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, 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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#101 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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#102 Cubsfan
October 14 2013, 06:32PM
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awful!

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#103 JJ
October 14 2013, 06:48PM
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Can someone tell me why we didn't bother trading Yak for Seguin over the summer and trade Snowpants for a goalie?

Just imagine if we had

Hall - Seguin - Hemsky

Perron - Nuge - Eberle

instead.

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#104 madjam
October 14 2013, 06:52PM
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Penalty kill with AHL personnel , no wonder we are 24th and dropping on PK . Eakins seems and trust AHL talent he knows , but does not have a good handle on pur NHL talent . Nor does MacT. if he felt we could win filling from within .

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#105 Spydyr
October 14 2013, 07:44PM
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From September 18 2013, 07:05AM

"Eakins will make it all better. Just like the three coaches in three years before him. It is different this time.

Enjoy your kool-aid.

Unless the players buy in Eakin's will be gone in short order also."

It got trashed.

September 18 2013, 08:49AM

I would like to think that too. Here is to hoping that this year will be better than the last seven. It is the time of year to sell hope. The team said the same thing the last three coaches. This is the guy to turn things around. I love the Oilers but I'm tired of getting smoke blown up my butt every fall. Obviously some people are not tired of it yet.

Also trashed.

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#106 k
October 14 2013, 08:55PM
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Alsker wrote:

True but with average goalies we would have has a spot wrapped up by xmas, not to mention anything prior to Sir 6RINGS taking charge doesn't matter, didnt you get his email regarding this.

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.

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#107 Alsker
October 14 2013, 09:02PM
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Jeffff wrote:

I'm sure panic has set in, but don't worry Dubnyk maybe the only underrated player on the Oilers

And I thought Ive had too much rum!!!

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#108 Alsker
October 14 2013, 09:12PM
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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....

Sounds awesome except im pretty sure Lowe is Katz's sith lord in training and will never be replaced until such time that his abilities can be put to use ruining something far greater than a professional sports team...wait till Katz goes into politics..

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#109 Greg
October 14 2013, 09:36PM
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K_Mart wrote:

I know strudwick is tearing us apart right now, I know the score was 4-2. But I thought we were the better team. I'd argue that other than the Vancouver game, we were as good, if not better, than the opposition in every game.

this is the results business. enough saying we're better than the record shows.

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#110 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
October 14 2013, 10:18PM
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As a 2nd tier fan I am wondering if the fans who count are seeing the team win? just wondering.

FIRE LOWE FIRE LOWE FIRE LOWE

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#111 SLURVE
October 14 2013, 10:27PM
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One must wonder if MacT caused the demise of Dubnyk with his attempt to acquire Schenider in the June's entry draft. By trying to make a bold move, it started Dubnyk to question his worth and thereby creating doubts and questions. Now the team is struggling, this has a snow ball effect further dropping Dubnyk's confidence and all the while hearing MacT voice in his head "Schneider,Schenider..."

It is somewhat dumbfounded for MacT to pursue Schneider last June given Dubnyk had respectable numbers behind a porous defence last season.

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#112 Devolution
October 14 2013, 10:32PM
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DSF wrote:

Don't really care what you feed.

I'll just keep feeding you the facts.

DSF

I agree that you put up the occasional thought provoking stat, and I have refrained from engaging with you for about three years now but I do have one legitimate question for you.

Why do you come here?

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#113 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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#114 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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#115 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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#116 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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#117 hemi
October 14 2013, 01:39PM
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Damn the numbers! Player's pride has to be considered here at some point. Oil will win it 3-2. Can't help myself, Years of support just can't be washed away. Go OIL Go!

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#118 DSF
October 14 2013, 01:57PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

And I always thought corsi was the island Napoleon was exiled to...

Elba.

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#119 DSF
October 14 2013, 02:14PM
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Butters wrote:

@ oilersseasonseatholdersince99 Actually the Oilers usually start better than this and then slide into the abyss.

Due to the Leap Year in 2012...the Abyss arrived early this season.

According to the Sports Club Stats, the Oilers currently have a 21.6 percent chance of making the playoffs.

If they lose to Washington tonight, that drops to 18.4%.

A loss to Pittsburgh gets that down to 15%.

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#120 K_Mart
October 14 2013, 03:58PM
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If they have a trade in place involving yak it had better involve either one of the 15 best d men under 30 or 10 best goalies under 30. I doubt either of those to be the case.

I'd be extremely surprised if MacT trades last year's leading scorer for the oilers. He's only played 4 games this year, MacT would be off his rocker if he reacted this early. 25 games in... Fine. But right now? No way.

Hemsky is 30, Yak is 20. Right now Hemsky is outplaying Yak and deserves the better minutes, but I'd be blown away if that trend continued passed the 25-30 game mark.

Yak is simply too talented to slump for more than 20 games. Remember, even players like Crosby have long droughts. Yak will still finish the season with 55+ pts.

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#121 Alsker
October 14 2013, 07:53PM
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wow..glad I had to save my neighbour from himself after the first. 3 goals in 4 min in the 2nd. Are we cursed: Eakins 6th coach in 10 yrs.,JJ first #6 since Beuk.(I think), and Klowes 6 rings= 666, that explains everything. Zombie apocalypse is upon us. Ok back to the rum and my favorite paperbag.

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#122 el presidente
October 14 2013, 08:20PM
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YYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAKKKKKUUUUUUUUUPOOOOOOOVVVVV!!!!!!!

that is all.

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#123 k
October 14 2013, 08:37PM
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If we're being honest it's more like 20 years that we've been sh*tty. I'll give 2006 but we didn't get into the playoffs until the last day of the season.

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#124 Batfink
October 14 2013, 09:26PM
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When you are a coach and you make a questionable cut and you are WINNING, then you can give pressers like Eakins. HE hasn't made the hard yards yet, and he's acting like Mike Babcock. Eakins, you expected the players to adapt to your systems. Did you truly believe the rest of the NHL wouldn't?

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#125 K_Mart
October 14 2013, 09:33PM
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I know strudwick is tearing us apart right now, I know the score was 4-2. But I thought we were the better team. I'd argue that other than the Vancouver game, we were as good, if not better, than the opposition in every game.

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#126 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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#127 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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#128 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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#129 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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#130 Bleedingoil
October 14 2013, 02:53PM
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Butters wrote:

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.

Either they already have a trade in place for yakupov, or they are showcasing ebs and or hemsky. Didnt think it was rocket surgery. And yes, he is tradeable. He and schultz both need new contracts and nurse will be ready too. Too many contracts of high value. Someone has to go.

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#131 nick
October 14 2013, 03:59PM
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@madjam

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

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#132 washed up
October 14 2013, 04:47PM
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Not seeing much love for the Oilers from sportsnet guys.

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#133 Clyde Frog
October 14 2013, 05:26PM
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Geez DSF I hate it when your right...

We are just getting buried...

Oh wait Boyd GOOOOOOOOoooooooooordon!

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#134 Mikey
October 14 2013, 05:31PM
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I never understood corsi, but after DSF told me Washington was a corsi monster, I now understand what corsi means. #corsi #smallsamplesize ##aregay #whycantistop #pleasehelp

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#135 Dangilitis
October 14 2013, 05:45PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Geez DSF I hate it when your right...

We are just getting buried...

Oh wait Boyd GOOOOOOOOoooooooooordon!

Most of us humans are capable of emotions, and are embarrassed when we make bold predictions that don't pan out. Not DSF, he just keeps on ticking...

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#136 emonkee
October 14 2013, 06:34PM
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please don't tell me about Corsi and all those craps...we outshot the WSH so far, so what...

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#137 Hayek
October 14 2013, 06:45PM
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Not like he's terrible, but maybe it's time to play RNH a little less, and Arcobello a little more. Just watching the play, Arcobello is amazing at setting up linemates, and is great at entering the zone with control.

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#138 Newj
October 14 2013, 06:49PM
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RNH, Hall & Hemsky are a horrible line combination, especially at even strength.

Smyth & Arcabello are 2/3's of the 2nd PP unit?

This team is barely treading water. Here's to hoping for another miracuous 3rd period.

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#139 Harry
October 14 2013, 06:51PM
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Can someone look up and tell me what the record is for the most games lost after scoring the first goal in a single season? Thank you in advance

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#140 DSF
October 14 2013, 08:18PM
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Ivan Drago wrote:

No he's not worth zero. You are incorrect. Giving up an asset for nothing is bad management. He can be signed and then traded for something of value. If you bought hemsky out this summer, who would you have spent the money on? How do you know if they would even sign here? How is that an on ice net positive?

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.

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#141 clyde
October 14 2013, 09:59PM
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Batfink wrote:

When you are a coach and you make a questionable cut and you are WINNING, then you can give pressers like Eakins. HE hasn't made the hard yards yet, and he's acting like Mike Babcock. Eakins, you expected the players to adapt to your systems. Did you truly believe the rest of the NHL wouldn't?

Doesn't seem like these players will accept any coaching or structure.

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#142 K_Mart
October 14 2013, 10:32PM
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Greg wrote:

this is the results business. enough saying we're better than the record shows.

I think we're better than a 1-4-1 record. So that's what I'll say. You're right, now matter how good fans may say the team is playing, if we are out of the playoffs... well, we are out of the playoffs. That's all that matters.

But based on what I've seen, I believe this will be a .500, or very close to .500, hockey team by the end of 82 games, and right there in the playoff hunt.

Do you honestly believe our .839 sv% will continue? That is a stat that is simply too horrid to do anything other than get better.

Again, I realize this is a results oriented business and regardless of how things look, if the w's don't show up, the rest is a moot point.

But if this team continues to play as good as it has so far(even with all the mistakes) they will be at, or around, the playoff cut line.

Some of the breakdowns have been bad(Jultz jumps up in the play too early on the Laich play), but there's been far fewer than last year. The turnovers are still there, the mental breakdowns are still there, but they aren't happening as often(by my eye). Besides, all teams have breakdowns every game, not just us. So, it really sucks to have a 1-4-1 record, but it's still too early to panic.

From what I've seen, if our goalies had posted a .900 save% or better instead of a .839 sv% out of the gate for the first 6 games, everyone is singing a different tune.

It's an 82 game season, there will be slumps and winning streaks. They are always magnified in either direction at the beginning of the season, so naturally this slump looks that much worse.

I'll gladly eat crow if we aren't .500 by the 41 game mark.

We are 29th in GAA and 30th in sv%. After seeing Dubnyk play himself into the top 15 for starters in the league for 2 years, I can't see him being the 30th ranked goalie. Sure he could have a bad year, but that would mean finishing maybe 16-24th, not 30th. 30th would be a complete meltdown. Which is very unlikely.

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#143 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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#144 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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#145 BleedingOil
October 14 2013, 12:36PM
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wonder if Yak would be a good fit in Mtl?

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#146 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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#147 DSF
October 14 2013, 01:26PM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

nice troll.

You'll see.

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#148 Harry
October 14 2013, 01:32PM
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DSF wrote:

6-2 Washington.

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

Oh the corsi!! The corsi!! What about the corsii!!! Then theres the corsu!!!!!!

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#149 Quicksilver ballet
October 14 2013, 01:46PM
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Harry wrote:

Oh the corsi!! The corsi!! What about the corsii!!! Then theres the corsu!!!!!!

Why don't you take your grade 7 education elsewhere and attack people on other forums. Are you banned from HFboards, so you came over here looking to spread your vast fantasy pool'ish knowledge?

Is that all you're here to do. (not really a question because we already know that answer) If you're going to come over here and butt heads, atleast know how to read and write english. Don't you ever get tired of your all too familiar song and dance?

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#150 washed up
October 14 2013, 06:51PM
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I wish someone on the Oilers would one-time the puck. They stop the puck every time giving the goalie a chance to set up for the shot.

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