GDB 2.0: LOOKING TO REBOUND

Jason Gregor
October 05 2013 01:18PM

Whether it is fair or not, Devan Dubnyk and Roberto Luongo will be scrutinized heavily this season, and they are the focal point tonight. Dubnyk allowed two questionable goals on opening night, and until he cuts down on allowing "weak" goals fans, media and management will question the validity of him being a reliable starter.

Dubnyk has the skills to be a starting goalie. He's shown that, but he struggles with momentarily lapses in focus. Former NHL goalie Mike Greenlay told me this week, it isn't a lack of ability with Dubnyk, but his mental preparation. He needs to find consistency in staying calm and focused, and Greenlay believes the "soft" goals will disappear.

Greenlay was quick to point out that he couldn't find that consistent focus and that's why he was only a back up, and mainly an AHL goalie. Dubnyk has the size, skills and work ethic to be a solid goalie, now it seems it's about being mentally prepared/focused for every shot.

Goalies aren't perfect, but the biggest difference between the ones who carve out a niche as a top-15, top-10 or top-5 goalie is consistency. That will be Dubnyk's biggest challenge moving forward.

Luongo faces a different kind of pressure. He's proven he is an elite goalie, but after two years of drama surrounding him, Corey Schneider and post season failures, many are wondering if he can return to the form that made him a top-five goalie in the NHL. No one expects Dubnyk to be the Oilers best playe every night, but Luongo has been that guy in the past and he'll be looked upon to be their star every night.

Luongo didn't allow any softies vs. the Sharks on Thursday, in fact he kept them in the game with a stellar 16-save first period, but the Sharks ended up scoring four goals on 35 shots, which give Luonto a .885 SV%. It is misleading of course, because he kept the game respectable, but that's Luongo's reality. He'll be expected to do more than just keep the Canucks in games; he's expected to win them games by himself.

LINEUP

The Oilers recalled Ryan Hamilton yesterday because a few Oilers are battling a flu/cold. Jordan Eberle sounded like death on Thursday, and the flu bug can spread quickly so Hamilton is in Vancouver just in case one of the forwards can't go. I suspect Eberle will play though.

Eakins tweaked his lines at practice this week, switching Eberle and Nail Yakupov. Eberle skated with Jesse Joensuu and Boyd Gordon, while Yakupov was with David Perron and Marc Arcobello. Joensuu and Gordon were very good in game one, so you could look at it like Eberle got promoted.

However, Eberle and Perron had excellent chemistry in the preseason, Eberle had 8 points, Perron had 5 goals, so it was a bit surprising to see them split up.

I'm not sure it matters what the line combinations are at the start of the game. Eakins used numerous line combinations against the Jets. He isn't afraid to double shift players, mainly Taylor Hall, or try different combination from shift to shift. I expect that will continue tonight.

Excluding a switch due to illness, the lines look like this:

Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
Joensuu-Gordon-Eberle
Perron-Arcobello-Yakupov
Gadzic-Acton-Brown

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

Dubnyk

The Canucks will dress 11 forwards and 7 D-men because Alex Burrows is hurt. Burrows and Zack Kassian, suspended, usually play with the Sedins, but with both out look for David Booth to get the honour. The Canucks don't have much offence after the Sedins, Kesler and Booth.

QUICK HITS

  • Greg Chase was rated to go in the 3rd or 4th round this past summer, but he ended up going 188th overall, 7th round, to the Oilers. After the draft I wrote, he would be their best late round pick in years. Chase had 49 points as a 17-year-old, with limited PP time. Outside of scoring points, his best attribute, and one the Oilers desperately need, is that he is a great shift disturber. He's mouthy, he isn't afraid to give an extra stick here and there and he won't back down. He plays hard.

    He's also very skilled. In July I predicted he'd score 35-40 goals with the Hitmen this year, because he'd be in their top-six. Right now he's producing even better than that. He has 6 goals and 7 points in 4 games. He won't score 1.5 goals a game, but the Oilers could have uncovered a late-round gem.

    His game is similar to Steve Ott and Steve Downie. Ott had 50 goals and 87 points the year after he was drafted, while Downie had 16 goals and 50 points in 34 games. Many of the best agitators in the NHL were skilled players in junior, and if Chase continues to improve he'll get a long look with the Oilers in a few years. His combination of skill, grit and agitation is exactly the type of player they are missing.
     
  • Lowetide had a good piece on another Oiler draft pick, Mitch Moroz, last night. Moroz has 6-3-9 in 6 games with the Oil Kings thus far. With his size and strength he should be dominating as a 19-year-old, and so far he is. If he produces like this all season, he'll turn pro next year with lots of confidence, which is imperative for success. You need skill, desire and heart, but no player makes the NHL without a healthy dose of confidence.
     
  • Nugent-Hopkins will play Monday, and I think we will see him take Marc Arcobello's spot. Eakins could move Hall to the wing, but having Hall and RNH down the middle is much more attractive than Arcobello and RNH. When Sam Gagner returns, then I think we will see Hall move to the wing, but for now I think we'll see him stay at centre.
     
  • Ryan Smyth looked slow in game one. It was only one game, but if that continues I don't see him lasting with the speedy Hall and Ales Hemsky. Eakins talked earlier about liking duos instead of trios, and I think Hall and Hemsky will stay together. They like playing with one another, and both of them can back off defenders with their speed.
     

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers lose 4-3 in a SO.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Every time the Canucks block a shot we will be reminded that John Tortorella wants his team to block shots. Hall has 5-8-13 in 14 career games vs. the Canucks. He'll go 1-1-2 tonight and be a PPG in his career.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Early in the second period Dale Weise looks down to take a pass in his skates and Hall steam rolls him. Hall was livid after the Winnipeg game, because he thought Jacob Trouba was "head hunting," and since Weise nailed him with an elbow in preseason, Hall wants to send a message to the league he won't tolerate head shots. Weise gets up quickly and tries to go after Hall, and Ladislav Smid jumps in.

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 Tuff Guy
October 05 2013, 10:41PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

Yup. And there isn't one player in the flames I would trade for eberle and his 6 million. No one.

I'd trade him for McGrattan even up, Grats is NO SOFTIE!!!

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#152 Harlie
October 05 2013, 10:42PM
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Much to MacT's chagrin...the house of cards crumbled. On an all new Mact Mysteries on CBC On Monday Night!

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#153 outdoorzguy
October 05 2013, 10:42PM
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Bono didn't stick around for the empty netter!!

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#154 Stack Pad Save
October 05 2013, 10:43PM
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brutal...

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#155 Stack Pad Save
October 05 2013, 10:43PM
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Time to get Billy Ranford out of retirement.

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#156 outdoorzguy
October 05 2013, 10:46PM
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Eakins needs to get a suit that fits him...or eat a cheeseburger or two.

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#157 Stack Pad Save
October 05 2013, 10:46PM
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I just checked, Sam Reinhart is 6 foot 1

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#158 outdoorzguy
October 05 2013, 10:47PM
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@spliff

Consequences, there has to be consequences!!!

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#159 Czar
October 05 2013, 10:49PM
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Wonder how long it's going to take Hrudey to get his Canuck panties out of his a$$? What a tool.

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#160 Sidney frosby
October 05 2013, 10:51PM
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MAN, Thomas was available, and we signed labarbara....

He would never stand for a terrible performance like that.

What a beat down....

Funny thing is everyone will talk about the next meeting, which Vancouver will win as well.

Hopefully we trade for another small forward so we can keep losing battles on the boards

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#161 outdoorzguy
October 05 2013, 10:53PM
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Hey Dubnyk...Clearly Contacts is having a Fall sale!!

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#162 Tokenhill
October 05 2013, 10:56PM
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What a frustrating night. Too bad joensuu didn't play. Please switch hall back to wing... Please lababara Next game... Please let smyth play less... Everyone should play with perrons intensity and grits

Watching tonight's oilers is like watching Groundhog Day (nightmare version)

Let's hope rnh will bring the oil out of this slump!

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#163 Rocket
October 05 2013, 10:56PM
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Well I see the CBC Panel is embarrassing themselves again when it comes to analysing The Oilers.

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#164 mr_nihilism
October 05 2013, 11:03PM
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Not happy. Need Prozac.

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#165 TeddyTurnbuckle
October 05 2013, 11:03PM
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Justin schultz is brutal in his own end, Hall looked terrible, Nick schultz can't pass, Smid can't make a play. Other than that I thought they played well.

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#166 15w40
October 05 2013, 11:05PM
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I'm not too sure where the CBC panel was wrong. The oilers were brutal at every turn tonite.

No defense, no goaltending, no fight, no heart. This is very close to becoming an infinabuild.

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#167 spliff
October 05 2013, 11:05PM
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How many times have the Oilers made the playoffs in the last 20 years? They are a very very badly managed franchise.

The fans here deserve better. This team has no compete, no passion, no tenacity, and no identity.

If the flames keep beating us again this year then this life-long fan is done.

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#168 Walter Sobchak
October 05 2013, 11:09PM
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I think we can safely put the whole Hall thing at centre to bed now.

In a long list of Oiler bad ideas this was one of the worst thus far.

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#169 Stack Pad Save
October 05 2013, 11:13PM
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@Walter Sobchak

The sick thing is you know he will play the next game at centre ... they can't be that stupid can they?

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#170 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
October 05 2013, 11:14PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Can't wait to see Katz and his kid on the stage at next years draft, right after Bettman says, "and with the first pick". This is going to be another long winter!!

That kid is growing up in front of our eyes on that stage.....it's getting embarrassing.......I have this nightmare where .....he's up there ...he's taller than his dad...and we're still picking first overall.......yikes!

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#171 Benson
October 05 2013, 11:15PM
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Watching the Eskies and then the Oil today... Man, can't take too many days like this.

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#172 madjam
October 05 2013, 11:20PM
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We are looking worse than last year . Shouldn't be surprised I suppose . I wonder when the real rebuild begins and this one ends finally ?

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#173 Reg Dunlop
October 05 2013, 11:21PM
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spliff wrote:

How many times have the Oilers made the playoffs in the last 20 years? They are a very very badly managed franchise.

The fans here deserve better. This team has no compete, no passion, no tenacity, and no identity.

If the flames keep beating us again this year then this life-long fan is done.

I don't see the flames taking the season series against us this year so keep the faith, however the flames will work hard and make us earn every inch of ice we take unlike the way the oil mailed tonights game in. An inexcusable effort. It will be interesting to see if coach Eakins holds anyone accountable by changing the line-up for Monday. No changes may mean the players are winning in the battle for control of the oiler dressing room. Eakins, like Kruger before him, seems not to have a clue about how to manage this NHL squad.

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#174 DoubleA
October 05 2013, 11:26PM
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At least I had the preseason to dream about how good they were going to be

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#175 Fresh Mess
October 05 2013, 11:35PM
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I have to thank the posters here at ON for another night of comedy gold.

Who needs Saturday Night Live when you can watch the Oilers humiliate themselves on HNIC and then come here to read the hysterical rants from the same group of hockey savants who, 3months ago, had "Hartski" and Klefbom pencilled in for the hockey hall of fame?

Don't you see? You are the new Leafs fans. Your city government has already pledged your money to Katz. No need to worry your pretty little heads over it. Turn those frowns upside down and enjoy watching your Washington Generals.

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#176 Fresh Mess
October 05 2013, 11:45PM
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So let me get this straight: the concept of not setting your opponents up for goals on your own net is suddenly lost on Hall now that he is taking faceoffs?

Wow, I guess the apologists can convince themselves of anything to avoid facing reality about their hero's play.

Hall is playing stupid hockey. He will probably smarten up momentarily.

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#177 Dan 1919
October 05 2013, 11:55PM
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Dubnyk's weak goals are not new. The team gave up last game after he let two weak goals in, and that was giving up after they all busted their @$$es to get the lead. This game they didn't even show up because Dubnyk blew it before it was even started. I hope management takes it seriously how bad they need a real goalie now. I have not lost faith in this team, but if you keep putting them out there with one of the worst goalies in the league the whole thing is going to fall apart before the year is over... They need to start with a goalie and take it from there. And they need to start the correction process yesterday.

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#178 spliff
October 06 2013, 12:05AM
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@Reg Dunlop

I hope you're right. However, I have a bad feeling, similar to the bad feeling I've had for several year now. At the start of this year I was more optimistic then I've been since the 2006 cup run. I guess Oiler fans are so desperate for winning hockey, that they will happily drink the kool-aid being sold to us by KLoser and his sycophants. From what I've seen this year, its the same old song and dance. I just heard Hall interviewed and he sounded exasperated. Way to go MacT. Let's kill the confidence of our best player asking him to fix a problem that our GM should have dealt with. There are no more excuses. Other teams, like the Sens for example, still compete after losing top players. One thing is for certain, the flames will be hungry and tenacious and whatever the lack talent-wise they will make up for in work ethic. Therefore, I'm sure they will win the season series, AGAIN, against our sh*te team.

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#179 TDSM31
October 06 2013, 12:08AM
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Nice body language after your softies, Dubnyk. No other goalie in the league instills less confidence in his team than Dubersloth.

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#180 Sidney Frosby
October 06 2013, 12:52AM
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Sidney frosby wrote:

MAN, Thomas was available, and we signed labarbara....

He would never stand for a terrible performance like that.

What a beat down....

Funny thing is everyone will talk about the next meeting, which Vancouver will win as well.

Hopefully we trade for another small forward so we can keep losing battles on the boards

Also forgot to mention "the team toughness" that Smid and every Oiler and Bob Stauffer's chins rant about.....

Where were they when 4 Canucks were pushing Perron around in the Canuck crease. I saw two oilers skating with eachother around the net and only when Ferrence came in, did they join the fray.

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#181 Sidney frosby
October 06 2013, 01:00AM
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TDSM31 wrote:

Nice body language after your softies, Dubnyk. No other goalie in the league instills less confidence in his team than Dubersloth.

Yeah his body language is sooooo " oh we'll, I'll get the next one".

When did DD earn this 3.5 million dollar contract? He's making more than Kadri, but should be making Radek Dvorak money.

geez

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#182 otter2233
October 06 2013, 07:52AM
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Sidney frosby wrote:

MAN, Thomas was available, and we signed labarbara....

He would never stand for a terrible performance like that.

What a beat down....

Funny thing is everyone will talk about the next meeting, which Vancouver will win as well.

Hopefully we trade for another small forward so we can keep losing battles on the boards

You do realize Tim Thomas allowed 5 goals on 28 shots last night right? He also has a .873 Save% and 4.20 GAA. Yeah, sure sounds like the answer to me

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#183 2004Z06
October 06 2013, 08:46AM
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Game 2 and the Oilers faithful are jumping off the bandwagon as if it were on fire.

RNH will likely not get 1st line minutes for a few games at least as they ease him back in.

Hall will be there for a few more games.

As awful as everything looked last night, there are 80 games left to turn it around.

I said the day that Eberle signed his big deal that he would be the next Horcoff in the fans eyes. I stand by my comment.

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