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 Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 spliff
October 15 2013, 06:45AM
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Jonathan, you say that "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." The opposite of knee-jerk is a well thought-out move. I would argue that the Oilers management has a horrible record when they use their brains and think things out. Perhaps some knee-jerk management might be good for them. On a good note, after 7 years of suck, I'm starting to find their struggles entertaining.I hope the Flames beat them 10 - 1 at Rexall, just to see how KLower, MacT and the gang respond. I'm also wondering when we will start to see empty seats again at Rexall, its only a matter of time.

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#52 **
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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#53 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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#54 K_Mart
October 14 2013, 11:48PM
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we've outchanced the opposition in all but one game so far. i'm not worried yet.... ... yet.

If we hit the 20 game mark and Dubnyk is still posting sub .910 nbrs on a daily basis, THEN i'll be worried. Until then, i'll close all doors to the panic button. Dubnyk just needs to fix his head, that's what I think is screwing him right now.

And as we all know...

There is plenty to be said about the mental side of the game, and if there's a great example of how it can affect an athlete's play, it's Tiger Woods. Wife catches him cheating, leaves him... so does his game. It's taken him forever just to get back his world no.1 ranking and still hasn't won a major.

While I don't think anything like this has happened to Dubnyk, the possibility is there. Like I said, if he's still playing like a DUD after 20 games, maybe i'll worry. But until then, I'm not panicking.

SIDENOTE: I wonder if Dubnyk freaked out when he saw the Oil try and get Schneider. Hope not.

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#55 Loweblows
October 15 2013, 07:01AM
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Kleptoklown-refresh my memory-how many cups has vancouver won?

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#56 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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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 Bryan in SK
October 14 2013, 10:39PM
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Dear hockey gods:

Since it is apparent that no matter what, you will not allow the Oilers to win, can you at least please make Toronto go back to the abyss as well? Some of us Oiler fans have to work alongside Leaf zealots, and it's getting to be a little too much to handle. It's bad enough to feel sick to my stomach during my own team's games. It's another thing altogether to want to vomit every time Mr. Maple Leaf just happens to wander by. Just make the Leafs lose so that buddy will crawl back into his crevice, please. Please?

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#61 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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#62 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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#63 6 ring circus
October 14 2013, 11:34PM
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Damm rights I am Frustrated!!! I am sick and tired of this garbage year after year,our billionaire owner seems to not hold anyone accountable on his management team about this mess we are in.We have been out of the playoffs for 7 years and if this keeps up we will be at 8 years.As a long time season ticket holder I want accountability and improvement, I've had enough of this Circus.Katz can start showing he cares about the Oiler's and start by firing his buddies K Lowe and Buchberger.

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#64 Muji
October 14 2013, 11:53PM
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- Play Yak
- Be better defensively (forwards, defence, and goaltending)

That's it. We're not far off. Gotta keep positive. Keep pushing.

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#65 lolhockey
October 15 2013, 12:04AM
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When Katz finally decides to fire Lowe and then immediately hire Messier, I won't know whether I should laugh or cry.

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#66 **
October 15 2013, 12:18AM
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I think the time to replace Dubnyk has passed. The decision was made in the summer to keep him (albeit it might have been the default decision, since the trades didn't materialize) and now they have to ride him out. There is no goaltender out there that truly guarantees an solid step up on Dubnyk who would come to Edmonton without gutting an important piece of the team. The best solution right now would be to add at least one solid top 3 defenceman. That trade would be easier to make because the team has a suprlus of defensive prospects and Hemsky has shown he's in top form to contribute offensively. His defensive game still sucks (-7 I think so far) but on a team needing offense (the predators maybe) a trade could happen.

The team is stuck with Dubnyk at least until January.

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#67 Reinman
October 15 2013, 06:44AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

2) The Oilers have already recalled Philip Larsen. I'd be good with him playing in place of, well, either Schultz tomorrow.

3) I thought Yakupov should have played tonight.

4) Maybe, but the only way to squeeze them in is to abandon Eakins' ideal fourth line.

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.

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#68 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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#69 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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#70 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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#71 Butters
October 14 2013, 11:24PM
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@Cowbell_Feva "How could management not look into a Corey Schneider?" They did. YVR wouldn't take our 1st round pick. They wanted more for trading him within their division and opted for NJ's later pick.

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#72 Marshall Law
October 14 2013, 11:43PM
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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...

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#73 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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#74 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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#75 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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#76 KleptoKlown
October 15 2013, 01:15AM
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At least Yaks had a good game...oh wait.

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#77 Manfly
October 15 2013, 07:20AM
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Reinman wrote:

Did that make you feel better about yourself?

Canuck fans are some of the most insecure in the league.

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#78 vetinari
October 15 2013, 07:22AM
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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"

@KK - don't you have riot to return to?

As for the article, yes, we've heard over and over about the small sample size and extrapolating but isn't that a bit of understatement? Wasn't upgrading goaltending and team defence a huge issue going into this season ? This is just the result of years of neglect by Tambi and MacT focusing on what he thinks he has the power to fix without burning major assets (ie. the fourth line). It is like putting new tires on your car when the axel is broken-- not what you should be focusing on.

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#79 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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#80 gr8one
October 15 2013, 07:47AM
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I don't have a problem with Yakupov being benched per se, I do have issues with other players playing worse and/or doing things that Yakupov does with seemingly little consequences,

To my eye Eberle played even worse than Yakupov with less effort prior to the game vs the Leafs.

Jultz too...in my mind he was easily the top candidate to be sat.

The reasons the coach alluded to Yakupov being benched? "more of a team game" "must stop trying to take on the whole team"(paraphrasing).

Which happen to be the exact same knocks on Hall...and geezus that toe drag move is getting ridiculous.

I'm not saying Hall should be benched, I just don't get why you'd single out one of the youngest potentially most mentally fragile players(because of his youth) in yak when there are other players you could challenge.

I know this is the paranoia coming out in me, but does anyone think the real reason for his benching is there is a trade on the table they're trying to finalize and don't want another Souray breaking his hand incident? My gawd I hope not.

On a positive note regarding last nights game, who didn't love uncle Yessy's wry smile after he witnessed Mike Green's epic "line change"?

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#81 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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#82 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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#83 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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#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 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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#86 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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#87 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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#88 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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