GDB 6.0: Desperation, this early?

Jonathan Willis
October 14 2013 10:34AM

Yes, it’s far too early in the season to be saying that any of these individual contests are must-win games. It isn’t too early to say the Oilers need to find a way to get some wins. Either fortunately or unfortunately, the situation is much the same in Washington, a team that with a 1-4-0 record is actually a point back of Edmonton.

The Lineup

Once again, Nail Yakupov finds himself on the outs, as per the Oilers’ official Twitter account.

I haven’t seen official word on the defence but assume it remains the same as well, giving the Oilers the following lines for tonight’s game:

  • 1st Line: Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Ales Hemsky
  • 2nd Line: Ryan Smyth – Mark Arcobello – Jordan Eberle
  • 3rd Line: David Perron – Boyd Gordon – Jesse Joensuu
  • 4th Line: Luke Gazdic – Will Acton – Mike Brown
  • 1st Pairing: Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
  • 2nd Pairing: Andrew Ference – Nick Schultz
  • 3rd Pairing: Anton Belov – Justin Schultz
  • Goal: Jason LaBarbera

After the game the third line had against Toronto, I had thought Jesse Joensuu might find his way out of the lineup (or better still, on to the fourth line with Mike Brown the scratch) but evidently the head coach feels either that Yakupov on the bench gives the Oilers the best chance to win or that the young player will benefit from another night off. Neither of those seem like particularly sound beliefs to me, but maybe there’s something else going on here.

Opportunity

There’s a great chance here for Jason LaBarbera to take the starting job and run with it. Career-wise, he’s had very good numbers in the backup role for a few seasons now, but was never going to get another opportunity at the starting job unless fortune intervened; with Devan Dubnyk’s struggles it has. Mathieu Garon’s career was in a very similar spot when he came to Edmonton; he ended up providing pretty good goaltending during the Oilers’ late run in 2007-08.

Another opportunity here is the one being afforded to Mark Arcobello. It’s difficult to see where he fits on the Oilers’ roster moving forward: the fourth line has been handed to big men, Arcobello’s skillset is replicated in the top-nine and Sam Gagner will take back his spot at some point. Arcobello has until Gagner gets back to make it impossible for the Oilers to send him down – or at the very least, to make it impossible that he clears waivers. So far, so good.

Finally, if MacTavish does make a big splash, I expect it to be on defence rather than in goal. With the possible exception of Jeff Petry, this has been a suspect group from day one and while all six guys are NHL players every night some of them seem to be in roles they aren’t able to handle.

Predictions!

Game day prediction: The Oilers lose a tight one in overtime, falling 2-1 to Washington.

Obvious game day prediction: The fourth line plays less than six minutes and gets out-shot and out-chanced badly thanks to one shift where they’re caught against Alexander Ovechkin.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Just like the game in Toronto, this is a back-and-forth affair, but it turns into a goaltending duel. Both teams have struggled between the pipes but the combined save percentage of both goalies on the night ends up in the 0.960 range.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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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#1 Oiler63
October 14 2013, 10:39AM
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let's go OILERS!

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#2 Thumby
October 14 2013, 10:41AM
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What's up with Yak City? 2 games in row is making me skittish.

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#3 Batfink
October 14 2013, 10:41AM
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Desparation is a stinky cologne...

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#4 Retsinnab5
October 14 2013, 10:44AM
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4-1 Edmonton LaBarbera stands on his head.

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#5 srbuhr
October 14 2013, 10:45AM
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Have to agree with you on Joensuu. The third line struggled with Perron not having a good game and Joensuu out a step and tentative. Would have expected Yak to draw back in. Hard not to think there is more to him sitting then performance on the ice.

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#6 sec206
October 14 2013, 10:46AM
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1-3-1

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#7 Oilers42
October 14 2013, 10:49AM
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@Retsinnab5

B.S 6-3 loss

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#8 DSF
October 14 2013, 10:53AM
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6-2 Washington.

Ovechkin singlehandely destroy's the Oilers Corsi and Grabovski bats cleanup.

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#9 Oilcan
October 14 2013, 10:56AM
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I do like how Eakins is deploying his forwards but wouldn't it make sense to put yak on the 4th line at the very least just to have him for the PP I suspect Eakins is doing what is best for yak at this point because surely him over brown makes the most sense.

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#10 steelymac
October 14 2013, 11:00AM
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This may sound DSF-ish but could this not be Oilers propaganda101?Paint the kid as the bad apple so it softens the fans up when your about to trade him.I dont know about you guys but I smell something fishy,is it a coincedence this going on same time as Dubnyk fails to stop the puck.

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#11 james_dean
October 14 2013, 11:03AM
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Retsinnab5 wrote:

4-1 Edmonton LaBarbera stands on his head.

Sounds about right what will have to happen

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#12 Time Travelling Sean
October 14 2013, 11:06AM
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DSF wrote:

6-2 Washington.

Ovechkin singlehandely destroy's the Oilers Corsi and Grabovski bats cleanup.

WTF bro, if your gonna Oiler hate give reasons, tell me why Ovie is going to singlehandely destroy our Corsi, how will he do it? Has he destroyed us in the past? Does he play well against Western Teams playing in the Eastern Conf.? GIMME STATS BRO.

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#13 Rama Lama
October 14 2013, 11:19AM
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@Oilcan

Benching Yaks will solve nothing. The problems on the ice ( no structure in all three zones) is something that all players are struggling with.

Ask yourself honestly do any of the youth so far look like they are better than they were last year? I would have to say that NO one has looked stellar........I have to think that the new system has something to do with this.

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#14 Walter Sobchak
October 14 2013, 11:21AM
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I remember the last time the Oilers played the Capitals, I was actually at the game and Khabibulin stood on his bloody head!!

OV8 hit the post and the cross bar and they should have spanked the Oilers.

Fast forward the Capitals have the same team with upgrade’s and the Oilers have a worse goaltending.

Corsi means nothing if you’re not out chancing the opposition 5x5, I find it hard that the Oilers will somehow out chance the Capitals who will be equally desperate hockey club with arguable better line up, not impossible but unlikely.

Small sample size, but the way the Oilers have played this season, I won’t expect a different result, large sample size, the Oilers defense is still brutal, the 4th line is all AHL players and the same players are still making the same mistakes on forward.

I expect a loss.

4-2 Capitals

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#15 madjam
October 14 2013, 11:22AM
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Happy thanksgiving everyone . Prediction One team is going to serve up a turkey of a game . Hope they put a "shadow" on Ovechkin . Has the makings of a high scoring river hockey game . Willis might be right and each team will play a boring 2-1 game into overtime . Like Western clubs over the overrated Eastern clubs and Eastern media . We could steal the next two games , as they will be underestimating us . Fast starts required in both games .

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#16 nunyour
October 14 2013, 11:28AM
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That ad is off side for me.

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#17 DSF
October 14 2013, 11:28AM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

WTF bro, if your gonna Oiler hate give reasons, tell me why Ovie is going to singlehandely destroy our Corsi, how will he do it? Has he destroyed us in the past? Does he play well against Western Teams playing in the Eastern Conf.? GIMME STATS BRO.

Ovechkin, as always, leads the NHL in shots.

He has 38 shots in 5 games

David Perron leads the Oilers with 17 shots.

The Capitals are averaging 34 S/G while the Oilers are averaging 29.4.

Two of the Capitals 5 games have been against Chicago and Colorado.

Chicago was able to limit the Caps to 32 SOG

In the Colorado game, the Caps outshot the Avalanche 41-28 but managed to lose 5-1 because of other worldly goaltending.

The Caps SOG through 5 games:

@ Chicago - 32

vs. Calgary - 39

@ Dallas - 26

vs. Carolina - 32

vs. Colorado - 41

In other words, the Caps are averaging 37 SOG at home and I would think it's reasonable to wager they'll get close to 40 SOG tonight versus the Oilers.

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#18 Ray
October 14 2013, 11:35AM
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No wonder yak is pissed!!!! Ryan Smyth on 2nd line????i think Eakins is doing a lot of typical rookie mistakes! Put him with some talent.......I would of benched j.schulz before yak!!! Eakins came in with this mantra about fitness..ladidadida.....Fire the whole bunch!..starting with K. Lowe!!!!

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#19 WhattaMike
October 14 2013, 11:37AM
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I am one who is willing to understand that Yak sits one more game to cool off and see things from the pressbox...but this kid cant be sitting too much. He is elite, he scores, and he needs to play period...just lioke when Hall, Ebs and RNH were allowed to keep playinbg thru their first couple seasons. Also, the Oilers must know that this kid needs to be matched with a playmaker like RNH and/or Gagner when he comes back....not pluggers. Arco could even play with Yak as he passes excellently and can skate very well too.

I for one can see Arco staying when Gags comes back rather than Acton despite the latter being a bigger player...for now. Arco is way better putting up pts and is at a higher faceoff winning clip than Acton.

As for defence, I can see that MacT loaded up on passing skating defencemen which is good for assets but the Oilers need to make a type trade deal for one big mean guy and say...another deal to swing a package for a #1 type goalie. IMO...Dubnyk is going to have too much peaks and valleys again this year which is an unstable situation gearing up for the whole year/season. I'm one Oilers' fan who does not want to see the playoffs missed again and/ or see that excuses are made like ..."We gave our defence and Dubnyk the whole year to work it all out but sorry folks it wasnt meant to be....we will work harder to make the playoffs next year."

I hope Dubnyk gets back on track right now and I am pulling for him... but one or two more games like the four he just played (in the next four future games type thing) and I will be stating posts for a new goalie.

Sounds like I am having a fan opinion tantrum but then again I have always cheered for this team since 79-80 and even thru the last 7 years as well.

I think I've earned the right to cheer more and to also complain as well.

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#20 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
October 14 2013, 11:42AM
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DSF wrote:

Ovechkin, as always, leads the NHL in shots.

He has 38 shots in 5 games

David Perron leads the Oilers with 17 shots.

The Capitals are averaging 34 S/G while the Oilers are averaging 29.4.

Two of the Capitals 5 games have been against Chicago and Colorado.

Chicago was able to limit the Caps to 32 SOG

In the Colorado game, the Caps outshot the Avalanche 41-28 but managed to lose 5-1 because of other worldly goaltending.

The Caps SOG through 5 games:

@ Chicago - 32

vs. Calgary - 39

@ Dallas - 26

vs. Carolina - 32

vs. Colorado - 41

In other words, the Caps are averaging 37 SOG at home and I would think it's reasonable to wager they'll get close to 40 SOG tonight versus the Oilers.

I want MORE stats!

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#21 Mikey
October 14 2013, 11:43AM
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Rama Lama wrote:

Benching Yaks will solve nothing. The problems on the ice ( no structure in all three zones) is something that all players are struggling with.

Ask yourself honestly do any of the youth so far look like they are better than they were last year? I would have to say that NO one has looked stellar........I have to think that the new system has something to do with this.

Yep you blamed the system last year, might as well stick to the same line. I wonder did you complain about Rennys system too?

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#22 match16
October 14 2013, 11:45AM
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I really hope Eakins put Yak in the pressbox so he can really observe Ovie's gameplay and pick up a thing or two.

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#23 Ryan
October 14 2013, 11:46AM
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I don't like sitting yakapov when we are playing his idol probably. Let the kid go head to head against ovechkin. I can understand keeping smyth in , the guy is battling hard. Jonenseau had a horrible game and doesn't deserve to play. Using Mac t's words" he was a non factor at best". I just don't see why you sit yakapov again unless it's for a different reason. Is this Mac t's big move ? Is a trade coming?

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#24 Hayek
October 14 2013, 11:48AM
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How do you think Yakupov feels when he is benched for 2 games, while players such as Mike Brown and Gadzic have played every game while doing nothing for the team. Those 2 think the game is to run around and hit everything that moves, while getting outshot like crazy, and have zero ability to create offence. Is this what Eakins is benching Yakupov for?

Gimmie a break, us Oilers fans deserve better.

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#25 jmang
October 14 2013, 11:50AM
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steelymac wrote:

This may sound DSF-ish but could this not be Oilers propaganda101?Paint the kid as the bad apple so it softens the fans up when your about to trade him.I dont know about you guys but I smell something fishy,is it a coincedence this going on same time as Dubnyk fails to stop the puck.

This isn't a matter of propaganda or scapegoating. no one ever blamed yak for the losses. Yak was scratched in hope he would wake up and realize what he needs to improve and that he needs to back check and be a team player.

Did you read his quotes yesterday after Eakins talked to him. He doesn't want to change his game. he likes to play with the puck, he doesn't like to skate without it, or forecheck, or check players. its not his game and he isn't gonna change.

Now that attitude no doubt is having him sit another gme because he obviously took being sat the wrong way. he needs to stop thanking he is the team and learn to be a teamplayer and commit to the system. if he doesn't do that, we have no fear in trading him.

I was very against trading him originally but with this attitude he has nothing to offer this team. Im staring to expect him to leave for Russia.

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#26 Rama Lama
October 14 2013, 11:51AM
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Mikey wrote:

Yep you blamed the system last year, might as well stick to the same line. I wonder did you complain about Rennys system too?

I would welcome back Renny's system over this system, and apologize to Renny.........I'm always critical of the coach as they usually orchestrate the proceedings. Criticism comes with the job.

I would remind you that Renny had a lot less to work with than Dallas and achieved better results.

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#27 DoubleJ
October 14 2013, 11:52AM
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This is ridiculous, Eakins needs to quit trying to so hard to stand out. "I'll make Smyth and Hemsky relevant." Eakins has gone out of his way to pump Hemsky's tires right from day one. Was he told to? The whole Hall at center was a good idea. Maybe put some real players beside him so he could actually succeed. Eakin never even tried during preseason to put someone else with Hall. Hemsky has played good. But he's also getting all the great zone starts as well. How has Eakins played Yak? Since day one he's put Yak on the third line. What normal coach does this? Smyth is 30 seconds behind on every rush. IMO Eakins needs to quit trying to make headlines with his "amazing new techniques" and actually give the best player the best chance for success.

Stop trying to change the world. You freaking weirdo and get a hair cut.

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#28 DoubleJ
October 14 2013, 11:54AM
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I don't understand when I actually type these remarks I put them in paragraphs to space it out for easier reading. I hit enter it comes out in one big paragraph. Why?

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#29 madjam
October 14 2013, 11:56AM
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Two more losses in a row here , and we could see Eakins gone before we see any players traded or gone . Eakins prefers Brown above Yak apparently . I don't mind seeing the coach replaced , before any players at this stage . Results are in and mounting negatively . Are we as bad as Eakins is making us look ?

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#30 DSF
October 14 2013, 11:56AM
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Max Powers - Team HME Evans wrote:

I want MORE stats!

Here ya go:

More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month

Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year

100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute

70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US

YouTube is localized in 56 countries and across 61 languages

According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network

Millions of subscriptions happen each day, and the number of people subscribing has more than doubled since last year

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#31 Rob...
October 14 2013, 12:15PM
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Keeping Yak out against one of his idols is a horrible decision by a coach who tried to suggest this summer that he'll get to know each of his players and what motivates them.

F'n bush league decision.

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#32 Pucker
October 14 2013, 12:25PM
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I think anyone that replies to a DSF post should automatically get trashed.

Now I'm going to trash myself.

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#33 YFC Prez
October 14 2013, 12:32PM
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@Rob...

Maybe getting benched against the leafs and watching his Idol play from the press box will motivate Yakupov. I want to see how he plays when he comes back.

I also have a feeling there is going to be a lot of healthy scratches this year.

At least the standard expectations on these players is finally being raised.

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#34 Dog Train
October 14 2013, 12:32PM
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This Thanksgiving, all I want to be thankful for is a win. Just one win so everybody can chill out on the pissing and moaning for roughly 24 hours until Sid the Kid lights us up.

Labarbera gives us our first decent display of goaltending this season and the Oilers win 4-2.

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#35 BleedingOil
October 14 2013, 12:36PM
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wonder if Yak would be a good fit in Mtl?

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#36 Johe
October 14 2013, 12:37PM
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Did someone really just say Renney achieved better results than Eakins? The Renney who led this team to 30th and 29th place finishes? Have we already turned on a guy 5 games into his NHL coaching career? I sure hope the Oilers win tonight, if for no other reason than that stupid comments will slow done for a few hours.

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#37 Johe
October 14 2013, 12:40PM
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BleedingOil wrote:

wonder if Yak would be a good fit in Mtl?

Yak for Galchenyuk?

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#38 DSF
October 14 2013, 12:48PM
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Johe wrote:

Yak for Galchenyuk?

Why would Montreal do this?

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#39 Quicksilver ballet
October 14 2013, 12:50PM
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If there was ever a self induced form of desperation, this is it.

Oiler fans are being distracted by this Yakupov to the press box debacle. They're probably trying to soil his image because he's asked to be traded. Eakins could be acting on orders from above to help take the pressure off management. Nail confirms it on twitter in the next couple weeks.

Capitals 6 Oilers zip, in a shootin fish in a barrel special.

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#40 D
October 14 2013, 12:53PM
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DoubleJ wrote:

I don't understand when I actually type these remarks I put them in paragraphs to space it out for easier reading. I hit enter it comes out in one big paragraph. Why?

It's sometimes a problem with the html tags on the site. To get around the issue, after you enter your comment, click "edit" and then manually insert paragraph tags in the places where you want to delineate between paragraphs.

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#41 Johe
October 14 2013, 12:55PM
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DSF wrote:

Why would Montreal do this?

'Twas supposed to be funny. Are you not laughing? :)

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#42 Quicksilver ballet
October 14 2013, 01:02PM
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Eakins 3 scoring lines has fallen way short. Yak starts on the third line with nobodies and struggles. Now it appears to be Perrons turn.

Fire this all hat, no cattle coach now, before it's too late.

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#43 bulldog12
October 14 2013, 01:05PM
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Wow 4 games in we're ready to fire the coach goaltender defense Yak sitting is his own doing and it won't hurt him Not playing with good players is crap Gordon and Perron are playing well and that's where Yak will play when he gets back in the lineup There's going to be more guys not happy about sitting when Gagner comes back How do you take Acrobello out of the line up with his points plus minus and face off percentage

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#44 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 01:09PM
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GDP of 2-1 oil win? Put down the crack pipe.

Three to teams are amoung the top for GA. Not sure what the total goal o/u is but it should be at least 8.

6-3 Washington - with the oil never really in it and getting picked apart on defense. Labarbera will not be at fault - with shots well north of forty for wash.

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#45 Hayek
October 14 2013, 01:10PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Eakins 3 scoring lines has fallen way short. Yak starts on the third line with nobodies and struggles. Now it appears to be Perrons turn.

Fire this all hat, no cattle coach now, before it's too late.

Yak has not struggled.

2nd on team in outshooting the opposition, and 2nd on team in scoring chances. Confused on why some people have said he has struggled?

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#46 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 01:11PM
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@DSF

"Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year"

And less than one in hundred spent doing something productive. And none of it is porn. The horror.

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#47 Slats
October 14 2013, 01:14PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

If there was ever a self induced form of desperation, this is it.

Oiler fans are being distracted by this Yakupov to the press box debacle. They're probably trying to soil his image because he's asked to be traded. Eakins could be acting on orders from above to help take the pressure off management. Nail confirms it on twitter in the next couple weeks.

Capitals 6 Oilers zip, in a shootin fish in a barrel special.

I agree. Goal scoring is not our issue - defence, goaltending and play without the puck is.

We should be more concerned about the D-pairings and what we should be doing against the OV.

Ference has struggled and the experiment with Schulz Jr is a fail - I would put him with Petry or Smid and get him settled back into playing more "basic d-coverage".

Have 2 centreman on every dzone draw and make sure we get that puck.

and Pray for Barbie. . . .

4-2(EN)Oil

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#48 Slats
October 14 2013, 01:15PM
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Hayek wrote:

Yak has not struggled.

2nd on team in outshooting the opposition, and 2nd on team in scoring chances. Confused on why some people have said he has struggled?

0 pts

poor play without the puck

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#49 HardBoiledOil
October 14 2013, 01:25PM
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DSF wrote:

6-2 Washington.

Ovechkin singlehandely destroy's the Oilers Corsi and Grabovski bats cleanup.

nice troll.

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#50 DSF
October 14 2013, 01:26PM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

nice troll.

You'll see.

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