GDB 5.0: IT IS VERY SIMPLE...

Jason Gregor
October 12 2013 11:40AM

Ideally your team would win every game, but since no North American pro team other than the 1972 Miami Dolphins has done that, fans expect their team will lose a few games. There are certain games, however, where you desperately want your team to win. Tonight is one of those for Oilers' fans.

The Oilers don't play the Leafs very often, 90 times in 33 NHL seasons, but they are an easy organization to dislike. They haven't won a Stanley Cup in 46 years; they will extend that to 47 years in June, yet their fanbase acts like they are the darling franchise of the NHL.

My late father's favourite player was Dick Duff, great name, so there was no love for the Maple Leafs in our house. Dad wasn't a diehard Habs fan, but he loathed the Maple Leafs and I'm thankful I inherited the same disdain for the Leafs.

They've had some players I enjoyed watching: Borje Salming, Mike Palmateer, Wendel Clark and Tie Domi to name a few, but when their own captain, Mats Sundin, screws them over like he did it is clear even the players don't respect the organization.

Due to my job, I'm not a fan of the Oilers, but there are certain games where my inner-Edmontonian appears and I watch the game hoping the opposition sucks the hind banana. Tonight is one of those nights.

Oilers fans have endured a lot of losing the last decade, yet you still find the strength to turn on the TV and watch the Blue and Orange. The Oilers are making a rare early appearance on Hockey Night In Canada, and an Oiler victory could turn your evening into a "runaway" very quickly.

For your sake, and the sake of every drinking establishment in Edmonton, I hope it happens.

LINEUP

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

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

Dubnyk

The Oilers recalled Philip Larsen yesterday and sent Denis Grebeshkov down for a conditioning stint. Larsen is a natural RD, and he could give the Oilers more offence from the back end. He likely won't play tonight, but you will see Ladislav Smid back with Jeff Petry and Anton Belov back on the right side playing with Nick Schultz.

Eakins said if Jesse Joensuu is ready to go, he will play. That likely means Ryan Smyth or Luke Gazdic comes out of the lineup. Smyth scored the only goal last game, so it might be hard to take him out, however, the Oilers claimed Gazdic so when they played a team like Toronto they would have a heavyweight. It wll be interesting to see if Joensuu is ready, who Eakins sits.

***UPDATE*** Yakupov will be a healthy scratch.*** Clearly Eakins is making a statement regarding the 2nd Montreal goal last game.

Dubnyk played better on Thursday, but he'll need to be very good for the Oilers to skate away with a win. Jonathan Bernier has stopped 113 of 116 shots, .974SV%, and many Leafs fans are already writing his Vezina trophy speech. Remember when Nikolai Khabibulin had a .960 SV% at the end of October, 2011. How did that season end?

Bernier has played 3 1/2 games, and he's been stellar, but if the Leafs continue to give up 35 shots a game his numbers will drop significantly.

QUICK HITS....

  • Hall, RNH, Eberle, Perron, Hemsky and Yakupov need to capitalize on their chances. The Leafs are surrendering 34.8 shots per game thus far.
     
  • The Leafs draw a lot of penalties and their PP is red-hot, 28.6%. The Oilers will need to keep their feet moving and not take stick infractions. The Leafs have drawn 15 tripping, hooking, slashing and interference penalties thus far. The Oilers will need to skate with them.
     
  • Kessel leads the Leafs with 6 points in 5 games, and he's 2nd in the NHL in shots with 26. Eakins must avoid having his 4th line out against them.
     
  • The 4th line has to stop icing the puck, or they will see a lot of Kessel's line. It is clear Gadzik has been told to just get the puck out of the zone, but he has to stop icing it, or at the very least take a few extra strides, get to centre and then dump it in. He's iced the puck too often so far.
     
  • Eberle has five goals in four games vs. the Leafs. I sense he or Yakupov will end their goal-scoring drought tonight.
     
  • Previous meetings between these two clubs have no impact on tonight's game, but the Oilers have scored 3 or more goals in their last 5 games in Toronto. Hopefully we see a high-scoring game tonight.
     
  • The Western conference is 18-5-2 vs. the East thus far. Both the Oilers and Leafs are 1-1 in inter-conference play.

LOOKING AHEAD...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers skate away with a 4-3 victory and silence the Vezina talk of Bernier.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: This is the easy, if Gazdic plays, he and Colton Orr drop the mitts early in the first period. If he sits, then I'll go with the other obvious prediciton; Joffrey Lupul, a former Oiler, scores against his Oilers.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Jeff Petry averages a point-per-game against the Leafs. He's only played them twice, but he has a goal and an assist. Petry will actually use his heavy slap shot tonight, and he'll beat Bernier for his 2nd goal of the season.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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 Dubs-nik
October 12 2013, 11:44AM
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About to give t.o one of the fist loses of the year, yak city!

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#2 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 12 2013, 11:48AM
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Hall - Nuge - Yak as the first line, do it up Eakins! Give the Russian dynamo some skill to play with.

Has there ever been a line of 1st overalls playing their natural positions, for the team that drafted them?

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#3 tileguy
October 12 2013, 11:49AM
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Imagine losing on HNIC, in front of the whole country, even the rock mountains won't be big enough to hide under. Hope the fact that it's the Leafs we are playing fires up the boys. 6-1 Edmonton.

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#4 tileguy
October 12 2013, 11:52AM
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Jason, can you refresh our memory on the Sundin story?

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#5 Garon
October 12 2013, 11:53AM
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I'm not judging you, Gregor, but I'm just kinda curious about this statement...

"Due to my job, I'm not a fan of the Oilers..."

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#6 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 12 2013, 11:56AM
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@Garon

He's a reporter/sports personality, they have to do their best to remain impartial to give an unbiased view of whatever it is they're reporting.

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#7 tileguy
October 12 2013, 12:01PM
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Doesn't the Toronto Sports Network sign your cheques now?

" but there are certain games where my inner-Edmontonian appears and I watch the game hoping the opposition sucks the hind banana"

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#8 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2013, 12:02PM
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"Dubnyk played better on Thursday, but he'll need to be very good for the Oilers to skate away with a win. Jonathan Bernier has stopped 113 of 116 shots, .974SV%, and many Leafs fans are already writing his Vezina trophy speech. Remember when Nikolai Khabibulin had a .960 SV% at the end of October, 2011. How did that season end?"

Excellent point. Bernier and in fact the entire Leafs team is well over-due for a reversion to the mean.

Lets hope we can get them started on their quest for the bottom.

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#9 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2013, 12:04PM
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tileguy wrote:

Doesn't the Toronto Sports Network sign your cheques now?

" but there are certain games where my inner-Edmontonian appears and I watch the game hoping the opposition sucks the hind banana"

I think you misread that... he wants the leafs to be badly outplayed.

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#10 Craig1981
October 12 2013, 12:06PM
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Dear God, when is wished upon a star, this spring, for the Rickey Romero to have an ERA the same as Dubnyk's GAA, this isn't what I meant......

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#11 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 12 2013, 12:09PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

I could be way out to lunch here, but you may have misread his comment too. Team 1260 was bought by TSN, buddy was making a joke.

I think anyway. You crazy kids and your rap music and Pac Man video games

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#12 Bucknuck
October 12 2013, 12:10PM
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Bring it Oil!

I find Canucks fans obnoxious in the extreme, but the only fans that top them are Leafs fans. They have never heard of the word humility. It's like the "centre of the Universe" disease has infested the franchise. They disgust me.

So the Oilers better score some darn goals!

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#15 Spydyr
October 12 2013, 12:18PM
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This is the what could of been game:

Dubnyk : .874 Sv% 5.27 GAA

Bernier :.974 Sv% .85 GAA

One of them is not like the other.

Now you can tell me about the small sample size.

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#16 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 12 2013, 12:20PM
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When's puck drop?

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#17 tileguy
October 12 2013, 12:20PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I own my radio show. The station doesn't pay me. I pay myself, so I'm good to loathe any team I wish. That's a positive.

Phew! I thought you might of botched things there.

Sorry you miss out on the emotional investment, it truly is the best part of being a fan. My days would be wasted if it wasn't for ON.

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#18 Rama Lama
October 12 2013, 12:22PM
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I hope that for the sake of the team Eakins stops with all the line tinkering and let's players get use to playing with their regular line mates.

Clearly this "SWARM" system ( or lack thereof) has not been understood by all the players and I suspect this will take time.......but for the love of god Dallas, stop putting our top offensive players out there to kill penalties. On any level having Hemsky and RNH killing penalties makes no sense. We have players who excel at this why not use that skill set appropriately?

So far I'm holding Eakins accountable for all the loses........mostly due to his retarded line combinations.

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#19 The Towel Boy
October 12 2013, 12:22PM
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"an Oiler victory could turn your evening into a "runaway" very quickly."

Amen!

Although, I am planing to run away freely this evening no matter what the outcome is.

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#20 Smokey
October 12 2013, 12:24PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

I think you misread that... he wants the leafs to be badly outplayed.

Leafs get outplayed every game and win...they rely on containing shots, high shooting percentages, and unworldly goaltending.

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#21 Smokey
October 12 2013, 12:26PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I own my radio show. The station doesn't pay me. I pay myself, so I'm good to loathe any team I wish. That's a positive.

Seriously, who'd a thunk it. How does that work? So you could sell your show to the dark side (Ched) and befriend Stauffer?

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#22 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2013, 12:29PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I could be way out to lunch here, but you may have misread his comment too. Team 1260 was bought by TSN, buddy was making a joke.

I think anyway. You crazy kids and your rap music and Pac Man video games

a ha!

flew right over my head... good shot tile!

(though, I see now JG is calling bs on the premise... I don't care, still a solid shot)

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#23 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2013, 12:30PM
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Smokey wrote:

Leafs get outplayed every game and win...they rely on containing shots, high shooting percentages, and unworldly goaltending.

I meant outplayed and out-scored.

at any rate, how long do you think the Leafs can rely on those things?

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#24 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2013, 12:31PM
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Spydyr wrote:

This is the what could of been game:

Dubnyk : .874 Sv% 5.27 GAA

Bernier :.974 Sv% .85 GAA

One of them is not like the other.

Now you can tell me about the small sample size.

small sample size.

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#25 Dog Train
October 12 2013, 12:41PM
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I think this will be a wide open game. Neither team is stellar defensively. Hopefully Dubnyk is up to it and our scorers start to find their scoring touch. I'll say 6-5 Oilers in one of those crazy last score wins type of games.

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#26 #ThereGoesTheOilers
October 12 2013, 12:41PM
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@Jason Gregor

Early retirement Jason? Eventually we'll be back in the win column and it'll be mighty hard to remain impartial then.

I do appreciate your honest loathing though. Throw some hate Vancouver's way for me, would ya?

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#27 james_dean
October 12 2013, 12:44PM
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Don cherry will pump gazdics tires tonight

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#28 Time Travelling Sean
October 12 2013, 12:49PM
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Don't lose, play hard, and win.

I remember my first game I went to, I was like 11 or 12, and we were facing the Florida Panthers (We won 5-0) and there were Maple Leaf fans in that game, booing whenever we scored a goal. I mean, they make you rejoice and smile whenever something awful happens. (Thanks Bruins).

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#29 TV6
October 12 2013, 12:50PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I hope that for the sake of the team Eakins stops with all the line tinkering and let's players get use to playing with their regular line mates.

Clearly this "SWARM" system ( or lack thereof) has not been understood by all the players and I suspect this will take time.......but for the love of god Dallas, stop putting our top offensive players out there to kill penalties. On any level having Hemsky and RNH killing penalties makes no sense. We have players who excel at this why not use that skill set appropriately?

So far I'm holding Eakins accountable for all the loses........mostly due to his retarded line combinations.

What is wrong with having your Top end talent on the PK..?

RNH is arguably the best Oiler forward at BOTH ends of the rink. How is it a negative thing for him to be playing on the PK..?

Having players who can turn the disc up the ice & make something happen offensively keeps the opposing teams P.P. honest & a little bit back on their heels.

I personally want to see MORE of this from the Bench Boss. Maybe not Hemsky per say, but a lot more of RNH, Hall & Eberle for damn sure.

x6

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#30 South of Cowtown
October 12 2013, 12:50PM
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In my humble opinion, the Leafs are already planning the parade for June. For that reason alone, the Oil, nay the whole league, should beat on them like a red headed stepchild. That being said, the Oil is probably going to get beat on tonight. TO is big and can play mean. Not the Oil's favorite type of game. 5-2 Leafs. And I hate saying that. Prove me wrong Oilers. Please.

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#31 Serious Gord
October 12 2013, 01:09PM
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Regression to the mean may happen to Bernier tonight, but I've watched a fair bit of his tending so far this year and he has been outstanding. Supremely calm, fantastic rebound control - it the oil doesn't crowd the front of the net and shoot from the point he's likely going to make it look easy.

Outside of the blue paint the leafs are going to be very physical - something the oil hasn't faced this year - let's see how the oil weathers that and if it takes its toll in the third.

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#32 Serious Gord
October 12 2013, 01:15PM
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And Jason I don't understand how your dad could love dick duff and hate the leafs. Duff won two cups with the leafs and played some of his very best hockey for them. And later coached them.

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#33 madjam
October 12 2013, 01:16PM
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Look at the rosters ! Bottom six no contest- Leafs far superior . Top six cancels one another out . Defence also no conteast-edge Leafs again . Better hope Leafs get caught underrating us , and maybe get lucky and steal this game .

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#34 Ari Gold
October 12 2013, 01:17PM
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I'm in full blown hatred of the Leafs, their fans, and their organization. They're almost at the top of my 'choke a small kitten' hate-list right behind the Canucks.

I hope Gadzik shatters Orr's left orbital bone. I hope Hall destroys Kessel in a clean open-ice hit. And I hope Yak dangles Bernier right out of his hip.

I don't just want a win tonight, I want blood. Get it done Oil!

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#35 Smokey
October 12 2013, 01:27PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

I meant outplayed and out-scored.

at any rate, how long do you think the Leafs can rely on those things?

It is how they played last year, outshot and outchanced from my recollection. Worst COrsi team in the NHL.

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#36 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 12 2013, 01:30PM
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Smokey wrote:

It is how they played last year, outshot and outchanced from my recollection. Worst COrsi team in the NHL.

And do you think they will collapse under the weight of that luck, or are you like Serious Gord, convinced by the power of small samples sizes and big men?

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#37 Serious Gord
October 12 2013, 01:44PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

And do you think they will collapse under the weight of that luck, or are you like Serious Gord, convinced by the power of small samples sizes and big men?

I try to Reference the lack of sample size/early in season dynamic when discussing the body of evidence so far on a regular basis. I deal with stats every day at work. However the statistical inertia thusfar is not moving things in a positive direction for the oil.

These next ten games will either confirm or cast in doubt these early perceptions. That said fans are right in being concerned that the season could be a disastrous one: the weaknesses remain, the play thusfar confirms it, and the coaches thusfar have not demonstrated that they have found tactics to minimize them - to the contrary - thusfar they seem to have exacerbated them.

Fans who continue to disregard all of the above aren't doing the team any favours. Just ask cub fans how they have made out doing the same.

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#38 DSF
October 12 2013, 01:46PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

And do you think they will collapse under the weight of that luck, or are you like Serious Gord, convinced by the power of small samples sizes and big men?

And are you convinced if a coin flip produces 10 straight heads that the next flip has to be a tail?

Last season, Pittsburgh outshot their opposition by only 0.8 S/G yet managed to win 36 games.

At the same time, NJ outshot their opposition by 5.3 S/G yet only managed 19 wins.

While I agree out shooting your opponent is generally a good idea, there is so much noise involved and so many other factors that are ignored, using shot metrics as a predictor is pretty weak unless you have the common sense to drill down and look at coaching strategy, goaltending quality and a host of other relevant factors.

Otherwise you end up looking like a fool.

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#39 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 12 2013, 01:56PM
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I know this is weird, but I kinda missed DSF. Where you been man, there's been a plethora of opportunities for you to bash the Oil the last week or two.

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#40 MessyEH!
October 12 2013, 02:06PM
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I have been an Oilers fan my whole life.

(Just had to get that out of the way.) But, man I miss watching Ray Bourque play. I can remember the Bruins of the mid 90's always out shooting the opposition. Mostly due to Bourque's strong defensive work and accurate shooting.

It has been so long since the Oilers have had a #1D, that I almost forget what one looks like.

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#41 DieHard
October 12 2013, 02:10PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I hope that for the sake of the team Eakins stops with all the line tinkering and let's players get use to playing with their regular line mates.

Clearly this "SWARM" system ( or lack thereof) has not been understood by all the players and I suspect this will take time.......but for the love of god Dallas, stop putting our top offensive players out there to kill penalties. On any level having Hemsky and RNH killing penalties makes no sense. We have players who excel at this why not use that skill set appropriately?

So far I'm holding Eakins accountable for all the loses........mostly due to his retarded line combinations.

Sure wish you were the coach.

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#42 DSF
October 12 2013, 02:10PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I know this is weird, but I kinda missed DSF. Where you been man, there's been a plethora of opportunities for you to bash the Oil the last week or two.

Oh, I've been around.

Not much interest in pouring salt in the wounds.

Tonight's game is pretty much a "must win" considering the road trip from hell, that is on the way.

Odd to say that only 5 games into a season but the Oilers could be pretty much out of playoff contention by the end of October.

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#43 Ari Gold
October 12 2013, 02:21PM
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DSF wrote:

And are you convinced if a coin flip produces 10 straight heads that the next flip has to be a tail?

Last season, Pittsburgh outshot their opposition by only 0.8 S/G yet managed to win 36 games.

At the same time, NJ outshot their opposition by 5.3 S/G yet only managed 19 wins.

While I agree out shooting your opponent is generally a good idea, there is so much noise involved and so many other factors that are ignored, using shot metrics as a predictor is pretty weak unless you have the common sense to drill down and look at coaching strategy, goaltending quality and a host of other relevant factors.

Otherwise you end up looking like a fool.

You hit the nail on the head this time DSF. I 100% agree. Though the Oilers do generally get outshot because they're the lesser of the two teams.

For the past 7 years the Oil have been the super hot but dumb as a post girlfriend that I can bring myself to cut loose. Cool-Aid please....

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#44 DSF
October 12 2013, 02:36PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

You hit the nail on the head this time DSF. I 100% agree. Though the Oilers do generally get outshot because they're the lesser of the two teams.

For the past 7 years the Oil have been the super hot but dumb as a post girlfriend that I can bring myself to cut loose. Cool-Aid please....

To my eye, one of the best ways to assess how a team is playing, is to look at their 5V5 F/A.

A hot streak on the PP or a malfunction of the PK can distort things for a while but since playing on the PP or short handed are relatively rare events in a game, how team performs at evens gives you a much clearer picture.

It's still early and the sample sizes are very small but by 10 games we should start to see the trends.

Here's how the Oilers have done 5V5 F/A in the past 5 seasons.

09/10 0.75

10/11 0.74

11/12 0.91

12/13 0.90

13/14 0.50 (early days)

Keep an eye on that stat if you want to see how the team is playing.

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#45 Spydyr
October 12 2013, 02:40PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

small sample size.

Let's revisit this at the end of the year.They should both equal out somewhat but IMO Bernier is and will be the better goalie moving forward.

In fact both Toronto goalies are better then the big easy.

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#46 Alsker
October 12 2013, 02:40PM
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Heres hoping JJ's ready to go tonite. Hes got the speed and ability to push Yak. No offence to Smitty but JJ's ability to forecheck and pressure the D will give Yak + Gordon the opp to convert into serious chances. If top 6 are equal(as has been stated) than this is the game for Yak + company to win/lose for us. If he wants 1st line minutes prove you can make those around you better or at least take what isa given and convert it into something good. Oil in a shootout 5-4!!!!! Go Oilllllllllllllllllll!!!

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#47 Walter Sobchak
October 12 2013, 02:41PM
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DSF wrote:

And are you convinced if a coin flip produces 10 straight heads that the next flip has to be a tail?

Last season, Pittsburgh outshot their opposition by only 0.8 S/G yet managed to win 36 games.

At the same time, NJ outshot their opposition by 5.3 S/G yet only managed 19 wins.

While I agree out shooting your opponent is generally a good idea, there is so much noise involved and so many other factors that are ignored, using shot metrics as a predictor is pretty weak unless you have the common sense to drill down and look at coaching strategy, goaltending quality and a host of other relevant factors.

Otherwise you end up looking like a fool.

If I may ask.

Serious question

If Corsi is counting all shots good and bad, a team could have 20 perimeter shots and say…5 real good quality shots and out shoot the opposition 25 – 20 yet lose like the Oilers have been, yet the other team of those 20 shots 10 of those were actual grade “A” scoring chances would Corsi even be relevant?

I go to the games, I hear Stauffer going on and on about the Oilers Corsi being so good that soon or later the Oilers will start winning, yet I’ve witnessed the other team completely out chance the Oilers?

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#48 Spydyr
October 12 2013, 02:41PM
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DSF wrote:

Oh, I've been around.

Not much interest in pouring salt in the wounds.

Tonight's game is pretty much a "must win" considering the road trip from hell, that is on the way.

Odd to say that only 5 games into a season but the Oilers could be pretty much out of playoff contention by the end of October.

If the Oilers come home 2-4 from this trip it would not be a surprise to me.

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#49 Walter Sobchak
October 12 2013, 02:45PM
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@Spydyr

Forget the road trip! I see two games the Oilers MIGHT win given how they have played the rest of the Month!

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#50 jonny94
October 12 2013, 02:58PM
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Hey Gregor,

I normally wouldn't do this and at first I just thought it was a typo but I've noticed you spelled Gazdic incorrectly. Not a big deal but it is Gazdic not Gadzic.

Also if you're not an Oilers fan does that make you a Habs fan seeing as how your dad was growing up?

Cheers!

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