GDB LV: Against the high-flying Flyers

Jason Gregor
February 03 2010 02:31PM

Fresh off their first win in 32 days, the Oilers will be hard-pressed to win two in a row with the surging Philadelphia Flyers in town tonight.

The Flyers are 13-5-1 in their last 19. They’ve scored 68 goals and given up 46 in this stretch, but according to Scott Hartnell they are really starting to execute Peter Laviolette’s system.

“We only gave up 18 shots in Calgary, and I don’t think they had one good scoring chance. We’ve played solid hockey for a month and a half. Guys are more accountable and the coaches have made it very clear what they expect from us.”

The Flyers started great going 12-5-1, then went 3-13-1 before this hot streak, and it is clear that special teams and discipline have been the biggest difference since Laviolette was brought on.

In the first 17 games they outshot the opposition 13 times, tied one and were out shot three times. In the next 17 games they had more shots 12 times, tied one and were out shot four times. In this last 19 game stretch, they had more shots eleven times, tied twice and were outshot six times.

Their PK and PP numbers were a clear indication of their record however.

  • First 18 games they were 27.6% on the PP and 81.8% on the PK.
  • Next 17 they were 13.8% on the PP and a woeful 74.4% on the PK.
  • And in the past 19 they are 27.1% on the PP and 86.3% on the PK.

The biggest difference is they took 66 penalties in the last 19 games compared to 86 in the previous 17 games. Laviolette wasn’t a miracle worker though. He was only 2-7-1 in his first ten games behind the bench, but he admitted he needed to adjust the style of play of his team and it couldn’t happen instantly.

“I think as a coach you have a thought on how the game should be played, and that doesn’t make it right or make it wrong. It’s an identity you want to create for your team. It’s not so much what was going on here (before him), it’s just my thoughts and believes on how the game should be played. They had to buy into that, and now we are seeing success and they deserve the credit.”

Laviolette might not take the credit many of his players admitted the coaching change changed the room. It forced them to realize they needed to play better, but also Laviolette has implemented more skating, puck pressure and puck pursuit. ‘I think you have to be good defensively, but we needed to play less of it (defence),” said Laviolette.

How refreshing to hear a coach talk about needing to play more offence rather than constantly hearing how they need to be better defensively. He has an advantage because he might have the most talented top-six forwards in the league, but credit Laviolette for coaching to their strengths.

Maroon doubles

Steve Staios joined Ladislav Smid donning the “no hit” maroon jersey at the morning skate. Staios, Smid along with Fernando Pisani and Robert Nilsson stayed after the optional skate and spent time doing one-on-one drills and were then put through an up tempo skate.

Smid said he felt great and is hoping to play as early as tomorrow in Minnesota. Staios was pretty excited about good he felt after his first real skate in three weeks. “My conditioning was better than I thought it would be. I will need a few more skates before I play, but I feel great and I want to make it clear that this concussion wasn’t related to the first one. I didn’t have any lingering effects when I got hit this time. I’ve felt good for days and I understand why they were cautious this time, but I feel strong and I can’t wait to play again.”

Staios also addressed the possibility of a trade.

“It seems veteran defencemen are usually moved at this time of the season. I really haven’t thought about it, but I’m aware of what has happened in the past. It isn’t my focus right now. I’m concerned about today and getting back on the ice and playing.”

Staios’ $2.7 million cap hit, will make him harder to trade than Ethan Moreau, but he does have value, and if he can get back and play at least five or six games before the deadline Steve Tambellini will probably get some feelers.

It was an optional skate and they were more D-men on the ice than forwards. Smid, Staios, Jason Strudwick, Alex Plante, Taylor Chorney, Denis Grebeshkov and Tom Gilbert skated, while the only forwards who will dress tonight took part. Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano, Zack Stortini and Ryan Potulny did a few drills, but none of them were on the ice very long.

The Flyers also had an optional skate with about 13 guys on the ice.

Jeff Deslauriers will start again tonight.

Changing the angles to score

Gagner is once again having a better second-half, but he still doesn’t have an answer as to why. I mentioned to him that it looks like he is more comfortable as a goal-scorer right now than he has been in previous years. He agreed and credited Pavel Datsyuk and some changes in his angles to his recent goal production.

“It’s not a matter of I’m looking up and I’m seeing a hole and I’m shooting it there, because the goalies are so good they tend to take those away. It’s just a matter of trying to changes lanes; shoot the puck hard and accurate.

“It’s a matter of using deception in your shot: Bringing the puck from the middle of your body to the outside, or using D’s as a screen and pulling the puck into your body and shooting. You look at guys like Datsyuk, he’s so incredible at it. He changes lanes on goalies so well and knows when to use screens and he is always giving different looks to the goalies.

“It’s a learning process, where I’m learning from a bunch of different guys on how to create offence and how to get better. I feel like I’m improving and it’s a good feeling knowing that if you put in the time you’re going to get rewarded for it. It’s still a learning process but I’m feeling better every year and I feel like I’m a better goal scorer this year.”

Gagner is rink rat. He stays late after practice playing different games with Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and others, and other days he works on specific elements of his game. He does look more comfortable as a goal scorer right now, and if he continues to work on his game he might become the 1st line centre this team desperately needs.

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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 The Towel Boy
February 03 2010, 02:40PM
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"He does look more comfortable as a goal scorer right now, and if he continues to work on his game he might become the 1st line centre this team desperately needs."

I hope so...I hope so.

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#2 Tha Legion
February 03 2010, 02:41PM
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gogo oilers kick pronger in the jimmy

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#3 Ender
February 03 2010, 02:41PM
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The 'Hobbit' is the future of this team. Glad to hear that he continues to work on getting better.

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#4 Travis Dakin
February 03 2010, 02:41PM
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I'm going to be there tonight! I survived the Highway to hell.... Make this worth my while Oilers. The Df.... what are we calling it now? anyway, the "not throwing the season" better be on hold for one more day. It's ok to win one more.

Now to make a stop at the Pint for a few wobblies and happiness will ensue. Come say hi if you're around!

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#5 Senator Theo
February 03 2010, 02:42PM
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We should put those maroon jerseys on all the players that are being considered for potential trades...make them wear them for the actual game to avoid any other injuries.

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#6 Tha Legion
February 03 2010, 02:42PM
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yeah his face off percentages are getting slowly better

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#7 Senator Theo
February 03 2010, 02:43PM
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Sam Gagner has become my favorite Oiler.

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#8 Tha Legion
February 03 2010, 02:44PM
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Glencross is my favorite oiler.. yup in my mind he's on the team and we are in 6th place

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#9 Ender
February 03 2010, 02:44PM
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@ Bingofuel

That's some pretty creative Photoshopping, my friend. With that guy in net, I don't think I'd be skating through the blue paint.

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#10 bingofuel
February 03 2010, 02:48PM
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@Ender

I hope you're being sarcastic... I'm not pleased with the job I did on the image. But I couldn't spend too much time on it with other stuff on the go!

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#11 Tha Legion
February 03 2010, 02:49PM
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i'ma say 4-3 loss but in OT thrilling game throughout 2 goals by Gags 1 by Horc

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#12 Travis Dakin
February 03 2010, 02:50PM
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Gagner is rink rat. He stays late after practice playing different games with Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and others, and other days he works on specific elements of his game. He does look more comfortable as a goal scorer right now, and if he continues to work on his game he might become the 1st line centre this team desperately needs.

This pleases me.

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#13 LBH
February 03 2010, 02:59PM
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so its been about 3 weeks since we were first told about this ethical issue, still haven't heard anything have we?

Seems like a T-Lo moment here... promises one thing, then hopes everyone forgets so he doesn't have to deliver

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#14 Ender
February 03 2010, 03:00PM
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@bingofuel

Not sarcasm at all. Sometimes the subtle changes are the most effective. I mean, did you get a look at the job they did with Jokinen over at TSN the other day? Subtle, but again, scary as hell.

[What? That wasn't brushed? Right, come on . . .

Seriously?]

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#15 Robin Brownlee
February 03 2010, 03:01PM
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bingofuel wrote:

I hope you're being sarcastic... I'm not pleased with the job I did on the image. But I couldn't spend too much time on it with other stuff on the go!

Is that Olli Jokinen in net for the Flyers?

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#16 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
February 03 2010, 03:01PM
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Wow our special teams are pretty much the best they have been all year?

Jim Matheson mentioned that backups beat EDM here. Wonder if Laviolette thought about that?

Intersting quote from Tim Panaccio, Matheson forgot to mention the only teams we can beat are the 28th and 29th overall clubs.

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#17 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 03 2010, 03:03PM
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"Gagner is rink rat. He stays late after practice playing different games with Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and others, and other days he works on specific elements of his game. He does look more comfortable as a goal scorer right now, and if he continues to work on his game he might become the 1st line centre this team desperately needs."

He's looking more and more like a future captain as well. This years DP will likely pass Gagner (maybe as soon as next year) but it looks like he's starting to take the next step.

Hopefully they can lock him up for three years in the 2.5 - 3 range.

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#18 Ender
February 03 2010, 03:05PM
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@ Robin Brownlee

Great minds think alike.

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#19 David S
February 03 2010, 03:05PM
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"Gagner is a rink rat. He stays late after practice playing different games with Robert Nilsson, Andrew Cogliano and others, and other days he works on specific elements of his game."

I can't tell you how many potentially elite-level athletes I've seen who got to a certain point in their careers and progressed no farther because they thought their god-given talents were enough.

I've also seen world beaters working on the finest details of their sport because they knew it was there where they would find greatness.

Keep an eye on Sam, he's going to show us something special very soon.

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#20 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
February 03 2010, 03:09PM
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@Travis Dakin

I was at a game last week and after the pre-game skate Nilsson, Cogs and Gags where out there just playing around having fun. I was very pleased to see this, but at the sametime I can't figure out why more players aren't doing this.

I was never the greatest player, but I use to be outside everyday messing doing some sort of hockey related activity. Even at school, hockey before school started, ususally gym we tried to play hockey, at recess/lunch we played and then again after school. That's all we did growing up. Maybe we should be scouting the players homes and see if they have that passion.

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#21 Oiler84
February 03 2010, 03:10PM
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I am so glad to hear that someone likes to work hard/work on their game after practice. So if Gagner's game looks really good by the end of the season do the Oilers definately pick Hall? I am a fan of us picking a center considering all the wingers we have drafted in the last few years. I still think Seguin is the right pick for us.

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#22 Bucknuck
February 03 2010, 03:13PM
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I figure Gagner is the next true captain of this team... only two years from now.

Love the fact that he is a rink rat. We NEED that kind of player on this team.

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#23 LBH
February 03 2010, 03:14PM
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Oiler84 wrote:

I am so glad to hear that someone likes to work hard/work on their game after practice. So if Gagner's game looks really good by the end of the season do the Oilers definately pick Hall? I am a fan of us picking a center considering all the wingers we have drafted in the last few years. I still think Seguin is the right pick for us.

I'd much rather take the better skater, and that happens to be Hall. I'll be very disappointed if we take Seguin over Hall if given the choice

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#24 Cory Dakin
February 03 2010, 03:17PM
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Can they take Bonsignore again? That's my pick for first choice. Give him a second chance.

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#25 Oiler84
February 03 2010, 03:25PM
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I 100% agree that Hall is a better skater but I think we need to build for the center out. Seguin in a prototypical playmaking center. If we have him and Gagner up the middle we can build around them. If MPS is as good as we hope he is and Eberle them we might have the scoring wingers we need already.

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#26 Burke's Gay Son
February 03 2010, 03:26PM
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LBH wrote:

so its been about 3 weeks since we were first told about this ethical issue, still haven't heard anything have we?

Seems like a T-Lo moment here... promises one thing, then hopes everyone forgets so he doesn't have to deliver

Seconded. Maybe he just wanted us all to speculate about what it could be about so that he could fish for story ideas.

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#27 Cory Dakin
February 03 2010, 03:29PM
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Anyone know what time we should leave the pint to make the game on time on the LRT?

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#28 Jodes
February 03 2010, 03:36PM
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I think its going to be another ugly one for the Oil tonight.. Philly's going to beat the pish out of us until Moreau's upper plate falls out..

But hey, if Jacques or Stortini want to take out Pronger at the knees, I'm okay with that!

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#29 Heavyd
February 03 2010, 03:42PM
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@Cory Dakin

6:30

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#30 Cory Dakin
February 03 2010, 03:43PM
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@Heavyd

Thanks

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#31 Jodes
February 03 2010, 03:43PM
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Cory Dakin wrote:

Anyone know what time we should leave the pint to make the game on time on the LRT?

I would say if you left the Pint by no later then 6:45 (1-2 minute walk down to the LRT station) you'd be there around 7ish.

You'd be able to get to the arena, go through checkout and find your seat with plenty of time to spare.

If you leave after 7, you might be cutting it close.

Enjoy the game.

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#32 LBH
February 03 2010, 03:54PM
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The Oilers are so bad that I've called/texted/emailed over 20 people and no one wants a free ticket to the oiler game... sad

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#33 Harlie
February 03 2010, 03:55PM
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so what's the over under for MacT landing in Hitch's old spot?

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#34 Heavyd
February 03 2010, 03:56PM
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@LBH

What game?

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#35 BBOil
February 03 2010, 03:57PM
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Gagner is the future of this team. Kid is a hockey player out and out. Thing I like about him is that he is a dynamic player that I think will put in the work and commitment to be a winner (a la Stevie Y). Maybe he will get to that level, maybe he won't, but I think he has the potential to be that complete player a team needs to win.

Even looking at earlier in the season when he wasn't putting up points, he was the only forward I can remember all year laying down to block shots. Add that to the fact that he isn't afraid of the physical side of the game and he is basically considered a skill player, and he is tops in my book.

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#36 Ender
February 03 2010, 04:00PM
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LBH wrote:

The Oilers are so bad that I've called/texted/emailed over 20 people and no one wants a free ticket to the oiler game... sad

I think I could help you out with that problem :-)

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#37 OilFan
February 03 2010, 04:00PM
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TSN is reporting Kovy trade in next few days or hours. Calgary is not in the mix ( Thank god). If I see the flames get another star play before the oiler i will cry.

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#38 OilFan
February 03 2010, 04:04PM
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@ ROBIN At first I think I was with you on Olli Jokinen but it could be Sundin.

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#39 Travis Dakin
February 03 2010, 04:21PM
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@Jodes

Will this give enough time to get beer and find our seats?

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#41 DK0
February 03 2010, 04:30PM
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@Jason Gregor

~great thanks for ruining Hall for me....~
*loads shotgun...*

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#42 Senator Theo
February 03 2010, 04:32PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Hall is a bull of a skater, but not that much better of a skater. Hall is reckless on the ice, and will go through guys. He might have to change that a bit, or he could end up like Lindros who thought he could run around at will.

Seguin isn't a bad skater and his style is more fluid but not as dynamic as Hall. I still think they will go with Hall, but I spoke to a scout today who saw both play on consecutive nights this week and he said he doesn't see a major difference. He feels Seguin thinks the game a bit better at this point. Should be a great next four months to see if Hall widens the gap or if Seguin closes it.

Has Seguin played one less year of junior than Hall? If so, and all other things being equal, would you lean towards Seguin?

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#43 Jodes
February 03 2010, 04:34PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

Will this give enough time to get beer and find our seats?

Depending on where you are sitting it should.. If you are in the lower bowl and can go to the executive lounge, then your service should be fast.

The beer lines or vendors are pretty decently paced, its the waiting for food that might take a while.

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#44 Ender
February 03 2010, 04:39PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Should be a great next four months to see if Hall widens the gap or if Seguin closes it.

I'll reserve final judgement until shortly before the draft, but if in doubt take Seguin. The center is usually the safer bet; not only might he be able to help us improve our 10% FO rate*, but a center can move to the wing in a pinch far more easily than a wing can move to center. How often this season have our 'centermen' found themselves riding shotgun?

*statistical value provided for exaggeration purposes only.

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#45 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
February 03 2010, 04:45PM
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Re: Gagner

~Why would he bother staying after practice? Gagner isn't the problem with these Edmonton Oilers. It should be Moreau staying after practice.~

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#46 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
February 03 2010, 04:46PM
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Jodes wrote:

Depending on where you are sitting it should.. If you are in the lower bowl and can go to the executive lounge, then your service should be fast.

The beer lines or vendors are pretty decently paced, its the waiting for food that might take a while.

Next time any of you are in Winnipeg, drop me a message and we'll catch a Moose game. You haven't lived until you've had the perogies at MTS Centre.

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#47 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 03 2010, 04:49PM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

Re: Gagner

~Why would he bother staying after practice? Gagner isn't the problem with these Edmonton Oilers. It should be Moreau staying after practice.~

Ha-ha, I was just thinking that.

"So how is Gagner staying extra a positive if Hemsky being the first off isn't allowed to be a negative?"

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#49 BUCK75
February 03 2010, 04:59PM
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@Jodes

The other night everything was fast - quite a few empty seats. You could even walk around the concourse pretty easy...

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#50 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 03 2010, 05:00PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Yes Hall is in his third season of junior. Hall is a Nov birthday 1991, while Seguin is a Jan 1992. He just turned 18. Seguin is in his second season, and that is another factor scouts are looking at. Hall has the advantage of an extra year of junior, but if Seguin was in his 3rd year would be even more dominant is the question they are asking.

Seems a few of these high end guys plateau a bit later in jr. Same thing was said about Tavares last year.

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