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 WONGER
October 19 2013, 02:38PM
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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!!

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#2 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:33PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

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

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

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#3 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 03:49PM
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Mark B wrote:

That was a weak goal??????

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

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#4 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:28PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Dubnyk is stealing this game for us. Who'd a thunk it?

Edit: DAMN YOU, HOCKEY GODS

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

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#5 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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#6 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 04:02PM
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Mark B wrote:

Son what you want is a sheet of plywood!!

No , just some consistency.

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#7 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 10:24AM
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Citizen David wrote:

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?

By move hemsky I meant buy him out - tambo - another Lowe hire - made him untradeable.

Gagner - a good player of some market value - has talents that are very much I surplus on the oilers and he too should have been moved sometime ago - and it should have been one of MacT's first acts to trade him. Instead, because MacT brought him into the nhl and he feels affection for him he signs him to a long nt contract making him unmovable surplus.

And as I said re: Eakins ; "quite possibly "

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#8 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 03:53PM
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Mikey wrote:

Don't be a homer, that was not a run at Halls knee.

Your right it was not a run but it was a knee on knee hit to one of the teams best players and no one backed him up.They so need some toughness in the top six.

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#9 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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#10 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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#11 Citizen David
October 19 2013, 09:34AM
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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.

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#12 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:24PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

At 3.5M for Dubnyk, bringing in a different starting Goalie would of meant for sure he would of been gone

That 3.5 million might be why Mac-T is having such a hard time making a goalie trade no team wants a 3.5 million backup.Chances are he is gone this summer anyhow.He is UFA.

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#13 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:40PM
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First good game Dubnyk played all year(props to him).First win in regulation.Coincidence I think not.Now if only Dubnyk can play like this every game not every sixth he might become a legit starter.

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#14 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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#15 Reagan
October 19 2013, 08:28AM
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This team needs am enigma...

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#16 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 08:59AM
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They have to get from seven points behind to four in six games to even bein the one-in-ten chance category of making the playoffs. And if I understand it - no one has made it in if they wer five or more behind.

That means - as Jason points out winning four or five of the next six games (likely five as there are several teams between is and eighth)

They play OTT MON WAS TOR LA and PHX. Not a weak team in the bunch (arguably)

So we have a slim chance of having a slim chance of making the playoffs.

And if they fail to gain ground in the next six games - the season is as good as over.

What will the fan reaction be?

Apathy - already seeing that. Empty seats - paid for but empty nonetheless - seems likely.

Anger - some of that already too.

Sorrow - some if that on this site to be sure - lots of wallowing in the good old days - pathetic IMO.

Undying love and rooting for them - god knows there is plenty of that in this site - esp by some if the hosts - Lowetide being the poster child. But they have been conspicuously less vocal of late and that is a good sign.

We will know the work has truly turned when Al changes his nickname from a play on the false god that is Lowe to something that does not point the person most to blame for this dark era.

And Katz will know that he has to act when their is loud booing and chants of fire Lowe in much the same way leafs fans chanted fire Wilson. Hopefully by Xmas.

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#17 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:52PM
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God wrote:

Just checked the score. What happened to Hall?!?!?!?!

Knee on knee hit when no one on the ice came to his aid he took a weak slash at the guy that hit him and got a penalty. Not one oiler on the ice happened to notice.They were to busy looking at their skates.

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#18 rob
October 19 2013, 08:41AM
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Not going to be pretty,oil lose big this afternoon,but hope its enough to make mact make a bold trade

ps can we sit kevin lowe?or trade him

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#19 k
October 19 2013, 10:31AM
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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.

@ S Gord

Agreed not moving Hemsky, signing Gags and hiring a rookie coach are all mistakes. I would add not buying out Smyth as another.

I was against Smyth re-signing with the Oilers for exactly the same reasons some fans are seeing on a nightly basis. Hard to fathom he was making 5M +

Gagner making 5M+ is equally unsettling, Arcobello is a better fit at 20% of Gagner's salary.

Until these three are gone don't expect anything different from the Oilers

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#20 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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#21 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:41PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

Karlson is to Ottawa what Hall is to Edmonton. He isn't going home with anyone.

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

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#22 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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#23 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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#24 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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#25 Serious gord
October 19 2013, 11:32AM
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K_Mart wrote:

Gordon, Perron, and Belov all look like great moves by MacT.

Not bringing back Whitney was also a great move. There is still time for him to get something for Hemsky, and waiting was clearly a good move so,CE his value is definitely higher now than it was a month ago.

Signing Gags was lateral, IMO. Hiring Eakins was great, but losing 7 of the first 8 sure makes it look bad. No rash decisions need be made until AT LEAST Nov 1.

G,P, & B so far have been good moves - not great and not pivotal.

Whitney was already out the door before MacT showed up - so hardly "great"

Hemsky should have been bought out and the funds and roster spot used to address one of the many holes this team has. And hemsky this season has gone cold and has done little to nothing to improve his trade value which is currently negative. Not doing that may be the worst thing MacT has done thusfar with the possible exception of:

Signing gagner. He is surplus goods. He is now untradeable.

Thus with hemsky and gagner now unmovable one of the young stars may be jettisoned to save management. And it will be MacT's fault.

Eakins is - so far - a bad move. The jury is out. But the bush league way that he was hired is a black mark against MacT.

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#26 Wonger
October 19 2013, 12:11PM
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Look Denise Garbagekov is starting! Just what the Oil need- ANIOTHER STICK CHECKING DAFODIL FAIRY!!!

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#27 Gkpoil
October 19 2013, 02:13PM
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what a bunch of f*cking meatheads!!! Eberle should forfeit 10k every time he's too fancy and turns the puck over on the power play!!

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#28 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 02:35PM
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What would they have to leave behind to take Karlsson home with them? Would one of the kids do if so which one?

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#29 Smokey
October 19 2013, 08:25AM
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The first lines a head scratcher. Having one winger outta position, but two? I understand the reasoning, maybe its this backwards thinking that will turn around Yak.

Grebby on the backend could pay dividends or blow up. Schultz Sr. been ok the past bit, and he's an assistant captain. I think he continues to draw in.

Arco has shown he's NHL quality in terms of ability. Been a bright spot, and arguably the Oilers best forward. Hope he gets the assist hatty tonight and takes over the assist lead. I'm fine with him going 0-82 this year. Other the Hertl train in SJ, and Monahan you might have to have Arco in the Calder consideration. I hope this is the year we win the Calder.

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#30 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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#31 Johe
October 19 2013, 10:58AM
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Spydyr wrote:

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

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

The Oilers found someone better than Roli. His name is Dubnyk. You'll see.

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#32 Soyder
October 19 2013, 12:13PM
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@Wonger

Put him with J Schultz and you have 2 stick checking DAFODIL fairies back there!!

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#33 Smokey
October 19 2013, 12:34PM
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Is it just me, but does Nuge look just a little like Butthead if he had braces? Nice goal there by the way.

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#34 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 01:09PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

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

For me it was never about getting Dubnyk "out of town" it was about upgrading the goaltending.To a more consistent money goalie.

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#35 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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#36 flyricky
October 19 2013, 02:48PM
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@YFC Prez

Gagner for Chris Neil and Lehner?

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#37 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 10:14AM
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MattL wrote:

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?

In the eighties i was euphoric about the greatness of the team and the pure joy that was the type of unregulated hockey that was played league-wide.

But I also cheered knowing that oilers management were $hit-assed lucky to aquire the team that it did. IMO Sather does not deserve to be in the HOF and the seeds of our teams failings today were sown in the easy success of that era.

As for how hard I am taking it - to me it is a mental exercise - I get to analyze a company/organization and enjoy some hockey while doing it. I don't take it seriously other than knowing that fans can effect change and I hope that in some small way I am part of that process.

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#38 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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#39 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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#40 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 09:22AM
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Today I'm going to try and watch with my layman eyes how both of these coaches make out. It seemed pretty clear that Eakins got his clock cleaned in the last couple of games. Let's see how he does against newest great coach.

As for GDP - Ottawa wins 5-2. But the gambler/statistician in me screams out take the dog

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#41 Spydyr
October 19 2013, 09:32AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

I could go for a 'fire Lowe' chant. With 6 Rings in the building, it might bring him down to earth a bit.

To make Alsker and others happy here is an optimistic chant. How about a "We want seven for Lowe or he has to go" chant."

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#42 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 10:03AM
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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.

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.

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#43 k
October 19 2013, 10:41AM
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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!

Most Oiler fans don't have the guts

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#44 YFC Prez
October 19 2013, 01:09PM
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@Craig1981

I'm relieved he's back. But he was scary bad. Hard not to understand the lets run dubnyk out if town crowd.

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#45 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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#46 michael
October 19 2013, 08:29AM
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We need something good to happen to us. My only concern is that we have to beat Death in net to get that win. Anderson is to Ottawa what Kipper was to Calgary. He is their meal ticket. Winning tonight will take an event of Biblical proportions. I just think Anderson is that good right now.

I watched Brodeur the other night and boy he looks beatable. Then I tuned in the Ottawa game and it was like "right that what it looks like when the goalie makes the saves he is supposed to".

Oilers lose 3-2 once again. PP 1-6.PK 1-5

Perron and Hemsky score

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#47 michael
October 19 2013, 08:31AM
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Spydyr wrote:

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is an afternoon game.The Oilers record in afternoon games is atrocious.Can't see that changing today.

What is their record in afternoon games?

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#48 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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#49 God
October 19 2013, 08:56AM
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I don't know if I can bare to watch...

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#50 Alsker
October 19 2013, 09:12AM
Trash it!
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@Spydyr

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

Bold maybe, but one of those occasions when once it's done, everyone will say it was so obvious why wasnt it done sooner.

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