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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#151 Alsker
October 15 2013, 06:58PM
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It hasnt been all pretty, but not bad, and .952 SP? I know its too early to be happy but Cansucks and Wild are both losing!!!!

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#152 Alsker
October 15 2013, 07:03PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

BUF is considering the full explosion. They aren't taking on Hemsky. Look for a package of picks/prospects or the 1st rounder.

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

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#153 Alsker
October 15 2013, 07:11PM
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Just when I thought the bounces were going our way...sigh

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#154 Papamike
October 15 2013, 07:15PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Messier may be hired as the oil's NYC representative, nothing else. No way he returns to the hinterland. His ranger cup apparently means more to him than 5 cups won in the boondocks.

I guess it is always possible he could be hired to do a lap dance for Katz.

Elliot Friedman 30 thoughts today said the rumor was the moose joining the Oilers as a consultant

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#155 Walter Sobchak
October 15 2013, 11:42PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Considering both teams are basically powder kegs right now. What would the Oilers have to give up to bring in Miller and Myers, Hemsky, Dubnyk and Klefbom?

If the Oilers are interested in Miller.

I think Miller accepts a trade to Edmonton, his wife is living in LA; the only two teams in the west in need of a goalie are the Oilers and Flames.

So I think a sign and trade could be worked out. The Sabers are rebuilding and will not want any salary coming back; I can the Sabers asking for the Oilers 1st, plus Klefbom or Marincin.

Oilers would have to drop Salary somewhere, just not sure where or who.

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#156 Walter Sobchak
October 16 2013, 02:19AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

MacKenzie mentioned this evening, the Oilers are in on Ryan Miller.

What do you think of Yak and Dubnyk for Miller, Myers and Ott. Throw in Hemsky too if you have to. 12;ish going to Buffalo, and 14'ish coming back this way.

Just my thoughts.

I don't think the Sabers would want Dubnyk back; the Sabers have Matt Hackett, small sample size but he’s doing very well in the AHL.

I also don’t think the Sabers give up on Myers, plus, Myers doesn’t really give the Oilers what they need, which is a true #1 defenseman.

I just don’t think the Oilers trade Yakupov.

With the Cap being an issue for the Oilers and Buffalo wanting picks and prospects, is it plausible the Oilers have seen enough of Arcobello to trade Gagner some where?

That’s the only trade I see that could eliminate some Cap space and get Miller.

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#157 druds
October 16 2013, 04:41PM
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Pucker wrote:

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.

Hey Buddy no one likes logical thoughts here, go spout your positive insightful crap elsewhere....

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#158 DOUG WAIT!
October 16 2013, 06:02PM
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I am drunk and want a golie, so get a Golie

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