GDB LXXI: Why we watch

Jason Gregor
March 19 2010 02:28PM

On a wing and a prayer seems like a fitting theme for tonight as Devan Dubnyk goes for his first NHL win. Dubnyk is 146 minutes away from setting the NHL record for most minutes played without registering a win; and he’d love to avoid that illustrious honour.

Watching the morning skates today I recalled the Oilers’ home opener v. the Wings in the 1997/98. I shared season tickets with my buddies, Hutch, Onion and Pretty Boy. We had two seats so we split into two groups. I went to most games with Onion.

Onion and I have been buddies since grade four and we’ve been through a lot of monumental events together. He is a diehard Oiler fan. He’s married now with two kids, but he still bleeds copper and blue. He has a 1000 (not sure it is that big, but it’s almost an entire wall) inch projector screen TV framed into his basement wall. And normally that is awesome, but it’s made this season more painful for him because the mistakes seem bigger.

I played hockey with Onion until midget. He wasn’t the fastest skater, but he backchecked like a demon. He couldn’t break a pane of glass with his shot, but in tight he had the softest hands and he’d go shelf regularly. He was there the first time I got drunk. In the parking lot of J.H Picard, we shared/chugged a mickey of Silk Tassel and then sprinted into the dance before it hit us.

We celebrated Stanley Cup wins during the glory years, and I watched him die a slow death in the mid-'90s. Onion convinced us we should buy tickets in 1996 when the team was threatening to leave. He couldn’t stand Tom Poti, but loved Doug Weight. Like most Oiler fans he appreciated Bucky’s willingness to do anything to win, and cringed when he inevitably took another beating at the hands of Bob Probert or some other heavyweight he had no business fighting.

After the stunning upset of the Stars in the spring of 1997, there was a glimmer of hope that the Oilers were starting something good again, when we went to the home opener in October of 1997. The Wings were in town. Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov and star-studded cast were here, but the Oilers had opened with a win on the road and were undefeated so Onion was pretty stoked.

Onion has the smallest hands of any guy I know, but he can crush pints like no other. He showed up at my house at 5:05, and we had a few pre-game pops. We took a cab to the campus LRT and were at Skyreach for the warm-ups. Back then we used to sneak in a mickey, so after buying a coke, and dumping half out and replacing it with Silk Tassel we headed to our seats.

It was the worst home-opener in Oiler history. They trailed 8-0 after 40 minutes. Up until that game, Onion refused to leave early. We had to stay until the final buzzer every game; because he always believed the team could come back. Not this night. After 40 minutes, Onion was disgusted and we hopped the LRT back to the University and ripped it up on Whyte Ave.

Onion was incensed that night. He could always find a positive in a game, but 8-0 was too much for him. I was a fan, but I can honestly say I was never as passionate as the Onion. Even after that debacle his loyalty never wavered. But for one night, even the most loyal fan can reach their breaking point. I don’t get to watch as many games as I used to with the Onion, but when we chat he is still as passionate as ever. He has his favourite players, and those he can’t stand, and even though he knows the inevitable outcome of most games he, like most of you, still soldiers on. Why? because he’s an Oiler fan, and that’s what you do.

I mention that story, because this season seems like Groundhog Day for Oiler fans. Wake up, hope for a win, watch the game, yell at the TV, go to the Nation so you aren’t alone in your pain and repeat.

You are almost numb to the emptiness, and tonight you will watch your 30th place team take on the healthy and more talented Detroit Red Wings.

Nick Lidstrom will play his 1,400th game tonight, and barring some stunning upset he will get a win.

Watch out for the Wings PP tonight. With Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen healthy the Wings PP is very dangerous. Pavol Datsyuk’s game is coming around and Henrik Zetterberg is also finding his stride.

Oil hurting

Sam Gagner will play but his knee has been bothering him for a few weeks, and according to Pat Quinn it has affected his skating. Gagner has 41 points, and is eight shy of his career high. He will play with Zack Stortini and Chris Minard, but will get some PP time.

Patrick O’Sullivan is out and it looks like Mike Comrie will sit again. Quinn said his veteran players will rotate taking a seat in the pressbox the remainder of the season.

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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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#51 Cory Dakin
March 19 2010, 06:25PM
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Make that a goal and an assist for eberle halfway through the second

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#52 David S
March 19 2010, 06:39PM
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Vaclav wrote:

I'm guessing that Gagner has some performance bonuses he could reach within his ELC. Like perhaps 20 goals this season or 50 points.

The team may just be trying to help him get there by allowing him to play through some discomfort. If the team docs have cleared him to play and he's willing then this hopefully will be some goodwill towards his next contract this summer.

Although that seems a little similar to a certain Comrie's first go round with the team.

Not sure if they're helping him much tonight with the guys he'll be playing with. Sheesh!

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#53 Wanyes bastard child
March 19 2010, 07:47PM
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Wow, just wow :)

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#54 Lofty
March 19 2010, 07:49PM
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Brule keeps it going... I wish the oilers other small forwards would play more like him.

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#55 Lofty
March 19 2010, 07:54PM
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@ Cory Dakin

There playing the Dunder Mifflin paper company arn't they?

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#56 jeanshorts
March 19 2010, 07:56PM
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@Lofty

I think we should stop calling him a small forward. Yeah, he's a little short, but he plays more physical than half the guys on this team.

Edit: Or, I guess at least stop lumping him in with Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, etc.

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#57 Cory Dakin
March 19 2010, 08:16PM
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Lofty wrote:

@ Cory Dakin

There playing the Dunder Mifflin paper company arn't they?

I'm pretty sure they are the main sponser of the te anyway. That sounds right

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#58 Wanyes bastard child
March 19 2010, 08:20PM
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@jeanshorts

Im actually a closet Nilsson fan *ducks* and usually pay attention to him whenever hes on the ice.

He doesn't really play like a small forward and has improved his defensive game by alot. Watch him for a few games and you'll see what I mean.

Granted they are all small and get pushed off the puck easily and I agree that we have to move a few and get bigger, but at least they don't play 'small'.

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#59 Cory dakin
March 19 2010, 08:44PM
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I am so torn. I want to be happy the oilers are winning but I don't want Calgary to get in the playoffs. I'm going to need therapy after this season. A lot of therapy

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#60 Dan the Man
March 19 2010, 08:53PM
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@Jodes

I knew it was more than a broken fingernail keeping him out of the line up I was being a little facetious.

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#61 Lofty
March 19 2010, 09:07PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

I think we should stop calling him a small forward. Yeah, he's a little short, but he plays more physical than half the guys on this team.

Edit: Or, I guess at least stop lumping him in with Gagner, Nilsson, Cogliano, etc.

I agree, he's a big 5'10".

The Oilers need more size and grit but if they had 12 forwards that played the game the way he does things would be much different. Grit would not be a problem.

I would like to see the guy be a 2nd line forward for the Oilers for a long time. He's undoubtably the best center the Oilers have right now which is part of the problem. For the Oilers to become consistent top 6 team in the west Brule cant be lining up against Getlaf, Sedin or Thornton.

He is/will be a great player. He's only 23!... Scary thing is he will be 28 when Horcoff's contract is up...

*holds a pitty party in Tambo's/Oiler fans honor*

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#62 David S
March 19 2010, 09:09PM
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Cory dakin wrote:

I am so torn. I want to be happy the oilers are winning but I don't want Calgary to get in the playoffs. I'm going to need therapy after this season. A lot of therapy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pPgiYFdJ5o

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#63 Wanyes bastard child
March 19 2010, 09:27PM
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San Jose closes within one goal :)

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#64 Jodes
March 19 2010, 09:45PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

I knew it was more than a broken fingernail keeping him out of the line up I was being a little facetious.

Ah okay I wasn't sure if you were or not tis all good :P

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#65 Oilchange64
March 19 2010, 09:50PM
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Tough to watch this. Don't want to cheer against them but....

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#66 GSC
March 19 2010, 09:57PM
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I'd like to see Math Boy Willis defend Peckham after that...what a retard, there is no chance in hell that they blow the whistle there.

It's because of him that the slot was open in front. Thanks, Theo.

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#67 David S
March 19 2010, 09:57PM
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0.2 seconds.

ZERO POINT TWO SECONDS!!!!!!!!

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#68 Wanyes bastard child
March 19 2010, 09:57PM
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@GSC

Not just that but the rest of the boys were watching the puck and not their man.

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#69 David S
March 19 2010, 09:58PM
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GSC wrote:

I'd like to see Math Boy Willis defend Peckham after that...what a retard, there is no chance in hell that they blow the whistle there.

It's because of him that the slot was open in front. Thanks, Theo.

Johnson pretty much sucked on that one too.

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#70 Freezing Weather Fan
March 19 2010, 09:58PM
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Ouch.... Does anyone believe in karma? Peckham was having a great game til Ferraro brought it up. Let's go Oilers, We can still do it in OT!

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#71 Gerald R. Ford
March 19 2010, 09:59PM
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Well, that's just perfect.

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#72 GSC
March 19 2010, 09:59PM
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Granted, Horcoff was out to lunch instead of covering the slot...Johnson at least took the body on one Red Wing

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#73 David S
March 19 2010, 10:04PM
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Pisani should NOT see any time on the 4 X 4.

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#74 Wanyes bastard child
March 19 2010, 10:04PM
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I don't like our chances in the shootout...

Edit: I could be wrong :P

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#75 Oilchange64
March 19 2010, 10:11PM
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Got to like that no matter what.

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#76 GSC
March 19 2010, 10:13PM
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So, Willis...let's trade Brule, eh?

~We don't need that kind of shot on this roster.~

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#77 David S
March 19 2010, 10:15PM
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Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!! Satisfying.

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#78 Bam
March 19 2010, 10:25PM
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Cheers to Dubie, finally gets his first win. Great shot by Brule in the shootout and a pretty nice move by Potulny as well.

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#79 Wanyes bastard child
March 19 2010, 10:28PM
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David S wrote:

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!! Satisfying.

SQUUUEEEE i'll prop* to that!

*by prop i mean drink

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#80 Victoria
March 19 2010, 11:46PM
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Omg he got a win!!!

Could've gotten it in any other game though. Now Detroit and Calgary are tied.

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#81 sohisizzler
March 19 2010, 11:52PM
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GSC wrote:

I'd like to see Math Boy Willis defend Peckham after that...what a retard, there is no chance in hell that they blow the whistle there.

It's because of him that the slot was open in front. Thanks, Theo.

You can't blame peckham for that, he's the only guy who tried to make a play, not the smartest play......but i say rookie mistake. Watch the replay again and check out horcoff, the guy puck watched the whole time.

If he only saw the guy who skated free right behind him or maybe he thinks he can knock every puck down with his stick.

Not sure if the coaching staff watches any replay's. Can't believe it.

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#82 DK0
March 19 2010, 11:57PM
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@sohisizzler

Also Moreau cross checking a guy thats behind the play and not even looking at the direction of the puck. basically Peckham is the only guy who attempted to do ANYTHING that was helpful. 1 Dman protects the slot and 1 Dman protects the corner. you cant blame Peckham for taking his corner. Johnson should have had the slot.

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#83 GSC
March 20 2010, 12:30AM
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sohisizzler wrote:

You can't blame peckham for that, he's the only guy who tried to make a play, not the smartest play......but i say rookie mistake. Watch the replay again and check out horcoff, the guy puck watched the whole time.

If he only saw the guy who skated free right behind him or maybe he thinks he can knock every puck down with his stick.

Not sure if the coaching staff watches any replay's. Can't believe it.

Ya I posted another comment about Horcoff sitting in no-man's land rather than covering the slot...just as brutal

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#84 dunciano
March 20 2010, 04:48AM
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Remember when Buchberger beat up evil Hatcher in that playoff?

That was great!

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#85 madjam
March 20 2010, 08:17AM
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Ironic that Detroit has lost 3 games to Oilers ,and the Flames won all six against us - yet Detroit and Flames are tied for last playoff spot . If Horcoff was promoted to management, and took retirement at end of year ,would that negate his cap hit for next 4-5 seasons ?

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#86 Pajamah
March 20 2010, 10:54AM
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madjam wrote:

Ironic that Detroit has lost 3 games to Oilers ,and the Flames won all six against us - yet Detroit and Flames are tied for last playoff spot . If Horcoff was promoted to management, and took retirement at end of year ,would that negate his cap hit for next 4-5 seasons ?

If the Oiler go 4-0 against Detroit, combined with the 0-6 against Calgary, and Calgary makes the playoffs ahead of Detroit, I'm going to lose it (read: pout in my basement)

Seriously, when you badly need to lose a game (not like theyve had difficulty with losing this year) they go and damn near steal 2 points from Detroit. On a night Calgary actually beats someone decent.

FML

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