GDB 9.0: IS IT TOO EARLY FOR A MUST WIN

Jason Gregor
October 19 2013 08:05AM

Is game nine of an 82-game season too early for a "must-win" scenario? Mathematically it is, but what about mentally for a team that has lost five straight and has yet to win a game in regulation?

The Oilers haven't played awful, but they also haven't played well enough to win, and you wonder about the psyche of an organization with a young team, a new coach and a new general manager if the losses continue to mount.

One theory suggests you can't make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them. Statistically the odds are against you if you are too far out of the playoff cutline at the end of October, and while many players try to focus only on the next game it is virtually impossible to be unaware of your team's place in the standings.

Elliotte Friedman pointed out that over the last seven full length NHL seasons, only three of 32 teams that were four points out of a playoff position on November 1st managed to play a postseason game. I was curious to see which teams made the comeback.

In 2011, the Boston Bruins were 4-7-0 with eight points, four back of the 8th place Lightning, but finished the season in 2nd place in the Eastern conference. The Bruins went 45-22-4 in their final 71 games.

In 2010, the Buffalo Sabres were 3-7-2 with eight points, four back of 8th place. They went 40-22-8 in their final 70 games to finish in 7th place in the east.

In 2006, the Calgary Flames were 3-7-1 and seven points back of 8th place, but they managed to finish in 8th place. The Flames went 40-22-9 in their final 71 games to make the playoffs.

History shows it will be very difficult for the Oilers to make the postseason, if they aren't close to the playoff cutline in 13 days.

The Oilers are already seven points out of 8th place with six games to play before November 1st. This afternoon's game isn't mathematically a "must-win" game, but in order to stay within four points of the playoff cutline they have to win at least four, likely five, of their next six games.

Some have stated fans need to remain calm and don't panic, however, the statistics paint a different picture. The Oilers need wins, and they need them quickly.

LINEUP

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle
Hall-Arcobello-Perron
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Brown/Gazdic-Acton-Jones

Head coach Dallas Eakins switched up his top two lines, by moving Nail Yakupov and David Perron away from their off wings. Eakins moved Yakupov to the left side, because he feels Yakupov can get more pucks to net, now that the puck won't be as exposed to the middle of the ice like it was on his off wing.

It will be interesting to watch and see if that is indeed the case for both Yakupov and Perron.

As I stated yesterday, Marc Arcobello's hockey sense has really impressed me. He's 2nd in the NHL in assists with eight, and despite not having any goals so far he has put himself in great positions to score. If he keeps playing like this it will be hard for Eakins to take him out of the top-six.

Smid-Petry
Ference-J.Schultz
Belov-N.Schultz/Grebeshkov

The final two pairings are a guess. Eakins might keep Belov and J.Schultz together, or he could switch things up. Denis Grebeshkov was recalled from OKC and he could play today. The Oilers didn't have a morning skate, so we won't know who is scratched until the warm up or moments before puck drop.

Dubnyk

He played his best game of the season in New York on Thursday, and if he plays like that today he'll give the Oilers a chance to win.

OUR CRYSTAL BALL

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have to win eventually don't they? They've won two straight in Ottawa, and they will make it three with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Arcobello's surprising start to the season continues as he picks up two more helpers and takes over the NHL lead in assists with ten.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The PK doesn't allow a goal for the first time this season, and to cap off their perfect afternoon of penalty killing Nugent-Hopkins scores a shorthanded goal, on a nifty assist from Arcobello. The shortie comes with Ryan Jones in the penalty box for instigating a fight with Joe Corvo. Neither player had any PIMs prior to the dust up.

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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#1 Devolution
October 19 2013, 09:34AM
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I live 11 time zones away, meaning those eastern games started at 4 am. I haven't missed a game in two years. When I crawl back into bed after the game ends at 06:30, my wife asks if they won. When I tell her shes says, "They don't deserve you".

She is of course correct, but it is a sickness.

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#2 Robin Brownlee
October 19 2013, 08:14AM
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Looks to me like 4-3 Oilers. NSOGDP: Birthday boy Boyd Gordon, fuelled by a big slice of the asparagus and rutabaga cake made for him by Dallas Eakins, scores the winning goal.

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#3 Gkpoil
October 19 2013, 02:45PM
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WONGER wrote:

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

Please don't reproduce

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#4 Wäx Män Riley
October 19 2013, 02:30PM
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Spydyr wrote:

And there it is "Dubnyk's weak goal of the game"™

I think after 35 shots or how ever many Ottawa has had, that wasn't really the weak goal. More of just a goal.

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#5 Wäx Män Riley
October 19 2013, 02:38PM
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Spydyr wrote:

A weak goal is a weak goal be it on the first shot or the forty-first shot.

I just don't see it as a weak goal. I think Ottawa could have had 6 breakaways and used the Mighty Ducks Triple deke to score and someone would call it a weak goal because it is Dubnyk.

He has played great this game.

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#6 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 10:04AM
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Mlcselli wrote:

Feeling optimistic. Today the winning streak starts . When the puck drops this afternoon, the Oilers are going to come out flying and give 60 minutes of playing hockey. They will get 50 shots on net. They will have 6 different guys scoring , with Yak scoring twice and Dubby gets the goose egg. Hope come alive today. Let's go Oilers!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most of us don't start drinking until game time.Good for you getting a head start.

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#7 Wäx Män Riley
October 19 2013, 02:41PM
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WONGER wrote:

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

lol

Dude... ritalin.

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#8 DrunkGuyTy
October 19 2013, 04:51PM
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@Spydyr

Get over yourself man. That goal was a TOTAL fluke. Sometimes sh!t happens. Enjoy the rest of the day at least - we won!

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#9 OttawaOilFan
October 19 2013, 08:13AM
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This is my fist fist on a GDB ever! WOOT! Have 4 dinners on the line with the family over this game! COME ON BOYS! I'm saying a 2-1 win in a shoot-out. Yak gets his first along Arcobello getting the winner in the SO! Love the Oilers no matter what. Through thick and thin these are my boys!!

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#10 Johe
October 19 2013, 08:15AM
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Oilers get over 30 shots, Yakupov gets on the scoresheet, Gazdic throws down with Kassian, and Eakins does at least one Bieber hair flip. Today the winning begins!!! Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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#11 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 08:23AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

Interesting to see how long those lines last. Playing guys on their off-wings is risky business.

One of the biggest issues I have with the Oilers "braintrust" is they think they are smarter then the rest of the NHL.The team's record suggests otherwise.

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#12 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 08:47AM
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Alsker wrote:

~Always the optimist~ granted history has taught us a matinee game is nothing more than an opportunity to hear all the cliche excuses for another loss. If these early games are truly bias to teams than why do they still exist? @JG Since when has any game not been a must win here if we havn't been eliminated from post season?

Man, I love the Oilers have for decades but there comes a time when reality has destroyed optimism.The whole organization from the owner down has failed their fans.It is a sad truth.

You know what a bold move would be? Fire Lowe.

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#13 Citizen David
October 19 2013, 10:08AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

MacT has also made some colossal mistakes - not getting better goaltending , not moving hemsky - signing rated than trading gagner and quite possibly hiring a rookie coach to coach a rookie team.

And MacT was hired by Lowe. The chain of causality is clear and the blame leads straight to Lowe.

Fire him. It is long overdue and now is about as good a time as any.

Moving Hemsky for peanuts would have been the colossal mistake. Gagner is good, and you're judging a coach after 8 games in which he got really bad goaltending?

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#14 2004Z06
October 19 2013, 10:32AM
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Fire Lowe, fire Mac T, fire Eakins.....blah blah blah. Its all I ever read here nowadays.

Put your money where your mouth is, boycott a few games, don't buy the merchandise, start a petition....Do something productive with your angst of shut the hell up!

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#15 Craig1981
October 19 2013, 01:07PM
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I am enjoying Im a fan that didn't turn on Dubnyk right now. He looks great, and though its too early, might be making people wanting him out of town look foolish

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#16 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:04PM
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I like that penalty by Smyth. Perron was laying on the ice with a 230 pound d man leaning into him with his stick. Glad this oilers team is finally standing up for each other.

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#17 Clarko
October 19 2013, 02:50PM
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FireKLowe wrote:

Whoever is running the PP need to be fired immediately!!! How the eff do you not gain the zone on a 5 on 3 let alone score? Effen idiots!!!

How about holding the players accountable instead of always blaming the coaches. I'm sure they didn't tell Nuge, "Here's what I want you to do on the 5-on-3. Attack two Senators players, try a spin-a-rama, and then give the puck away."

The coach can give you the greatest strategy, bu the execution has been very poor.

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#18 15w40
October 19 2013, 08:23AM
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How about the following defense pairings:

Ference/Petry Smid/Belov N Schultz/Grebeshkov

If Yak can benefit from watching from on high, then so can J. Schultz. But tell him to watch the other teams' defense - not the Oilers'.

How about trying to get RNH's line away from playing head to head with the other teams best offering for a game. Its hard to get the offense going for RNH and Yak if they are in their own end constantly.

On the bright side if the slide continues you have a legitimate reason to start drinking early afternoon on a Saturday.

Cheers!!

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#19 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 08:22AM
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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is an afternoon game.The Oilers record in afternoon games is atrocious.Can't see that changing today.

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#20 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 19 2013, 09:14AM
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I could go for a 'fire Lowe' chant. With 6 Rings in the building, it might bring him down to earth a bit.

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#21 FireKLowe
October 19 2013, 02:43PM
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Spydyr wrote:

From the looks of the PP Buchberger.

Whoever is running the PP need to be fired immediately!!! How the eff do you not gain the zone on a 5 on 3 let alone score? Effen idiots!!!

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#22 Rip van Winkle
October 19 2013, 10:50AM
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Darrell wrote:

Dude - if you think it's just a game there are plenty of teams out there you can cheer for but the Oilers are not one of them. As someone already mentioned - it's a sickness .... GO OILERS !

Hi, my name is Rip and I'm an Oilers addict

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#23 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:42PM
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Gangner is close to coming back so of course hall gets hurt. Stupid hockey gods

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#24 Yep
October 19 2013, 01:47PM
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It's not the hockey gods, its the fact that the oilers are a bunch of push overs...

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#25 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 19 2013, 02:24PM
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Dubnyk is stealing this game for us. Who'd a thunk it?

Edit: DAMN YOU, HOCKEY GODS

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#26 Mark B
October 19 2013, 03:59PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Short side is the AHL side hold the damn post he is 6'6"

Son what you want is a sheet of plywood!!

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#27 Bloodsweatandoil
October 19 2013, 08:53AM
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To be the optimist and lose the negativity, I will turn on the lights in my Oiler themed Basement and get my goal light/horn ready! Ithink the Oilers will win this one!

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#28 yaz
October 19 2013, 08:55AM
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Absolutely no chance on the rest of the road trip. Book 1-8-1, look at the schedule for the next month, if they can scrape up 3 wins out of those games I would be amazed. I have no solutions and have bought a lot more scotch to ease the misery.

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#29 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 19 2013, 09:03AM
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@Reagan

This team needs an enema...

fixed

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#30 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 10:02AM
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Devolution wrote:

I live 11 time zones away, meaning those eastern games started at 4 am. I haven't missed a game in two years. When I crawl back into bed after the game ends at 06:30, my wife asks if they won. When I tell her shes says, "They don't deserve you".

She is of course correct, but it is a sickness.

You sir are a true Oilers fan.Even though Lowe thinks you are a second tier fan.

Props to you!

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#31 NewfoundlandOil
October 19 2013, 10:13AM
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Spydyr wrote:

46-63-9-5

So not much different from their night game record then.

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#32 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:16PM
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Darrell wrote:

Who runs the PP in practice for Christ sakes ? I smell melt down again :(

From the looks of the PP Buchberger.

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#33 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 02:40PM
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Thanks for that one Dubby. Makes up for one of those games you lost. Glad to have you back!

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#34 Wäx Män Riley
October 19 2013, 02:42PM
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Spydyr wrote:

So your saying Hall for Karlson ? Would you do that?

I hope not.

Karlsson is really good, but he's also like 5'9"

Oilers have enough puck movers and need some shutdown.

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#35 Ari Gold
October 19 2013, 08:57AM
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This is an absolute must win. The Oil can't play a 40 win season.

I don't know if I can take anymore hockey-pain.

#hangover

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#36 Mark B
October 19 2013, 03:23PM
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Spydyr wrote:

A weak goal is a weak goal be it on the first shot or the forty-first shot.

That was a weak goal??????

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#37 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
October 19 2013, 08:14AM
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Interesting to see how long those lines last. Playing guys on their off-wings is risky business.

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#38 Thumby
October 19 2013, 08:17AM
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My heart hopes we end up with 40+ wins and make the playoffs but logic says otherwise.

Could you imagine the euphoria if we did it?

Screw your logic Mr. Spock!

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Oh Yes, this is an

early season must-win game.

Better get it done.

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#40 MattL
October 19 2013, 09:39AM
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@Serious Gord

Hey Gord, I feel bad for you, I think you take this hockey business more seriously than the rest of us. You know it's just meaningless entertainment, right? I mean, we all pretend it's important all the time, cuz it's fun, but it doesn't have to get you down. You CAN have fun and enjoy it if you want to. Team sucks, doesn't mean you have to be miserable and make everyone else around you miserable too.

What were you like in the 80's, mildly impressed? Reasonably satisfied?

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#41 Yaz
October 19 2013, 09:40AM
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While I am in a bad mood anyway even before the game today about half of the losses are due to poor coaching and a new system which is needed . Eakins has not learned line changes or pairings worth a darn, constant changes and no consistency. The retention of Bucky and Smith is another disaster but I believe Eakins had no choice on that one. Finally we were good on the PK and PP last year, what went off the rails here, RNH, Hemsky, Hall, Ebs and the best forwards on the PK is NOT working period, use the grinders and quit adding to the best players playing time which has to wear them down in the course of the game chasing pucks in their own end which they are proving they don't do well, block nearly enough shots or finish any checks. Coaching needs to get their heads out of their asses, they are the main cause of this mess.

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#42 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 09:46AM
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Citizen David wrote:

For everyone who wants to fire Lowe: Lowe has a good deal of responsibility for the hole that the Oilers fell into. (Not all of it but a good chunk) Perhaps he should have been fired for that but he wasn't. I got news for you he isn't the GM anymore. He just hired a new one that so far has done some pretty good things. (Gordon, Ference, Nurse, going hard after several goalies but refusing to be fleeced, backing Arcobello, bringing in defensive depth, clearing some deadweight, and not just sending away Hemsky for nothing) of course not everything a GM does will be good but Mac T has done well so far. If you expected a lot more you don't get GMing.

Back to Lowe: unless this horrible start last the whole season, which I don't think it will, he's not going anywhere for at the very least 2 seasons probably more like 3-4. Because that's how long a rope MacT will get to right the ship if things stay bad.

Of course there is also the possibility that the Oilers with all their young blossoming talent become a great team. And Lowe will still be here. So stop wasting your time griping about Lowe and come back to liking the Oilers cause right now Oilers fans seem as bad as Vancouver fans.

Lowe has been in charge of hockey operations for every year they missed the playoff.He was in charge of hiring and firing the GM.As far as hockey operations go the buck stops at his desk.Katz is an enabler allowing Lowe to screw up time and time again.

I'm sick of this "Oilers fans seem as bad as Vancouver fans" Bull.If Vancouver had the Oilers record since 2006 they would have lost half their fan base.The Oilers still sell out their games even though they have put the worst team in the NHL on the ice since 2006.

Oilers fans care and they are getting feed up but they still love their Oilers ,through thick and thin.It has been pretty thin for a long time now, so some fans are getting grumpy and venting.Let them vent they deserve to be able release some venom.It does make make you less of a fan because you care enough to be pissed when your team has become the "free space "on the NHL bingo card.When you play the other teams back-up goalie more then their starter it speaks volumes to how the rest of the NHL views the Oilers.

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#43 2004Z06
October 19 2013, 10:20AM
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Reagan wrote:

This team needs am enigma...

I think you mean enema(sp)

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#44 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 10:42AM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Fire Lowe, fire Mac T, fire Eakins.....blah blah blah. Its all I ever read here nowadays.

Put your money where your mouth is, boycott a few games, don't buy the merchandise, start a petition....Do something productive with your angst of shut the hell up!

Who are you to tell people how to behave?

Fans are fed up .If people want to vent let them vent.Saying your not happy with the team does no make you less of a fan.It actually shows you care

No one is making you read the vents.

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#45 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 10:55AM
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Chongler wrote:

The 05/06 Oilers started the season 3-6-1 Granted they had Pronger and Roli but still, it goes to show that nothing is written in stone.

They picked up Rollie later in the year because the goaltending sucked.Sound familiar?

We can only hope Mac-T can find another Rollie.

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#46 DoubleA34
October 19 2013, 01:16PM
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This power play is painful to watch

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#47 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:32PM
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This is what is wrong with the Oilers the last few years.A guy takes a run at Halls knee and not one player on the ice does anything about it.Makes me want to puke, to many pussies on the team.Now it looks like Hall is out with a bad knee.

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#48 Ari Gold
October 19 2013, 02:47PM
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WONGER wrote:

Here come the Senators!!! Size and Toughness throughout their lineup and the KASSAsINATOR to boot!!! BIG, HUGE,BAD Defense and BIG Skilled and TOUGH forwards, even a Monstrous, Tough goalie!!! Boys against MEN again and Wonger smells another loss coming!!! Oh YEAH, HALL gets gooned and injured andNO RESONSE from OIL!!! GYRBA cheap shorted Stajan in pre-season and got DROPPED by zmCGRATTAN on his next shift!!! That is the difference between the Oil and the Flames!!! Where is BIG, BAD STEVE MACINTYRE? Where is GAZDUC??? Can we trade for MCGRATTAN or BIG JOHN SCOTT!!! PLEAS!EM!!

I smell a narcissist.

Dude, therapy.

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#49 They're $hittie
October 19 2013, 08:23AM
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Remember in NHL '98 when you could trade a 68 rated player for a 72 rated player for a 76 for an 80 for an 84 for an 88 and so on, all the way to Jagr?

So, why is Perron not a consideration to move? Eventually we'll have Crosby.

Comment of the year on last post! Thought you had to move up 2 overalls at a time though not 4. I miss the staois for seabrook trades. Why wont chicago play by the nhl 08 rules/

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#50 Loweblows
October 19 2013, 08:52AM
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One win in 8 games and it took a shootout to win it-sad-here i started the season with such optimism and now I feel they are incapable of winning even one game-hate to give up hope but I have as I see no way this team will make the playoffs and quite honestly I see them in a race with Buffalo to finish last yet again-any big centermen available in the draft this year?

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