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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#101 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 07 2013, 09:59PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

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.

oh?

edit: OH FOR F's SAKES

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#102 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 10:15PM
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We got a point! We got a point!

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#103 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 10:21PM
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We don't suck! We don't suck!

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#104 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 10:21PM
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OILERS WIN IT! THE OILERS WIN IT!

OMG I can finally be happy again!

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#105 Rod from Viking
October 07 2013, 10:31PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

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.

I meant 5-4 Oilers

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#106 Kurt
October 07 2013, 10:34PM
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@The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33

Best post ever.

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#107 Oiler63
October 07 2013, 11:22PM
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The taste of a hard earned victory is priceless!

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#108 Ari Gold
October 08 2013, 07:23AM
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Honestly, they were still turnover city last night.

Nuge looked quick, and even gritty yesterday.

Still, much room for improvement. That NJ team wasn't very good.

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#109 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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#110 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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#111 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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#112 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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#113 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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#114 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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#115 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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#116 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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#117 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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#118 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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#119 Quintana
October 07 2013, 08:59PM
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Bring Laviollete

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#120 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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#121 dw
October 07 2013, 09:38PM
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NUGE!

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#122 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 09:38PM
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OMG we suck a little less.

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#123 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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#124 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 09:51PM
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OMG we don't suck!

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#125 Alsker
October 07 2013, 09:56PM
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Bwaaahaaaahaaa...I knew the good Capt. Morgan would help............lol..huge cheer for simple save by Lababalala..lol

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#126 vetinari
October 08 2013, 10:00AM
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Apparently, I dropped by for the most exciting part of the game last night. I had to skip the first two periods to get some work done but when I tuned in for the third, they just exploded. It was heartbreaking to see NJ tie it up in the last 30 seconds but I have the feeling that the Oilers believe that they can win any game if it goes down to a shootout. Feels good to finally have a 1 in the wins column.

On another note, isn't it finally... FINALLY... great to see some eastern conference teams at Rexall?

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#127 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 08 2013, 10:20AM
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Spydyr wrote:

The comment section tonight. Holy bi-polar batman. I hate the Oilers I love the Oilers.

I think the bandwagon broke an axel tonight with all the jumping on and off.

Hahah no kidding. I listed my posts from last night in order below. Oohhh good night!

OMG we suck! OMG we suck more! You suck Horcoff! I hope the next period is less scary than my wife's. OMG we suck a little less. OMG we suck even less. OMG we don't suck! We got a point! We got a point! We don't suck! We don't suck! Eat sh!t Flames!

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#128 Hemmercules
October 08 2013, 10:42AM
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Rob... wrote:

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.

Fair enough. I'm just saying that the Oil way too often have to climb out of a third period hole. I was pretty pumped about the win last night and I went to bed happy thats for sure. I/m looking forward to a solid first period effort next game.

You must know some real jerks for someone to tell a cancer patient not to celebrate when they make a positive step......That analogy hit pretty close to home for me actually.

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#129 TDSM31
October 08 2013, 03:50PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Joey's birthday was in September.

Ok, let me rephrase that...Glad the Oil could pull it out for Joey's birthday celebration! Killjoy.

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#130 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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#131 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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#132 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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#133 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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#134 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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#135 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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#136 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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#137 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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#138 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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#139 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 09:45PM
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OMG we suck even less.

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#140 dw
October 07 2013, 10:02PM
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What a difference a few goals makes. The puck movement over the last couple of minutes has been incredible. Confidence back.

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#141 Shaun Doe
October 07 2013, 10:17PM
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I find it a little unsettling that Eakins is never seen talking when they show him on the bench. Nothing to say or just nothing nice?

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#142 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
October 08 2013, 10:53AM
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Spydyr wrote:

The comment section tonight. Holy bi-polar batman. I hate the Oilers I love the Oilers.

I think the bandwagon broke an axel tonight with all the jumping on and off.

Guilty as charged!......it is after all a game of emotion!

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#143 Rob...
October 08 2013, 11:02AM
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@Hemmercules

"You must know some real jerks for someone to tell a cancer patient not to celebrate when they make a positive step......That analogy hit pretty close to home for me actually."

I can't remember where, but I read a post stating that about Brandon Davidson, after he beat cancer. Could not believe anyone could be so lacking in empathy and so unwilling to think positively, live in the moment and hope for the best.

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#144 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 08 2013, 03:29PM
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@Harry

Blah blah blah yada blah blah...

Do you even look at the crap you post before you hit post comment?

You need to work on your English. I just feel sorry for you now. Good luck with your quest to gain an acceptable level of literacy.

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#145 Harry
October 08 2013, 07:48PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Blah blah blah yada blah blah...

Do you even look at the crap you post before you hit post comment?

You need to work on your English. I just feel sorry for you now. Good luck with your quest to gain an acceptable level of literacy.

The fact that you attack grammar instead of my points only further validates them.

Thank you for that.

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#146 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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#147 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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#148 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:11PM
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Taking it to the blue paint keep it up

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#149 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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#150 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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