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.

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
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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#1 Greg
October 14 2013, 08:59PM
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HELP NEEDED: why am i addicted to this Oiler hockey garbage. i feel like i'm in this abusive relationship i cant get out of. why do i continue to watch this. the whole organization is so good at selling this crap. i remember when both Toronto and Edmonton started their rebuilds. we picked Hall and they got Kessel. why oh why are we not on the same level. we've had two more first overall draft picks since then for crying out loud! Brian Burke was right Kevin Lowe is an idiot! we should have fired Lowe and got Burke. because it wont be long before Calgary is kicking out a**! i need to get out and save my dignity. my father in law is a bloody leafs fan and i cant even look him in they eye any more.

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#2 Jay
October 14 2013, 07:25PM
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Next game lets just start with no goalie and 6 skaters. Lets at least have some fun with it

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#3 Jay
October 14 2013, 07:35PM
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Thank god that's over

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#4 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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#5 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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#6 Alsker
October 14 2013, 07:24PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

How long before Oiler fans start wearing paper bags again?

Oh sh*t, does that mean I shouldn't have mine on yet.

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#7 Loweblows
October 14 2013, 08:31PM
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Checklist for monday-get up, get dressed, eat at varios intervals, take dogs for walk, watch oilers lose, go to bed angry. Repeat for 7 years.

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#8 Cowbell_Feva
October 14 2013, 09:08PM
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I haven't seen too many people fantasizing about Hall needing to be on Team Canada for the Winter Olympics. A good ol' dose of reality is starting to set in on those homers that had on the Oiler-goggles during the summer.

Bad Defense. Horrific Goaltending. Soft as butter forwards. Another coach....same sh*t team and people thought they would be a playoff contender. One, if not two of the wonderkids has to go this season to address the Defense/Goaltending fiasco. Time for change was 2 years ago....time for BOLD moves soon because this is becoming an absolute joke for an organization and there's nothing on the horizon to show that it will change.

Kevin Lowe, look in the mirror and step down. MacT get on the phone.

This is agonizing.

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

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#10 Gerry
October 14 2013, 07:11PM
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Kevin Lowe must go.

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#11 Bloodsweatandoil
October 14 2013, 07:24PM
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Imagine what the Penguins are going to do to our current goaltending! Crosby, Malkin and the boys are going to have a "Pad your stats night"... Its now to the point of when you watch on the Animal Channel, 9 lions are swarming a helpless gazelle....the gazelle tries to get up with a lion on its throat, another lion chomping on its legs, it tries to get up, you know it can't, but yet you still cheer for it to get up and try to out run the lions...I am not a bandwagon jumper, but I have lost confidence in our goaltending, I think it is fair to say that they have cost us 3 wins so far.

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#12 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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#13 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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#14 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 14 2013, 06:29PM
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Sweet Jesus do we ever need a couple of goaltenders.

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#15 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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#16 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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#17 Jason
October 14 2013, 06:38PM
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I hope Sam Reinhart is small and soft! He'll fit in good with this group of losers

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#18 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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#19 Fresh Mess
October 14 2013, 06:41PM
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When do Hall and JSchultz get healthy scratched? Or did Eakins mean all players would be treated the same except those two...

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#20 DSF
October 14 2013, 01:46PM
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DonDon wrote:

Why would Edmonton?

To acquire a 6'1" 205 centre who is scoring at 1.4 PPG?

Call me crazy but I'm thinking that type of player would have a lot more value to the Oilers than Yakupov right now.

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#21 15w40
October 14 2013, 02:22PM
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If Eakins doesn't want to loose face, he better be applying the same type of criteria to others besides Yakupov.

If Taylor Hall continues to be a turn over machine will he get sat down.

What about Justin Schultz - he has made some horrendous decisions that have resulted directly in grade A scoring chances against and in some cases in the back of his net, but he continues to get HUGE ice time.

If this is Eakins cherry picking on one player - that is a horrible move that will alienate Yakupov and ultimately could cause further issues.

Again, I am not saying that Eakins doesn't have the right to run his roster how he sees fit, but unless he is prepared to be consistent it will cause more problems then it will help with respect to his credibility.

IMHO

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#22 oilredemption
October 14 2013, 06:41PM
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One word Dallas Eakins... PATHETIC

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#23 TT Boy
October 14 2013, 09:14PM
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What is depressing is that Monahan in Calgary almost has as many points this season as Hall, Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and Yakupov. I thought Mac T said Eakins was the second coming? Feel pretty bad for Kruger really.

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#24 Oiler63
October 14 2013, 10:39AM
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let's go OILERS!

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#25 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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#26 6 ring circus
October 14 2013, 07:21PM
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Daryl wrote:

Ha Ha Ha

Kevin L is must be heavy lugging around that brain of yours?

He has 6 cup ring's he says he knows how to build a champion.The problem is Katz believes him!!!

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#27 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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#28 George
October 14 2013, 07:07PM
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7 YEARS of watching this crap! I've had enough of this pathetic team. I'm gonna start watching the flames

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#29 vetinari
October 14 2013, 07:09PM
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When they come home from this road trip, could we put up some police tape around RX1 and hire someone to stand in front of the stadium on game days and tell fans,

"Move along everyone. Nothing to see here. Your 2013 draft guide is in the mail..."

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#30 Jason
October 14 2013, 07:29PM
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A little early but Oilers have a chance to draft #1 again 2014.

Almost 6 games in and Oiler fans are looking at the 2014 draft.

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#31 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 07:53PM
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So, who do you put in net tomorrow night?

Do you think any of the caps are feeling beat up after that game? Neither do I. The oil is a cream puff team to play against.

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#32 DSF
October 14 2013, 08:06PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

So, who do you put in net tomorrow night?

Do you think any of the caps are feeling beat up after that game? Neither do I. The oil is a cream puff team to play against.

I'd go with Betty White.

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#33 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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#34 djc
October 14 2013, 05:56PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

True that Pres

I've been trying to reinforce just that on that Harry tool. He comes out throwing stones, all while living in a glass house himself. Always see him belittling/attacking other posters here. I don't mind squishing him under my shoe. He's seen it plenty of times before i'm sure.

Awwwwww is Quicky getting mad? It looks like Harry hit a nerve! You didn't like being interrupted and being called out while spewing your typical anti-oilers garbage? Remember when you made fun of Pelss dying? Glass houses, indeed.

Feel free to continue with your tantrum and posting here 100 times a day pretending you know what you are talking about, old man. It doesn't really matter as most of us skip over your comments anyway.

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#35 Oilersfan4
October 14 2013, 06:45PM
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Can we just get rid of every player, get rid of the current management and coaching staff, start out new like an expansion team, have a expansion draft and start this rebuild over again.

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#36 6 ring circus
October 14 2013, 07:19PM
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Is this really happening? After 7 years I am tired of this SH-T already!!! This is Brutal.

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#37 DSF
October 14 2013, 08:33PM
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Ivan Drago wrote:

I don't feed trolls. Move along.

Don't really care what you feed.

I'll just keep feeding you the facts.

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#38 madjam
October 14 2013, 01:52PM
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Kreuger did not have to bench players to motivate them early like Eakins . Yet Kreuger , had us winning for quite a while , not so with Eakins . Coaching is making a difference this year , and it's negative so far, and maybe in need of a fast change ? How much lip stick can one put on our situation ?

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#39 DSF
October 14 2013, 02:06PM
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Butters wrote:

Wut, no Yak again? DSF, does the dark side serve donuts? Asking for a friend.

We actually have a fine selection of scrumptious pastries as well as all the single malt you can drink.

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#40 Ivan Drago
October 14 2013, 05:39PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Once tambellini signed hemsky he became untradable. MacT found that out this summer. What MacT should have done is buy him out.

Yeah that's smart. Not only get nothing for him, PAY to get rid of him. After all these yrs Hemsky is now that bad........wake the eff up buddy.

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#41 Oilersfan4
October 14 2013, 07:31PM
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Look at the good news at lease Labarbera looks better than Dubnyk

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#42 TT Boy
October 14 2013, 09:51PM
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You can all bitch all you want about the goaltending.... And I agree, it stinks BUT we were all fed the Kool-Aid about having an amazing offense. Having a great offense doesn't mean that they outplay the opposition, it means they OUTSCORE the opposition!!

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#43 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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#44 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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#45 Butters
October 14 2013, 01:59PM
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Wut, no Yak again? DSF, does the dark side serve donuts? Asking for a friend.

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#46 Walter Sobchak
October 14 2013, 06:32PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Geez DSF I hate it when your right...

We are just getting buried...

Oh wait Boyd GOOOOOOOOoooooooooordon!

Sometimes it's just best to wait till the game has actually been played.

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#47 Freewheeling Freddie
October 14 2013, 07:01PM
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@jl

Canucks have how many cups? Don't beak until you can at least win one

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#48 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 14 2013, 07:14PM
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How long before Oiler fans start wearing paper bags again?

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#49 Yaz
October 14 2013, 08:47PM
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Groan...will it ever end ? I remember something about the coach saying the Oil would be hard to play against this year. Hard to watch maybe, play against not so much.

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#50 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 09:05PM
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Greg wrote:

HELP NEEDED: why am i addicted to this Oiler hockey garbage. i feel like i'm in this abusive relationship i cant get out of. why do i continue to watch this. the whole organization is so good at selling this crap. i remember when both Toronto and Edmonton started their rebuilds. we picked Hall and they got Kessel. why oh why are we not on the same level. we've had two more first overall draft picks since then for crying out loud! Brian Burke was right Kevin Lowe is an idiot! we should have fired Lowe and got Burke. because it wont be long before Calgary is kicking out a**! i need to get out and save my dignity. my father in law is a bloody leafs fan and i cant even look him in they eye any more.

Come over to the oiler fan dark side - take solace in yet another loss knowing that failure ultimately will force mr Katz' hand and he will fire Lowe and put in a president of hockey ops who is proven nhl quality and who owes nothing to anyone in the organization below him and he can rebuild this joke of a management team root and branch.

At least that's what a dark side oiler fan hopes will happen....

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