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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#51 Lawndemon
October 07 2013, 06:22PM
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Great article on children's health Gregor. Hopefully it will help spark some action.

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#52 Craig1981
October 07 2013, 06:26PM
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@Naky

I remember your post well. Totally agreed with you. Yes everyone that says the Oilers are just small and skilled are solely mistaken. Gagner, Hall, and Yak are all thicker than people know.

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#53 Craig1981
October 07 2013, 06:33PM
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@Oiler Al

Thanks for the numbers. Couldn't remember them off hand and didn't want to misquote. And I'm sure it is muscle, I had a few people laugh at my post when I says he is known to be among the top in the NHL in fitness, but I stand by that comment

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#54 Walter White
October 07 2013, 06:34PM
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Game Night: Time to cook boys

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#55 randomoilerfan
October 07 2013, 07:11PM
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I'm used to watching the oilers lose, almost to the point of complacency. But last game was way to hard to take. Looked like the canucks were playing a ECHL team.

I hope moving Hall back to where he belongs gets him playing at the level we are used too seeing again. He has been very bad so far.

Anyone who hasn't clicked on the link at the end of the Quick hits section should probably do so. I take a keen interest in this as I was a chubby kid who became obese at the tender age of twelve.

Never mind the physical problems with being overweight at a young age, what is often overlooked is the emotional damage done. It's not easy growing up a fat kid. The torment endured by your peers is more than any child should ever have to endure. Rarely could I have a conversation with any classmates without ridicule, all I ever wanted was acceptance...to belong but that never happened. I am much healthier now physically but still incredibly damaged socially. That never completely heals.

No child should be robbed from their childhood due to inactivity. I played Hockey till pee-wee and quit then because I hatted when we started hitting. Wasn't the best player to begin with, that made it impossible for me. I always wonder If I hadn't quit if I would have had a better healthier childhood.

Get the kids active, if you could live one week in the shoes of a overweight child it would break your heart. It really is a epidemic.

Thanks for touching on this JG

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#56 butter
October 07 2013, 07:19PM
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C'mon Oil, I am already out of Kool-aid and it's only game 3.

Kayleigh has talent by my eye.

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#57 Batfink
October 07 2013, 07:29PM
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"Parents love their children much more than they do any sports team, yet we don’t demand that our government or civic leaders encourage more physical activity among children." (Excerpt from Jason's column in Edmonton Journal. Follow his link for the paragraph in context.)

Jason, I couldn't disagree more with your column in the Journal. Here's why. Who's job is it to raise, encourage and inspire your children? The governments? Civic leaders? No. It is the parents, as primary care providers, as the first and last faces they see EVERY day. If your child doesn't get enough exercise although being perfectly healthy, who's fault is that? Even if I believed the school or community didn't provide enough opportunity for organised fitness, I wouldn't stand pat and complain. It is a wonderous age of information. You can research anything with a few key strokes. Join your children in activities, make them fun, make the time. DO NOT rely on others, especially politicians to provide for your children. That's your job.

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OMG we suck!

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#59 Sl111
October 07 2013, 08:03PM
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This is awful. Just awful.

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#60 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 08:06PM
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Is it too soon to fire the goalie coach?

Why oh why are our goalies punching at freaking pucks?!?

Just get in front of it and kill the play or give up an ugly rebound... I don't care at this point, stop the initial freaking shot!

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#61 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:09PM
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Ummmm..was so choked I got stuck working late, now maybe it wasnt long enough

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#62 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:11PM
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Taking it to the blue paint keep it up

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#63 Justino
October 07 2013, 08:14PM
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First ten minutes of the period we were playing pretty bad but were picking it up. Its good to see Nuge out there to remind us why hes so threatening out there.

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#64 outdoorzguy
October 07 2013, 08:32PM
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@Sl111

Because it's an awful team and an even more terrible organization.

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#65 outdoorzguy
October 07 2013, 08:33PM
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@Clyde Frog

How about firing the head coach? Let's get someone who knows what they are doing.

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#66 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:34PM
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butter wrote:

C'mon Oil, I am already out of Kool-aid and it's only game 3.

Kayleigh has talent by my eye.

This is why they invented RUM!!Trust me Capt. M instead of the Kool-aid does just fine.

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OMG we suck more!

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#68 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 08:44PM
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Leh sigh....

At least he didnt try to punch the puck..

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#69 Gkpoil
October 07 2013, 08:45PM
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Please get us a GOALIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#70 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:46PM
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First line to throw a hit in this period, ends in a fight good for Brown. Every Oiler forward has turned away from finishing their check. It not the coach thats got to go outdoorzguy its this attitude the players have. Wonder if MacT will give Eakins enough leeway to allow him to punish these guys.

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#71 Poolanov
October 07 2013, 08:46PM
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Is it just me or are we completely lost with no apparent game plan at all.

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#72 Rod from Viking
October 07 2013, 08:47PM
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Gregor, it will have to be 5-3 Oilers now, it shure would be nice if Oiler goaltenders could play like Marty for 5 minutes.

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#73 Rod from Viking
October 07 2013, 08:48PM
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@Rod from Viking

Gregor, it will have to be 5-3 Oilers now, it sure would be nice if Oiler goaltenders could play like Marty for 5 minutes.

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#74 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:49PM
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Gkpoil wrote:

Please get us a GOALIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or teach either of ours NOT to be down early. Dubby's been guilty of it and so is Labababababa......

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#75 mlcsellil
October 07 2013, 08:52PM
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We suck and saying not to panic yet is crazy. If I were Katz. someones' head would be rolling in the morning. I'd start with the head going bald--KLowe. How this team can possibly be more frustrating is beyond moi.

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#76 Quintana
October 07 2013, 08:59PM
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Bring Laviollete

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#77 Poolanov
October 07 2013, 09:00PM
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Gkpoil wrote:

Please get us a GOALIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GOALIE!!!! Hell I'd be happy with a flipping Goal!!

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#78 Yep
October 07 2013, 09:02PM
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Hall has made more passes to the Devils than the Oilers...

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You suck Horcoff!

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#80 The Last Big Bear
October 07 2013, 09:03PM
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Going to be hard to get respect in this league when the team has more captains than points.

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#81 Reg Dunlop
October 07 2013, 09:03PM
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Barring a miracle comeback, a loss tonight positions the oil for a stellar 0-10 start to the season. Is it not better to follow a team that is galactically bad rather than boringly average? At least the comment section here is as full of angst as a Joy Division album.

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#82 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 09:06PM
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@Reg Dunlop

I would love to watch 6-5 losses right now... We have the going down by 6 part stone cold... We just have to get the scoring 5 part now!

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#83 Oilersfan4
October 07 2013, 09:10PM
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I know it's only 3 games but WOW I got no idea what system this team is playing. This year edition of the Oilers already look defeated. Starting to wonder if maybe Horcoff was the heart and soul of this team. This team under Ralph Krueger played way better than this years squad. I don't know but I've been saying for years this management is pathetic. Wake the f up Mr Katz

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#84 Serious Gord
October 07 2013, 09:10PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Barring a miracle comeback, a loss tonight positions the oil for a stellar 0-10 start to the season. Is it not better to follow a team that is galactically bad rather than boringly average? At least the comment section here is as full of angst as a Joy Division album.

Five stars for the joy division reference!!

Love will tear us apart should be the official ON anthem/theme song.

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#85 TonyT
October 07 2013, 09:11PM
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Remember when Perron-Eberle and Hall-Hemsky looked good, I'm glad we'll never have to see those lines again... #sarcasm

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#86 Yep
October 07 2013, 09:13PM
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TonyT wrote:

Remember when Perron-Eberle and Hall-Hemsky looked good, I'm glad we'll never have to see those lines again... #sarcasm

You could put hall with Crosby right now and he would still look terrible...

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#87 dw
October 07 2013, 09:18PM
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I don't know which is worse. Watching the Mighty Oil flounder or watching Doug MacLean diagnose it.

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#88 Clarko
October 07 2013, 09:19PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

I know it's only 3 games but WOW I got no idea what system this team is playing. This year edition of the Oilers already look defeated. Starting to wonder if maybe Horcoff was the heart and soul of this team. This team under Ralph Krueger played way better than this years squad. I don't know but I've been saying for years this management is pathetic. Wake the f up Mr Katz

"Starting to wonder if maybe Horcoff was the heart and soul of this team"

The team finished 7 straight years out of the playoffs with Horcoff...not all his fault, but it wasn't like his "heart and soul" were leading to actual wins.

And everyone knows that our management is brutal...they just keep recycling the same guys (Lowe, MacT, Howson, Smith, Bucky) and somehow the results are suppose to be different.

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#89 Doug Irwin
October 07 2013, 09:20PM
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I don't know why anyone here is complaining about systems or goalies. The fact is, is that the team has to show up for either of those to actually be pointed at as an area of concern.

Outside of 3-4 guys, it all boils down to lazy play. Hall, ebs, petry, doesn't matter whose name's on the back, they've all been guilty of half-a$$'ing their way to the puck. They've all been physically intimidated as well, and are making a bunch of blind passes, just trying to get the puck of their sticks. Nothing annoys me more than a pro player, making 5-20 grand for 15-22 minutes of work a night, can't skate all the way to the puck. Most beer league players push harder then the oilers tonight.

I know it's only 3 games in, but it's the same problem as the last several years. Lazy heartless play.

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I hope the next period is less scary than my wife's.

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#91 Randaman
October 07 2013, 09:25PM
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Pathetic! No shots until 12 minutes in? Offensive juggernaut? Our local pee wee team has more heart than this sad sack group. Time to bench some stars. Oh wait, what stars? Don't see any. I seem to recall Quick predicting 4-1 for NJ and all he got was trashed. Wake up Oiler fans, this ship is sinking fast

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#92 dw
October 07 2013, 09:26PM
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At least Boyd Gordon has been as advertised. Good defensive forward that has been good on the faceoff dot. Notice him every time he is on the ice. Hemsky has looked good. Hall looks like the pressure to turn this thing around is really weighing on him.

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#93 Shaun Doe
October 07 2013, 09:28PM
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I'm trying to figure out which moves we made in the off season to make this the worst team of the last 7 seasons. There is just all kinds of terrible on this team

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#94 james_dean
October 07 2013, 09:29PM
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Whats the over/under on Eakins saying,

" were gonna have to have consequences "

Haha

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#95 dw
October 07 2013, 09:38PM
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NUGE!

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OMG we suck a little less.

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#97 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 09:42PM
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NUUUUUGE!

Ok, ok! Now do you think the cup parade should go down Jasper or Whyte Ave first?

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OMG we suck even less.

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#99 dw
October 07 2013, 09:45PM
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The unfortunate reality is that "consequences" at this level would entail a trip to the press box or demotion to a lesser line. If you were to drop Hall or Eberle to the third or fourth line who are you going to move up? Other than a few guys that are playing well (Hemsky, Gordon, etc) there really aren't any options that warrant the promotion. Eakins has limited ability to level any sort of punishment to underachievers on our top lines.

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#100 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 09:46PM
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GOOOOOOOOOAL!!!

OK, OK... Let's just have 2 parades simultaneously!

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