalties.

That 3rd line as a unit has been a complete disaster and it's bad when the 19 year old rookie is by far the best player on the line.

Hall doesn't do any of the same things he did in junior to be successful. His typical play was to drive hard to the net and either dish the puck off to an open player or go right to the net. He was almost like a drive and dish point guard in the NBA. Part of the reason is that NHL defenders are bigger and faster so he's probably not comfortable with that yet, but he hasn't tried it since the pre-season.

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#3 DonovanMD
October 15 2010, 07:53AM
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Send Hall back to junior, MPS back to Sweden, save their years of eligibility until they're good!

Ahem, that said, I highly doubt Hall goes back down, but he will struggle at times and thats ok and expected. Of all the rookie trio predictions I saw Lowetides were easily the most accurate and realistic in my books.

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#4 Oilcruzer
October 15 2010, 07:58AM
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Thought Hall made some big strides yesterday. Finding seams, creating options. Brule looks sore, why not Jones at Centre on line 3?

Would like to see giroux called up.

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#5 Dyckster
October 15 2010, 08:04AM
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~Fire up the blender!~

I understand the need to coddle the kids, but surely they're mature enough to know the rebuild was going to be a slow, methodical process. The four lines were put together with a purpose, barring injury, let things play out for a while. We all know Hall is here to stay, let the lad adjust. As LT stated, the gap between the OHL and NHL is huge. The three wonder boys have obviously got some game, give 'em time to show their stuff.

Having said all that, on his current line, Magnus does like like a man amongst boys at times. Putting him in a position to succeed might not be a bad idea.

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#6 OttawaOilFan
October 15 2010, 08:06AM
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Lowetide,

Love your articles (other then HNIC, I really only get to watch the games on a sh*tty internet feed through my PS3), they give me a lot of insight (as do all the writers on ON, including YOU, Wanye) into the games and help me see stuff I miss. JW did an article on face-offs recently and I was wondering what your take on it is? I know it's only been 3 games but after watching last night's game it seemed to me we lost a TON of face-offs (especially on the PP). Thanks.

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#7 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
October 15 2010, 08:21AM
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Penner-Gagner-Hemsky PayRV-Horcoff-Eberle Hall-Cogliano-Jones/Omark

I just had to write it out to visualize it. Line 1 played well last night and I think keeping Penner and Hemsky together will draw the toughest competition away from the rookies; I like this move.

I think Paajarvi would fit well with Horcoff and Eberle. He likes to carry the puck and control the play and he doesn't have to be as defensively responsible playing with Horcoff so that might open up more offensive chances for him.

If Brule is injured and out, I do not like the look of our potential 3rd line at all. With Jones playing there we have some grit and it will open up the ice a bit more for Cogs and Hall. Though we would have to hope those 2 have some decent chemistry to see anything come to fruition. With calling up Omark and putting him on that line we could see something special when they are on the offensive but, my God, we could be in a world of hurt in our own end...

Renney has his work cut out for him in the next little while.

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#8 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 15 2010, 08:21AM
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I wonder how many of the "let the kids play" crew are going to stick to their guns if we continue to see performances like the previous two games.

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#9 Clarkenstein
October 15 2010, 08:28AM
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There is absolutely no way you can give Hall an honest performance rating while he's playing with Horcoff. They finally figured out you have to get Hemsky away from Horcoff to get his productivity going. Hall needs a playmaking centreman to realize his potential.

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#10 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 15 2010, 08:31AM
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Clarkenstein wrote:

There is absolutely no way you can give Hall an honest performance rating while he's playing with Horcoff. They finally figured out you have to get Hemsky away from Horcoff to get his productivity going. Hall needs a playmaking centreman to realize his potential.

One of the finer displays of blind Horcoff-hatred.

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#11 Slick
October 15 2010, 08:36AM
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Despite last night's loss, I thought the Oilers played much better than they did earlier in the week against Florida. I don't think it is time to blow up the lines just yet.

If Brule is hurt, which seems likely to be the case, then I would like to see Vande Velde get a chance on on the third or fourth line, he looked great throughout the preseason.

However, we all had an idea of how this season would play out, so why not let Renney do some more coaching (I guess or pk isn't as good as it looked heading into last nights game) and let's just see how things play out?

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#12 SK Oiler Fan
October 15 2010, 08:42AM
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Don't interpret this in to a Horc hater comment, but Horc wasn't helpng his line offensively at all last night. I know the ice was bad, but Horc's stone hands were back last night. The puck was a grenade.

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#13 freeze
October 15 2010, 08:46AM
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There really should be an exception for first round picks to go to the AHL in their first season. Hall does seem to be in-between and the answer to that is the A. Stupid rules. I do think it will click for him eventually but he'll take a ton of flak in the meantime.

On another note, I love how many times MPS back-checked last night. Seemed like he even beat the second defenseman back to the zone on occasion. Once his adult muscles grow in he'll be one hell of a hockey player.

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#14 R.A. Slapshotzky
October 15 2010, 08:52AM
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The puck was bouncing so bad for the Oil last night. Listening to XM NHL home ice on my way home from work and I heard a caller complain about the puck being too bouncy...haha. While I don't necessarily agree with the caller, I think there should be some standards to the ice conditions. Is there anyway of fixing this problem? Who knows.

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#15 Stone Hands McOsta
October 15 2010, 08:55AM
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I think Eberle looked by far the most confident on that second line last night. He deserves the minutes he is getting, and Paajarvi is at least back checking like a mad man. I think those two with Horc in the middle could be a thing of beauty. Let Hall play on the 3rd line, at least he'll look better then Cogs.

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#16 Ken
October 15 2010, 09:00AM
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Three games into season and we want to send Hall back to junior.Wasnt the plan to develop the kids? Other than the PK i thought the team played not bad for an early season road game.We all have to learn some patience and watch what emerges.

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#17 @NateInVegas
October 15 2010, 09:01AM
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Oilers fan still drunk on Taylorade?

Windsor allowed #4 to play outside a system and we're starting to see deficiencies in NHL.

It won't be long before #4 expects more minutes and a skilled center to get him the puck.

This will end bad....

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#18 Bill up North
October 15 2010, 09:08AM
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Clarkenstein wrote:

There is absolutely no way you can give Hall an honest performance rating while he's playing with Horcoff. They finally figured out you have to get Hemsky away from Horcoff to get his productivity going. Hall needs a playmaking centreman to realize his potential.

http://headdesk.de/headdesk.jpg

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#19 Helmethead
October 15 2010, 09:09AM
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WOW! We're at game 3 and already the nay-sayers are coming out! Give it a chance folks.

I don't think sending Hall to the minors or back to juniour is an opiton at this point. The Club has made a commitment to stick with these kids through the season so why are we so nagetive after only the 3rd game?

Other than 4th line changes and defensive switches, Renney hasn't even juggled the lines yet. Give them a chance to get comfy with one another! But I do think throwing MP out with Cogs and Brule is a waste. Cogs doesn't seem to know what to do when Magnus is streaking down the wing. He's overhandling the puck all the time. If I were Cogs, I'd feed Magnus all night and let him create the space for him AND Brule.

I think the bigger issue at hand is what Whitney is doing trying to lag the puck up to center THAN trying to make a "seam" pass. He didn't play that well finding open men on the wings and seemed to get beat down low on more than a few occassions.

I've liked Peckhams compete level and grit but am concerned about Vandermeer. He seems to get caught flat footed alot which instantly creates the pressure down low.

Other than those few things, lets be a bit patient folks. Start the criticsms after game 30 when they've gotten to know each other better and have found a rhythum.

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#20 Bill up North
October 15 2010, 09:10AM
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SK Oiler Fan wrote:

Don't interpret this in to a Horc hater comment, but Horc wasn't helpng his line offensively at all last night. I know the ice was bad, but Horc's stone hands were back last night. The puck was a grenade.

He, and every other Oiler had the same problem...

Just sayin'

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#21 Marsha
October 15 2010, 09:13AM
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We're only 3 games into the season so let's chill out. I don't mind elevating Magnus and give him some better linemates but I'd rather see him play with Hemsky. I liked their chemistry in the preseason. But I also like Hemsky with Penner so the answer is obvious: double shift Hemsky with both! lol

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#22 DBO
October 15 2010, 09:17AM
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The Oil are exactly who we thought they were. Nothing to get upset about. We all knew the issues that would be apparent as the season went on. - Hall is tentative and not confident right now as his speed and skill at this point do not make him a star against actual NHL players. He'll get better, and by the second half he will be more accustomed to the NHL. Hopefully he gets moved down in the lineup and plays on a line that is sheltered. - As much as we want Renney to line match and shelter his kids, it seems apparent he is determined to put everybody out there in all situations to see how they handle it. The Org does not expect to make the playoffs. Erase the first game, we are not that good and they actually seem to know it. Renney is seeing what he has, and I expect after 10 - 15 games he'll shuffle the lineup and run the line match up system we expect. - Cogs will get every chance to be a centre, but after 15 games he'll be sat, demoted or traded. Someone like the isles may like him, and the Org will either go out and get an actual centre or just move Brule over and call up Omark or one of the veteran forwards from the AHL.

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#23 positivebrontefan
October 15 2010, 09:17AM
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Move Hall up to line one, Paarvi up to line two, and Penner down to line three. If Brlue is hurt bring in Omark to play with Cogs and Penner.

Keep the kids up here. Lets not forget we were thirtieth last year and we have replaced NHL vets albeit marginal with rookies, and no matter how good they are it will take them time to adjust to the NHLs speed and size especially for Hall.

Quit panicing people.

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#24 Golden Seals
October 15 2010, 09:19AM
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Frankly, I didn't think the Oilers were all that bad , but the PK sucked. And in a league where every ticky tack hooking penalty is called you better have good special teams or you won't win no matter how much talent you have.

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#25 freeze
October 15 2010, 09:22AM
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How is it panicking to discuss how the players have played in the three games?

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#26 positivebrontefan
October 15 2010, 09:27AM
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freeze wrote:

How is it panicking to discuss how the players have played in the three games?

Fair enough.

I'm not nessicarily refering to responses just on this page but others as well. If you look at some of the comments on GDB#3 you'll see what I mean. This is just the most current page.

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#27 Jonathan Willis
October 15 2010, 09:29AM
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I'm all for sending Taylor Hall back to junior, both from a development and a cap angle, and if his play is poor at the Game 9 mark I think the Oilers should avail themselves of that excuse and dump him.

I also love the blind Horcoff hatred. For some people, it doesn't really matter what he does - if he makes the play, it was because of his linemates, if his linemates fail it was because of him. But that's fine; NHL coaches continue to disagree and that's enough.

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#28 Jonathan Willis
October 15 2010, 09:30AM
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Also, there's no need to panic. This is a rebuilding year; it doesn't matter if the team performs badly. In some ways, it would actually be a good thing.

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#29 Kieso
October 15 2010, 09:30AM
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Everyone just relax a little. What was the target this year? Exciting "last place" hockey.

I would say we will get some exciting games and with luck some last place hockey.

This was a 30th place team last year and not likely to be too much better this year. I for one want the team to get another high draft pick (and still be a fan of the team as they do that).

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#30 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 15 2010, 09:35AM
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positivebrontefan wrote:

Fair enough.

I'm not nessicarily refering to responses just on this page but others as well. If you look at some of the comments on GDB#3 you'll see what I mean. This is just the most current page.

The call in shows last night were the worst... though I guess that's when emotions are running highest.

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#31 I'm a Scientist!
October 15 2010, 09:39AM
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I wouldn't change the Hall-Horcoff-Eberle line. They have the most tape to tape passes of the group. The chemistry seems to be there. In my opinion, if we are going to change something, the only thing i would try is to switch Penner and MPS. Penner and Brule have had chemistry in the past, so that may re-ignite. MPS and Hemsky are roomies on the road, so maybe that will lead to some magic.

IF we are going to make changes, that is the first thing I would try. Otherwise, let's just see what happens...

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#32 Death Metal Nightmare
October 15 2010, 09:39AM
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why focus on the rookies for their lack of success when its more dependent on the veterans here lacking in talent to help develop them? and some of you people want to send them back? for what? so they can return a year later to a just as crappy matrix of development?

come on people, Horcoff, Hemsky and Penner are a terrible set of forwards to ween these kids along (all three together is barely a scary 1st line in the NHL). you cant even be sure of which player is going to show up year to year because of their own bizarre non-competitive attitudes (sorry, Hemsky is never taking the turn to gain a "killer instinct" as an offensive player and neither is Penner) or Frankenstein caliber skills (Horc). putting Hall with goofballs like Jones and Cogliano is even more of a joke. whats the point? so they can skate around and float for 10-12 minutes a game at Even Strength? seems more like coaching is at fault for Hall's shift length and not training him to be in correct spots in his own zone.

but the overall level of caution, walking on egg shells and timid behavior the last two games is systemic. the phony puck possession game is so slow developing and players decisions on breakouts and PP's to move the puck deftly is atrocious. then when they lose the puck or pursue it on the boards its a total gong show trying to win battles.

faceoffs, atrocious. another huge factor in executing from a position of advantage, no?

Tambo has a bit more of work to do if "developing" here has any true meaning other than just waiting for these kids to mature to take over spots that these mediocre vets arent helping with. you cant develop when you cant setup a PP, you cant learn the game when the vets can barely execute a game of hockey.

man, were talking about THREE rookies in a lineup of very mediocre vets. thats scary.

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#33 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 15 2010, 09:45AM
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I'm a Scientist! wrote:

I wouldn't change the Hall-Horcoff-Eberle line. They have the most tape to tape passes of the group. The chemistry seems to be there. In my opinion, if we are going to change something, the only thing i would try is to switch Penner and MPS. Penner and Brule have had chemistry in the past, so that may re-ignite. MPS and Hemsky are roomies on the road, so maybe that will lead to some magic.

IF we are going to make changes, that is the first thing I would try. Otherwise, let's just see what happens...

Lots of people mentioning Penner/Brule chemistry from last year, but I also think Cogs had chemistry with the two of them as well.

Putting them back together (with the added benifit of having Hemsky with MPS) seems to fit.

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#34 @Oilanderp
October 15 2010, 09:46AM
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Hey...... *points behind you* What the.....Hey man is that a giraffe over there?!!?

*does a tuck and roll off the wagon and into the ditch*

Run away! Ruuunn awwwaaaaay!

*makes a panicked top-speed dash in a random direction through the canola field*

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#35 Ryan14
October 15 2010, 09:46AM
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@NateInVegas wrote:

Oilers fan still drunk on Taylorade?

Windsor allowed #4 to play outside a system and we're starting to see deficiencies in NHL.

It won't be long before #4 expects more minutes and a skilled center to get him the puck.

This will end bad....

~Thank god Oiler fans said they were going to be patient.~

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#36 It's Hall Over!
October 15 2010, 09:50AM
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Move Magnus to Horc's line? I disagree with that.

Horc's played pretty good this year but last night, the way he handled that puck, yowzers. He just doesn't have the skill or the hands to play with skilled players. He's not suited for the power play. The play dies with him everytime he touches the puck. Let him focus on the PK and 5 on 5 where he's actually a good player.

And the Oil need to stop rolling 3 lines on the PP. Can Hemsky not play more then 45 seconds? He's creating a lot when he has the puck, give him more time.

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#37 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 15 2010, 09:52AM
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@NateInVegas wrote:

Oilers fan still drunk on Taylorade?

Windsor allowed #4 to play outside a system and we're starting to see deficiencies in NHL.

It won't be long before #4 expects more minutes and a skilled center to get him the puck.

This will end bad....

Was that you that got slapped around on the radio last night?

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#38 Quicksilver ballet
October 15 2010, 09:56AM
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The only thing Taylor would benifit from is being sent to the American league, and that's not possible. He needs to get use to playing with men and not kids. He'll soon settle in and find a way and show he belongs. The Oilers can't afford to embarass themselves and Taylor in this process. He's going to be here the whole year so there's no sense pimping this 10 game threshold.

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#39 Senator Theo
October 15 2010, 09:57AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

The call in shows last night were the worst... though I guess that's when emotions are running highest.

and the drunkest.

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#40 Dominoiler
October 15 2010, 10:00AM
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"Paajarvi is almost the first man back every time and neither Brule nor Cogliano seem to have any clue what to do with the puck."

Perhaps Omark can fill the nilsson role.. feeding cogs sweet money-tap in passes, likewise with Hall or Paajarvi.. that line has a lot of straight forward thinking, time to call in a playmaker...

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#41 gerry
October 15 2010, 10:00AM
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Don't forget Oiler fans, the Wild were jacked up for their home opener! By the third period, the Oilers were gaining ground because they started to get more physical. We need Mac in the line up to help deter cross checks & late hits like Hemsky & Hall took last night! Teams know that if they run the Oilers, they will beat them. A few tussles from Peckham & Vandermeer would help as well, other teams just don't respect the Oilers physically!

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#42 Dominoiler
October 15 2010, 10:03AM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Hey...... *points behind you* What the.....Hey man is that a giraffe over there?!!?

*does a tuck and roll off the wagon and into the ditch*

Run away! Ruuunn awwwaaaaay!

*makes a panicked top-speed dash in a random direction through the canola field*

I must have missed something, cus this is by far the most bizarre comment ive read in a while..

congrats..

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#43 Dan the Man
October 15 2010, 10:03AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

The call in shows last night were the worst... though I guess that's when emotions are running highest.

The call in show on CHED is a complete gong show. I think you have to have an IQ under 70 to get through.

It is rather hilarious mind you.

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#44 madjam
October 15 2010, 10:04AM
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Last nite it appeared Cogs and Brule were playing keep away from Paajarvi - almost like they were avoiding him on the rush . Defence showing signs of growing weaknesses . Forth line just not that good . Size reared it's ugly head again unfortuneately . Horcoff , Hemsky , Penner , Khabby and Gagner were the only few who showed good signs but not enough to steal this game . Do we have enough half decent playing veterans to help develop our youth beyond them ? I don't believe we do .

Pretty much all our weaknesses were exposed last night . From faceoffs ,size , defence to fourth line we lack credibility by the looks of it . The youngsters showed little other than Eberle occasionally . We looked good against the Flames , but maybe the Flames are not very good as they just got beat 3-0 by Florida ? Just can't forsee our youngsters having to carry the weight of such a small group of veteran players doing a reasonable job already ?

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#45 Dan the Man
October 15 2010, 10:10AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I'm all for sending Taylor Hall back to junior, both from a development and a cap angle, and if his play is poor at the Game 9 mark I think the Oilers should avail themselves of that excuse and dump him.

I also love the blind Horcoff hatred. For some people, it doesn't really matter what he does - if he makes the play, it was because of his linemates, if his linemates fail it was because of him. But that's fine; NHL coaches continue to disagree and that's enough.

Yeah the Horcoff hatred makes me laugh as well. I mean he only has 2 goals and 1 assist in 3 games...(~)but of course those were all just lucky and he did absolutely nothing to earn them.(~)

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#46 OILERSORDEATH
October 15 2010, 10:12AM
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@NateInVegas wrote:

Oilers fan still drunk on Taylorade?

Windsor allowed #4 to play outside a system and we're starting to see deficiencies in NHL.

It won't be long before #4 expects more minutes and a skilled center to get him the puck.

This will end bad....

Dude, heres a gun. Just point at your temple and pull the trigger. Jeezus boys calm the f$%k down. We all expected this, lets just enjoy the games its hockey season!!

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#47 DK0
October 15 2010, 10:17AM
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Dominoiler wrote:

I must have missed something, cus this is by far the most bizarre comment ive read in a while..

congrats..

I think that was him escaping the oilers Bandwagon

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#48 Mr DeBakey
October 15 2010, 10:22AM
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"They finally figured out you have to get Hemsky away from Horcoff to get his productivity going."

Last season, Hemsky was a PPG player with Horcoff. Only 20 games but still

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#49 pmg2
October 15 2010, 10:26AM
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Ha !! Despite this being very early in the season....we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.......from the veterans !!! Smid.......pushes the puck past Khabby and into our own net in a "fall-down" scenario. And Gilbert can't get out of his own way in redirecting the puck past Khabby !! Typical !!! They continue to make bad luck for themselves. I can handle the growing pains of the youngsters. I just can't handle the idiotic carelessness of the veterans !! If you don't know where the puck is in your goaltender's crease....then "communicate" with each other on the ice !!! How difficult is that ???

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#50 BaconWrapped
October 15 2010, 10:27AM
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So, who's the bird in the pic?

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