GDB 3.0: RETURN OF THE NUGE

Jason Gregor
October 07 2013 12:17PM

Drawing by Kayleigh Semeniuk.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins makes his season debut tonight hoping to add some colour and competitiveness to a lacklustre Oilers lineup. Dallas Eakins didn't hesitate in re-uniting Nugent-Hopkins with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Eakins stated earlier this year that he has four lines, not a first, second, third or fourth, but it's pretty obvious that 4-93-14 is the most talented and dangerous trio.

Tonight it is up to the three of them to prove it.

The Oilers were dominated for 60 minutes in Vancouver. They didn't match the intensity level of the Canucks, and they made numerous mental mistakes. Sound familiar?

Eventually the players need to realize that the coach can't make them play harder or smarter. The organization can't keep blaming the coach for lacklustre efforts. Until this group commits to playing hard every night, they will not be a playoff team. They lost too many battles, made horrible passes and didn't come close to competing as hard as Vancouver.

I understand this is their third new system in the past three years, but their overall effort shouldn't be compromised due to learning a new system. I suspect Eakins is realizing that it is easy to say his team will compete every night, but it is much harder to convince them to actually do it.

It is a long season, and average teams will have off nights, but it is painfully obvious the Oilers need to play better. With the return of the Nuge, Eakins switched up his top three lines.

LINEUP

Hall-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle
Perron-Gordon-Hemsky
Hamilton-Arcobello-Yakupov
Gadzic-Acton-Brown

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

LaBarbera

Eakins said Hemsky has been his best forward through two games. It is a small sample size, but that is why he is ahead of Yakupov on the depth chart. When your team is struggling I don't think you put your best forward on the third line, just so you can possibly jumpstart Yakupov. Yakupov will need to earn more icetime.

Eakins mentioned that Smyth was one of five guys who could have been sat, but he chose Smyth because he knew he would handle it like a pro. After practice Smyth admitted it is a tough pill to swallow, but he'll practice hard and vowed he'd be better when he returns to the lineup.

I'm sure there was more to it than who would handle it better, Smyth hasn't played great, but I think that was Eakins first subtle message that his young players need to play better. Specifically, Hall, Eberle and Yakupov.

QUICK HITS 

  • Jesse Joensuu didn't finish Saturday's game and he wasn't on the ice at practice yesterday.  His back flared up in Vancouver, and there is no timeline for his return. Backs can be very finicky.
     
  • The Oilers recalled Brandon Davidson yesterday. Ladislav Smid and Andrew Ference didn't practice, but Eakins said they were just getting maintenance days. One of them likely has a minor tweak, so Davidson was recalled, but he won't play.
     
  • The Oilers must have slid Jesse Joensuu to the IR, because they have 23 players on the roster with Ryan Hamilton and Davidson up from the farm.
     
  • LaBarbera gets his first start as an Oiler. He has a career record of 59-70-25 with a .909 SV% and 2.83 GAA. He stopped all 12 shots he faced in Vancouver and he just needs to be consistent tonight. Make the routine saves.
     
  • Ryan Smyth had 11:25 of TOI in Vancouver. I think he'll play between 11-13 minutes when he gets back in the lineup.
     
  • Marty Brodeur will start in goal for the Devils. He hasn't won a game in Edmonton since December 21st, 2007. He's only started one game since then, but the Oilers will try to extend the future Hall of Famer's losing streak to two games in Edmonton.
     
  • The Oilers and Devils are two of the seven NHL teams without a win. Brodeur lost  3-2 to the Islanders in a shoot out in his only start of the season.
     
  • The Oilers have started a season 0-3 three times. In 1980, they lost to Quebec, Colorado and Buffalo before tying the Islanders. In 1992, they lost to Vancouver, Calgary and Vancouver before picking up a tie vs. Toronto. Their franchise worst start came in 1996, when they lost four straight to Detroit, St.Louis, Detroit and Philadelphia, before beating the Devils.
     
  • Will Acton has shown he understands his role and he's played well. Goading Ryan Kesler into a fight late in the first period was an excellent trade off. Acton isn't a scrapper, but he and Arcobello are playing like guys who know every game could be their last. Many of the other forwards need to play with the same determination.
     
  • I understand people are sick of losing, but it is a tad early to suggest the season is over. The Oilers started 4-0 in 2010, only to finish last. It is a long season.
     
  • That being said, Saturday was another tough day for Edmonton sports fans. The Eskimos got embarrassed at home, while the Oilers stunk in Vancouver. Neither team showed much desire. I am always amazed at the passion and loyalty of Edmonton fans. Since 2004, you've had little to cheer for, outside of one miracle run to the Stanley Cup, yet you still support the teams. It is time the player's effort level matches your loyalty.
     
  • I think it is time we start talking about this fight. It is becoming a serious issue.

WISHES...

 GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers can't play worse than they have in the last four periods, and the return of Nugent-Hopkins sparks them to a 5-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall, RNH and Eberle combine for two goals.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Boyd Gordon has never scored a goal in three consecutive NHL games. This is the fourth time he's scored in back-to-back games, but never this early in a season. Gordon scored in consecutive games on March 16th and 18th, 2007, Dec 30th, 2008 and January 1st, 2009 and then on February 2nd and 4th, 2010. He sets a new goal scoring steak tonight, and he also ties his career-high with a three-game point streak. 

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 Dubs-nik
October 07 2013, 12:23PM
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The key here is a solid FIST period, go oil go

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#2 rob
October 07 2013, 12:26PM
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good to see Labarbra get the start,lets see what he is made of,too bad Smyth gets sat but eakins needs to start sending a message,if Hall doesnt pick it up tonight he should be next.would love to see more of yak city too

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#3 Rama Lama
October 07 2013, 12:27PM
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I for one hope that LaBarbara does not develop the dreaded disease that seems to impact all Oiler goalies.........the "drop and flop" virus.

The best at this was Tommy Salo and it seems that Dubnyk has now contracted this virus. Exactly how is he playing his angles if he is on his back before the shot even arrives? It's no wonder he can't stop a beach ball right now. Stand up Dubby!

The dreaded virus needs a vaccination and soon!

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#4 Oiler_lover
October 07 2013, 12:28PM
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I have been impressed with most of Perron's play with the oilers. I think he will benefit alot when gagner gets back to 100%.

Has anyone had any reports if Gagner has lost weight, I know there was alot of reports that broken jaws and the lack of solid food would have this affect. It will be interesting to see what kind of of counter-measures the Oilers training staff put into place to help with Gagner retaining his peak performance weight.

Hopefully, the boys go out there and get 'W' tonight, I hear Eakins could use the sleep.

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#5 rob
October 07 2013, 12:33PM
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The NUGE with 7 points tonight,book it!

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#6 David S
October 07 2013, 12:38PM
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Merry Nugemas and a Happy Nuge year!

#NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE

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#7 The Hall Way
October 07 2013, 12:44PM
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Hey Gregor, Whast up with Yakupov?! he has been invisible so far in the first 2 games, the only time you notice him is when he skates around with the puck a bunch and then gives it away, or duffs on 3 consecutive one-timers on the PP?! is there an injury we dont know about? Is it linemates? It seemed he was working harder than ever before this off-season but so far it hasnt transalted into anything?!

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#8 Hall for Captain
October 07 2013, 12:49PM
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David S wrote:

Merry Nugemas and a Happy Nuge year!

#NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE

All I want for Nugemas is our first 2 points!

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#9 David S
October 07 2013, 12:50PM
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The Hall Way wrote:

Hey Gregor, Whast up with Yakupov?! he has been invisible so far in the first 2 games, the only time you notice him is when he skates around with the puck a bunch and then gives it away, or duffs on 3 consecutive one-timers on the PP?! is there an injury we dont know about? Is it linemates? It seemed he was working harder than ever before this off-season but so far it hasnt transalted into anything?!

A gifted, somewhat eccentric player neeeds gifted linemates to succeed. Look who he's been playing with so far. I also think the he and most of the team was far too jacked for game 1. They need to settle down a bit, which will be hard to do until they get the new systems into their heads so they can be instinctive on the ice instead of mechanical as we're now seeing. They're still too afraid to make mistakes, which is evidenced by a lack of confidence in their collective game - what we're percieving as "lack of compete".

Once Gagner comes back Yakupov will be stapled to him and his game will really get going. I'm quite looking forward to that actually.

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#10 SnailYakupov
October 07 2013, 12:54PM
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@Oiler_lover

I don't remember exactly where I read it, but Gagner lost 10 lbs in the week or so after it happened. Apparently he had gained most of that back by this weekend already though, so he should be in great shape when he comes back.

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#11 Darrell
October 07 2013, 01:05PM
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SnailYakupov wrote:

I don't remember exactly where I read it, but Gagner lost 10 lbs in the week or so after it happened. Apparently he had gained most of that back by this weekend already though, so he should be in great shape when he comes back.

Heading to the games in PHX and LA in two weeks and Philly in a month. I hope we get a surprise early return from Gags like we did with the Nuge .... GO OILERS and BRAVES as BEAT LA works in all scenarios ! Cheers .....

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#12 misfit
October 07 2013, 01:07PM
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That Kayleigh Semeniuk has some serious skills.

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#13 Spydyr
October 07 2013, 01:16PM
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Too bad Mac-T could not pick up a starting goalie this summer. My confidence in Labarbra is in the Dubnyk realm. Hope Smyth gets to "rest up" in the press box for a while.

Going from the first line to the press box makes me wonder about Eakin's thought process on the lines.

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#14 2004Z06
October 07 2013, 01:18PM
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I can stomach a loss from a superiorly talented team, I cannot however stomach a lack of effort!

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#15 916oiler
October 07 2013, 01:23PM
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All hail King Nuuuuuuge!!!

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#16 vetinari
October 07 2013, 01:26PM
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May the Nuge be with you, Oil Brothers...

GDP: Oilers 3 Devils 2

OGDP1: For the first time in hockey history, we'll see a 2 on 1 goalie fight... Dubnyk and Broduer team up against Cory Schneidar in the third-- while Schneidar is on the bench!

OGDP2: We'll see Hall of Fame goaltending tonight... of course, it will be from Marty Broduer...

NSOGDP: Dubnyk trades sticks with Brodeur after the game and then goes on to post shutouts in eight of his next twelve games.

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#17 brian_d
October 07 2013, 01:28PM
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1) Looking forward to seeing the powerplay with Nuge back.

2) Disappointed that Joensuu is banged up.

3) Would have probably moved Smyth down to the third line rather than press-boxing him right away, but I suppose Eakins is sending a message. I remember Smyth not taking press-box duty too well last year.

4) The third line is set up to be more offensive-minded than it has the first couple. I hope it's not at the cost of overall team defense.

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#18 Archaeologuy
October 07 2013, 01:35PM
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Nuge needs to be more sparkly in that picture in order to capture his angsty Vampirism.

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#19 Aitch
October 07 2013, 01:39PM
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Loved the NOOGDP. If the Oilers had won the storyline would be about Gordon and the "bottom six's" contributions

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#20 StHenriOilBomb
October 07 2013, 01:48PM
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Dubs-nik wrote:

The key here is a solid FIST period, go oil go

What is this, 2011?

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#21 Quicksilver ballet
October 07 2013, 01:49PM
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Love the passion on display when times are difficult like this (of the same mindset). Eakins troops, mired in flames these last couple days fall head over heels into the kiln tonight. Watch the temperature rise even more so after Jersey spanks our Oilers 4-1 tonight.

Defend/fear that, Stauffer. Bobby would be tearing them a new one if he still had a spine.

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#23 Craig1981
October 07 2013, 01:54PM
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@Oiler_lover

Gagner lost a little weight the first week, but put most of it back on. He hopes to at or close to his original weight by the time he returns. He only had his jaw wired for 3 days which is less than they feared which is why its not as drastic as others

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#24 ubermiguel
October 07 2013, 02:03PM
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It only took 3 games to remind people why Smyth was never going to be named Captain.

I'll take Eakins at face value. In sitting out and saying the right things Smyth is teaching the kids how to be pros. He's a great guy still, too bad his hockey legs and conditioning long past prime.

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#25 Oiler63
October 07 2013, 02:13PM
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Jason, any insights on Nuge playing today? Is he truly ready to play or is he rushed? I think it's a big concern of many fans that he could be rushed.

In my eyes Perron, Hemsky and Yak have been the most effective forwards so far. Yak has been very strong on the puck and distributing the puck reasonably well. I remember he sent out several good passes but his linemates just couldn't finish.

Impressed by Hemsky's skill on his goal in game 1 and assist in game 2. Just look at the details of his moves. He still got it.

Eberle has been less effective when nobody is feeding him the puck.

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#26 Dog Train
October 07 2013, 02:41PM
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Whenever Nuge, Hall and Eberle get reunited, they tend to tear it up out of the gates. The Devils are also struggling they lack offense in their lineup. This is a night where we need to get some confidence back in our defending and goaltending. I'll say 4-2 Oilers. Hall with 2 goals, Eberle with one and Nuge with 3 assists. The other goal is scored by Perron. GO OILERS GO!!

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#27 Archaeologuy
October 07 2013, 02:49PM
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David S wrote:

Merry Nugemas and a Happy Nuge year!

#NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE

I am so glad that Nugemas is getting the proper treatment that it deserves.

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#28 Micbilly99
October 07 2013, 03:07PM
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Jason, the Oilers played one of their worst games in several years on Saturday night and that’s saying something given the horrible hockey we’ve witness in since the Cup run. The problem I see, wasn’t the lack of skill (and Vancouver has more skill) it was the lack of effort, or fight. The players looked totally disinterested to the whole game. While I agree the season is not lost after 2 games, but honestly disinterest so early in the season is a very bad sign.

As for your piece on children and their general lack of activity, your comments are not new nor are they being heard. Parents, teachers and school administrators have to demand more of our kids and stop letting the kids run the zoo. Our kids are lazy because we let them be lazy. It’s time we push the kids outside and away from technology and have some fun and exercise. Stop blaming the kids, when really it our own dam fault.

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#29 Toblerusse
October 07 2013, 03:27PM
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Uhhh....we won the Grey Cup in 2005. that was fun.

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#30 Batfink
October 07 2013, 03:28PM
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Micbilly99 wrote:

Jason, the Oilers played one of their worst games in several years on Saturday night and that’s saying something given the horrible hockey we’ve witness in since the Cup run. The problem I see, wasn’t the lack of skill (and Vancouver has more skill) it was the lack of effort, or fight. The players looked totally disinterested to the whole game. While I agree the season is not lost after 2 games, but honestly disinterest so early in the season is a very bad sign.

As for your piece on children and their general lack of activity, your comments are not new nor are they being heard. Parents, teachers and school administrators have to demand more of our kids and stop letting the kids run the zoo. Our kids are lazy because we let them be lazy. It’s time we push the kids outside and away from technology and have some fun and exercise. Stop blaming the kids, when really it our own dam fault.

Push them away from technology, eh? So says the guy posting on the internet.

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#31 Tom
October 07 2013, 03:30PM
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The Hall Way wrote:

Hey Gregor, Whast up with Yakupov?! he has been invisible so far in the first 2 games, the only time you notice him is when he skates around with the puck a bunch and then gives it away, or duffs on 3 consecutive one-timers on the PP?! is there an injury we dont know about? Is it linemates? It seemed he was working harder than ever before this off-season but so far it hasnt transalted into anything?!

Yak is skating hard. I guess you noticed his wiffs on the power play. Did you happen to notice on Saturday night he had 3 big hits in the offense zone within 30 seconds. Guess not. His chances will come.

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#32 shanetrain
October 07 2013, 03:32PM
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Eakins comments regarding Hemsky dont surprise me in the least.

Hemsky needs to be coddled to be effective. Any criticism would be detrimental to both Hemsky and the team.

The kids on this team are obviously super talented but I wonder if all the talk and attention goes to their heads.

Hard work gets you everywhere.

Also, although Smyth has looked 57 years old out there in the first two games I find it kind of lame to single him out. You can't say he is dogging it thats for sure.

Oilers lay a beating on the Devils.

I hope the home crowd gives Brodeur a thunderous ovation before he lets in 5 or 6 tonight.

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#33 Oiler Al
October 07 2013, 03:34PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

Gagner lost a little weight the first week, but put most of it back on. He hopes to at or close to his original weight by the time he returns. He only had his jaw wired for 3 days which is less than they feared which is why its not as drastic as others

I saw an interview{TV}with Gagner and he stated he was back to 198 lbs, and will be playing at 202 lbs. I mention this , as didn't realize he was playing at plus 200lbs.. hope its all muscle.

You could see his jaw movement during speech was being taxed.

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#34 David S
October 07 2013, 03:47PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I am so glad that Nugemas is getting the proper treatment that it deserves.

How does this comment rate a negative Dakin? HOW?

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#35 Archaeologuy
October 07 2013, 03:53PM
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@David S

We live in a cynical world. One without the Nugemas spirit.

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#36 1983 and This Year
October 07 2013, 03:55PM
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Dear RNH, Ebs and Hall,

Please play well tonight so that Eakins keeps your line together. I can't handle Smyth anywhere near the top line again. Thanks guys.

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#37 David S
October 07 2013, 04:09PM
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1983 and This Year wrote:

Dear RNH, Ebs and Hall,

Please play well tonight so that Eakins keeps your line together. I can't handle Smyth anywhere near the top line again. Thanks guys.

Man, your avatar is spectacular. I will now proceed to prop the living h3ll out of it.

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#38 David S
October 07 2013, 04:09PM
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*Bloop* (The sound of one prop)

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#39 David S
October 07 2013, 04:11PM
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Oh and Oilers 5-3. Eberle with two, Hall with a G,A. The G being a seriously dirty top cheddar snipe.*

*Hockey lingo

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#40 1983 and This Year
October 07 2013, 04:20PM
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David S wrote:

Man, your avatar is spectacular. I will now proceed to prop the living h3ll out of it.

Octane Girls Calender, Miss February 2012.

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#41 Doctor Smashy
October 07 2013, 04:29PM
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Great column Gregor. I think it's ok to lose but it's never ok to not try.

I also agree that some of the energy (if not most) put into the fighting debate should go to children's health. There was great episode on the Fifth Estate on sugar and human health...there are definitely things that can be done.

Here's to a 5-1 win, 2 goals for Yakupov, the other three coming from 4-93-14....

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#42 justDOit
October 07 2013, 04:45PM
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It's nice to see that the league has the Oilers warming up another traveling team for their Pacific counterparts to pick apart tomorrow.

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#43 Serious Gord
October 07 2013, 04:54PM
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The devils and oil are starkly different in one very important respect - experience - and winning experience. The devils have vast amounts of both. It will be interesting to see if that plays a factor in the game.

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#45 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 07 2013, 05:04PM
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N-U-U-G-E

N-U-U-U-U-G-E

N-U-U-G-E

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#46 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 07 2013, 05:08PM
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NUGE is back, Hooray

Oilers should get first win here

Four-Three shootout win

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#47 dv.asteroid( dva)
October 07 2013, 05:09PM
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Um.... how do you set avatar? I'm not so swift with these devices.... heck, the main reason I have it, is for nation. 4-2 oil....unless the magic line is forged...4-93-64. MTNugeBWY

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#48 Naky
October 07 2013, 05:33PM
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@Oiler AI

Earlier in the summer, there was some chump in the comments here to who was making claims that Gagner was nowhere near 190lbs and was probably like 175 because this one time he saw Gagner in a restaurant and compared him to himself, who was apparently built like a ship brick by his own admission.

I called him out on it because I happened to be standing next to Gagner the week before and while I am not ripped or built, I am 170lbs and Gagner was so frigging thick compared to me with only a couple more inches in height that I'd have honestly said that he was easily over 200. It was two months into the off-season too, so he probably actually was and cut the weight down as the summer went on to lean out.

Anyone who says he's too small hasn't been around him. The guy's as solid as a boar. His weight is definitely legit and not at all inflated.

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#49 Oilcruzer
October 07 2013, 06:03PM
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Two things.

1). Don't give up a shorty when you have the other team on the ropes, and you are already up by 1.

2). Make that first big save so the Oil can attack.

Yesterday is over. Push on and push hard.

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#50 Serious Gord
October 07 2013, 06:16PM
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Naky wrote:

@Oiler AI

Earlier in the summer, there was some chump in the comments here to who was making claims that Gagner was nowhere near 190lbs and was probably like 175 because this one time he saw Gagner in a restaurant and compared him to himself, who was apparently built like a ship brick by his own admission.

I called him out on it because I happened to be standing next to Gagner the week before and while I am not ripped or built, I am 170lbs and Gagner was so frigging thick compared to me with only a couple more inches in height that I'd have honestly said that he was easily over 200. It was two months into the off-season too, so he probably actually was and cut the weight down as the summer went on to lean out.

Anyone who says he's too small hasn't been around him. The guy's as solid as a boar. His weight is definitely legit and not at all inflated.

Regardless of his weight - he plays small. Much as mats sundin was 6'5" (!) 235 and no one feared going into the corners with him.

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