MIND GAMES

Brian Sutherby
October 17 2013 11:42AM

Sitting at 1-5-1 many frustrated fans are left wondering why coaches and players around the team are now talking more about improvement and positive things when the results still aren’t there.

As a guy in my first month of watching Oiler games, I too have been very frustrated at times watching this squad and I haven’t been around for the last 7 years.

I get it.

FRUSTRATION MOUNTING

Many things need to be improved fast for this team to remain in contention and get to the level expected of them this season. One thing I can assure you is that no one is more frustrated than the coaching staff and players. Fans may disagree but losing is just awful for everyone.

As a player, sleeping after bad games is nearly impossible. You lay there replaying everything in your mind till all hours of the night. Few things are worse than having to watch video of horrible play after horrible play while the coach is ripping you in front of your peers.

There is nothing fun about answering the tough questions to the media or reading about how bad you are in the papers. It’s an awful feeling letting a fan base down when expectations are high.

You have to be mentally strong to play this game, but all those things weigh on a player and after a week or more of that kind of atmosphere, negativity can completely take over. If everyone can feel the mood of the dressing room start to sag, that is not good.

WHY SO POSITIVE?

After the first couple losses you saw some anger, some frustration, and the benching of a young star. After the last couple games you're starting to hear positive things or a focus on improvement from the team. When you watch the Pittsburgh game it may be hard to disagree.

Maybe it’s not recognizable but you see this all the time during losing skids. A flip flop of a coach’s message from negative to positive even though the only thing growing is in the loss column.

When player confidence is low the coaching staff has to read the dressing room and the body language of his players.

SEEN IT ALL BEFORE

I’ve been on good teams and I’ve been on terrible teams. Often times when you get on a win streak by the second or third game, instead of the coach remaining positive and buttering guys up he decides to use this opportunity to keep everyone level headed and tear into a few guys or focus on the things that need improvement.

Conversely, when a losing streak hits three or four games and the sky is falling, all of the sudden the coach is the happiest person in the world and you are thinking what the hell?

I think you are beginning to see the Coaching staff relaxing their tough stance of late. Eakins has to get these guys to feel good about themselves again while showing them the good things they have done to improve their play. Continuing to harp on the losses right now will only add to the stress of guys fighting the puck or thinking about mistakes.

I’m sure you have heard it before from players that they need to be reacting on the ice and not thinking. The minute you start to second guess yourself as a player you are in trouble.

ROLLER COASTER

This does not mean losing is acceptable. This does not mean that players and coaches are not as disgusted as you, the fan. It just means the coach has likely sensed that the yelling and tough love has exhausted itself for now and is having a more negative impact.

An 82 game season is full of emotional ups and downs and many times throughout the season the coach has to change the psyche of the dressing room.

I think this is one of those times. It’s up to the coach to get his players in the best possible mind set to win a hockey game. It doesn’t matter how, just win.

MAIL BAG

I would like to start a weekly Q & A piece on here. I love interacting with hockey minds and think it would be fun to provide some insight into certain questions you guys may have whether it’s Oiler related or just hockey related. Hit me up at brian@oilersnation.com or on twitter @briansutherby. Fire away and I will answer the best one’s in a weekly piece.

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
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#1 spliff
October 17 2013, 07:37PM
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I noticed there aren't too many comments for today's game. Maybe the fanbase is already tuning out, this early into the season. What a disappointment, I really believed this season would be different. With a record like we have now its a very long shot to make the playoffs. I'm wondering what KLoser, MacT and the boys will come with excuses for another failed season. I wonder if KLowe will ask the important fans (the ones who pay crazy high prices to go to the games) what they think of this perpetual sh*tshow. Why was the PK and PP decent last year and this year terrible? How can our defence be worse then last year? What a f*cking disaster.

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#5 Dave
October 17 2013, 09:31PM
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There should be rule that would prevent Edmonton getting another number one pick this decade. It would just a waste of star talent.

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#6 Tammy
October 17 2013, 12:45PM
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A true fan sticks with their club through wins AND losses! Yes, it is frustrating but bashing the Oilers doesn't help either. If you are not happy watching.... find a new team or just don't watch hockey!

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#7 K_Mart
October 17 2013, 08:28PM
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1-6-1 ... ... so painful. Just so disappointing. When we get outplayed, we lose, when we outplay the opposition, we lose, when the play is even, we lose. Everything seems to be on par in Oilerland.

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#8 outdoorzguy
October 17 2013, 08:24PM
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I just caught some comments after the game on the radio post game show. I didn't hear any of the game but this is where I heard we lost. Again. One of the comments was about how good a night it was because Hall set a record for the fastest two goals. We Lost!! This to me is the entire problem with this team. Mediocrity is accepted. As long as someone does something that stands out, then we are satisfied. We Lost Again! Everyone throws around shot percentages, save percentages, CORSI stats, shots on goal. We Lost. Again. The only stat that matters is wins. If you don't put wins on the board all the other stats are just fluff; used to cover up the ineptitude of the players and management. We constantly here someone played good, but it wasn't their fault because nobody else played well. Thats why we lose. Again and again and again. Nobody takes this team to task. The fans still fill the building for a losing team. Until we take money out of the pocket of Katz nothing will get done at the management level. The media certainly doesn't challenge the players or coaches. They, the media might lose their jobs for doing that. I hate hearing media refer to players by their first names...that means they're too close to the players and are no longer able to be critical. The only thing that matters is wins. This team is incapable of doing that in its current state from management thru the coaches to the players. Thats a fact. Al Davis said it best," Just win baby". The only stat that matters is wins. Nothing else!! Stop the sugar coating and trying to find "nice" things about bad games. Call it what it is...bad hockey. We lose again, and again, and again because we've all accepted losing as acceptable.

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#9 WONGER
October 17 2013, 11:47AM
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The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

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#10 Smokey
October 17 2013, 12:23PM
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Sorry to hijack the thread. Why is TSN quoting a Shares blog. Its the stupidest rumour I've heard in a long time Yakcity + for Vanek/Miller. Why would MacT entertain trading the future for expiring contracts, and 10 million has to go the other way. So basically filling in the blanks, Hemsky and Dubby and Jones or Schultz.

Its so stupid I'm scared theirs teeth in it.

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#11 NJ
October 17 2013, 03:01PM
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One thing that would send "the required message". All fans stay home for the next home game. Every fan. 16k plus empty seats. Mr Katz would get the message. This is not acceptable.

Someone mentioned a few articles about Sheldon Souray being cancer, or Miller being cancer... Or Bryz. No offense, the cancer here is not any of those. The cancer here is Mr Lowe. Souray was absolutely mismanaged from outside observation. The sooner Mr Katz figures this out, the sooner this team turns around.

If you need further proof, I would just say take a look at how many coaching changes we've had. Painful. Yes, it's a GM call, but I could've made the drafting choices Tambo made. Lowe out Tam in. The jury is out on MacT, I happen to love Perron as a player, but 36 months down the road will decide if MacT was a good decision.

I would say Coach Roy was the coach we should've looked a lil closer at. Goaltending specialist and smart defensively. Our goals for isn't our issue. Our goals against is.

Facts are nobody gives a rip or cares enough to boycott the Oilers. We care so little that we'll continue to watch the Oilers blow it. Yes, even from Hawaii where I'm vacationing, I'll huddle around my ipad mini watching NHL Game Center toot out another loss.

I would love to read an honest breakdown of Lowe's tenur here as GM by one of these writers. That would be a good read.

Shoot me in the head.

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#12 pkam
October 17 2013, 12:59PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

Because he wants to stay in Edmonton? Once he signs with the Oilers, he will be chased out of town in a month.

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#13 BleedingOil
October 17 2013, 07:26PM
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nice way to finish off the game, Schultz...last 2 minutes in the box. GOAT. Bench schultz for a few and lets get KBom up here for a look.

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#14 The Hall Way
October 17 2013, 12:49PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

Hey?! Why does Sutherby have 2 usernames on this site?!

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#15 Bloodsweatandoil
October 17 2013, 01:01PM
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I had a vision in my kraft dinner at lunch, and it wasn't the distraction noodle (it fell on my toe)...It showed 7 macaronis for the Oilers and 3 for the Islanders...

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#16 madjam
October 17 2013, 01:55PM
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Cry me a river . Oilers ticket prices 4th highest in league from $201.01 to $272.74 , because as they put it "Heightened Expectations " . The paying fans should be livid considering this price increase and results rendered so far . You make that king of money and you should expect the fans to criticize when your not performing up to expectations that you payed dearly for .

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#17 fig pucker
October 17 2013, 07:41PM
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BleedingOil wrote:

nice way to finish off the game, Schultz...last 2 minutes in the box. GOAT. Bench schultz for a few and lets get KBom up here for a look.

yor right about schultz, but duby wasn't much better and the passing was terrible. in regards to kbom saw him at the pre season game in winnipeg. he was undressdd more times than a 10 dollar hooker, was not impessed with him at all, and it apears neither was mact explains why he's still on the farm. in any case the season will be over next week if things don't improve quick. this is getting painful to watch.

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#18 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:11PM
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The oil is now 7 points out of a playoff spot with PHX having a game at hand. Might not sound like a lot, but that is already a huge gap.

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#19 YakZ
October 17 2013, 12:14PM
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Hey Suds,

Great article and perspective from a player! It's easy to be a backseat coach or GM as a fan. Is coaching in the NHL in the cards for you or as an hockey analyst perhaps?

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#20 Wanye
October 17 2013, 12:50PM
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WONGER wrote:

The Oilers need about six SUTHERBY's up front-guys who can play and are seriously tough- FUNCTIONAL TOUGHNESS- why don't you come out of retirement and sign with the OIL???

I've been saying this for TEN DAMN YEARS

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#21 beloch
October 17 2013, 07:48PM
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Dubnyk's previous best start of the season was 0.885 Sv%. Tonight he was 0.925. HUGE improvement! If this version of Dubnyk starts showing up more often the Oilers will win games, although they'll need to play better than they did tonight.

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#22 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:06PM
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I sense a creeping apathy from the fanbase...

Sure goaltending held up tonight - only to reveal the weak defense, compete lack of physical play esp on the forecheck, and no one in front of the net. And for the second night in a row it was starkly obvious that the coach has no answer to the shutdown play of the opponent. And it's hard to see how any if those flaws all get fixed this season let alone this month.

The oil will win some games this season - maybe even some in regulation. But the season likely will be all but over in another five or six games unless some miracle happens.

And if that indeed happens (not the miracle - the status quo) what level will fan apathy be by Xmas? If management isn't collectively laying awake at night worrying about that prospect - they shouldn't be in management.

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#23 Jamison
October 17 2013, 12:29PM
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Great article. Seriously. Really enjoy your perspective.

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#24 RJ
October 17 2013, 12:54PM
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drop pass to the nugget, slides it cross ice to yak shootsescores. seasons back on

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#25 K_Mart
October 17 2013, 08:32PM
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So the goalie shows up, but the team puts up an underwhelming performance.

Why is our PP so horrible looking? Why is our PK so horrible looking?

So many things to fix, so little time.

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

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#26 Spydyr
October 17 2013, 09:09PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I sense a creeping apathy from the fanbase...

Sure goaltending held up tonight - only to reveal the weak defense, compete lack of physical play esp on the forecheck, and no one in front of the net. And for the second night in a row it was starkly obvious that the coach has no answer to the shutdown play of the opponent. And it's hard to see how any if those flaws all get fixed this season let alone this month.

The oil will win some games this season - maybe even some in regulation. But the season likely will be all but over in another five or six games unless some miracle happens.

And if that indeed happens (not the miracle - the status quo) what level will fan apathy be by Xmas? If management isn't collectively laying awake at night worrying about that prospect - they shouldn't be in management.

The Oil have been outclassed on every level since six rings took over.Forget 2006 that was a fluke getting Pronger and Rollie.

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#27 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:16PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The Oil have been outclassed on every level since six rings took over.Forget 2006 that was a fluke getting Pronger and Rollie.

You will get no argument from me - and he had pronger fall in his lap - no savvy required../

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#28 Spydyr
October 17 2013, 09:18PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

The oil is now 7 points out of a playoff spot with PHX having a game at hand. Might not sound like a lot, but that is already a huge gap.

In other words done and it has not even snowed yet.

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#29 HardBoiledOil
October 17 2013, 12:00PM
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yup, intensity seems to be lacking on this team year after year. my hope is that Moroz and Khaira can step up in the next couple of years. they are exactly what this team needs!!

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#30 Bucknuck
October 17 2013, 12:37PM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

yup, intensity seems to be lacking on this team year after year. my hope is that Moroz and Khaira can step up in the next couple of years. they are exactly what this team needs!!

I was sure impressed with Khaira. He seems like the 'real deal'. He's two years from making a difference, but knowing there are some value (entry level) contracts on the horizon involving big bodies that can play gives me more optimism.

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#31 OILERSORDEATH
October 17 2013, 12:57PM
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God that roller coaster looks badass!!

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#32 pkam
October 17 2013, 02:49PM
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rob wrote:

millar and pysk coming to edmonton,yak,a second and prospect going to buffalo-book it

Book it? Do you know we don't even have a 2nd anymore?

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#33 Bloodsweatandoil
October 17 2013, 07:32PM
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Wow.....I tried to be positive with my post this afternoon.

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#34 Greg the Hammer Valentine
October 17 2013, 07:57PM
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@fig pucker

I believe Taylor Fedun would be the best call up as of now.

Anyway, it's not going much better in OKC.

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#35 madjam
October 17 2013, 08:54PM
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I did not see our players huffing or puffing or even a bead of sweat on any of them in third period . Did they go to sleep ? I wonder if we will have a competitive NHL team next year ? I can hardly wait for the hype .

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#37 Senator Theo
October 17 2013, 02:14PM
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@madjam

what do ticket prices have to do with wins or losses? What are you suggesting here?

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#38 WONGER
October 17 2013, 02:22PM
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The Hall Way wrote:

Hey?! Why does Sutherby have 2 usernames on this site?!

He doesn't! I HAVE A TON OF RESPECT FOR HOW HE PLAYED THE GAME!!! He is too modest to toot his own horn, but I always liked the way he played, and I wished he would have been an Oiler!!!

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#39 VK63
October 17 2013, 02:28PM
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the answer to the Oilers woes is evident. The Russian god Perogy has been angered by the removal of the dirty russian SHORCOV and vodka burning legend Khabbi.

Yak and Dubnyk miss them so much they are but siberian bear cubs lost in the deep dark bryzy woods

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#40 Rama Lama
October 17 2013, 02:52PM
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If Dubby can dropping and flopping on every shot.......we may have a chance to win this one.

I for one will be clutching my remote and if Dubby let's in a soft one.....I'm changing the channel.

Go Oil!

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#41 Sidney Frosby
October 17 2013, 04:55PM
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Sidney Frosby wrote:

Becuz Vanek loves Pominville and the movie Fargo....

And Heatley will be begging the Oilers/Senators to hire him after he doesn't get resigned by Minny

Oh and Vanek palyed for the U of Minnesota...And.....Minny will pay up to $95 million dollars..apparently.

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#42 Taylor Gang
October 17 2013, 07:38PM
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Well, at least it wasn't Dubnyk's fault. The Oilers just got out chanced this game. Overall not bad effort though with the exception of the PK yet again.

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#43 Spydyr
October 17 2013, 08:46PM
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My over under on the Oilers was 3 wins this month.after tonight it is 2. Is it to early to tank another season for the first overall?

Unless they get a goalie.the answer is no.

Dubnyk looks lost.

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#44 Serious Gord
October 17 2013, 09:23PM
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Spydyr wrote:

In other words done and it has not even snowed yet.

I have been fiddling around with numbers on a spreadsheet - assuming that 96 pts is the playoff line the oil is going to have to play top five level of hockey just to make it into eighth. This team just has too many holes to do that.

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#45 Spydyr
October 17 2013, 09:28PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I have been fiddling around with numbers on a spreadsheet - assuming that 96 pts is the playoff line the oil is going to have to play top five level of hockey just to make it into eighth. This team just has too many holes to do that.

Sad but true.Not going to happen.Only question left is when does the tank job start?

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#46 the dude abides
October 17 2013, 11:02PM
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Great article. Despite the negativity, and obviously the record, this is the best team the oil have iced in years. There are pieces missing, but it is a team that can compete for the playoffs as is. Definitely not the time to panic.

The article said it right in terms of momentum and mentality - isn't everyone in oil nation just waiting for the roof to collapse during the games? To me the oil are controlling much of the game but as soon as it slips the puck is in the back of our net.

As an oil fan who's been frustrated over the last several years, I'm really impressed by the tenacity of the team, despite the head-winds of tight, undeserved losses, they seem to keep their heads down and remain committed. These are certainly adverse times, but Eakins is doing the right thing and shouldn't change tragectory imo.

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#47 Quicksilver ballet
October 17 2013, 01:06PM
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Brian

Need a prediction on tonights game, nobody escapes here unscathed.

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#49 oilerjed
October 17 2013, 03:10PM
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WONGER wrote:

He doesn't! I HAVE A TON OF RESPECT FOR HOW HE PLAYED THE GAME!!! He is too modest to toot his own horn, but I always liked the way he played, and I wished he would have been an Oiler!!!

Its nice to see that you have finally unstuck your Caps Lock key. Ya gotta keep your soda away from your keyboard.

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#50 Oiler63
October 17 2013, 03:40PM
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@DSF

If oilers seriously considered the swap, they need to literally go to hospital and get their brain checked. Two washed up over-the-hill UFA for an RFA number 1 pick forward, that'd be the worst trade in team history.

Not surprised oilers is on Miller's no trade list. Lowe has managed to get oilers on pretty much every NHL player's no trade list.

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