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 Devolution
October 08 2013, 01:34AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Puck you Harriet, go outside and play in traffic. Way to butcher the English language for the umpteenth time. Get an edumacation, you tool. Pay more attention in school, rather than that 2 Litre bottle of sprite and a bag of Cheetos sitting next to you.

Now, now. It is an open forum, we all get our say.

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#52 Rob...
October 08 2013, 07:44AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

First, let's appreciate that we probably watched two of the greatest players ever play their last game in Edmonton. We watched greatness in its sunset tonight.

As for the game - we won a regulation tie in about as ugly a manner as possible. No heart and more turnovers than the pillsbury doughboy in the first two.

Then for about fifteen minutes the puck bounced the oil's way, the devils got off their game plan and the oil laid a whupping on arguably the weakest team in the weakest division.

A glimmer of hope but those first two periods temper ones optimism.

Wow... you're 'that guy' who tells someone that just beat cancer not to celebrate too hard because it'll likely come back, aren't you?

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#53 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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#54 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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#55 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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#56 Gkpoil
October 07 2013, 08:45PM
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Please get us a GOALIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#57 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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OMG we're awesome!

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#59 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 07 2013, 09:54PM
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oilerssssss so good they only need to play 12 minutes a night to win!!!

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#60 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 07 2013, 10:22PM
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Well holy hell

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#61 Devolution
October 08 2013, 12:25AM
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They are just such teasers. Just when you bleakly look forward to another year of games like the one against Vancouver, they pull off one like this and you are reminded of what an electrifying young team they can be. Horrible first two periods, stunning finish!

And Perron, wow.

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#62 Quicksilver ballet
October 08 2013, 01:58AM
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@Devolution

Apologies Devolution. Just in the mood for some goes around, comes around this evening with Mr. English is my second language. I'll try and play nice from now on.

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#63 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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#64 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 916oiler
October 07 2013, 01:23PM
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All hail King Nuuuuuuge!!!

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#68 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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#69 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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#70 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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#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 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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#73 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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#74 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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#75 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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#76 Pouzar99
October 08 2013, 03:53AM
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Amazing how the game changed when Nuge scored off the PP scramble. Suddenly they stopped squeezing their sticks and trying to make all those crazy cross ice passes. They simplified their game, ramped up their compete level and earned the two points. This will be good for their confidence but this is going to be a process. The schedule ahead is still VERY scary and they are going to get killed if they don't improve their defensive play. Still, it was a great night. Feel sorry for teh frustrated fans ho left in disgust after the second period.

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#77 Rob...
October 08 2013, 09:22AM
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@Hemmercules

I think my analogy is fine. So what if he nailed it? Did it need to be said or would it be possible to celebrate the comeback and win for a bit, given a two loss start to the season?

I do understand I'm saying this about a guy with 'serious' in his alias, but the post seemed a bit much. We won the game with our backup goalie in net, also with one top center out and the other playing his first game back after shoulder surgery. How about reveling in that and hoping to build on it.

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#78 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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#79 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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#80 David S
October 07 2013, 04:09PM
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*Bloop* (The sound of one prop)

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NUGE is back, Hooray

Oilers should get first win here

Four-Three shootout win

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

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#83 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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#84 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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#85 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 10:19PM
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JEBERLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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#86 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 10:20PM
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PERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRON! AKA JEBERLEE 2.0

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#87 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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#88 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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#89 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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#90 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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#91 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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#92 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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#94 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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#95 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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#96 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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#97 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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#98 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 09:52PM
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PERRRRROOOOOON!

OK, OK, OK... Screw the 2 parade idea, it wasn't big enough...

What we need is to just parachute the entire team in with their cup!

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#99 dw
October 07 2013, 09:54PM
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Wow. Just like that. Maybe we don't have to play more than 20 minutes a night.

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#100 Justino
October 07 2013, 09:57PM
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Wow. Just wow.

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