GDB LXXX: Like Custer's Last Stand

Jason Gregor
April 07 2010 10:14AM

One of the biggest misconceptions in American history is Custer’s Last Stand because it implies that George Custer and his troops made some heroic final stand v. the Cheyenne, which was never the case.

Custer and his troops were on the offensive at the Battle of Bighorn, only to get overwhelmed and killed by the Cheyenne and Sitting Bull. I learned this in History class many years ago, and got a refresher here.

What I didn’t recall from our teacher was the dates the battle occurred; June 25th and 26th. How fitting that the NHL draft is on the exact same days this year. Oiler fans are hoping Steve Tambellini will mirror Sitting Bull, make the correct pick, and lead the Oilers to many victories down the road.

But who will be leading the team next season?

Tonight is the final home game for the Oilers, and many wonder if it is the last home game for Ethan Moreau.

Will this be Moreau’s last home stand in an Oiler uniform?

If the Oilers don’t win they will tie the franchise-low of 17 home wins, set in 1992/1993 and 1993/1994, and with Moreau’s recent play it looks like he is trying to lead this team away from being the worst in franchise history.

Moreau has five goals, eight points, is +1 and has 38 shots in his last 16 games. In the previous 57 games he tallied 4-5-9, was -16 and had 98 shots.

If you pro-rate Moreau’s last 16 games over 80 games he’d have 25 goals and 40 points. Of course those would be career highs, so it’s safe to say he wouldn’t keep up his recent pace over a full season, but I wonder if his recent strong play will see him back in Edmonton next season.

It was obvious at the deadline that Moreau was ready — and hoping — to be dealt, but Steve Tambellini tried unsuccessfully to move him. The fact no team was willing to take him, had to be a blow to Moreau’s ego, and rather than pout about it, Moreau has responded with his best hockey of the season.

I’ve never doubted that Moreau cares. He’s played the game with heart, grit and determination since breaking in with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1996. It’s also fair to say that for a long period this year (34 games with no goals and four points) he looked defeated, broken down and on the downside of his career.

He’s used the realization that no team wanted him as motivation to prove to people he can still play. Along with Shawn Horcoff, he’s been the most consistent forward since the deadline, and it’s not surprising that he’s done that since Pat Quinn made them the checking line.

Despite being the 14th overall pick in 1994, Moreau learned early that if he’d be more of a checker than a scorer. He has worked diligently on his skating since entering the league and that’s why for many years he was considered one of the better 3rd line players in the game.

He’ll be 35 in September and if he wants another contract next summer he’ll need to keep playing like he has since he was shunned by the other 29 general managers.

The Oilers will make a lot of moves this summer, but they can’t trade the entire team. They need to keep some guys, and Moreau’s recent play could have him here next September. H would have been moved in March if he didn’t have another year on his deal, so don’t be surprised to see him here next year.

Many fans and media have debated the merits of buying him out this summer, but I don’t see the Oilers buying out three guys, and with Jordon Eberle, Linus Omark and their first pick coming in camp next year, those guys are going to replace Robert Nilsson and Patrick O’Sullivan, not Ethan Moreau.

You could buy out both O’Sullivan and Nilsson for a little more than what it would cost to buy out Moreau. Sure, Moreau struggled for most of this season, but he’s given more to the organization than O’Sullivan and Nilsson combined and that should count for something.

I think reality hit Moreau hard on March 3rd, and rather than sulk the rest of the season, he looked in the mirror and realized that he needed to be better. I don’t think a strong final 19 games can erase everything, but it shows he still cares.

He isn’t the long term solution moving forward, but he is still a better option than many of the bottom six forwards the Oilers currently have and the over abundance of soft, small and non-productive forwards.

MEANINGLESS GAME

Oilers fans won’t have to fret about beating Colorado and helping the Flames make the playoffs, because the Phlegms took care of business on their own by losing to San Jose last night, while rookie, Matt Duchene scored a beauty in the shootout to send the Avs to the playoffs.

Something tells me the Avs might be suffering a “playoff” hangover tonight and the Oilers should be able to give their loyal fans one final home win.

Dustin Penner mentioned 35 goals yesterday morning, so the big man might be bringing it hard tonight. He also confirmed he hasn’t been contacted by Mark Messier and Craig MacTavish yet about the world championships.

Penner is currently tied for 16th in goals with Nick Backstrom and the only Steven Stamkos, Rick Nash and Jarome Iginla have more goals amongst Canadian players not in the playoffs. Iginla never goes to the worlds and Nash just played in the Olympics so he might want a rest. If they don’t ask Penner then its clear MacTavish still has an axe to grind.

However, Penner didn’t sound overjoyed about going. “I haven’t been asked yet,” he said. I pushed on and said if you were would you go? “I would do some deliberating.” I think Penner will need some assurance that if he goes all the way across the world that the coach will play him. While MacTavish seems to have moved on, based on his commentary on TSN, I’m not sure Penner has. He should go if he is asked, and MacTavish should invite him.

Billy Moores was announced as one of MacTavish’s assistants yesterday, and with the Dallas Stars out of the playoffs I wonder if Charlie Huddy will get the call? It’s great to go with guys you know, but the optics would be horrible if Huddy is invited.

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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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#52 Chris.
April 07 2010, 01:09PM
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@Matt Henderson

Not to start a fight, but Re: comment #37: IMO, your emotion is clouding your player assessment. When guys like Nilsson or Cogliano have a good fifteen game stretch (If that has ever happened) you can be counted amoung those who get all excited and are quick to forget past transgressions and failings... Yet, when guys like Moreau or Horcoff have good stretches, you grumble about bruised ego's and will inevidibly make some comment about a bad contracts etc. Fact is, Moreau has been a good player for this franchise. He was a key contributer on a team that nearly won a Stanley cup. At 35, he has lost a step, and his NHL career is nearing it's end... Moreau is coming off a dominating performance and will probably play his last home game as an Oiler tonight... Why do you have to call him "an anchor" and genearally run him down today?

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#53 The Fish
April 07 2010, 01:10PM
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@RossCreekNation

I'm just hoping the Oil lose the lottery and then the decision is made for them so they can't f#@k it up like I know they will.

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#54 Mike
April 07 2010, 01:14PM
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It's an interesting thought that '... with Moreau’s recent play it looks like he is trying to lead this team away from being the worst in franchise history.

Moreau has five goals, eight points, is +1'

He might be putting up some points but seeing as how he has 8 points and is only plus one it shows that he sucks defensively... and isn't that his job?!?

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#56 Chris.
April 07 2010, 01:19PM
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Re: our small skilled players:

In terms of career goal scoring Moreau (according to hockey DB) has scored 145 goals in 860 career NHL games.

Now we all know, as a career bottom six player, goal scoring isn't Moreau's primary role... But how does he compare to some of the Oiler forwards who are among the "small ~skilled~ group"... You know: the guys who bring little or nothing to the table aside from offensive dimension and skill:

Moreau: 860 games. 145 goals. 0.17 g/gm.

Nilsson: 252 games. 37 goals. 0.15 g/gm.Cogliano: 243 games. 45 goals. 0.18 g/gm

O'Sullivan: 277 games. 54 goals. 0.19 g/gm.

Maybe the Oilers would be better off loading up on some knuckle draggers if that's all the production we can expect out of our soft forwards. BTW... this isn't a youth thing... Moreau's offence trended up for several years until father time caught up with him. All three Oiler Bubble Smurfs are trending down.

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#57 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 01:20PM
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Chris. wrote:

Not to start a fight, but Re: comment #37: IMO, your emotion is clouding your player assessment. When guys like Nilsson or Cogliano have a good fifteen game stretch (If that has ever happened) you can be counted amoung those who get all excited and are quick to forget past transgressions and failings... Yet, when guys like Moreau or Horcoff have good stretches, you grumble about bruised ego's and will inevidibly make some comment about a bad contracts etc. Fact is, Moreau has been a good player for this franchise. He was a key contributer on a team that nearly won a Stanley cup. At 35, he has lost a step, and his NHL career is nearing it's end... Moreau is coming off a dominating performance and will probably play his last home game as an Oiler tonight... Why do you have to call him "an anchor" and genearally run him down today?

I said he WAS an anchor for half the season. He's playing quite well now.

I've been consistently pro-Cogliano, I dont think that's changed ever and I dont think I've been any higher on Nilsson than anyone else. The guy has 2 games of brilliance followed by 2 in the press-box. Always has.

I didnt mention Moreau's contract at all, hardly seems fair that you accuse me of bringing it up when I didnt.

As for Moreau's ego, that was brought up by Jason in the body of the Blog. "The fact no team was willing to take him, had to be a blow to Moreau’s ego, and rather than pout about it, Moreau has responded with his best hockey of the season." In case you missed it.

For all the complaints about my emotion clouding my judgement I'm not the one who digressed into a nostalgic ode to Moreau the key contributor to a team that almost won the Stanley Cup.

Who's the one whose emotion is clouding their judgement?

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#58 Chris.
April 07 2010, 01:37PM
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@Matt Henderson

I'm referring to your total body of work on this site.

Currently, you list Moreau as your goat, with honorable mention to Horcoff... yet the sad fact is: your GOAT (a geriatric player 29 other GM's didn't want) is still a better, more complete overall NHL player than half of the guys on the Oiler roster... So if you used evaluatory tools instead of emotion to name your goat: why isn't O'Sullivan, or Nilsson, or Chorney, or Strudwick, or Pouliot, or even Cogliano your goat?

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#59 sizedoesmatter
April 07 2010, 01:39PM
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Next year the Oiler will squeeze into the playoff if they stay healthy.based on the defense and hemsky and Penner staying healthy ans Shaun Horcoff rebounding Not to mention the new additions

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#60 Hemmertime
April 07 2010, 01:39PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

@ Gregor

Is there any chance MPS would come play in the A? I know its highly unlikely, but any chance?

It would be interesting to have MPS, Eberle, Omark, Lander, Chorney, Peckham, Plante, etc. all down in OKC, no?

Don't forget Toni Rajala, hes Euro and I believe he only signed a 1 year for WHL, so wouldnt have to do 3 years in Jr since non-north american. His 63 pts in 60 games is good progress.

I'd leave him in Jr one more year, but I'd like to see what he could do in the A

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#61 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 01:40PM
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@Chris.

Goats were chosen at the beginning of the year. I decided not to change mine mid-stream. I dont think Moreau is a good Captain and his leadership (good or bad) has had more impact on the club than the bad play of Nilsson.

Call out my total body of work on the site if you will. I think you'll find that most of what I thought was pretty well supported and articulated.

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#62 Hemmertime
April 07 2010, 01:41PM
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Mike wrote:

It's an interesting thought that '... with Moreau’s recent play it looks like he is trying to lead this team away from being the worst in franchise history.

Moreau has five goals, eight points, is +1'

He might be putting up some points but seeing as how he has 8 points and is only plus one it shows that he sucks defensively... and isn't that his job?!?

Hes been playing the top lines each game. His quality of competition is probably #1 these past 16 games. Also, keep in mind, our team sucks - so +1 is decent

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#63 Gunner
April 07 2010, 01:45PM
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@Hemmertime

If only the season were 16 games long...

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Hemmertime wrote:

Don't forget Toni Rajala, hes Euro and I believe he only signed a 1 year for WHL, so wouldnt have to do 3 years in Jr since non-north american. His 63 pts in 60 games is good progress.

I'd leave him in Jr one more year, but I'd like to see what he could do in the A

Has Rajala added any mass? I just can't see how a 160lb guy is going to make it in the NHL. He might need a good year or two of getting pushed around in the AHL before he decides to bulk up.

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#65 Hemmertime
April 07 2010, 01:59PM
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@Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

Ya, it was a response to someone saying our AHL team may be good next year. There is no way Rajala makes NHL, and a stretch he makes the AHL - but I was saying its a possibility (AHL not N). As for mass, he's gained 3 pounds heh. Which puts him only 10 pds lighter than StLouis - who has 90 pts this season. But when you're that small, 10 pds can be a lot

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#66 TigerUnderGlass
April 07 2010, 04:33PM
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@Hemmertime

Does anyone know who is the lightest guy in the league? I've never checked.

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#67 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 04:40PM
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TigerUnderGlass wrote:

Does anyone know who is the lightest guy in the league? I've never checked.

Tim Stapleton in Atlanta is listed as 160. Lowest according to NHL.com. Steve Sullivan in Nashville is 161.

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#68 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 06:28PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Loser mentality...You want the first pick, so you get the option to choose the best player. Worrying about past draft screw ups, which was years ago, is a loser mentality.

These are the same people that have been towing the "Well I really doubt Hall/Seguin are going to live up to the hype" line for the last little while. When did having the first overall pick become such a horrible burden?

If there is one thing Oiler fans are good at, it's being incredibly pessimistic and always finding something to complain about.

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#69 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 07:46PM
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Oh JDD, will you ever find any kind of consistency?

*no*

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#70 jake
April 07 2010, 07:46PM
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If anyone watching, on the first goal, #34 looks lost, afraid to hit, leads to goal. Have a seat Fern.

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#71 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 07:50PM
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Wait, Dubnyk played solid last game and got a win. Why is he not playing tonight?

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#72 jake
April 07 2010, 07:52PM
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This has ugly written all over it.

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#73 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 07:52PM
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Well thank god there's only a few minutes left in this game.

What? We're only 10 minutes in???

*Looks for a suicide booth*

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#74 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 07:59PM
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Nope. I don't believe that. Horcoff did not just score on a one timer. Nope. NOPE! DIDN'T HAPPEN!

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#75 jake
April 07 2010, 08:02PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Nope. I don't believe that. Horcoff did not just score on a one timer. Nope. NOPE! DIDN'T HAPPEN!

He saw Gilbert's light colored hair and thought it was Hemsky.

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#76 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 08:06PM
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@jake

It looks like him and Moreau also think it's 2006 and we're in the middle of our usual late season dash into 8th.

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#77 Pedro
April 07 2010, 08:08PM
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Pat Quinn is a joke and there are many examples to prove my point. I hope the decisions were made to deliberately sabatoge this season. I am starting to believe what Strachan wrote in the Book "Why the Leafs Suck" Pat Quinn is a crappy coach and is simple to play against.

Win and your In only applies to JDD!

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#78 David S
April 07 2010, 08:08PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Well thank god there's only a few minutes left in this game.

What? We're only 10 minutes in???

*Looks for a suicide booth*

Dibs.

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#79 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 08:09PM
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PENNER!!

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#80 jake
April 07 2010, 08:10PM
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Was that not a sweet pass from 77??

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#81 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 08:13PM
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jake wrote:

Was that not a sweet pass from 77??

Seriously where was this guy during the rest of the season? This is the type of play that made a lot of us so excited for this kid after his rookie season only to be marginally disappointed.

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#82 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 08:17PM
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@jeanshorts

You know what all this success with Whitney means for next season, dont you?

Obviously they wont be paired together at all. Penner Brule Cogliano? Not together.

The Oilers' Coaches/Management have this knack for forgetting what made players successful the year before.

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#83 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 08:21PM
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@Matt Henderson

I still have an undying respect for Pat Quinn, but man he's been making it really hard for me to back him over the last few months. I'm sure our horrible, horrible squad is to blame for a lot of it, but man he's made some questionable decisions since about December.

And even if Whitney and Gilbert are kept together would anyone be surprised if they started playing crappy for no real reason? Oilers curse!

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#84 David S
April 07 2010, 08:24PM
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jeanshorts wrote:

I still have an undying respect for Pat Quinn, but man he's been making it really hard for me to back him over the last few months. I'm sure our horrible, horrible squad is to blame for a lot of it, but man he's made some questionable decisions since about December.

And even if Whitney and Gilbert are kept together would anyone be surprised if they started playing crappy for no real reason? Oilers curse!

OR really good decisions if you're Steve Tambellini. Just sayin'.

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#85 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 08:28PM
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Was that Bristol Palin giving JDD the Molson Cup?????????

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#86 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 08:33PM
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@jeanshorts

Yeah, the fact it took 60 games for Cogliano and Brule to get the opportunity to play 2nd line minutes with appropriate linemates is one thing that comes to mind.

Nonetheless I have to believe this would have been a different season with Hemsky and Khabibulin, nevermind an NHL caliber defense.

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#87 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 08:37PM
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Wow. I know the season has been over since before it started pretty much, but did anyone in the arena stand up to cheer for that goal? That's just sad.

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#88 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 09:24PM
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MacT voted for Rob Schremp as having the play of the year. MacT in Schremp AND Penner's corners????

*runs into the panic room*

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#89 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 09:27PM
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Matt Henderson wrote:

MacT voted for Rob Schremp as having the play of the year. MacT in Schremp AND Penner's corners????

*runs into the panic room*

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.......

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#90 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 09:32PM
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@jeanshorts

Epic Bill and Ted reference

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#91 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 09:33PM
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Whoooo Cogs!!

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#92 jake
April 07 2010, 09:44PM
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If Deslauriers hopes to enjoy future NHL salaries, he cannot allow that to happen. Brutal.

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#93 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 09:55PM
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Holy BooDye!!

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#94 Matt Henderson
April 07 2010, 10:01PM
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WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Penner for Team Canada!!!

EDIT: Penner for Captain!!

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#95 jake
April 07 2010, 10:04PM
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77 playing his best hockey it seems. Engaging the play and is decisive with puck. Good to see.

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#96 jeanshorts
April 07 2010, 10:06PM
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Oh hey Ryan Whitney. Just wanted to let you know that you're burrowing out a place in my heart, and I'm going to start the campaign for you to be the new Oilers captain.

Well done boys. Nice way to end the season at home.

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#97 Word
April 07 2010, 10:32PM
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Chris. wrote:

Re: our small skilled players:

In terms of career goal scoring Moreau (according to hockey DB) has scored 145 goals in 860 career NHL games.

Now we all know, as a career bottom six player, goal scoring isn't Moreau's primary role... But how does he compare to some of the Oiler forwards who are among the "small ~skilled~ group"... You know: the guys who bring little or nothing to the table aside from offensive dimension and skill:

Moreau: 860 games. 145 goals. 0.17 g/gm.

Nilsson: 252 games. 37 goals. 0.15 g/gm.Cogliano: 243 games. 45 goals. 0.18 g/gm

O'Sullivan: 277 games. 54 goals. 0.19 g/gm.

Maybe the Oilers would be better off loading up on some knuckle draggers if that's all the production we can expect out of our soft forwards. BTW... this isn't a youth thing... Moreau's offence trended up for several years until father time caught up with him. All three Oiler Bubble Smurfs are trending down.

Chris, that's blatant cherry-picking. Go check the ppg of each of those players. Here's a hint:

Moreau's is the lowest by a significant margin.

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#98 Jamie B.
April 08 2010, 01:07AM
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jeanshorts wrote:

Oh hey Ryan Whitney. Just wanted to let you know that you're burrowing out a place in my heart, and I'm going to start the campaign for you to be the new Oilers captain.

Well done boys. Nice way to end the season at home.

I'm on that bandwagon.

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