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 

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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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#301 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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#302 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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#303 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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#304 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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#305 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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#306 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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#307 Spydyr
October 12 2013, 04:49PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

@Spydyr

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

Yeah me too, but i was trying to be optimistic.

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#308 Johe
October 12 2013, 04:58PM
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Debbie downers.

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#309 Tile guy
October 12 2013, 05:06PM
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Perhaps there is something to this oilers might being stupid, yak attach sacked for tonight. Klowe, did you make that decision?

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#310 Walter Sobchak
October 12 2013, 05:22PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Really? So with the third goal, then that strategy would bench the Nuge.

^ This!

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#311 Alsker
October 12 2013, 05:29PM
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Im not defending the decision, personally I would try and work out the D lapses. Oh, almost forgot thats what training camp/practice was for!!!

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#312 Thumby
October 12 2013, 05:40PM
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Oh yeah I forgot... Lou knows how to build a team...

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#313 otter2233
October 12 2013, 06:05PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Personally I'm a fan of your best players on the PK.It gives them more ice time keeps their legs going and if there is a bad turnover you have a chance for a shorty.

I'm a fan of it to but some guys are just not good on the PK so why keep running them out there just to dig the puck out of the net again? Seems to me giving up a PK goal or two a game isn't quite worth the possibility of a SH goal once every 10-15 games or so. A top ten PK last year is 25th this year...

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#314 Alsker
October 12 2013, 06:06PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Personally I'm a fan of your best players on the PK.It gives them more ice time keeps their legs going and if there is a bad turnover you have a chance for a shorty.

Turnovers are ok, but leaving your post(playing D man and heading for the blue paint) is NOT exceptable. It wasnt ok for Gretz, Mess, or any other forward playing the D-man position. Considering the amount of penalties we take having our offensive players taking PK roles is only a ggod thing.

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#315 YFC Prez
October 12 2013, 06:09PM
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@Oilcruzer

Grapes was talking about that reporter dude that published joe thortons locker room banter regarding herdl's 4 goals

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#316 Alsker
October 12 2013, 06:12PM
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otter2233 wrote:

I'm a fan of it to but some guys are just not good on the PK so why keep running them out there just to dig the puck out of the net again? Seems to me giving up a PK goal or two a game isn't quite worth the possibility of a SH goal once every 10-15 games or so. A top ten PK last year is 25th this year...

How much of that does our .8something SP have to do it??

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#317 Spydyr
October 12 2013, 06:15PM
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Did they switch goalies at the intermission like in shinny?

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#318 MessyEH!
October 12 2013, 06:49PM
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Acton hauled ass to make the play with his stick. Hall acted by falling on his ass to get the high stick.

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#319 Tileguy
October 12 2013, 07:03PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

I don't no if it's just me but I haven't really noticed Eberle all season yet. I guess it's only 5 games in. Is that a little concerning or not. I don't know. But well the real JORDAN EBERLE please stand up.

Small sample

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#320 Spydyr
October 12 2013, 07:37PM
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That is a save Dubnyk has to start making.Game saver.

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#321 Zamboni Driver
October 12 2013, 07:37PM
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@Spydyr

Broke up the no hitter though :P

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#322 Quicksilver ballet
October 12 2013, 10:02PM
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@Alsker

Well, like Wes mentioned, if he signed an extension it might be worth while. Not so sure he's willing to come out west or forego his UFA opportunity.

What would it cost to get that Gibson kid out of Anaheim, maybe something could be done with the Ducks for a goolie.

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#323 Alsker
October 12 2013, 11:08PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

If only Antti Raanta had chosen Edmonton last summer. He could be starting in the NHL rather than buried in the AHL. The Oilers were certainly the path of least resistance.

Nearly 8 yrs into Dubnyk, what a waste.

No sh*t, hard to imagine which side is more disappointed. 8 years into Dubby made me wonder who the last goalie we developed was. Moog/Fuhr were drafted by us, B. Ranford, Cujo, Rollie, Salo were all traded for, JDD was a bust. Is there a theme here? Raanta, Miller, Bryz(scary if you ask me), who would you seriously persue?

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#324 otter2233
October 13 2013, 03:00AM
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Alsker wrote:

How much of that does our .8something SP have to do it??

Yeah I guess the players that were actually on the ice has nothing to do with a PK success

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#325 Czar
October 13 2013, 10:27AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Really, I seen a bad Leafs team out play and out chance the Oilers in the first, granted the Oilers had an outstanding second and not a bad third, but tell me who won again?

Wait till the trip is over, then tell me it's not a little of everything, including coaching & coaching decisions .

That BAD Leaf team should be 4-2 instead of 5-1

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#326 gord962
October 15 2013, 02:38PM
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DSF wrote:

You don't give up 5 goals against EVERY game by outplaying other teams.

The Oilers are a dreadful defensive team.

Take a look at Justin Schultz' performance in all 5 games.

He should be in the AHL.

Ya, because the goalies can't stop a beachball. Scoring chances for Oilers is far > the oppositions.

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