GDB 4.0: LOOKING FOR MOMENTUM

Jason Gregor
October 10 2013 12:12PM

After a ferocious comeback led them to a shootout victory on Monday, the Oilers will be looking to carry that momentum into tonight's clash with the Montreal Canadiens. The Oilers have trailed by three goals heading into the 3rd period 285 times in franchise history, and Monday was only the 5th time they came back to win the game. Those types of comebacks are extremely rare, but the enthusiasm and confidence the Oilers gained from that game has been evident the past few days.

The players were more relaxed. This team is still quite young, especially their offensive leaders, and even though it was only eight periods of hockey, you could tell some of them were frustrated with their lack of production prior to the 3rd period explosion vs. the Devils.

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov desperately want to lead this team offensively. They feel their primary job is to score goals, and you could see they were getting frustrated not doing it. They have high expectations, and since Monday's victory you could see the relief on two of their faces.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in his first game, so he wasn't feeling any frustration, but he's just as hungry to lead this team as the other three.

As they mature, they will realize that on nights where their offence is struggling they can still help the team by playing solid defensively. It is easy to say, but much harder to accept. Very few young offensive stars can accept that playing great defence is as important as scoring a goal. They were able to dominate at every other level, and most of their domination came offensively.

This isn't a knock or a criticism, just a fact in today's game. The best offensive players become some of the best two-way players if their teams want to win. Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Patrice Bergeron are excellent two-way players, and Nugent-Hopkins is constantly talking about wanting to emulate them.

Hall, Eberle and Yakupov are equally aware of it, but it will take time before they don't get frustrated when the offence dries up. Usually their slumps won't last very long, so it won't be a big issue, but even a two-game drought can frustrate young snipers.

Hall's third period goal was a huge relief, and even though Eberle didn't score a goal, he contributed with an assist and he too was more relaxed the past few days.

Yakupov loves scoring goals, and after scoring six goals in his final three games he was hoping to carry that momentum into this season. It hasn't happened, yet, and you can see the frustration in his game. It seems many in Oilersnation want to blame his linemates for his lack of production. That is a lame excuse, and not one that Yakupov is thinking about.

Elite players don't think that way. Yakupov can score regardless of who he plays with, and when I spoke to him yesterday he said he just needs to shoot more and react better to plays. He's played most of the season with Boyd Gordon, who has a point in every game, so the excuse of weak linemates is not only a cop out, but also inaccurate.

Yakupov needs to shoot more, but he also needs to work harder to get into better shooting lanes. It is only three games, and no one should be that concerned, but stop blaming his linemates. Gordon is playing the best offensive hockey of his career, yet he's an anchor for Yakupov? It doesn't jive.

Yakupov will start producing, and when he does it will likely coincide with him simply working harder in every aspect of his game.

LINEUP

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

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

Dubnyk

I'm sure many will complain that Yakupov is playing with Smyth, but Eakins isn't afraid to juggle his lines, so I'm sure we will see Yakupov play with other duos as well. Eakins won't hesitate to switch up the lines if they aren't producing, but he stated yesterday he'd much rather keep his lines together, because that means they are playing well.

The Canadiens lost 3-2 in Calgary last night and didn't skate this morning, but Peter Budaj will get the start in goal for the Habs. Josh Gorges was injured and only played one shift in the third period last night, so he'll be a game time decision.

Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher
Pacioretty-Desharnais-Briere
Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta
Prust-Moen-White/Bournival

Gorges??-Subban
Markov-Diaz
Bouillon-Tinordi

Budaj 

QUICK HITS....

  • David Perron is another scorer who wants to be a main contributor. After a solid preseason, five goals, he too was pressing for his first as an Oiler. After he ripped one over Brodeur's right shoulder he admitted he felt a great sense of relief. It is nice to see a bunch of players who truly want to contribute and win. Once this team learns to play better away from the puck, I believe they will be a handful for opposing teams.
     
  • Last year many wrote how Eberle's shooting % was unsustainable, and he would clearly regress. It is interesting how none of those same people wrote similar stories about Yakupov. Yakupov had 17 goals on 81 shots for a sizzling 21 SH%. If Eberle's 18.9% wasn't going to be repeated, shouldn't those people expect Yakupov to regress as well?
     
  • Perception and human nature is a funny thing. It seems some have decided it is Eberle vs. Yakupov, instead of hoping that both have great success. I sense that some would rather see Yakupov succeed than Eberle, mainly because he was the #1 overall pick. After a 76-point season many stats guys wanted to show why Eberle couldn't maintain those numbers, yet after Yakupov's rookie campaign many automatically assumed he'd become a 35-goal man. Why was Eberle's season critiqued due to SH%, but Yakupov's used as a stepping stone to future success?
     
  • Lars Eller is off to a great start for the Habs. He has four goals and six points in three games, while Aex Galchenyuk has five assists. Eakins likes to go power on power so we could see the RNH line vs. Galchenyuk which should be exciting.
     
  • I loved Tomas Hertl's goal. It is extremely difficult to pull that off in a game, and outside of Adam Oates, it seemed most hockey fans appreciated it. I liked Hall's response when I asked him if he feels it was disrespectful. "I think it is more insulting if a team stops trying against you than if they run up the score or score a flashy goal," said Hall. 

THE ORACLE....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers can't afford to go on the road with only one victory. They will play their best game of the early season and skate away with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gordon has had four three-game point streaks in his career, but he's never had points in four consecutive games. He'll set a career high tonight with an assist, and make everyone forget about the dreadful two seasons of the Belanger Triangle.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Midway through the first period Alex Galchenyuk, the 3rd pick in the 2012 draft, will crush Yakupov, 1st pick in 2012, with an open ice hit. Yakupov is slow to get up, but on his next shift he rips a one-timer for his first goal of the season. Instead of a crazy celebration, he just stands still and raises his hands above his head with a big smile. After the game he thanks his former teammate for waking him from his early season slump.

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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#101 Oiler63
October 10 2013, 09:35PM
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Yak hasn't played a second after that second goal. That kind of lazy defensive play will not do him any favor.

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#102 Mikey
October 10 2013, 09:54PM
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Are Hall and Ebs fighting? Cause they won't pass to each other. And when Hall looked of Ebs, Ebs made a quick line change. Maybe I am seeing things.

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#103 Alsker
October 10 2013, 09:58PM
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That one hurt, lots of effort but no finish. Habs have looked more dangerous all nite. But definitely a better game all round.

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#104 Reg Dunlop
October 10 2013, 10:01PM
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Good to see a pussy European cheap shot our best player with NO repercussions. Now that's teamwork.

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#105 Rocket
October 10 2013, 10:07PM
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Wow is Petry bad this year. What happened? A good rookie showing, then he get's upgraded to the first pairing. It seems like he can't handle the opposing top lines at all.

Overall The Oilers aren't playing badly but the bounces are definitely going Montreal's way. Perron is fired up to play the Habs and the first line is generating chances. Nuge looks like he's flying around everywhere on the ice.

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#106 washed up
October 10 2013, 10:15PM
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Time to make some trades!!!!!!

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#107 God
October 10 2013, 10:16PM
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I'm seriously getting sick of watching my team lose. The Oilers are slipping into Pittsburgh Pirates territory....

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#108 Reg Dunlop
October 10 2013, 10:17PM
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Well, now we start the roadie that will define our season. 8 out of the next 9 away from Rexall, not one gimme in the bunch. Oh oh, could we see a 1-12 start to 2013? Will anyone's head roll if we do?

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#109 Poolanov
October 10 2013, 10:18PM
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Back when I played hockey ( peewee ), we used to have what was called "A BREAKOUT PLAN" . Do these informalities exist with this team I favor???? Negative Johanssen negative.

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#110 God
October 10 2013, 10:21PM
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Habs broke the Oil cycle like a bully stealing their lunch money. Out coached and outplayed when it counted. Great hustle, but it wasn't combined with a well executed system.

The Habs gained the Oilers zone way too easily tonight. Still the turnovers. Nuge, Hall and Ebs were trying to do too much on their own. There was no cohesion in the offensive zone.

I'm seriously getting sick of watching my team lose.

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#111 Mike Krushelnyski
October 10 2013, 10:23PM
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Can we tear down our rebuild and rebuild it again?

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#112 Geoff
October 10 2013, 10:23PM
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Oilers could really use a Chris ponger clone right about now :(

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#113 Poolanov
October 10 2013, 10:24PM
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Brutal play by Hopkins on Montreal's 3rd goal.

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#114 Reg Dunlop
October 10 2013, 10:24PM
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God wrote:

Habs broke the Oil cycle like a bully stealing their lunch money. Out coached and outplayed when it counted. Great hustle, but it wasn't combined with a well executed system.

The Habs gained the Oilers zone way too easily tonight. Still the turnovers. Nuge, Hall and Ebs were trying to do too much on their own. There was no cohesion in the offensive zone.

I'm seriously getting sick of watching my team lose.

You may want to go to Mexico for the next two weeks.

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#115 Darrell
October 10 2013, 10:25PM
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I drove 6+ hours straight evading cops to get home for this crap ! I shoulda stayed in Nashville and watched the Leafs and I hate the Leafs ... FML !

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#116 JJ
October 10 2013, 10:26PM
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Galchy had another 2 points this night to bring his total to 7. Yak had 0. Just some interesting fact. Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

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#117 washed up
October 10 2013, 10:27PM
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My guess is MacT gives them this road trip to prove themselves. If they don't come out at .500. I can some changes even if the oil have to overpay.

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#118 TonyT
October 10 2013, 10:29PM
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I thought the Oil played well tonight, the effort was certainly there, which is at the very least a step in the right direction. I'd like to see them just hammer from the point (like Montreal did) when the Habs clog the lanes instead of trying to pass through the seam. Other than that, more efforts like these should result in more wins than losses in my opinion. One last thing, I love Yak but that 2nd period benching was well deserved, he looked like Alex Ovechkin out there after a coach's corner...

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#119 Serious Gord
October 10 2013, 10:29PM
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Grim game tonight. A better effort than the last game but still weak. Not playing as a team, weak where they are weak and coaching doesn't seem to have an answer - simply not the right mix of players. You have got to think that player morale is low and that if this roadie goes badly that the coaching staff could lose the room.

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#120 jonny94
October 10 2013, 10:30PM
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Poolanov wrote:

Brutal play by Hopkins on Montreal's 3rd goal.

You mean Ference right? He was the D man that pinched and created the 2 on 1.... Can't blame Hopkins when he gets pinned to the boards by 2 Habs with no support.

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#121 TonyT
October 10 2013, 10:30PM
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Forgot to mention to this, but what's up with Ebs?

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#122 washed up
October 10 2013, 10:32PM
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JJ wrote:

Galchy had another 2 points this night to bring his total to 7. Yak had 0. Just some interesting fact. Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

Ya, but Yak will score 60 goals next season.... Or maybe the season after. Yak reminds me of Alex Kovalev.

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#123 madjam
October 10 2013, 10:35PM
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We played about as well as we are going to play most nights . We are just not that good enough yet . The better team won tonite . Present roster , even with Gagner back , does not look strong enough to be a contender this year once again . Fun to watch at least . We got more than just our depth to worry about , as our young stars are not showing much if any any progress from last year . Dubbie can't be faulted for this loss .

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#124 Reg Dunlop
October 10 2013, 10:35PM
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JJ wrote:

Galchy had another 2 points this night to bring his total to 7. Yak had 0. Just some interesting fact. Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

The history of the draft shows multiple cases where a run of great first over-alls is followed by busts.

Lemieux-Wendel Clark then Murphy-Turgeon

Sundin-Nolan-Lindros then Hamerlik-Daigle-Jovanoski-Berard

Stamkos-Tavares then Hall-Nuge-Yak. Not implying that all the oil#1s are busts but maybe 1 of them won't pan out.

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#125 ColourMeImpressed
October 10 2013, 10:36PM
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Next season at the home opener, the announcer will boom over the PA system "Ladies and Gentlemen, here come your Edmonton Thrashers!"

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#126 Slats
October 10 2013, 10:42PM
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Can we please for the love of . . . . almighty put someone on the PP who is a threat to use a slap shot - this soft wrister crap from Schulz jr is brutal. And every team knows they are looking for that back door cross ice from the half wall. C'mon coach earn your wage and get creative - Montreal PP made ours look foolish. And it cost another game. I love Ference on PP no hesitation just a hard low slap shot he almost scored twice again tonight.

And finally Yak you are so lost out there bumping into your own players, you are really out of sync - take a look at your former teammate on Habs - a threat every shift, back checks hard, etc i think you just earned yourself a seat up high to start the road trip.

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#127 Cold Hard Truth
October 10 2013, 10:45PM
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I would love to see the Oilers succeed. You know, finally turn the corner and start showing some consistency.

But I'm actually starting to take pity on this team and especially the fans. It doesn't make sense how an organization can suck so much and for so long.

The problems that have been with us for the past few years are still here:

- Despite all the high-end skill, we can't score. - Bad defence - No depth at center - Unreliable goaltending

I'm not looking to MacTavish to fix anything. He's part of the problem.

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#128 madjam
October 10 2013, 10:51PM
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Do you think our Oilers would be playing better than this if we played Kreugers system rather than Eakins system ?

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#129 Walter Sobchak
October 10 2013, 11:07PM
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Poor Yakupov, he looks so lost out there right now, to blame a 19 year old for this teams problems is like blaming Dubnyk.

I agree with one of the posters, the Oilers are being out coached badly right now. They looked completely gassed by the end of the second, if you didn't know any better you would have thought the Oilers played last night.

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#130 Serious Gord
October 10 2013, 11:18PM
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Slats wrote:

Can we please for the love of . . . . almighty put someone on the PP who is a threat to use a slap shot - this soft wrister crap from Schulz jr is brutal. And every team knows they are looking for that back door cross ice from the half wall. C'mon coach earn your wage and get creative - Montreal PP made ours look foolish. And it cost another game. I love Ference on PP no hesitation just a hard low slap shot he almost scored twice again tonight.

And finally Yak you are so lost out there bumping into your own players, you are really out of sync - take a look at your former teammate on Habs - a threat every shift, back checks hard, etc i think you just earned yourself a seat up high to start the road trip.

Excellent point in your first para. As for yak, I think he needs to play 1-2 line for a few games to see if he can straighten things out on the fly. If that doesn't do the trick then maybe have him sit out a few.

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#131 Clarko
October 10 2013, 11:26PM
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Slats wrote:

Can we please for the love of . . . . almighty put someone on the PP who is a threat to use a slap shot - this soft wrister crap from Schulz jr is brutal. And every team knows they are looking for that back door cross ice from the half wall. C'mon coach earn your wage and get creative - Montreal PP made ours look foolish. And it cost another game. I love Ference on PP no hesitation just a hard low slap shot he almost scored twice again tonight.

And finally Yak you are so lost out there bumping into your own players, you are really out of sync - take a look at your former teammate on Habs - a threat every shift, back checks hard, etc i think you just earned yourself a seat up high to start the road trip.

The Oilers PP is running at 25% which is very good. A 25% efficiency on the PP would be ranked in the top 3 in every season in NHL history. An I'm pretty sure that "soft wrister" worked out pretty good for guys like Lidstrom and Bourque.

The main problem with this team is their 5-on-5 play. Only 1.75 goals per game even strength this season which is far too low.

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#132 fatso
October 10 2013, 11:32PM
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why was the big easy playing if we wanted momentum. why wasn't Yakapov playing more. why do top draft picks play like other teams much lower draft picks.

why don't we shoot right after the blue - line.

why don't we hit.

why is Kelly Buckberger still here and.

why doesn't points determine who wears the C.

why not try and get another first overall jk.

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#133 Devolution
October 10 2013, 11:34PM
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Harry wrote:

Anyone elso notice those greasy herpy sores on Gallaghers face? Discusting!!!

While we are on the topic of personal attacks that have nothing at all to do with hockey, learn to spell.

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#134 madjam
October 10 2013, 11:36PM
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Frustrating isn't it for Oilers fans . How can you take a three year cellar club and have it move upward last year , only to have it move back down and perform worse again this year with a new GM and coach ? That's what draws my ire !

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#135 Slats
October 10 2013, 11:39PM
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@Clarko

Listen to the Raw post game - I think you will hear Eakins say the same as me. Set up the shot right away and "start bombing right away" is what he says. Then go down low!

All I'm saying is pp goal early when you had two chances in first period would have got Habs on their heels after loss,night before - just sayin.

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#136 Kodiak
October 10 2013, 11:43PM
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Pretty tough when your captain, who isn't an offensively gifted player, gets caught pinching twice. Why the %!+$ he feels the need to make bad pinches instead of playing defense is beyond me. More of a backbreaker than a bad Duby goal.

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#137 lolhockey
October 10 2013, 11:44PM
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So maybe my comment on the first page wasn't so far off after all.

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#138 Devolution
October 10 2013, 11:47PM
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Kodiak wrote:

Pretty tough when your captain, who isn't an offensively gifted player, gets caught pinching twice. Why the %!+$ he feels the need to make bad pinches instead of playing defense is beyond me. More of a backbreaker than a bad Duby goal.

Those pinches happened when they were down and attempting to tie the game. It is sort of a hero or zero situation, when it works you are a hero.

I have no problem with pressing your luck a bit when you are down 2-1 late.

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#139 Harlie
October 10 2013, 11:58PM
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Yak was a lazy floating disaster out there tonight. Brutal.

But I believe in the kid and know he can turn it around. He's got the skills but needs to move his damn feet and engage!

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#140 John
October 11 2013, 12:04AM
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The players worked hard and it was an exciting game. If they were really sucking, I would've been bored and depressed watching the game (like the first two periods of the previous game), but it was a fun one to watch.

And so much of hockey is up to chance--bouncing pucks, missed calls, someone loses an edge on some soft ice--that I'm not too bothered by this loss. This time the chances didn't work out, but who knows about next game.

Anyway, I enjoyed the game. I'm looking forward to the next one!

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#141 spliff
October 11 2013, 12:08AM
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Oilers in 29th already. Now, to get back in the mix they will need to string some victories together. What are the chances of that? I have been patient for many years, but I am sick of losing.

Look at the Leafs, Columbus and the Avs, and now look at the Oilers. And my biggest nightmare...look at the Flames. If the Flames finish ahead of us in Year One of their rebuild, how do KLowe, MacT and the gang explain that to this abused and taken-for-granted fan base? Same old sh*t and I am sick of losing. Even if we do make the playoffs (which I highly doubt)it will be in 8th place. When was the last time the oilers finished higher then 7th place? 1991? WTF? The management of this organization is terrible, and based on their track record, should not be employed to run an NHL team. There are no more excuses. This far along into a rebuild, after 7 years of no playoffs, this team needs to be winning more games then they are losing, regardless of injuries or schedule. Very tired of this crap, year after year.

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#142 Wax Man Riley
October 11 2013, 12:15AM
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John wrote:

The players worked hard and it was an exciting game. If they were really sucking, I would've been bored and depressed watching the game (like the first two periods of the previous game), but it was a fun one to watch.

And so much of hockey is up to chance--bouncing pucks, missed calls, someone loses an edge on some soft ice--that I'm not too bothered by this loss. This time the chances didn't work out, but who knows about next game.

Anyway, I enjoyed the game. I'm looking forward to the next one!

-said Oilers fans circa 2008*

*2004?

*2001?

*1996?

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#143 6 ring circus
October 11 2013, 12:20AM
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New Gm,New Coach,New Dressing room and a New captain,yet we keep getting the same old result's.I'm sick and tired of the same old results!!!

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#144 Seriously
October 11 2013, 12:29AM
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Cold Hard Truth wrote:

I would love to see the Oilers succeed. You know, finally turn the corner and start showing some consistency.

But I'm actually starting to take pity on this team and especially the fans. It doesn't make sense how an organization can suck so much and for so long.

The problems that have been with us for the past few years are still here:

- Despite all the high-end skill, we can't score. - Bad defence - No depth at center - Unreliable goaltending

I'm not looking to MacTavish to fix anything. He's part of the problem.

Could not agree more!!! Nicely put!!!

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#145 HOFFFF
October 11 2013, 12:34AM
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I really concerned over some of Eakins comments and decisions already. He seems a bit flakey. Maybe he needs to have a big cheeseburger and a couple Schooners.

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#146 nick
October 11 2013, 12:35AM
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O.K. is fives games to soon to say Ference is bad bda bda. He has been on the ice for the last 7 goals scored against. That is excluding the open net goal. how J.Schultz plays that much is amazing he has no clue defensively. Very interesting coaching by an AHL coach

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#147 Cynic
October 11 2013, 03:29AM
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I haven't read all the comments. Just checked in for the midnight suicide watch.

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#148 God
October 11 2013, 06:27AM
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Our young players simply don't seem to be 'learning'. Coaching a system is one thing but aren't we supposed to be teaching players how to play? Way too many 1on4 rushes yesterday. It's like the Oil stop grooming post-AHL.

On another note, Eakins got his as$ handed to him by Therrien, a savvy NHL coach. The Habs were calm & composed in the 3rd. They clogged up shooting & passing lanes very well. The Oil were happy to take the outside lanes and did little to fight for the middle, hard to earn, ice.

Great, A for effort. D-minus for the result. I want wins, there is no 'good' way to lose.

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#149 vetinari
October 11 2013, 07:08AM
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At some point, player potential has to turn into team results or else it's going to be a long year again...

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#150 madjam
October 11 2013, 07:40AM
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Oilers figured they could duplicate the old Oilers by drafting the most skilled player each year rather than conventional wisdom that most would use - shore up the backend first and center figuring they could fix that in other ways - which still has not happened to any usable degree . Size and grit was left on the after burners . Lowe and Oiler fans got what they wanted , and now have to suffer the consequences of that type of rebuild .

You could start another rebuild , but this time you had better get pieces that are upsized to NHL status rather than just gutting away personnel and contracts . It will certainly have to be better than last few years attempts that ended in downgrades all over the roster . A new vision and definitely one with more foresight . The rebuild turned into a disaster as results bear out -tough to argue otherwise . At least one positive is the club is financially strong despite the results of the club , and a fan base that does not seem to mind this poor resulting "Never Ending Story " .

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