GDB 6.0: Desperation, this early?

Jonathan Willis
October 14 2013 10:34AM

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

The Lineup

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

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

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

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

Opportunity

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

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

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

Predictions!

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

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

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

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 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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#52 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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#53 Avatarget
October 14 2013, 07:50PM
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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.

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#54 Avatarget
October 14 2013, 07:59PM
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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...

I agree about the luck part. The Oil just can't catch a break so far this year. They will just have to keep working and hope things even out over the course of the year. The Oil keep losing and that is frustrating after 7 years of it. But at least they are playing better (not counting the goalies). So far this year the games have at least been entertaining.

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#55 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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#56 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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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 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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#61 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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#62 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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#63 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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#64 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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#65 Oilers42
October 14 2013, 10:49AM
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@Retsinnab5

B.S 6-3 loss

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#66 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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#67 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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#68 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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#69 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 01:09PM
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GDP of 2-1 oil win? Put down the crack pipe.

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

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

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#70 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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#71 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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#72 OilDieHard
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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#73 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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#74 Serious gord
October 14 2013, 02:15PM
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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.

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

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#75 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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#76 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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#77 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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#78 Johnny Larue
October 14 2013, 09:24PM
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Every scoring chance the other team gets ends up in our net. We outplayed Washington in the first but just can't seem to catch a break that said if things don't turn around soon another season will be flushed

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#79 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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#80 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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#81 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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#82 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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#83 BleedingOil
October 14 2013, 12:36PM
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wonder if Yak would be a good fit in Mtl?

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#84 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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#85 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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#86 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 02:04PM
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DSF wrote:

Elba.

I know, I know.

The island that sounds similar is Corsica 50 km away from Elba and the transit point Napoleon used to escape Elba hence the word association on my part.

Apparently they are both painfully beautiful islands with magnificent year-round climates - makes you wonder why Napoleon wanted to escape...

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#87 Darrell
October 14 2013, 02:17PM
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Nothing like a good Slap shot quote to get the point across:

"Reggie Dunlop: DSF You all saw what happened. Stick down, gloves off, He challenged the Oilers. Called us names, CALLED US NAMES! But Dave was there. Daves a killer. Johnny Upton: Daves a mess. Reggie Dunlop: But Daves out. Whos gonna take his place? Ned Braden: Is the answer Jesus?. Reggie Dunlop: Show us what you got![looking directly Hall, Ebs and Nuge ....

For the love of Jesus Christ and Slap shot go get 'me boys !

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#88 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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#89 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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#90 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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#91 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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#92 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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#93 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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#94 Oiler63
October 14 2013, 07:58PM
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How much would it cost to get one of Holtby or Neuvirth?

I heard Jonas Hiller may also be available.

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

that is all.

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#96 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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#97 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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#98 Oiler63
October 14 2013, 10:39AM
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let's go OILERS!

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

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#100 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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