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, 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 Kevin
October 14 2013, 09:09PM
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6 ring circus wrote:

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

Here here to Klowe he truely is the brains behind toilet bowl teams. Bring on another lottery pick. We need some more skilled smurf forwards to truely round out the top 9.

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#52 Greg the Hammer Valentine
October 14 2013, 09:16PM
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@Greg

What about the usual speech about how we saw a lot of good things in the last game and if we stick to the game plan, wins will eventually come? This kind of talk isn't doin' it for you anymore?

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#53 outdoorzguy
October 14 2013, 09:55PM
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Goodbye Eakins! But the scary thing is MacTavish will be back on the bench. Or worse Lowe (can he screw up any more than he already has by setting the organization back 10 years?) Man this is a terrible organization!

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#54 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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#55 DSF
October 14 2013, 12:48PM
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Johe wrote:

Yak for Galchenyuk?

Why would Montreal do this?

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#56 Bleedingoil
October 14 2013, 02:28PM
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@15w40

Oilers are doing something on right wing. Either trading yakupov or showcasing eberle and hemsky. Either way, something is about to go down. We can't keep all three. They will all fetch a decent goalie and/or a number 1D. Alone or packaged, a trade is in our future.

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#57 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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#58 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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#59 ecompton
October 14 2013, 01:36PM
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Hall is the first start tonight. 2 goals and game winner.

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#60 MessyEH!
October 14 2013, 02:29PM
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Bleedingoil wrote:

Yakupov, first rounder, klefbom and another asset for subban and price.

Norris winner and Vezina finalist for magic beans and Yak.

They wouldn't do that trade for Galchenyk.

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#61 emonkee
October 14 2013, 06:32PM
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1) horrible goaltending! 2) nuge and hall just keep making unnecessary turnovers. Nuge led to WSH's 1st goal, Hall's turnover led to a PP eventually (3rd goal)

This is so frustrating...

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#62 Fab 5
October 14 2013, 06:56PM
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Hayek wrote:

Wow, Oilers are outshooting WSH 19-11. And yet WSH has 4 goals on 11 shots. Could the Oilers be any more unlucky...

or the goalies just suck

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#63 Greg the Hammer Valentine
October 14 2013, 06:59PM
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Rob... wrote:

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.

I couldn't agree more. Eakins decided to make an example out of someone and he chose Yak. Humiliating young players isn't the same thing as being tough.

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#64 Virtual_Xi
October 14 2013, 07:24PM
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the team should hold a players only meeting, accountability is at an all time low right now.

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#65 DSF
October 14 2013, 08:11PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Geez DSF I hate it when your right...

We are just getting buried...

Oh wait Boyd GOOOOOOOOoooooooooordon!

Sorry.

I didn't expect the Caps to come out disinterested in the 1st period.

But they played just well enough to win.

I'm sure the tired Oilers playing Pittsburgh in a back to back will fare much better.

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#66 greg
October 14 2013, 09:11PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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....

i just cant believe how much Lowe has been given here. what has he done? really? last place finishes for hight draft picks. i could have done that... me! for like way less money. seriously i'll do it for like 100k a year (plus a bonus if we pick first again)...

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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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#70 6 ring circus
October 14 2013, 01:51PM
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I don't think the Oiler's are going to fire Eakin's any time soon. After firing their last 3 coaches in the past 4 years maybe coaching isn't the problem in Edmonton. All I know is we are five games in and we are getting the same results as past years, If we continue down this road for the rest of the year, K Lowe and Buchberger need to be shown the door.

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#71 MessyEH!
October 14 2013, 01:59PM
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DSF wrote:

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.

There were alot of us around here who wanted the Oilers to pick Galchenyk.

Hell the trade speculations alone. Subban and 3rd overall for our 1st. (I doubt it was ever real) but if it was, I wouldn't have been surprised to seeTabelloweney turn it down.

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#72 Butters
October 14 2013, 02:41PM
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The Oilers are not trading Yakupov. Showcasing him in the press box would do nothing for his trade value. Trading away a 20 year old who led the Oilers in goals last year? I doubt it.

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#73 madjam
October 14 2013, 07:52PM
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druds wrote:

Oh really kreuger is the answer?...do remeber where we ended up again? spare me Majdam...spare us

Kreugers stats far exceed Eakins for starters . Kreugers system was working for the most part despite the Oilers not giving him an additional coach that he asked for . Yet they do for Eakins . This is a MacT. mistake , and getting rid of Kreuger was not necessary and the results prove I am right ! Do you remember where we were most of last season and was it not above Eakins team that supposed to have even better personnel than last year and one more additional year with youth so called improvement . Some improvement Eakins has provided, right ?

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#74 outdoorzguy
October 14 2013, 09:29PM
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Crappy team! Lousy coach!! Pathetic management team!!!

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

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#76 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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#77 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 01:55PM
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And I always thought corsi was the island Napoleon was exiled to...

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#78 washed up
October 14 2013, 05:46PM
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Eakins should ice 6 skaters. Labarbra is brutal.

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#79 Mikey
October 14 2013, 06:51PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

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

Not really, Washington has 11 shots. They aren't out playing the oilers. The oilers have given up because the goalie can't make a save.

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#80 Freewheeling Freddie
October 14 2013, 06:58PM
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Here we go again. Two goaltenders ranked 30th in the league. Brutal defensive zone coverage. I predicted the Oilers could be out of the playoff race by the end of October. No reason to say this couldn't be reality. Tell me how do Frederic Chabot and Steve Smith still have jobs. This is pathetic .Sitting Yak for 2 games. How about Justin Schultz? JOrdan Eberle?The scouting staff bye bye. No wonder we have 2 losing sports teams cheerleaders at hockey games. And guys on the cheerleading team at football games .Oh well another lottery pick

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#81 Cubsfan
October 14 2013, 07:37PM
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Lofty wrote:

Start watching the Houston Texans. They used to be Oilers and now they only need a starting quarterback to be a contender. Much closer than the Edmonton variety.

Just like we expect Matt Schaub to throw a pick 6, we mow expect Dubnyk and/or LaBarbera to let in 2 easy goals to kill momentum

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#82 Crusty Grit
October 14 2013, 08:41PM
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@k

1990 was a great year. Ranford was awesome. I think that's over 20 years ago.

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#83 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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#84 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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#85 Clayton
October 14 2013, 01:52PM
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Finally someone points out the weak D-Corps on the Oilers. They have no legit Top Pairing. Which means every D-Man is playing two places (or more) up the ladder from where they should be. The Oilers need to find two top DMen or they will be lit up all season...regardless of who is in the net.

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#86 YFC Prez
October 14 2013, 02:01PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Hello Mr Quick. Happy thanksgiving!

Take a quick look at your sentence structure and punctuation on your second sentence in your latest comment.

This is why I never call out grammar issues on a blog comment. We all make our fair share of language faux-pas.

I'm sure there are several mistakes being made as I type this. Let's just all relax !

Enjoy the game and the turkey everyone ! Have a extra shot of rum in your eggnog for me !

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#87 druds
October 14 2013, 05:39PM
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madjam wrote:

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 ?

Oh really kreuger is the answer?...do remeber where we ended up again? spare me Majdam...spare us

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#88 Ivan Drago
October 14 2013, 05:46PM
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nick wrote:

I agree totally. Eakins is a Egomaniac and needs to be let go. He is ruining any chance this team has of getting respectable. You don't bench Yakupov, just a terrible coaching move. This is not the Eakins show, what other coach in the NHL tweets? This guy has got to go and quick

Has an ego, uses Twitter, great reasons to fire a coach.

*facepalm*

As for Yak, just because you disagree with the benching, doesn't mean it's a bad move. Time will tell on that. Dallas is hands with the team and made a decision, what qualifications do you have to say he's wrong?

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#89 Time Travelling Sean
October 14 2013, 06:36PM
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WHAT HAPPENED? WE WERE PLAYING SO WELL, WTF HOCKEY GODS!@!@! IS THIS FOR WINNING THE DRAFT LOTTERY 2 YEARS AGO?????????????????????

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#90 Lofty
October 14 2013, 06:59PM
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Ivan Drago wrote:

Has an ego, uses Twitter, great reasons to fire a coach.

*facepalm*

As for Yak, just because you disagree with the benching, doesn't mean it's a bad move. Time will tell on that. Dallas is hands with the team and made a decision, what qualifications do you have to say he's wrong?

I don't think Eakins should be fired but a 1-4-1 start qualifies any NHL coach for termination. Coaches have been fired for a lot less.

Also, Katz doesn't seem to have a problem with Klowe wasting his money. This makes the firing more plausible. At least Eakins wouldn't hurt the cap.

We'll need more cap space when we trade Yak for a UFA aged player who's career is about to start tracking down. He may still be the best of the 3 1st's. He's only played half a season against men.

J. Schultz is the chip that may need to be cashed. If the year becomes another lost cause, he may be the most expendable with the addition of Nurse. Schultz makes Gilbert look like Sid vicious. He's still a hell of a hockey player but he's a one dimensional player and if you can only play outside your own blue line, you better play forward.

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#91 Katzhater
October 14 2013, 07:21PM
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Fold the team.

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#92 Serious gord
October 14 2013, 07:39PM
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Tonight's game is prima facie evidence that corsi is a gibberish stat.

It is quality scoring chances that matter and wash had far more of those - to my eyes at least - than EDM did.

That and it sure seemed we were out physicalled.

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#93 Ivan Drago
October 14 2013, 08:24PM
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DSF wrote:

Hemsky was offered around the league all summer and no one wanted him and his contract.

He's currently 106th in league scoring and -8.

What else do you need to know.

I don't feed trolls. Move along.

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#94 Alsker
October 14 2013, 08:33PM
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Loweblows wrote:

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.

Hey you found my list from Oct.,'06

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#95 Alsker
October 14 2013, 09:01PM
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k wrote:

I used to watch Lowe on a nightly basis and sadly he wasn't all that. Fans forget how mediocre, middle of the road he really was while playing.

No actually we havent forgotten, it only adds to his whole 6Ring BS., as far as Oiler D-men go he is NOT close to the top of my list.

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#96 madjam
October 14 2013, 09:12PM
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Does plus minus have any relevance ? At -9 Hopkins in 4 games , Smyth@-5 for 5 , hall @6 -7, Hemsky-8 , J.Schultz-6 , Ference -5 , 4 @-3 . On the positive side Arcobello +4 , Eberle +1 same as 4th line . If nothing else , they point to us going in a negstive direction

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#97 Alsker
October 14 2013, 09:36PM
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All these stats(+/-,etc.), system play theories are useless when your SP is in the low 800's. There's no oops's/mulligans when every mistake/turn over, fanned clearing attempt ends up in the twine. It is impossible to truly judge whats happeneing. Yes we all see the mistakes, what we havent figured out is why the mistake was made. Everyone here asks what Eakins system is, well, how can we critique it if we dont understand it. Frustration,irritation, aggrevation, all exceptable: PANIC is not!!! Well not yet anyways. Fix the GAA and someone please figure out and explain this system so we can bitch about it more accurately.

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#98 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 14 2013, 10:25PM
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We're in for one of those WTF games tomorrow. Oilers beat the Pens 5-2 in a head scratcher for the last two points they'll earn on this trip.

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#99 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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#100 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
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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