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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#201 Vincheese
October 14 2013, 10:17PM
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Looks like Biron is also on waivers.

Could MacT try finding our number one goalie the same way he built the defence? A whole bunch of average goalies vying for the number one spot couldn't be worse.

Eventually, we will need to trade either one of Yak or Ebs for either a number 1 "D" or a real starter.

Dubnyk, wouldn't have the numbers he did is other teams didn't just shoot at will for the last few seasons. He is not the answer--I can't remember the last time he protected a lead in a close game.

I've been about as faithful to the oil as anyone--and I have my bag at the ready. Lowe needs to go!

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#202 Devolution
October 14 2013, 10:41PM
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K_Mart wrote:

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.

I agree with everything except the goaltending situation. I think they have to do something. What that might be is clearly up in the air, AHL assignment, AHL call up, trade, whatever. But as has been pointed out many times in the past, it isn't just that they need to score more goals to win, but you can see how it deflates the team when they carry the play for 10 minutes and then a floated bounces twice and finds five hole.

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#203 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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#204 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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#205 Harlie
October 14 2013, 01:45PM
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DSF wrote:

6-2 Washington.

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

Sounds like a Cheech and Chong movie...the Oilers will be left Up in Smoke.

http://www.impawards.com/1984/cheech_and_chongs_the_corsican_brothers_xlg.html

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#206 madjam
October 14 2013, 02:11PM
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Oilers don't have a few holes to fill up , they got a whole crater full . Have we hit the bottom of this sink hole , yet ? Maybe not ? So much for fast acting MacT..

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#207 Bleedingoil
October 14 2013, 02:21PM
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DonDon wrote:

Why would Edmonton?

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

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#208 Darrell
October 14 2013, 02:23PM
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DSF wrote:

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

If I had a backbone I would join you DSF. Mine was surgically removed watching the Oilers win Cups growing up and am now banish for a life from leaving the bandwagon - it's turning into a sad story actually ...

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#209 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 14 2013, 04:03PM
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6-3 Oil. Gordon two goals.

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#210 Wax Man Riley
October 14 2013, 04:26PM
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Serious gord wrote:

One of my faves is this one:

http://www.aberlour.com/en/therange/aberlour16yearold

I will be imbibing about three or more fingers of it during the game (with just a sprinkle of distilled spring water to open it up). Cheers

Delicious

I have always drank my scotch neat, but just recently was introduced to a couple drops of water, and is that ever nice.

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#211 Greg the Hammer Valentine
October 14 2013, 07:11PM
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Just out of curiosity, does anybody remember what was Barry Melrose's record when he was fired by the Lightning?

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#212 Lofty
October 14 2013, 07:13PM
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George wrote:

7 YEARS of watching this crap! I've had enough of this pathetic team. I'm gonna start watching the flames

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.

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#213 Alsker
October 14 2013, 08:14PM
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DSF wrote:

I'd go with Betty White.

So you'd do Betty White, eh well..(ok wanye leaned over my shoulder and said dont go there), personally ask the players..who are they more comfortable with...if we,re calling a players meeting already than this should be a topic up for debate. If "none of the above" is the answer call someone up from OKC + send Dubnyk down for conditioning.

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#214 china town man
October 14 2013, 08:44PM
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Maybe next game we should pull the goalie After the first minute, have 6 players instead of 5, or find a goalie whose can stop the fricken puck!!! Time to panic Ahh..... yes calgary sucks and they are better than the oilers!!!!

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#215 grumpyKoala
October 14 2013, 08:45PM
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@emonkee

If you watch hall on the 3rd goal he looking like making all he can so he wont interfere with the play

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#216 Greg
October 14 2013, 09:20PM
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@Greg the Hammer Valentine

maybe... i think they might be turning the corner here. i'll have to tune in next time. i might not even be addicted to oiler hockey here. it might be the Gene "Principeisims"... no matter how bad the hockey is we will always have that

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#217 Russ99
October 14 2013, 10:17PM
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clyde wrote:

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

I don't think that's the case, but when players who have had success at the NHL level are told that they can't play that way anymore and have to change to a defense-first puck control system, you can see why.

Eakins seems like a good coach, but this isn't the AHL, he needs to adapt to the players as much as the players need to adapt to him. That my way or the highway act won't fly in the bigs.

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#218 Fresh Mess
October 14 2013, 10:53PM
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Devolution wrote:

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?

Probably same reason I do. Was a die hard oiler fan for decades, before weening myself off the koolaid. I still like to follow several teams more in depth and come here hoping for some interesting news..

It is a bit hard to stomach some of the delusional fangirls though. Some people are fans of a team rather than of the sport, and are useless to have rational discussion with. There is still a lot of good stuff here from time to time.

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#219 The Last Big Bear
October 14 2013, 11:36PM
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I have no consolation for you Oilers fans. It is as bad as you think it is.

I think dumping Dubnyk in a panic trade would be a very very bad decision, but it is a distinct possibility. MacT's decisions have not been very predictable so far.

Like I said, I have no consolation for you.

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#220 Sidney Frosby
October 14 2013, 11:40PM
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Freightening that the coach seems fit to play the 4th line against oveshkin's line....

I felt that Yaks would have a good game against his counterpart Ovi tonight ....had he played...benched for second game while J.shultz continues his horrific defensive play...

Starts the 3rd with the 4th line.... Continually plays Brown in place of Eager...Eager has at least scored 10 goals in an Nhl season...

Our PK is terrible as "skilled forwards are being used' and not penalty killers ( if we have any) ... It would be understandable if we needed to use Hall and Hemsky on the PK to keep them in the game or get some offence when we are down 4-1... But our first PK of the night looked like our first line....

The coach is trying a system that doesn't work unless you have Toews, Kopitar, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Richards..... We have one way scoters for the most part.. RNH, Gags, Hall, and Perron make sense on the PK.... Hemsky and Eberle don't

Poor coaching inToronto game, even more poor coaching in this game....

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

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#222 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 03:57PM
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bleedingoil wrote:

I believe they were trying to trade Hemmer all summer. Nothing materialized until he could put in a string of healthy, productive games. We are seeing that now and his point production is on point. We have too many top 6 wingers now and do they extend Hemmer and trade Yak, get a deadline deal for Hemmer as a rental, or trade a Top line forward for immediate help? In any scenario, one of our 3 RW are moving on. Our best bet for immediate return of value would be to move Yak or put together a great package deal involving Hemsky

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

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#223 DieHard
October 14 2013, 04:26PM
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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.

You're still an ...

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#224 Wax Man Riley
October 14 2013, 04:35PM
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http://www.glenglassaugh.com/products.php

Scroll down to the 30 year rare cask: got it as a gift after losing a bunch of money in a housing investment lol.

Still haven't opened it, but real cool story about a closed distillery, that after being re-opened, finding casks still aging.

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#225 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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#226 washed up
October 14 2013, 04:47PM
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Not seeing much love for the Oilers from sportsnet guys.

Dam iPhone. Triple post

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#227 Poolanov
October 14 2013, 05:47PM
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Washington not playing desperate hockey at all. Afraid that may change after the intermission lambasting they will no doubt receive.

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#228 Lofty
October 14 2013, 07:04PM
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jl wrote:

I wouldn't call it unlucky so much.

Its more you guys suck . Keep in mind your biggest accomplishment is finishing last back to back years . Drafting first overall and telling everyone wait till next year . Next year is never coming .

Go nucks eat it oiler douche

Back to back to back sounds so much better. If only Columbus didn't rob us of that.

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#229 quinn the eskimo
October 14 2013, 08:20PM
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@Avatarget

That's how I feel about it. Yeah, its terribly disheartening to see those goals go in so easily and I hope the kids don't let it get them down too much or get in the habit of saying 'eff it, why should I try when..' . But the games are much brighter and the forwards are galloping up the ice at every opportunity. Bright lights include Perron, Gordon and the Nuge and i'm hoping Gags comes back with a vengeance. Lots of problems, but still entertained (apart from the depressing, mounting poor record).

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#230 Alsker
October 14 2013, 08:46PM
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k wrote:

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.

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.

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#231 PutzStew
October 14 2013, 08:49PM
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Ivan Drago wrote:

I don't feed trolls. Move along.

I'm shocked you now what food is never mind able to breath. You should here TSN break down Hemsky's game thus far. He's horrible. No wonder no one else wanted him.

Hey DSF. Good on you of not living in 2006. Hemsky=Cancer

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#232 WinterNightSky
October 14 2013, 08:51PM
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Avatarget wrote:

Sigh...its always something. Tonight it was special teams that killed us. Not sure what we are doing different this year on the pk and powerplay but we need to revert to the plan from last year. On a positive note Labarbera was decent in the 3rd period and the boys played a decent game 5 on 5.

You mean play Horcoff as much as possible? Plus Belanger and Jones on the PK?

I still can't believe that we bought out Belanger instead of Eager.

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#233 washed up
October 14 2013, 10:17PM
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@Greg

I made a similar comment 5 or 6 threads ago, and got more trashes then props. Funny what a couple more loses will do to the fan base.

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#234 Mikey
October 14 2013, 11:18PM
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K_Mart wrote:

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.

Interesting. Who are you? Tell Dubnyk to stop thinking, and just play. Hell tell him to go play a drop in game just to have some fun. It looks like he needs to have some fun. I hope he isn't being alienated by the team.

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#235 Devolution
October 14 2013, 11:36PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Probably same reason I do. Was a die hard oiler fan for decades, before weening myself off the koolaid. I still like to follow several teams more in depth and come here hoping for some interesting news..

It is a bit hard to stomach some of the delusional fangirls though. Some people are fans of a team rather than of the sport, and are useless to have rational discussion with. There is still a lot of good stuff here from time to time.

The Oilers are a puzzle though. In 2009 it was obvious why they were bad, they had no good players. Then they had good players but an apparently bad coach. Now? They have pretty good players, Eakins, who I think it a good coach, and they are still bad.

Although, results aside, I do think they are better than they have been. Those horrific defensive lapses are fewer than before.

They should have won more than they have lost this year. Is it time to pull the pin on a goalie trade? I think probably not, but man, it is frustrating.

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#236 #YakCityGettingScrewedOverByCoach&Mgmty
October 14 2013, 11:42PM
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Cowbell_Feva wrote:

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.

cosign

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#237 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 15 2013, 07:25AM
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@DSF

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.

missed on this one big time.

you should have known the oilers would outshoot the mighty caps, only to be let down by goaltending and huge defensive blunders once again.

it is step 4 of the Edmonton Oiler "always suck" handbook. Written by Kevin Lowe, illustrations by Jack Michaels

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

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#239 MessyEH!
October 14 2013, 02:21PM
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I got this as a wedding gift.

It tasted great after the divorce.

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#240 Avatarget
October 14 2013, 08:18PM
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Eureka...it just hit me....the solution to all our problems. Hire Ralph Kruger back as an assistant to run our special teams and Dallas Eakins to run the 5 on 5 play. Or hire Ralph back as head coach and demote Dallas to assistant. As long as we can get a coaching combination that can get this team playing well in all phases of the game. Not sure who we could hire to solve the goaltending problem...but I am damn sure Betty White is not the solution...her reflexes are shot.

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#241 Alsker
October 14 2013, 08:24PM
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DSF wrote:

Players voting on who plays goal is very dangerous territory.

Agreed, but what the hell!! Put up or sit out...it'll never happen BUT should!!!Could solve a lot of issues face to face.

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#242 Alsker
October 14 2013, 08:30PM
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Oiler63 wrote:

How much would it cost to get one of Holtby or Neuvirth?

I heard Jonas Hiller may also be available.

Probably more than they are worth and not sure if we make the cap issue...the answer will have to come from within, either Labababa or Dubbbbbs figuring it out or a call up..it pains me to be back where we were in '05-'06, but so be it.

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#243 Joel k
October 14 2013, 08:59PM
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Can you hear the footsteps?

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#244 Fresh Mess
October 14 2013, 10:40PM
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tried to tell you.

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#245 Devolution
October 14 2013, 10:43PM
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@Devolution

*Edit

and then a floater bounces twice and finds five hole

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#246 jbogus
October 15 2013, 12:46AM
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Long time listener (ok found site last year) and now on the way to being happily buzzed - what breaks my balls comes back to the salary cap, future benefit of value and the long term promise that evades us year on year on year.

My folks just visited me in aus and my favorite gift was Oiler board shorts and my dad asked me why do I care about the oilers -and sadly I just do. And will do.

Back to my balls, they're broken - we're smarter than philly, and slats in nry - I can't accept the dollars we spend for lack of results. Had google the cap for the sabres today to make me feel ok with results vs what monies being dished out.

Won't rant, as that's not my intent, rather just tired of the chasing the end if the rainbow so to speak.

Like many, no longer can sit without comment.

Jbogus

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#247 MMAX
October 16 2013, 06:01AM
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I think old Katz had better take a step back and really take a hard look at where his team is headed. He's a smart guy...right? This old boys club joke of a management team has gotten him nowhere. Katz, you're a had ass business man that has to make hard decisions, so why not start at the top with K-Lowe? Oh, wait...friends can't fire friends can they?

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