GDB 7.0: IT DOESN'T GET EASIER

Jason Gregor
October 15 2013 11:59AM

Usually Oiler fans would be excited to watch the best player in the game, but the thought of Sidney Crosby shooting on Devan Dubnyk is frightening. The Pens are 3-0 at home and they've outscored the opposition 12-3. The Penguins skated into Florida last Friday and got waxed 6-3 by the Panthers, so don't expect the Penguins to take the struggling Oilers lightly.

Crosby is rolling with 5 goals and 9 points in 5 games. He is likely licking his chops in anticipation of facing the Oilers and their 4.83 GAA.

The great part about sports is that anything can happen. Most would predict an Oiler loss tonight, but once the puck drops anything can happen.

Maybe Devan Dubnyk suddenly finds his game. Stop chuckling, it is possible.

Maybe the Oilers stop turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, and chip it deep.

Maybe their PK gets some timely saves and some sticks in the lanes to break up passes.

Maybe Nail Yakupov shows Dallas Eakins he got the message and pots two goals.

Maybe the Oilers finally understand all the nuances of Eakins new system and play a sound defensive game.

They might need all of these maybes to happen in order to win, but if the Penguins can lose 6-3 to the Panthers the Oilers have a shot.

LINEUP

The Oilers didn't have a morning skate, but we will see some lineup changes.

Jesse Joensuu has been sent back to Edmonton to get an undisclosed injury looked at.

Ryan Jones was recalled from OKC, while Philip Larsen was sent down.

Yakupov will return to the lineup.

I'm guessing Jones will play on the 4th line in place of either Luke Gazdic or Mike Brown. Brown leads the team in hits, but isn't doing anything offensively. Gazdic is tougher, and he's been physical. Eakins believes you need to wear down the opposition physically, so maybe Brown stays while Gazdic sits. Pittsburgh doesn't have a bonafide heavyweight so Eakins could put Brown with Jones and hope they create something on the forecheck.

The top-nine could have numerous options. These are the top-nine forwards, but we likely won't know the lines until later today. This is what I would do:

LW                         C                       RW
Hall                    RNH                   Yakupov
Perron               Arcobello           Eberle
Smyth               Gordon               Hemsky
Jones                Acton                  Brown

It is a major risk to put Yakupov with RNH and Hall, because they've given up a lot of chances lately, but I'd still look at it.

Eberle and Perron had good chemistry in camp, and Arcobello seems to fit in well with Eberle.

You could go with a veteran line of Gordon, Smyth and Hemsky. Hemsky and Smyth know how to play with one another, and they should be reliable enough defensively.

Ultimately, I don't think it matters who plays with whom. Collectively the forwards need to be better away from the puck. Most of the guys are producing, and once Yakupov finds his offence this group will be fine. The key is which trio can find some defensive chemistry.

The blueline is struggling. J.Schultz looks lost, but he's only played 54 NHL games and he wasn't heralded as a defensive dynamo when they signed him. He will calm down and make smarter plays. Belov has been okay, but this team lacks a true top-pairing defender. Until they get one, they need their forwards to help them defensively. It is a must for this team to be competitive.

LOOKING AHEAD...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hard to believe the Oilers can pull out a victory. They lose 3-2, but don't give up four goals for the first time all season. That will be a moral victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Crosby scores a PP goal in the first period.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gordon scored 4 goals in 48 games last year, but he already has 4 this year. Craig Adams scored 3 goals in 48 games last year, but he already has 3 goals in 5 games. Gordon leads the Oilers in goals, while Adams is 2nd on the Penguins. Both of them continue their surprising starts and pick up a goal each. Both of them will score career highs in goals this season.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 @TACOcurt
October 16 2013, 12:23AM
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@Walter Sobchak

with what the flames have in goalie prospects and the 2 European goalies they have the flames are in no need of a vetran goalie at this stage of their rebuild

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#52 Alsker
October 15 2013, 12:12PM
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GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hard to believe the Oilers can pull out a victory. They lose 3-2, but don't give up four goals for the first time all season. That will be a moral victory. Not being embarrassed tonite will be a moral victory. Im cheering Oil all the way but worry how quickly this one could go very bad.

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#53 VK63
October 15 2013, 12:44PM
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Sam Reinhart looks good!!

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#54 YFC Prez
October 15 2013, 05:41PM
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Hey goalie goalie goalie Ho goalie goalie goalie Hum goalie goalie goalie SAVE goalie goalie goalie Hey goalie goalie goalie Ho goalie goalie goalie Hum goalie goalie goalie

* I'm getting desperate*

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#55 DoubleJ
October 15 2013, 08:01PM
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The Oilers lose another game due to goaltending. He let in two soft goals. The Oilers are playing good. The goal tending is sad. Smid is the worse dman on the team. Which is sad because he's not paid like a number 7 dman. I wish the oil would have given Larsen a shot.

I hope the oil bring up Bachman to play in Long Island.

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#56 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 15 2013, 08:20PM
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Johe wrote:

On the other hand, Pittsburgh managed only four shots in the third against a team playing a back to back. Just sayin...

C'mon man... you're harshing a sweet bummer narrative with your facts.

Don't you watch the game mathlete? And feel things about it?

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#57 Serious Gord
October 15 2013, 09:02PM
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DSF wrote:

Nonsense.

A team trailing in the 3rd period typically outshoots their opponent.

The Oilers didn't.

The Pens just shut the door.

The Leafs have a different philosophy.

Carlyle could care less if his team is outshot. He preaches letting the opponent take all their shots from the outside and all he cares about is quality scoring chances.

Considering the Leafs have the best record in the NHL, it appears he may be on to something but that would leave all you Corsi acolytes gasping for air.

Exactly right - just as a team that's losing often has more hits than the other team - they are the ones without the puck.

The pens did nt give a rats a$$ about shots in the last period - they had the lead and they had a system that kept that lead. And Eakins had not counter.

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#58 madjam
October 15 2013, 09:09PM
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Just think if we had stellar goaltending to start the year we might be 6-1 rather than 1-5-1 . Can you imagine the confidence the team would have had if not for poor goaltending ? They are almost there and competitive enough for wins . Give us goaltending and we might find a lot of winning taking place . They appear to be fitting into the system even though I felt they would not benefit by it . The Crosby dive did us in tonite , and gave them the crucial game winning goal on the power play . We are a force to be reconned with , unfortuneatly we do not have the results to show it as yet . How's that for being positive ?

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#59 S cottV
October 15 2013, 09:45PM
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Wouldn't say Oilers lost due to poor goaltending. Awful coverage on Pens first goal. Puck got in behind on an excellent rush and tip by Crosby, which led to their second. Pens pp goal was a fluke. Lost because of the poor coverage on the first ga and failure to bury at least one of the 3 or 4 excellent chances Oilers had to score. Otherwise would have at least been on a position to win in OT or a shootout. Not fair to blame the goaltender.

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#60 Willi P
October 15 2013, 10:44PM
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Slats wrote:

Not sure you saw this but if you read the Edm Journal about who should come out of the line-up for Yaks?

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/10/15/who-should-come-out-so-nail-yakupov-can-go-in/

If you take the poll - Hall comes in 2nd (200+ votes!). I know people think he's playing poorly with the giveaways but I think there is a real undercurrent against Hall from the fan base.

I wonder if Willis or Gregor would do one of those Game Vignets they did last year with a breakdown of Halls decisions during one game.

Tonight Hall was great (except for the 3rd period 2 on 1 with Ebs when he should have shot and instead he passed and was picked off) and I think was his best game to date.

Thanks for the reference, good read. As an interested observer, I have watched the progression of Hall and there is no doubt as to his talent however after watching him call out his coach (Kruger) last year, I have no doubt that both he and the team need a change. Not unlike the other “T” that was drafted number 2 the same year. Both players were given the “Silver Spoon” way too early and their entitlement attitude shows. The Oil could gain a significant needed return from Hall and I think this is exactly the type of bold move that Mr. MacT should make. Just my opinion though.

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#61 Butters
October 16 2013, 12:08AM
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Oh good, we are overvaluing Miller and he isn't even here yet.

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#62 MapleLeafer
October 16 2013, 02:46AM
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Oiler domin... (Yawn)... ation to follow.

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#63 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 15 2013, 12:50PM
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Great picture Gregor

Evangeline Lily, YUM

Top ten of all time

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#64 bdiddy18
October 15 2013, 02:01PM
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OILERS WIN! OILERS WIN!! OILERS WIN!!!

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#65 Ea Sports Statistics Guy
October 15 2013, 02:03PM
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This is a real anomaly. According to nhl 14 Devan Dubnyk is rated 83 overall. He should be playing better. For a compassion Varlamov is only an 81!

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#66 Spydyr
October 15 2013, 02:11PM
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Smokey wrote:

Don't all Timbit teams use the swarm. Usually 5 kids on the puck carrier. The only one not is the goalie who is either waving at his mom, or making snow angels in the crease.

That goalie does sound like Dubnyk....hmmmmmmm

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#67 jt in Oilertown
October 15 2013, 03:22PM
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United Cycle has Dubnyk jerseys on sale 40% off. Wishful thinking on their part?

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#68 Mikey
October 15 2013, 05:02PM
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gregolas wrote:

NO.

ARCOBELLO's GOTZ TA GO! HE'S GOT TO GO.

as james franco would say:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b07sactDEKU

Acton is a rock solid 4C. Does everything that's asked of him.

we can't have anymore of Arcobellos soft play and turnovers with NO finish when he has 80% empty nets to shoot at in close range...

80% empty nets at close range, crazy! Where did you find that stat?

Just curious what's Halls empty net at close range %?

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#69 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 15 2013, 09:49PM
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Willi P wrote:

Amen.

Trade Hall for a top 2 D, and a NHL goalie plus removing the entitled attitude from your team. Win, Win and Win

Jesus H. Gord.

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#70 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 15 2013, 12:12PM
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"Maybe the Oilers stop turning the puck over at the offensive blueline, and chip it deep."

Like the former, not so much the latter. So far this season, the Oil have been much better at skating and passing out of the zone with possession. Excepting a few massive blunders (see Smid last night on the 4x4), this is best medicine and the numbers reflect that it's been working (for the most part).

The guy has a hilarious name, it's fun to say and I've gotten confused about its spelling more than once... finally looked it up... it's spelled GAZDIC.

http://oilers.nhl.com/club/player.htm?id=8473989

I'll still probably get it wrong, though.

I think tonight we see a repeat of the Van game. You can't outplay all the other teams and our team (as vastly improved as it is) is still only average to slightly above average. We're going to take a pounding on occasion and tonight's the night.

I'd expect us to get massively outshot and the goaltending to continue to suffer. Suddenly everyone pretending corsi isn't real will be quoting it to prove how bad we are.

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#71 Walter Sobchak
October 15 2013, 01:56PM
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Logic tells me the Oilers are going to get spanked.

They will out shoot the flightless birds with over 27 perimeter shots but not one Oiler besides Gordon & Smyth will actually go to the net.

~The Oilers win Corsi game again leaving those stat nerds to wonder what the hell went wrong, why is Hartikianen in the KHL, Omark in the AHL and why oh why did Oilers traded Paarjavi??~

Yakupov returns and score the Oilers only two goals from the faceoff circle on the PP.

Oilers lose 5-2

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#72 geoilersgist
October 15 2013, 02:03PM
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@Oiler Al

The Jets supposedly use a modified SWARM.

I wish upon my Oilers blanket that Dubby wakes up today and pulls the W out of his.... and SUITBOHC

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#73 Dog Train
October 15 2013, 05:09PM
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Good call going with Labarbera. Dubnyk has no confidence right now and going against the Penguins is not a good way to give a goaltender confidence.

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#74 oilersplumber
October 15 2013, 06:34PM
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@jt in Oilertown

TSN reporting (Bob Mckenzie) that Oilers are in Ryan Miller talks now.

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#75 Fresh Mess
October 15 2013, 07:38PM
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Greg wrote:

At this point I'm almost hoping the oilers loose. How bad does at actually have to get before Katz fires Lowe? How pissed of do we all need to get?

I wish the people of Edmonton could fire Katz.

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#76 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 15 2013, 08:45PM
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DSF wrote:

You've heard of score effects, right?

Even then, the Penguins outshot the Oilers 4-3 in the 3rd.

The Oilers were outshot by 6 in the game.

Over an 82 game season, that's 492 shots.

Can't win that way.

That's not how score effects work. They aren't period dependent. They are score dependent. Being outshot in the 3rd is irrelevant to score effects.

That said, they lost the shots, corsi, fenwick and score effects in all cases war tonight. But not by much. To me at least, that was a real surprise. I expected the Pens to roll over this team. Didn't happen.

Just curious, if you abstract out the Leaves shot differential tonight over 82 games, how badly are they outshot?

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#77 Cynic
October 15 2013, 09:18PM
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I heard the Oilers beat the Pens in Dennis King's Corsi Sledgehammer. So you've got that going for you....

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#78 Romulus' Apotheosis
October 15 2013, 09:22PM
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Cynic wrote:

I heard the Oilers beat the Pens in Dennis King's Corsi Sledgehammer. So you've got that going for you....

King records "scoring chances" not corsi (total shot attempts). But, yes Oil did win by his measure.

"Oilers outchance pens 19-15; 5-2 ST"

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#79 madjam
October 16 2013, 06:11AM
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The fab 4 - Schultz , Hall, Yak and Hopkins playing like crap in new system . Only Eberle playing decent +- player . System seems good for plumbers , but less than admirable for our young skilled players . Have to wonder whether we keep the players or choose a different system ? Three first overall picks struggling mightily here .

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#80 Spydyr
October 16 2013, 06:31AM
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madjam wrote:

The fab 4 - Schultz , Hall, Yak and Hopkins playing like crap in new system . Only Eberle playing decent +- player . System seems good for plumbers , but less than admirable for our young skilled players . Have to wonder whether we keep the players or choose a different system ? Three first overall picks struggling mightily here .

If the players don't buy in Eakins is done.It is easier to fire a coach then a team of players.

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#81 Low elbows
October 16 2013, 07:42AM
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We battled hard, we got no breaks, we played a harder game, blah blah blah blah blah....the only thing professional about this organization is their tired cliches

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#82 Serious Gord
October 15 2013, 01:07PM
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Logically a GDP of 6-3 pens is the answer.

But my gut says the oil win 5-2. The pens are vulnerable - the panthers proved it.

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#83 ScottV
October 15 2013, 01:47PM
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I would predict a close game but unfortunately the Oilers will probably come up on the short end. Close - because surely the Oilers will respect the Penquins enough to tighten it up with the forwards supporting the back end more and the d corps supporting the goaltender more. If the Oilers "run and gun" this one, it could get real ugly because Dubnyk is too fragile to be overly exposed. Forget about the scoring stats and give our goaltender some added support to build upon. Staple J Schultz's butt to the back end, until the bleeding stops. That guy is killing the team, a whole lot more than Yakupov ever was. New systems appear to be confusing the team particularly in their own end. Simplify - go back to what might be more familier and build in more complexity - change over time. With some luck, maybe a 3 - 2 overtime win is possible.

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#84 NsxZero
October 15 2013, 02:01PM
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@Smokey

At this point I wonder if a fight is what duby needs to wake up from his slump. Can't hurt to try right? ...unless he actually gets hurt..

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#85 Rama Lama
October 15 2013, 02:25PM
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GAME DAY PREDICTION:

Oilers out play the Penguins, score the first goal, Dubby actually makes a save, Oil score a record 8 goals posting a 8 to 3 win..........then I wake up and find out it's exactly the opposite.

Hey dreams do come true now and then.

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#86 75ers
October 15 2013, 02:58PM
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We have Gazdic, he's got as many goals as Yak, Ebbs and J Schultz combined. I love that guy, at least he looks like he cares when he's back checking.

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#87 oilerjed
October 15 2013, 03:12PM
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Ive been looking for a side business, turns out nooses are going to be big in Edmonton for Christmas this year. You wont be happy top hear how much Vancouver media is enjoying the meltdown of Oiler fans. That if nothing else should shame you all back into guzzling koolaid and smiling pretty. Nothing wrong here, everyone is swell.

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#88 David S
October 15 2013, 03:20PM
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At least one Dubnyk Hat Trick tonight.

- Top shelf snipe

- Five hole fail

- Rebound rocket

*drops mic*

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#89 Spoils
October 15 2013, 03:45PM
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oilers with the puck in their own end = painful to watch. new system sure, but i think chemistry helps this.

I thought Ebs was looking better than he did in the previous 5 games. I'd like to see him back on the top line. - angle for history/chemistry.

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#90 Reg Dunlop
October 15 2013, 04:53PM
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DSF wrote:

I've been saying for 4 years (often to much derision) that the Oilers need TWO top pairing defensemen, a big, talented #2 C (Galchenyuk anyone?) and an above average NHL goaltender.

They have none of the above and any fool can tell you good teams are built from the back end out and up the middle.

All the while, the Oilers brass continues to draft and develop scoring wingers, a passel of bottom 4 defensemen and fiddle around the edges of the bottom 6 forwards.

MacT seems to have no better grasp of this than his predecessors.

So, you've been criticizing the oil for 4 years 'often to much derision'? Actually it has ALWAYS been to much derision.

I am done with grinding the gears on the oil. Dubby turns the corner tonight and Mark Arc continues to show he belongs. Oil start a modest win streak tonight, against all odds. 3-2 for the blue and orange; welcome back comrade Yakupov.

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#91 Alsker
October 15 2013, 05:27PM
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Nice setup for Schultz, take note Mr.Yak, passings not a bad idea.

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#92 EP
October 15 2013, 06:52PM
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oilersplumber wrote:

TSN reporting (Bob Mckenzie) that Oilers are in Ryan Miller talks now.

Hemsky for R. Miller? Cap hits and contract situations are similar. Miller (hopefully) helps now and Hemsky is likely gone at the end of the year anyways.

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#93 Serious Gord
October 15 2013, 07:16PM
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Alsker wrote:

They have to take back a contract or this doesnt work, maybe Dubnyk + pic/prospect. But first Miller has NTC restrictions.

And that is how MacT has made a hash of it - no cap room means no flexibility - having to trade junk for junk.

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#94 BleedingOil
October 15 2013, 07:18PM
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the only way i would take miller is if we get ehrhoff too. I would throw in a pick/prospect to get that done.

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#95 BingBong
October 15 2013, 07:36PM
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Another loss but I thought we played pretty well.

I'd be interested in Miller - we need to fix the goaltending ASAP. I like Ott too.

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#96 jed
October 15 2013, 10:08PM
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Oilers loose to a team that does not play defence.

Perfect storm for the Oilers

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#97 Slats
October 15 2013, 10:30PM
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Willi P wrote:

Amen.

Trade Hall for a top 2 D, and a NHL goalie plus removing the entitled attitude from your team. Win, Win and Win

Not sure you saw this but if you read the Edm Journal about who should come out of the line-up for Yaks?

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/10/15/who-should-come-out-so-nail-yakupov-can-go-in/

If you take the poll - Hall comes in 2nd (200+ votes!). I know people think he's playing poorly with the giveaways but I think there is a real undercurrent against Hall from the fan base.

I wonder if Willis or Gregor would do one of those Game Vignets they did last year with a breakdown of Halls decisions during one game.

Tonight Hall was great (except for the 3rd period 2 on 1 with Ebs when he should have shot and instead he passed and was picked off) and I think was his best game to date.

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#98 Slats
October 15 2013, 11:17PM
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@Willi P

I think Hall is one of the best North-South players with speed in the NHL. It would be a BOLD MOVE by Mac T to move him . . . may be his last move.

I also think Hall would get more time and space if after he gets drilled into the boards (eg see what hapended on Crosby tonight everytime there was a response) that one of his teamates would respond. I think Hall would be a better team player as well as a result. Neither is happening though.

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#99 Rob...
October 16 2013, 07:38AM
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That cross-checking call on Smid in the second period was ridiculous. Not that Smid didn't cross-check Vitale and deserve a penalty, but Vitale assumed an incredibly dangerous non-hockey position while 'protecting the puck'. There needs to be a 10 minute misconduct handed out to players who pull stunts like that, for their own good.

Dislike this thought, be a grown-up and post a counter argument.

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#100 Pucker
October 16 2013, 12:49PM
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I watched the game in an hour through PVR mode. Despite the obvious loss, I enjoyed the game. Much better than most games last year. Oilers did much better than most expected.

Yak looked good. Hall was backing down the defense. Eberle - very good. They had sustained pressure in the offensive zone at times. They were pressured at times but this is Pittsburgh. Barbara, though scarey at times, played fine.

I think they're improving. If they keep improving, they're going to get compettive.

Gotta hold off judgement till I get a bigger sample size.

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