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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#101 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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#102 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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#103 Butters
October 14 2013, 01:59PM
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Wut, no Yak again? DSF, does the dark side serve donuts? Asking for a friend.

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#104 15w40
October 14 2013, 02:22PM
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If Eakins doesn't want to loose face, he better be applying the same type of criteria to others besides Yakupov.

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

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

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

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

IMHO

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#105 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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#106 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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#107 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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#108 MessyEH!
October 14 2013, 03:09PM
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Just heard from a reliable source* Eberle, MAcrobella and a first rounder for Shea Webber.

*Source may, or may not be the same as Captain Sammy Snowpants rumors.

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#109 Romanus
October 14 2013, 03:27PM
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Biron on Waivers. Not that he is the answer.

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#110 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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#111 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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#112 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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#113 washed up
October 14 2013, 05:46PM
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Eakins should ice 6 skaters. Labarbra is brutal.

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

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#115 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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#116 Bloodsweatandoil
October 14 2013, 07:24PM
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Imagine what the Penguins are going to do to our current goaltending! Crosby, Malkin and the boys are going to have a "Pad your stats night"... Its now to the point of when you watch on the Animal Channel, 9 lions are swarming a helpless gazelle....the gazelle tries to get up with a lion on its throat, another lion chomping on its legs, it tries to get up, you know it can't, but yet you still cheer for it to get up and try to out run the lions...I am not a bandwagon jumper, but I have lost confidence in our goaltending, I think it is fair to say that they have cost us 3 wins so far.

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#117 Alsker
October 14 2013, 07:24PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

How long before Oiler fans start wearing paper bags again?

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

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

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

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#119 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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#120 Serious Gord
October 14 2013, 07:53PM
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So, who do you put in net tomorrow night?

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

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

So, who do you put in net tomorrow night?

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

I'd go with Betty White.

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#123 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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#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 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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#126 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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#127 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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#128 sec206
October 14 2013, 10:46AM
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1-3-1

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#129 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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#130 Slats
October 14 2013, 01:14PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. 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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#131 MessyEH
October 14 2013, 02:11PM
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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.

You had me at malt. You had me at Malt.

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#132 MessyEH
October 14 2013, 02:24PM
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I got this as a wedding gift.

http://www.glenoradistillery.com/glenbreton.htm

It tasted great after the divorce.

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#133 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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#134 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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#135 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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#136 Harry
October 14 2013, 06:21PM
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@djc

You used too many "w"'s in awww. And hello can you say run on sentence?!

May the corsi be with you.

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#137 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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#138 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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#139 oilredemption
October 14 2013, 06:41PM
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One word Dallas Eakins... PATHETIC

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#140 Butters
October 14 2013, 06:48PM
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Reinhart?

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#141 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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#142 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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#143 Freewheeling Freddie
October 14 2013, 07:01PM
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@jl

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

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#144 Walter Sobchak
October 14 2013, 07:06PM
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Mikey wrote:

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.

Ridicules, Washington’s PP is clipping along at 38% what do the Oilers do, give up 4 PP chances.

The Oilers shots are perimeter shots & have zero chance of going in; Washington has totally out chance the Oilers.

Shots are a NOT always indicative of outplaying a team, or are you not watching the game?

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

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#146 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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#147 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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#148 6 ring circus
October 14 2013, 07:21PM
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Daryl wrote:

Ha Ha Ha

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

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

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#149 Quintana
October 14 2013, 07:23PM
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So....When Laviollete comes to town?

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#150 Lofty
October 14 2013, 07:51PM
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Cubsfan wrote:

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

Did you just throw a super troopers at me meow?

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