GDB 1.0: THE RETURN OF THE JETS

Jason Gregor
October 01 2013 12:04PM

 

The Winnipeg Jets return to Rexall place for their first regular season game since March 29th, 1996. The Oilers haven't lost to the Jets at home in 17 years, the longest undefeated timeline in franchise history. Who cares that they haven't played since then, the fact is the Oilers haven't lost to them. 

The team you cheer for hasn't made the playoffs in seven seasons, longest active drought in the NHL, so you should embrace any winning streak, regardless of the technicalities.

Opening night is the best night for any fanbase, and the Oilers have been pretty damn good in home openers and season openers.

The Oilers will begin their 34th NHL season tonight at Rexall Place and they will open up a season for the 3rd time against the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers defeated the Jets 4-3 on October 10th, 1985 and tied them 3-3 on October 6th, 1990.

Historically the Oilers are very good in season openers, 19-10-4, and they are equally solid, 19-9-5, in home openers. They are even better, 18-6-3, in season openers at home, so if you play the odds it is a good bet to go with the Oilers tonight.

The Oilers will have eight new faces in the lineup tonight: newly-anointed captain Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Luke Gazdic, Anton Belov, Will Acton, Jesse Joensuu, David Perron and Jason LaBarbera. If you include Marc Arcobello, who only played one game, almost half of their roster is new.

Add in Dallas Eakins and Keith Acton behind the bench, and the Oilers should be a vastly different team than last season.

The good news is that for the first time in four years the Oilers didn't get younger. Acton, Belov and Gadzic will play their first NHL games tonight, but they are 26, 27 and 24 respectively. All of the Oilers young players are a year older, and as Eakins pointed out on the first day of training camp, this is not a young team anymore.

After five consecutive seasons of top-ten picks, it is time to see some results on the ice. The Oilers need to start showing the potential that fans have patiently been waiting for.

LINEUP...

Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
Perron-Arcobello-Eberle
Joensuu-Gordon-Yakupov
Gazdic-Acton-Brown

Ference-J.Schultz
Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-Belov

Dubnyk
LaBarbera

JETS...

Ladd-Little-Wheeler
Kane-Scheifele-Setoguchi
Wright-Jokinen-Frolik
Tangradi-Slater-Thorburn

Enstrom-Byfuglien
Bogosian-Trouba
Stuart-Postma

Pavelec
Montoya

QUICK HITS...

  • Eberle led the NHL in preseason points with eight, and his linemate on most nights, David Perron, was tops in goals with five. Those two need to bring that production to the regular season and help the Oilers get off to a good start. If the Oilers can tread water until Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner return.
     
  • The Oilers got some good news today, as Gagner said he is hoping to return in five weeks. He lost four teeth, and had six screws and one metal plate put in the left side of his jaw. It wasn't wired shut, and that is why he could return sooner than the original two months prognosis.
     
  • Nugent-Hopkins was put through a fast-paced, intense skate after the morning skate. He is moving well, and he is pain free while shooting. Once he gets clearance for contact, he could return within 10-14 days.

  • Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Gagner, Smyth and Nick Schultz were named alternate captains today. If that isn't an NHL record for most alternate captains, it must be close. Eakins said they will rotate the "A" every game and the training staff knows the rotation.
     
  • I was a bit surprised Ladislav Smid wasn't in the top-six, but ultimately I'm not sure it matters. Smid plays a simple game, and I don't expect him to play any different without a letter on his jersey.
     
  • Hockey coaches and parents, as you get set for another season of minor hockey take a moment and read what George Kingston feels is necessary for young kids to be doing in practice and games. Smart man.
     
  • I've felt Ference was the right choice as captain for a long time. This interview with Ryan Rishaug just confirms that. Ference recognize that he can do more with his status of NHL player, than just play hockey. Excellent stuff.

LOOKING AHEAD....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers excel in season/home openers and they'll continue that trend tonight with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Perron continues his red-hot preseason scoring by adding two goals, one of a nifty redirection. Gadzic drops his gloves in a spirited first period scrap with Chris Thorburn.

NOT-S0-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After five months of reading and hearing he is washed up Smyth scores on a goal mouth scramble. Even the most ardent Smyth-hater cracks a smile, because for one night, Smyth is a go-to guy again. The best part about the first game of the season is that it gives every fan hope for a brighter season, and Smyth has become the player many are cheering for. Edmonton fans love to cheer for the blood and gut type player, and on this night Smyth rewards your loyalty.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR   

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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 k
October 01 2013, 10:02PM
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TonyT wrote:

Wow, I understand he's on his last legs but Ryan Smyth is where the puck goes to die...

Brutal doesn't begin to describe him

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#52 Dog Train
October 01 2013, 11:02PM
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Well it didn't take long to piss away the first points of the season. Obvious standouts include JJ, the fourth line and Hemsky. Obvious duds in this game include Hall, DD and most of our defense.

Lots of missed opportunities in this one and obviously lots of work left to do. I was really hoping to be able to enjoy the three day break but Saturday is going to feel like a long ways a way after the way this one ended.

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#53 Andrew
October 01 2013, 11:06PM
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Dubnyk, Petry and Nick Schultz suck rhino. Dubnyk has got to go. Apparently he has a seive on his family crest. Yegads man!!!

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#54 Alsker
October 01 2013, 11:12PM
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k wrote:

When Smyth is playing 1st line minutes you bag skate the coach

Maybe with Hemsky + Smyth on the first line is what reminds me so of '06..lol...no its the goaltending..its just 1 game, some early nerves, major self pressure...Hall, Dubnyk, Belov, played very unlike they did in the preseason. On the bright side, JJ, Hemsky, Ganzig(sorry on the spelling), Acton played as well or better than they did in the PS...3 days to shake it up..the ball is in Eakins court..Lets see if he really has the stones for this..Go Oilers Go

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#55 Shaun Doe
October 01 2013, 11:14PM
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Petry looked pretty terrible tonight I can only hope that he can shake it off and move in a less craptacular direction with his game. Joensuu was worth the price of admission though so there was some upside to the game... Sigh little victories

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#56 Bucknuck
October 01 2013, 03:02PM
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I am really curious to see what Dubnyk can do with a half decent defence core in front of him. If they could reduce the amount of shots, his above average save percentage would actually translate to wins. At least I hope so.

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#58 Smokey
October 01 2013, 03:35PM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

Rewind:

Question/discussion: Is Dubnyk good enough to be a legitimate starting goalie?

Qualifier: Starting goalie prerequisites: Don't let soft goals in on a regular basis, if at all.

Answer: Nope.

SIM-PLE!

I'M TH E SMRTEST MAN ALVIEEEEEE!!

I think the problem with peoples evaluation of Dubnyk is the propensity of soft goals that he lets in. Its what people see, not the quantifiable statistics that have been out there that have shown conclusively he is a legit number one, and a top 10-15 goalie in the NHL.

The clearest evidence we have seen is the Dallas game he let that squeaker in, and then stoned a guy point blank on a break that he should not have.

I think there are two camps people are in. Either they often see the mistakes, the weak goals that deflate a team. The other camp is the fact he is above average in Save % over the last 3 seasons, and in fact top ten over that period. If this team wins people will ignore the warts, like they did for Fleury in Pittsburgh. The only way he shakes negative perceptions is by winning.

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#59 Pouzar99
October 01 2013, 03:49PM
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I love season and home openers and never miss them. The building was literally shaking with energy for the home opener last season. Please, this time, lets not be down 6-1 after the first period!!!

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#60 Butters
October 01 2013, 06:23PM
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We are all thinking it, so I will just come out and say it... 82-0

That is all.

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#61 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 07:33PM
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Opening night,every team is in first place.Oilers win 4-3.

GO OILERS!!!

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#62 @Oilanderp
October 01 2013, 08:44PM
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Crazy fast backcheck by Hemsky there, he looks all in!

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#63 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 08:48PM
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Wonder if Mac-T is still looking for a starting goalie?

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#64 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 08:55PM
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I already like this years #6 way more then last years #6.

Oilers out shooting a team.Nice.

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#65 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 08:57PM
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brian_d wrote:

Swap Joensuu for Smyth ;) Kidding, but the Finn has looked impressive...

Why not Smyth is slooooooowwwwwwww and the big Finn is flying tonight.

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#66 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 09:19PM
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Nice dangle Hemmer.

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#67 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 09:26PM
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Dubbie wake up.

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#68 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 09:32PM
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The big Finn earned that goal with his effort tonight.

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#69 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 09:40PM
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Alsker wrote:

Was the Jets player standing still...lol

No but Smyth took a lazy penalty because he was tired.Again Eakins has to be seeing this.

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#70 Kodiak
October 01 2013, 09:41PM
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When did Ryan Smyth lose his hockey sense? I don't care that he can't skate and looks out of gas all the time but already tonight I've seen him turn the puck over and not get it deep when he's had the opportunity to. Hopefully Eakins recognizes quickly that Smyth is a less than 10 min a night player

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#71 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 09:41PM
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Brown's stache is epic.

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#72 TonyT
October 01 2013, 10:00PM
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Wow, I understand he's on his last legs but Ryan Smyth is where the puck goes to die...

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#73 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 10:30PM
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Alsker wrote:

Nicer to see Jonesuu stand up for his teammate.

Jonesuu is sure looking like a keeper.

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#74 Lawndemon
October 01 2013, 11:04PM
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If the Oilers outshoot opponents like that every game this year then we will enjoy playoff hockey again.

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#75 madjam
October 01 2013, 11:22PM
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We played well enough to win , and bad enough at times to lose , aided by a subpar goalie performance this night . Once again , as in past seasons , our club plays periphery game long enough to let other club back in game . Defence in our own end is still a sore spot for us . Dubbie's got to play much better if we hope to contend .

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#76 @Oilanderp
October 01 2013, 11:25PM
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@Spydyr

Do you have anything positive to contribute?

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#77 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 11:27PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Do you have anything positive to contribute?

Sure the fourth line looked good so did the big Finn.Ference played well.Do you see everything with rose color glasses or do you have any issues with some players tonight?Perhaps the coach?

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#78 @Oilanderp
October 01 2013, 11:36PM
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@Spydyr

Do you REALLY think anyone here needs you to point out that we haven't been in the playoffs for a while? REEEEAAAALLLLY? I hadn't noticed!!!! Try harder than that please. That's all I'm saying.

EDIT: All our faceoff men were 50% or better.... that's something to build on :) http://oilers.nhl.com/gamecenter/en/boxscore?id=2013020003

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#79 Wigswag
October 01 2013, 03:27PM
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I want to see more than 30 shots (for). If that means 8 goals or 1 goal I'm good.

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#80 Mike Krushelnyski
October 01 2013, 04:09PM
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The Towel Boy wrote:

LET'S GO OI-LERS!

*CLAP* *CLAP*

*CLAPCLAPCLAP*

times a million

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#81 match16
October 01 2013, 04:26PM
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The Big Dummy wrote:

To all you stats nerds out there....Let me ask this questions: Would you rather give up 20 shots per game and have a .900 save percentage or 35 shots per game and have a .930 save percentage? If my math is correct, that is a 2.00 GAA vs. 2.45 GAA. What save percentage is going to win more games? My point is that the number that actually wins games is GAA.

So Duby is not the problem then? If he can maintain his .920 SV% and the defense in front of him can reduce the shots to 20 against, the GAA will go down significantly...

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#82 WinningPeg
October 01 2013, 04:52PM
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Hope to see many Jets fans over at Rexall tonight. Go jets! Should be an easy win against the softest team in the league. 4-2 with 2 goals from wheeler.

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#83 Rocket
October 01 2013, 04:58PM
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Whew that was a long summer. And spring. And seven years. I'm totally stoked for this year though. Are those actual NHL defencemen I see on The Oilers blue-line? Huh, haven't seen that in a while.

BDP: Oilers squeak out a win 2-1

OGDP: After the anthem, Yakupov kisses the oilers crest on his sweater & double fist pumps. The Kid fired up to play!

NSOGDP: The entire fourth line fights tonight. Set a tone early? Maybe just get the team and fans all rowdy.

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#84 Ducey
October 01 2013, 05:27PM
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The Big Dummy wrote:

To all you stats nerds out there....Let me ask this questions: Would you rather give up 20 shots per game and have a .900 save percentage or 35 shots per game and have a .930 save percentage? If my math is correct, that is a 2.00 GAA vs. 2.45 GAA. What save percentage is going to win more games? My point is that the number that actually wins games is GAA.

Does a goalie have any ability to control the number of shots against? Other than the occaisional rebound, not really.

Thats why GAA is more of a team stat. If you want to judge whether a goaltender is doing his job, you look at his save %.

It would be nice to also look at the quality of shota - I would guess St Louis doesn't give up many breakaways and 2 on 1's compared to Edmonton - but there is no stat for that.

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#85 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 08:32PM
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Nice to see Eakins using his best players on the PK.

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#86 Gkpoil
October 01 2013, 08:59PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Wonder if Mac-T is still looking for a starting goalie?

Sure hope so

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#87 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 09:30PM
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brian_d wrote:

Hemsky's goal wasn't so much soft hands as brutal defensive breakdown...but I'll take it...

Wheeler blew a wheel but it was still a nice dangle.

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#88 brian_d
October 01 2013, 09:37PM
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Joensuu for first star!

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#89 YFC Prez
October 01 2013, 09:55PM
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@JJ

Oh sorry. I though you were lonely. My bad your just lost. "Tsn.ca" is where you belong. Trust me you will fit in well there.

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#90 @Oilanderp
October 01 2013, 09:57PM
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Spydyr wrote:

You can go ahead and think every player that wears an Oiler uniform can do no wrong.Some of us will speak up when a player is playing lousy.

Yes but do you have to speak up EVERY time?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I71cY9Ysy5U

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#91 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
October 01 2013, 10:30PM
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Holy crap.......do the Islanders have any other guys they're not using!?!

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#92 Spydyr
October 01 2013, 10:38PM
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What is Dubbie's save percentage today?

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#93 Alsker
October 01 2013, 10:42PM
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Sorry Oildrop, but what does Dubnyk get paid to do. Hes been down early/out of position on too many tonite.Deflected, sure but at the blue line...Yo JJ isnt a good PP what its all about?

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#94 Rocket
October 01 2013, 11:00PM
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Well that game was something that happened.

I was going to list all the good and bad things I saw but I think those are obvious.

Instead I'm gonna go have a drink and forget about this game. Go get them next time boys.

Side note: Why does Mark Lee have such a hard on for Trouba? Is Lee from Winnipeg?

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#95 Serious Gord
October 01 2013, 11:04PM
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Hall almost got put out for the season by trouba. Playing center makes him even more vulnerable to that kind of hit.

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#96 jl
October 01 2013, 11:10PM
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Couple things

We could have used more assistant captains assigned.

We still suck

Is it too early to talk about next and how we may make it.

Bring on the lottery pick

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#97 Rocket
October 01 2013, 11:10PM
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Andrew wrote:

Dubnyk, Petry and Nick Schultz suck rhino. Dubnyk has got to go. Apparently he has a seive on his family crest. Yegads man!!!

The whole team looked out of synch tonight. Hopefully it's just first game jitters and players getting used to playing together (crosses fingers).

What's the pre-season for again? Oh right, gouging fans and not team gelling.

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#98 @Oilanderp
October 01 2013, 11:17PM
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That was a fun game to watch. Swarm D is live and die by the sword. A lot of deflections and broken-play bounce goals on both sides. As time goes on the Oil will learn how to play with a lead. There were a lot of positives tonight. Alas one of them wasn't 2 pts.

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#99 Mikey
October 02 2013, 12:16AM
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Dubnyk.....

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#100 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 02 2013, 09:13AM
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The game confirmed one thing for me...

There isn't near enough Midol in the Edmonton area to help Harry cope. Might want to check and make sure you have plenty of tampons Harry. Smytty's doing fine and he'll be getting close to 17 mins again on Saturday in Vancouver.

Fire Eakins after one game.....what an idiot. Get a clue.

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