A WEEK OF WAITING

Jason Gregor
October 03 2011 11:07AM

If you thought the off-season was long, then this week might kill most Oiler fans. The Oilers don't open their season until Sunday, they will be the last team to play a regular season game, with the Jets opening their season a few hours earlier.

The only positive is that it gives Ryan Whitney more time to get healthy. Whitney was on the ice this morning wearing a regular jersey and he was paired with Tom Gilbert. He didn't wince when he pivoted, which is the motion that causes him the most discomfort, but I won't know until after practice if he thinks he might be ready for Sunday.

The Oilers only had six D-men on the ice this morning. Andy Sutton, Gilbert's regular partner, didn't skate and that is likely why Whitney was so involved in practice. Ladislav Smid is out with a separated shoulder, Taylor Chorney has a wonky knee and Taylor Fedun is still in a Minnesota hospital.

 

Ben Eager was on the ice this morning, but he was wearing a baby blue jersey and didn't take part in all the drills. He looked good wheeling by few D-men during one-on-one drills, and  when I spoke to hinm last he was certain he'd be cleared for contact later this week.

QUICK HITS

  • I was pleasantly surprised that the Oilers sent Gilbert Brule to OKC yesterday. Based on his play in preseason he deserved the demotion, but that isn't always the case in the NHL. Numerous teams will keep guys on one-way deals over a newcomer who has a two-way deal. Brule is a good guy, who has much more important issues in his life to deal with other than getting demoted, but the Oilers had to send him down.

    They've had too many "wildcard" players the past few seasons. Players that they couldn't rely on game-to-game. Brule wasn't the only one, and I'm curious to see if they continue getting rid of other "wildcards" in the coming season.
     
  • Even though Lennart Petrell was my surprise pick to make the roster, I'm not certain how much of an impact, if any, he has this year. He needs to do more than just be a solid penalty killer for three minutes a game, and I'm not sure Renney has him pencilled in as one of his top-four PK forwards at this time. Horcoff, Smyth, Paajarvi, Belanger and Eberle might all still be ahead of him.
     
  • I still think that Anton Lander is here until Sam Gagner is healthy. I have no doubt Lander will be a solid player in the future, I just think he'd be better served playing 1st or 2nd line minutes in the AHL than 4th line minutes in Edmonton. The most encouraging part of Lander's game is his desire and work ethic. He also thinks the game very well, but his best attribute is his competitive drive. In the past few seasons, the Oilers have had too many guys who didn't match the intensity level of the opposition. Lander won't be one of those guys once he becomes a regular NHLer. 
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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 misfit
October 03 2011, 11:11AM
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If it means having Whitney on the ice opening night, I'll happily tough it out for a week.

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#2 SJ
October 03 2011, 11:15AM
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One of these teams will win the Cup 2012

Boston Pitt Philly Wash Buff

Van SJ LA Chi

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#3 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 11:27AM
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Gonna be a long week, luckily I have a raging iPad addiction to fill my time with.

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#4 Twiggs
October 03 2011, 11:27AM
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@SJ

I certainly hope you are right, seeing how you listed a third of the teams in the NHL....

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#5 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 03 2011, 11:28AM
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Well the week off may be hell for some, but the team needs it. Not just for injuries to heal, but for guys like RNH to continue to grow.

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#6 Shredder
October 03 2011, 11:30AM
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So...with us starting last, that automatically means that we will be (likely tied) in last place to start the season...before we've even played a minute of game time. I guess that means we have to fight our way up...I guess if it was easy every team would win the cup every year.

Predictions: Dubnyk will impress this year and become a regular name for Pierre MacGuire's "Monster of the Game"...Khabibulin gets his game back, Hall will step it up to 65-75 points with 36-42 goals...Nugent-Hopkins sticks with the team and gets 40 assists, doesn't start scoring many goals till later in the year, Eberle also breaks out with a 30+ goal campaign. Whitney stays healthy.

But hey, I'm an optimistic, biased Oiler fan with a man-crush on Hall...

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#7 The Saint
October 03 2011, 11:30AM
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Jason,

I know it's been discussed in previous threads already, just curious who you think the Oilers will call up or pick off waivers to stopgap the numerous injuries on the backend?

Ryan Parent? Bryan Mccabe? Plante?

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#8 Hemmertime
October 03 2011, 11:31AM
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SJ wrote:

One of these teams will win the Cup 2012

Boston Pitt Philly Wash Buff

Van SJ LA Chi

Whoa there buddy. Way to take a risky move. Only naming 30% of the NHL? Ballsy. Well, I guess have to take out the Oilers, Islanders, Jets, Colorado, Florida, Ottawa as they all obvious. So, 9/24.

I think the ballsiest thing is you left Detroit off there.

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#9 Chaz
October 03 2011, 11:31AM
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Hey Jason. Are you able to expand on what the other important issues are that Brule needs to worry about? I assume from reading between the lines that there might be some depression issues (I think he pretty much hinted at this in the summer after the loss of Belak). Thought maybe you could clarify this? Either way, I hope GB's time in the minors is short-lived and that he's able to return to the NHL. He seems to be a real quality person.

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#10 Hemmertime
October 03 2011, 11:33AM
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@Shredder

Incorrect, we will have games in hand on other teams with 0 pts. So we should be ranked higher I believe.

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#11 dawgbone
October 03 2011, 11:39AM
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If the Oilers are smart, they'll run 3 sets of PK forwards and 2 sets of PK defencemen, which means Petrell should see time there when he's dressed.

Side note, do you know what's better than not basing decisions solely on contracts?

Not giving out terrible contracts to begin with.

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#12 Di-Hard Oilfan
October 03 2011, 11:44AM
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Shredder wrote:

So...with us starting last, that automatically means that we will be (likely tied) in last place to start the season...before we've even played a minute of game time. I guess that means we have to fight our way up...I guess if it was easy every team would win the cup every year.

Predictions: Dubnyk will impress this year and become a regular name for Pierre MacGuire's "Monster of the Game"...Khabibulin gets his game back, Hall will step it up to 65-75 points with 36-42 goals...Nugent-Hopkins sticks with the team and gets 40 assists, doesn't start scoring many goals till later in the year, Eberle also breaks out with a 30+ goal campaign. Whitney stays healthy.

But hey, I'm an optimistic, biased Oiler fan with a man-crush on Hall...

No no no, we will be one of the 15 remaining undefeated teams .......(taking big gulp of the ON Koolaid)

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#13 Shredder
October 03 2011, 11:45AM
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Hemmertime wrote:

Incorrect, we will have games in hand on other teams with 0 pts. So we should be ranked higher I believe.

Hemmertime, you are correct, bang on in fact. Thanks for brightening my day!

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#14 Talbot17
October 03 2011, 11:46AM
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@ Jason,

Agree with you on Brule. You can only give a guy so many chances to step their game up, and I like that even with a 1 way contract you still aren't safe. Players playing good should get opportunities

Agree with you on Lander, I do see him being called up again in the latter part of the year, he is definitely a gem that i would want on the team for years to come

Him and Harty on a line in OKC would be lethal

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#15 Hemmertime
October 03 2011, 11:47AM
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dawgbone wrote:

If the Oilers are smart, they'll run 3 sets of PK forwards and 2 sets of PK defencemen, which means Petrell should see time there when he's dressed.

Side note, do you know what's better than not basing decisions solely on contracts?

Not giving out terrible contracts to begin with.

Name one GM not named Ken Holland who hasn't handed out a terrible contract.

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#16 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
October 03 2011, 11:51AM
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Jason,

Was Hemsky out there, and if so was he taking contact?

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#17 book¡e
October 03 2011, 11:56AM
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The 'Real' Ron Burgundy wrote:

Jason,

Was Hemsky out there, and if so was he taking contact?

And please don't tell us that Hemsky's shoulder collided awkwardly with Whitney's foot.

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#18 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 12:00PM
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book¡e wrote:

And please don't tell us that Hemsky's shoulder collided awkwardly with Whitney's foot.

The worst part was when both slid into Khabibulin's back.

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#19 longbottom/P.Biglow
October 03 2011, 12:00PM
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The Saint wrote:

Jason,

I know it's been discussed in previous threads already, just curious who you think the Oilers will call up or pick off waivers to stopgap the numerous injuries on the backend?

Ryan Parent? Bryan Mccabe? Plante?

Why is everyone so worried about picking someone up on wavers/make a trade/ UFA signing on defence? Lets face it as bad as I feel for Chorney and Fedun they were in a battle with Petry for the seventh spot. Smid won't be gone all season and Whitney is almost ready to go and that IMO is the biggest addition you can get.

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#20 Sorch
October 03 2011, 12:05PM
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When Gagner comes back, you would send Lander down as opposed to RNH? Does that mean RNH is #2 center? Belanger and Horcoff fight for 3 and 4?

Its a tough decision, nice one to have though.

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#21 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 03 2011, 12:22PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Why is everyone so worried about picking someone up on wavers/make a trade/ UFA signing on defence? Lets face it as bad as I feel for Chorney and Fedun they were in a battle with Petry for the seventh spot. Smid won't be gone all season and Whitney is almost ready to go and that IMO is the biggest addition you can get.

Gregor's twitter...You can expect the Oilers to put Whitney and Gagner on IR on Wednesday. They wouldn't be available for one week. Neither will be ready for Sundays game, so that is likely move. Renney said Eager's next concussion test is Friday, he'll likely pass, but will need a few practices.

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#22 David S
October 03 2011, 12:22PM
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Sorch wrote:

When Gagner comes back, you would send Lander down as opposed to RNH? Does that mean RNH is #2 center? Belanger and Horcoff fight for 3 and 4?

Its a tough decision, nice one to have though.

Having an 18 year-old newbie as your #2 center pretty much means your team is screwed from the get go. I mean, this is the NHL we're talking about here, not rec league.

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#23 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 12:23PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Why is everyone so worried about picking someone up on wavers/make a trade/ UFA signing on defence? Lets face it as bad as I feel for Chorney and Fedun they were in a battle with Petry for the seventh spot. Smid won't be gone all season and Whitney is almost ready to go and that IMO is the biggest addition you can get.

It might have something to do with the fact that the Oilers are going to bat with a lineup full of rejects and AHL wannabes on defense.

You're banking on two defensemen who are chronicly injured to return swiftly from injury and remain healthy, without losing any other defensemen on the year.

Until that time the top 4 guys are who? Tom Gilbert, Theo Peckham, Sutton, and Barker? 1 lumbering giant with the speed to match, 1 reclamation project on his 3rd team, 1 player in just his 2nd fulltime NHL season, and Tom Gilbert.

Maybe the "stay the course" plan should be re-evaluated.

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#24 mayorpoop
October 03 2011, 12:28PM
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David S wrote:

Having an 18 year-old newbie as your #2 center pretty much means your team is screwed from the get go. I mean, this is the NHL we're talking about here, not rec league.

you sir are correct about one thing. RNH shouldn't be on the 2nd line he should be on the 1st.

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#25 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 12:29PM
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David S wrote:

Having an 18 year-old newbie as your #2 center pretty much means your team is screwed from the get go. I mean, this is the NHL we're talking about here, not rec league.

And that 18 year old just happens to be the best 18 year old hockey player on the planet, not some rec league 18 yr old.

If Horcoff ends up centering Paajarvi and Omark when the forwards are healthy again, is it really a bad thing?

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#26 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 03 2011, 12:31PM
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Gregor you going to Jasper?

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#27 Bill Rizer
October 03 2011, 12:33PM
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@Archaeologuy

Couldn't agree more. Plus our embarassment of riches up front needs to be evened out by finding a swap where we can shore up our back end.

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#28 mayorpoop
October 03 2011, 12:39PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And that 18 year old just happens to be the best 18 year old hockey player on the planet, not some rec league 18 yr old.

If Horcoff ends up centering Paajarvi and Omark when the forwards are healthy again, is it really a bad thing?

well....horcoff centering anyone with offensive talent isn't a great thing.

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#29 Giggsunited
October 03 2011, 12:48PM
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Gregor, curious to hear who you think would be considered a potential "wild card"? Jones? Omark?

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#30 CanaDave
October 03 2011, 12:56PM
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I'm not opposed to Hall/RNH/Eberle being the Oilers 2nd line for at least the first 9 games of the season. Assuming Renney tries to have Smyth/Horcoff/Hemsky together and out there against other teams top lines I think having the kids out there against teams second lines and second D pairings will give them much more of a chance to succeed.

I also think that if Omark/Gagner/Paajarvi winds up being the Oilers 3rd line this season they could create mismatches against other teams bottom 6 and with a 4th line of Jones/Belanger/Eager, Renney will be able to roll all 4 lines with relative confidence and then having quality depth players like Petrell, Lander and Harski behind them I'm sure the Oilers will be able to address current NHL D depth as the season progresses.

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#31 The Saint
October 03 2011, 12:56PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Why is everyone so worried about picking someone up on wavers/make a trade/ UFA signing on defence? Lets face it as bad as I feel for Chorney and Fedun they were in a battle with Petry for the seventh spot. Smid won't be gone all season and Whitney is almost ready to go and that IMO is the biggest addition you can get.

Simple...DEPTH.

We have NHL type depth at forward, we dont on defense. Musil, Kelfbom, Marancin are years away.

If you think this core of defensemen will hold up an entire season you're drinking the happy juice. Has Smid been healthy any of the last 3 years? Peckham had concussion issues late last year, and Whitney's ankles are what they are.. a total mess.

If he's not working on the radiowaves, I have a sick feeling Jason Strudwick will be in our opening day line-up? :)

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#32 Tayranchula
October 03 2011, 01:00PM
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The Maple Leafs put Matt Lashoff on waivers. Could he be someone to kind of ease the defensive injuries? He has draft pedigree going 22nd overall and trade pedigree (Traded from Boston to Tampa for Recchi) Could replace Fedun in the minors aswell for this year.

If someone could inform me on the depth chart in OKC dcore that would be great. Im thinking it is Teubert-Helmer Plante-???? Motin-?? I just cant remember who we have down there haha

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#33 Travis Dakin
October 03 2011, 01:01PM
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longbottom/P.Biglow wrote:

Why is everyone so worried about picking someone up on wavers/make a trade/ UFA signing on defence? Lets face it as bad as I feel for Chorney and Fedun they were in a battle with Petry for the seventh spot. Smid won't be gone all season and Whitney is almost ready to go and that IMO is the biggest addition you can get.

Well you must be confident that this team will compete for the playoffs then? Remember, the playoff race always comes down to pretty much one point now. The few games that this team of AHL defenders loses due to man games lost in October will very much matter in April.

But that's not reallly going to be a concern by January anyway. One more year.

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#34 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 01:03PM
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Gagners one way contract is what's holding Lander back. If both players were on the same sortof deals, it would surely be Gagner going to the AHL and not Lander. Lander has more to offer this club now than Gagner.

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#35 freeze
October 03 2011, 01:04PM
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I'm really excited to be going to the home opener this year but the week long layoff is bad news. This club are notorious slow starters even without the break. Hopefully they are down 3-0 to PIT by the end of the first!

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#36 Jimmeh
October 03 2011, 01:05PM
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Giggsunited wrote:

Gregor, curious to hear who you think would be considered a potential "wild card"? Jones? Omark?

I wouldnt throw Jones into the wildcard group. Omark is likely in that group, but with more upside.

Anyone else feel like Omark is kinda like Klima? terrible when he doesn't play his game, but when he does, he is awesome.

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#37 David S
October 03 2011, 01:09PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Gagners one way contract is what's holding Lander back. If both players were on the same sortof deals, it would surely be Gagner going to the AHL and not Lander. Lander has more to offer this club now than Gagner.

Oh god. Here we go again with another 300 comment thread on the relative merits of unproven rookies over established NHL'ers.

People. Just because it works in NHL 12 doesn't mean it'll work in real life.

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#38 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 01:09PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Gagner will be playing on the top 2 lines. Lander will be on the bottom 2. Neither is inhibiting the other.

I dont figure how you came up with the conclusion that Lander has more to offer this club than its highest scoring centre. This is especially baffling considering Lander hasnt played 1 minute of regular season hockey.

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#39 David S
October 03 2011, 01:12PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And that 18 year old just happens to be the best 18 year old hockey player on the planet, not some rec league 18 yr old.

If Horcoff ends up centering Paajarvi and Omark when the forwards are healthy again, is it really a bad thing?

He may or may not be the "best 18 year old hockey player on the planet". Problem is, he's no longer playing with 18 year-olds.

http://www.quanthockey.com/TS/TS_AverageAge.php

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#40 Hemmertime
October 03 2011, 01:17PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

you sir are correct about one thing. RNH shouldn't be on the 2nd line he should be on the 1st.

I dont know which is our first. Hall + Eberle, or Smyth + Hemsky.

Side note: SQUEEEEEEEE

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#41 Hemmertime
October 03 2011, 01:18PM
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@David S

Nah, Nail Yakupov doesn't turn 18 for 3 more days. RNH is #1.

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#42 Archaeologuy
October 03 2011, 01:21PM
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@David S

David, he is the reigning 1st overall pick in the NHL. He is the team's leading scorer in the pre-season. He looked no more out of place in camp than Hall or Eberle. There is no "may or may not be" about it. He is the best 18 year old on the planet.

And this big step that is so daunting is one that every player in his position has made since before the fall of the Soviet Union. It is neither impossible nor improbable that he plays and does so on the 2nd line.

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#43 Oilfan69
October 03 2011, 01:22PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

The worst part was when both slid into Khabibulin's back.

What are you talking about that last bit would be the only redeeming part of the whole mess :)

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#44 Dman09
October 03 2011, 01:31PM
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SJ wrote:

One of these teams will win the Cup 2012

Boston Pitt Philly Wash Buff

Van SJ LA Chi

Wow you really narrowed it down on that one. My votes are for PHI or WSH

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#45 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 01:35PM
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If i could make one change to the possible lineup for Sunday. That 4,93 and 14 line should be the second line. 94,10 and 83 should go up against the oppositions best line me thinks.

Jason, any chance that Potter kid can weave some of his magic on the Oilers powerplay this year?

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#46 book¡e
October 03 2011, 01:37PM
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SJ wrote:

One of these teams will win the Cup 2012

Boston Pitt Philly Wash Buff

Van SJ LA Chi

Chicago will will the Stanley cup with a 4-2 score in game 6 vs Pittsburgh with Frolik getting the winning goal.

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#47 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 01:50PM
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David S wrote:

Oh god. Here we go again with another 300 comment thread on the relative merits of unproven rookies over established NHL'ers.

People. Just because it works in NHL 12 doesn't mean it'll work in real life.

C'mon David, it's been 4 yrs and he still hasn't grabbed that role as the Oilers 3rd or 4th line center. How much longer shall they wait. He's clearly 4th line material as this club sits right now. Even if he wasn't injured he has to be sitting behind 93,10,57 and 20.

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#48 Dman09
October 03 2011, 01:52PM
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book¡e wrote:

Chicago will will the Stanley cup with a 4-2 score in game 6 vs Pittsburgh with Frolik getting the winning goal.

I don't think so, I'd almost say they might be weaker than last year. I say watch out for LA in the west. I think they may have one of the best defensive teams and they will likely trade for someone like Hemsky to get that extra offense for a playoff run. It will likely come down to Van and LA in the west and I think PHI and WSH in the east.

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#49 Quicksilver ballet
October 03 2011, 01:56PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Gagner will be playing on the top 2 lines. Lander will be on the bottom 2. Neither is inhibiting the other.

I dont figure how you came up with the conclusion that Lander has more to offer this club than its highest scoring centre. This is especially baffling considering Lander hasnt played 1 minute of regular season hockey.

57 gets around the ice much quicker, he's not lost in his own end of the ice, much stronger on the puck and watch him put up 30-40'ish points this season with only part time duty.

If it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck Achie, it's probably a duck. Trust me.

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#50 Bucknuck
October 03 2011, 01:59PM
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I listened to the Oilers/Canucks game on the radio out here on the West Coast. What was interesting to me was to hear the opposition commentators talk about players on our team.

The main players they were worried about were Hall, Horcoff, and Eberle. You could almost hear them looking up who the players were for the other players.

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