Frustrated expectations

Jonathan Willis
October 14 2013 10:19PM

 

Things were supposed to be different. With the firing of Steve Tambellini and the installation of an active, competent general manager, the Oilers were supposed to take a step forward in 2013-14. In the early going, it's been more of the same - and so it shouldn't be a surprise that Oilers fans are feeling frustrated.

Brand New Low

There are a few things that I think reasonable people should be able to agree on.

  • Devan Dubnyk has played 143 career NHL games and has a 0.911 save percentage in that span. It's kooky to think that the 0.829 save percentage he's posted over his last four contests represents his true level of ability. We've seen this script before: in short periods of time, goalies go up and down ridiculously. There are those who have never believed in Dubnyk as a regular NHL'er, people who think he lets in soft goals and can't play under pressure and can't move laterally; I may not share those beliefs but I think that even those people would acknowledge that Dubnyk's play this season represents a brand new low. He's shown he isn't this bad; obviously his game's a mess right now but there's little reason to think it will stay that way indefinitely.
  • Jason LaBarbera has a pretty strong career as an NHL backup. He's played 2-1/2 games. The same logic applies to him as does to Dubnyk; whether one really likes him as a backup goalie or not, he's not *this* bad.
  • The 2009-10 Oilers (also known as "the worst team in Oilers history") started the season 6-3-1. They were getting out-shot crazily, but they rode the percentages for a magical 10-game stretch. Good teams sometimes have terrible starts; terrible teams sometimes have good starts. 
  • If this year's edition of the Oilers was getting goaltending, they would be anywhere from three to five points better than they are right now. If this team has six to eight points in its first six games, nobody is slapping the panic button.

Frustration

The other thing I think most reasonable people can agree on is that it's high time for the Oilers to take a step forward. Ideally, they would have done it in 2011-12; they certainly should have made big strides last season. So watching a team that was seen so optimistically in the summer stumble so badly out of the gate is understandably leading to a 'torches and pitchforks' mentality in comment sections and on social media - both venues ideally suited for expressing instant reaction to disappointment.

It's fair for the Oilers' fans to expect more than they've gotten. It's fair to say the team isn't meeting expectations right now. It's even fair to say that the slow start has put the team's ambitions for this season in serious jeopardy - if the club was life and death for the playoffs before, starting out in a big hole could end up being the death blow to those hopes.

But the team's management can't act out of frustration. It's not worth adding a terrible goaltender (I didn't see it, but apparently Sportsnet floated Rick DiPietro's name at the intermission tonight) who won't help anything just because Devan Dubnyk has struggled through four games. If they plan to make a bigger move, they have to count the cost; they can't just rashly go out and ship away Nail Yakupov (as some in the Toronto media have helpfully suggested) to add a player comparable to Devan Dubnyk or Nick Schultz in net or on the blue line. 

Standing pat isn't necessarily the best move here; it may be that there's a trade option out there that won't see the Oilers grossly ripped off to add a mid-range veteran. But it is all but certain that if Edmonton's management makes the knee-jerk move so many are calling for, they will regret it in the morning.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Neal
October 15 2013, 11:25AM
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Guys, the problem is the goalie we want is not available. There isn't a Cory Schneider type out there that another team is going to part with. (and giving Vancouver what they wanted in summer would have been stupid). Trading Yak or another part of our future for a goalie only marginally better than Dube is ludicrous. I'd even rather see Bachman in net to see if adrenalin could get us a couple wins, because a trade is permanent - not a quick fix. Mac knows he has a problem, but he is constrained by reality.

And for the constant comments from the KLowe haters - I am one - the public hanging he so richly deserves for sewering this franchise would only provide justice and satisfaction. It wouldn't give us a #1 goalie. We need to let Mac do his job...

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#52 Smokey
October 14 2013, 11:32PM
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beloch wrote:

Just throwing a thought out there...

You have two goalies whose career stats indicate they are decent, but both are as cold and smelly as a dead rhino's arse right now. One or the other should shake off their funk eventually but, in the meantime, the Oilers will lose games.

Why not call up Olivier Roy or one of the other goalies in the system? Yes, he'll probably get lit up too, but giving him a cup of coffee is relatively low-risk and the potential payoff is high if he manages to impress. There's also a chance that a youngster might spark some compete in the veteran net-minders. It's a logical step to take before doing something more drastic, like signing a FA or trading for a tender.

Olivier Roy will, never be a NHL goalie. Too small and too many flaws. Backman has NHL experience and be worth a call-up.

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#53 Spydyr
October 15 2013, 07:01AM
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It is not a knee jerk reaction making a trade to upgrade the goaltending. Mac-T has been trying to do it since he became GM. Now there is just more pressure and he is dealing from a position of weakness both not good things. The goaltending problem should have been addressed in the summer as this commenter suggested many, many times.

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#54 Cheap Shot Charlie
October 15 2013, 10:21AM
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TT Boy wrote:

We missed the boat on #1 picks. Instead of getting the likes of Crosby, Stamkos, and Toews, we got Hall, Nugent-Hopkins and Yak....... Substantial downgrades! And now we will be bad but not bad enough to get this Connor McDavid kid. so Edmonton will be stuck with this mediocre brand of hockey for awhile.

You have a small point that isn't totally accurate. Crosby had Lemieux, Fleury, Malkin, Letang in the system already and is the best Canadian talent in 20 years.

Stamkos was drafted into Lecavalier, St. Louis and really has never taken his team to the top.

Toews was given Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Keith & Seabrook.

Hall, RHN, Eberle and Yak all have had to find their way alone because Hemsky, Whitney, PRV and Horcoff are not the same type of support.

What makes you think Connor McDavid would fair much better?

Tavarse in NYI, Nash in CBJ, Kopitar in LA (early years), and Kovalchuk in Atl are your more accurate comparables.

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#55 K_Mart
October 14 2013, 11:50PM
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Marshall Law wrote:

Perhaps playing Hall and Nuge until they vomit isn't the best strategy.

On a related note, while I can appreciate that viable alternatives may not be available, playing Justin Schultz more than 20 minutes a night isn't helping this team solve its goaltending issue. Although he adds all kinds of positives to the PP, it's hard not to see that he's becoming a bit of a liability at evens...

Agreed, he picks some extremely bad moments to jump into the rush. Especially on LAICH's goal tonight. That was horrid.

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#56 Vincheese
October 15 2013, 12:03AM
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Why not pick up Biron from Waivers?

Yeah, he's stunk the few minutes he's played this year, but at least it gives us another option in net. Surely one of the three could catch some confidence.

I'd pull the trigger on picking up both Biron for ovious reasons, and also Asham for some grit if possbible--provided cap/# of contracts problem is OK in doing so.

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#57 BC is a welfare state
October 15 2013, 10:54AM
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@KleptoKlown

Don't you have a protest to go to ? Big Oil ? Baby seal clubbing? Riot planning ? Go hug a tree and F Off !!!

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#58 Goilers
October 14 2013, 11:01PM
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Greg wrote:

your delusional .

Funny your not the first to have mentioned that. Come on in the water is fine.

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#59 mlcsellil
October 14 2013, 11:15PM
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There is little doubt neither goalie has a vote of confidence from the coach, players, management, owner, or us fans. If MacT, (a guy that admits patience is not his strong suit), were to bring in a new goalie, my curiosity from the ON readers is, who do you give up and who do you bring in? I personally have no idea, but I think karma being a boomerang, the guy we let go, is going to do great things on a new team. Any realistic suggestions?

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#60 madjam
October 14 2013, 11:25PM
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Devon and Jason from much same mold -not reliable enough to even be a nonfactor goalie . Neither looks capable of stealing a game or making enough big saves to keep us in them . Had hoped Dubbie might have improved over last two seasons , but that now looks unlikely . We simply need more consistency and stellar play from both of them , and we are not getting it .

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#61 Smokey
October 14 2013, 11:26PM
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@gcw_rocks

Eakins is not the problem. He obviously can't make goalies stop pucks, and that is the problem. MacT I agree with you on. I don't care how articulate someone is if they can build a winner by filling necessary holes.. Billicheck from the Patriots is a brilliant man, but he won't woo you with any catch phrases, or bold comments like MacT. MacT can talk, but its apparent the subtle changes needed to build a winner is not something he was able to do despite the talk or even realize he needed to do. I don't blame him for the goalies, I thought Labarbara was average and applauded the move. The bold move whether I like it or not would of been getting Bernier or Schneider or even Kubodin. I thought the hire was assbackwards. The fans rode this guy outta town cause he stunk. I saw 30 comments on facebook applauding the move when he quit only to the same are believing the guys the answer, and I'm like WAAA!

This team needs either Dubby to wake up or roll the dice on a goalie with track record. I am no fan of Space Cadet or Propecia Man, but I think you gotta take a flyer on another goalie, cause this is going to get outta hand fast. They have lost 5 points at least because of shaky tending. I don't wanna look at top five picks this year.

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#62 mlcsellil
October 15 2013, 12:28AM
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When is the press conference? Sure like to know what's going on. What is the bold move? NewGoalie? New Defenceman? New Hockey Operations President (oh please) ? Are we trading picks and prospects for our new-comers? GM likes public speaking, and he has an audience dying to know what we are paying for.

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#63 Serious Gord
October 15 2013, 07:32AM
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Lenny wrote:

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Ryan-Garner/An-Open-Letter-to-Dallas-Eakins/185/54815#.Uly-UuDRwvE

Excellent post thanks for that. It is the kind of teardown that regular EDM sports writers - the ones who actually get paid to be critical - should be doing but instead are like a Labrador warming themselves by lying in the slippered feet of Daryl Katz.

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#64 Spydyr
October 15 2013, 07:43AM
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K_Mart wrote:

If MacT is able to upgrade the goaltending great, but if he ships off Yakupov and a first rounder for Ryan Miller, I will definitely classify that as knee jerk.

We want a goalie with at least 10 good years left, so getting one that is over 30 in exchange for a kid with 15+ great seasons ahead of him, a is not a good idea.(IMHO)

I'd love to see our d and goaltending get a massive upgrade, and I'd be fine with moving one of our core pieces, but the goalie or defenseman coming back,HAS TO BE TOP SHELF, and under 31 yrs of age.

I wonder how valuable our first rounder is right now. St. Louis managed to get Bouwmeester for a fair price.

I'd be ok with the Oil making a deal like that one.

Why would you trade the upcoming first round draft pick. It could be number one overall again.

Sam Pollock a man who won more then a few Cups. Yes, even more than six once said never trade anything until you know what you are trading away.

Only make a trade when you know exactly what you are giving up.

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#65 Manfly
October 15 2013, 09:11AM
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your full of it, TT Boy! we got what was available at the time at 1st overall and it's WAY too early to declare them "substantial downgrades" when we haven't seen the best of these players yet.

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#66 LOIL99
October 15 2013, 12:12PM
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Please everyone STOP suggesting Ryan Miller. It doesn't take any advanced stats grinding to see that he IS NOT AN ELITE GOALIE. His save percentage the last 3 years IS THE SAME OR WORSE THAN DUBNYK. Unless you are getting a goalie with a 0.917 or better over the last few years, then we ARE NOT improving on Dubnyk and its a stupid move. Period.

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#67 BeeKayDub
October 15 2013, 08:40PM
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KleptoKlown wrote:

As a Canucks fan, it is hard to see my team start to dwindle...but oh my god, this pathetic cOilers franchise provides such a warm fluffy pillow to fall on...

AAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! This slum cOilers organization is a perfect match for the slum city it belongs in.

The rest of Canada salutes you...It can't be easy waking up every morning knowing you're living in a dump that houses a joke of a NHL franchise, and an even worse CFL team. Someone has to do it, and you're doing a great service to rest of us.

Here on Vancouver Island in BC, it was a warm sunny day(thinks 20+ degrees) filled with smiles and laughter...some of which were directed right at the joke of existence known as "Edmonton"

What keeps us going is the memory of five previous cup wins. What keeps you warm at night? Oh, right, lighting cars on fire during a riot when you lost the ONE chance you even had at winning. Sad for you.

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#68 Smokey
October 14 2013, 11:36PM
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lenny wrote:

JW, the best move Oilers can do now is to FIRE EAKINS, MACT AND K LOWE>

Eakins is fine. He's not the problem. Kevin Lowe and MacT should be gone, but as long as they stay away from Katz's wife they'll be in saddle.

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#69 #YakCityGettingScrewedOverByCoach&Mgmty
October 15 2013, 12:07AM
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Greg wrote:

your delusional .

Agreed. JW is delusional too. He sure has a hard on for the goalies. Keeps repeating himself in every write-up. Find some other angle to write another story on the slumping Oilers, pleasse.

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#70 Kuri_is_my_Coffey
October 15 2013, 01:13AM
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Just chill folks!!! Its less than 10 games in and we have no Gags and RNH is still getting into game shape. Dubs' game will improve, we'll make the playoffs as a low seed and then proceed to demolish the competition.

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#71 oilredemption
October 15 2013, 07:27AM
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I really hope for nuge, eberle, and yaks sake they trade these three to get them out of this hell and become able to save their career. Like it's Absolute waist having yak in the press box. Dallas thinks their was no one that he could take out? You lost the game of course you can take some out And juggle the lines like one game I can see but two. If he's gonna be in the press box like trade him for an asset. Miller and myers for yak and dub. They all need a change in scenery and both teams are god awful right now. Okay I am done ranting now...

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#72 Rob...
October 15 2013, 07:48AM
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"Rick DiPietro"!?!?!? Was Eddie Mio not available for a comeback attempt?

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#73 seanjohn
October 15 2013, 04:58PM
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KleptoKlown wrote:

As a Canucks fan, it is hard to see my team start to dwindle...but oh my god, this pathetic cOilers franchise provides such a warm fluffy pillow to fall on...

AAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! This slum cOilers organization is a perfect match for the slum city it belongs in.

The rest of Canada salutes you...It can't be easy waking up every morning knowing you're living in a dump that houses a joke of a NHL franchise, and an even worse CFL team. Someone has to do it, and you're doing a great service to rest of us.

Here on Vancouver Island in BC, it was a warm sunny day(thinks 20+ degrees) filled with smiles and laughter...some of which were directed right at the joke of existence known as "Edmonton"

What a mean person. That was truly hurtful. How unCanadian.

:-(

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#74 Greg the Hammer Valentine
October 15 2013, 07:22PM
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"If it wasn't for bad goaltending, the team could have won 2-3 more games."

"If the coach thinks it's the best thing to bench Yakupov two games, than the kid will be better for it."

"I've seen plenty of good things in the last game."

Those are the kind of comments we have heard since the start of the season. Well, I had a kool-aid overdose and we're not 10 games into the season. I personnally don't see alot of reason for optimism and it's not just the goaltending. What are the ingredients of succesful teams in the last few years? 1- depth at center. 2- A stud d-man. 3- solid goaltending.

More than five years into the rebuild, we have none of that. On top of it all, we have a headcoach obsessed with proving he's the captain of the Bounty. I look at what is happening in Colorado and wonder how did they get it so right and K-Low so wrong.

I want wins!!!!!!!!! Not kool-aid.

Sorry, I needed to vent.

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#75 Joy S. Lee
October 16 2013, 03:49AM
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@KleptoKlown

KleptoKlown. Interesting name. Personified by the idea of someone who gets behind his favorite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, and dignified by "Klown," which obviously relates to being a clown. "Klepto," well, this indicates an addiction to stealing, another Canuck tendency, apparently.

Yeah, kind of makes sense, when you think about it. Someone says, "Vancouver," and the first thought many have is of rioting and looting in the streets. Vancouver: That beautiful horizon, ocean view, and a place where many KleptoKlowns are born and produced.

Yeah, I considered moving there, but when you put it like that...and one realizes KleptoKlowns abound in Canuck town, who in their right mind would go to a place where people are mean-spirited, vicious, violent, over-confident, and where they just generally want to piss in everyone's corn flakes so that they are just as miserable as the pathetic soul claiming to be KleptoKlown...the more, the merrier! But I think I'll pass, thanks. You can have your dark, sunless winter. And your heartless spirit, you can keep that, too. In the hole you think Edmonton is, just for your information, are a whole bunch of friendly, helpful, considerate, encouraging people. And which place I prefer is simply in the attitude. Which makes me happy, because I know that you'll stay there. And that works for all of us, here. Have a nice day, you piece of......work.

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#76 Fiftyn39
October 16 2013, 08:53AM
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KleptoKlown wrote:

As a Canucks fan, it is hard to see my team start to dwindle...but oh my god, this pathetic cOilers franchise provides such a warm fluffy pillow to fall on...

AAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! This slum cOilers organization is a perfect match for the slum city it belongs in.

The rest of Canada salutes you...It can't be easy waking up every morning knowing you're living in a dump that houses a joke of a NHL franchise, and an even worse CFL team. Someone has to do it, and you're doing a great service to rest of us.

Here on Vancouver Island in BC, it was a warm sunny day(thinks 20+ degrees) filled with smiles and laughter...some of which were directed right at the joke of existence known as "Edmonton"

And in other Vancouver news, the following Canuck players jerseys will be retired in the following weeks in this order:

1) Pavel 'sopranos' Bure 2) Tony 'not so great' Tanti 3) Murray 'Is this my goal?' Bannerman.

You can purchase commemorative jerseys for these players in any BC Sport Chek right under the 90% off tee shirts that read 'Canucks 1994 Stanley Cup Champs' and/or 'Luongo 2011 Conn Smyth Trophy' winner.

Canuck fans making comments like this remind of me of the guy sitting in the honey bucket yelling about how bad the one next to him smells.

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#77 Woogie63
October 14 2013, 10:59PM
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It is early but given the number of contracts this team has and the lack of cap space, the options are limited.

Here is what I would suggest,

1)MacT needs to spend more time with his new cosch he is struggling with the move up to the NHL.

2) The defense is struggling N Schultz and Smid need competition to push them - bring up the best D man from the AHL sit Shultz.

3) Put Yak back into the line-up on the second line and pp1- he needs to play to grow as a player.

4) Could Jones, Pitlick or Hamilton add a new dimension to the team?

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#78 Goilers
October 14 2013, 11:01PM
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Greg wrote:

your delusional .

Funny your not the first to have mentioned that. Come on in the water is fine.

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#79 KleptoKlown
October 15 2013, 01:15AM
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At least Yaks had a good game...oh wait.

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#80 MessyEH!
October 15 2013, 02:31AM
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Anyone have Ty Rimmers #?

If are goalies are going to keep playing bush league, then we should let the bush league goalie get the pay check.

Barbie just isn't pushing Doobie, or himself.

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#81 K_Mart
October 15 2013, 07:26AM
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Spydyr wrote:

It is not a knee jerk reaction making a trade to upgrade the goaltending. Mac-T has been trying to do it since he became GM. Now there is just more pressure and he is dealing from a position of weakness both not good things. The goaltending problem should have been addressed in the summer as this commenter suggested many, many times.

If MacT is able to upgrade the goaltending great, but if he ships off Yakupov and a first rounder for Ryan Miller, I will definitely classify that as knee jerk.

We want a goalie with at least 10 good years left, so getting one that is over 30 in exchange for a kid with 15+ great seasons ahead of him, a is not a good idea.(IMHO)

I'd love to see our d and goaltending get a massive upgrade, and I'd be fine with moving one of our core pieces, but the goalie or defenseman coming back,HAS TO BE TOP SHELF, and under 31 yrs of age.

I wonder how valuable our first rounder is right now. St. Louis managed to get Bouwmeester for a fair price.

I'd be ok with the Oil making a deal like that one.

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#82 **
October 15 2013, 10:26AM
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Reinman wrote:

3) With his comment, I think Eakins was correct to sit him again. "I am not changing my game?" So what? You are going to continue to float? Wrong! I would sit him until he says that he will do whatever it takes to win.

Yeah let's sit him until he is ready to learn. It's not like he has anywhere else to go being russian and all. Ohh wait...

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#83 RexLibris
October 15 2013, 10:39AM
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Hey Jonathan,

re: the DiPietro idea from SN. If I recall correctly I think there were six names on the board there (Bryzgalov, DiPietro, Elliott, Biron, and two more that escape my memory).

DiPietro was probably there for aesthetic balance (six names on a list opposed to five) as much as adding a name to stir controversy.

This is the same outfit that employs Kypreos and MacLean to provide insight and analysis. My belief is that this extended time away will actually help Dubnyk, even if the results don't show until a few games after they get back.

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#84 Rod from Viking
October 15 2013, 06:37PM
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There is no chance in hell that Mac T would trade Yakapov for a 33 year old soon to be free agent goaltender, both teams are struggling and could be trade partners if Regier gets canned which is very likely, they need offence and know Miller will not be resigning in Buffalo. A Hemsky,Dubynk and a defencemen for Miller and Meyers might make sense for both teams because all these players could use a change of scenery.

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#85 PrairieDog19
October 16 2013, 07:31AM
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"Good teams sometimes have terrible starts; terrible teams sometimes have good starts."

This is so true. So far this year, I think the Oilers have played some of their best hockey in years. Goaltending has obviously been the factor, as well as some ill-timed defensive breakdowns (e.g. Lupul's tying goal in the 2nd on Saturday, wide open in the slot with 4 Oilers "swarming" a Leafs player on the half boards). I think it's easy to forget that this team is operating with a new coach and new system, and that takes time to adjust to in the best of cases. I'm telling you, this team is on the cusp.

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#86 Bobkov
October 15 2013, 01:09AM
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Didn't know Tambo was still running things. He came from Vancouver, it's his fault!

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#87 N4R
October 15 2013, 01:29AM
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Edmonton Oilers vs Washington Capitals (14.10.2013) http://prognoz-na-sport.info/news/skachat_match_edmonton_oilers_vs_washington_capitals_nhl_2013_2014_regular_season_14_10_2013/2013-10-15-6771

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#88 Smokey
October 15 2013, 01:16PM
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I use to believe the same as you, and I was a Doobie supporter. Ryan Miller may not elite right now, but he has historically won games and carried a team. I admit that I basing this solely on subjective analysis, but before this year I believed based on numbers Dubby was just outside the top ten in terms of goalies. But the guy has constantly coughed up points this year and last with not making that big save.

Ryan Miller is worth a prospect, as in the off season he will walk. No sane human entertains the asinine assertion that MacT would trade Nail for Miller. I don't understand what fool would even suggest that. Miller would get this team into playoffs, he's that good when he's turned on. Dubby has never been in Vezina consideration and that alone means you should rethink your statement. Numbers and metrics say that the Oilers should have more then one win, when in reality they don't. Numbers can't alone be used for analysis and are just one tool of evaluation. In the end the final most important number always wins.

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