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 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 08 2013, 01:16AM
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Harry wrote:

And another thing. How dare you say "our Oilers". You take every oportunity to crap on this team.

One day, maybe not tgis year or the next, maybe 5 years from now they will contend and you'll weasel your way back into cheering for the team. A bandwagoner is the worst kind of fan. Believe me i live near Vancouver so I know.

You sir are nothing but a horses ass!!

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.

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#3 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
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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#4 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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#5 Serious Gord
October 07 2013, 10:52PM
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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.

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#6 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
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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#7 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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#8 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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#9 rob
October 07 2013, 12:33PM
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The NUGE with 7 points tonight,book it!

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#10 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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#11 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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#12 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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#13 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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#14 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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#15 David S
October 07 2013, 12:38PM
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Merry Nugemas and a Happy Nuge year!

#NUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE

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#16 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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#17 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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#18 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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You still suck Horcoff!

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#20 Harry
October 07 2013, 11:17PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

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.

And another thing. How dare you say "our Oilers". You take every oportunity to crap on this team.

One day, maybe not tgis year or the next, maybe 5 years from now they will contend and you'll weasel your way back into cheering for the team. A bandwagoner is the worst kind of fan. Believe me i live near Vancouver so I know.

You sir are nothing but a horses ass!!

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#21 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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#22 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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#23 Quintana
October 07 2013, 08:59PM
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Bring Laviollete

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#24 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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#25 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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#26 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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Eat sh!t Flames!

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#28 StHenriOilBomb
October 07 2013, 10:41PM
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Today is my birthday. My mum is visiting from the west coast, and she made us dinner. I was a little bummed to be missing most of the game, it was obviously how things were going to go down.

I tuned in absentmindedly during the second while we were cleaning up, and got pretty bummed when it went down 3-0. My mum looked at me and drunkenly stated that the Oilers would come back and win the game for me for my birthday if I went and sat in my lucky seat.

My lucky seat is outside on the balcony where I watch in October and March (June would be fun, eh?) It's windy and cold right now, but I came out here to watch out of random superstition.

The game continued. You know the script.

Then after Eberle scores in the shootout, my mom, who likes the shootout, asks, "Why doesn't the next guy just do the same move". I replied, "Not likely mum, it doesn't work like that."

geeze. What a day.

Better than getting Nuge's return, and better than the 2 points, I had a little giggle of hope for the first time in 7 seasons. That's a great birthday present.

Now it's time to get out of the wind, take an Advil and go to bed.

SMILE!

edit: wow. I drank too much.

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#29 Harry
October 07 2013, 10:44PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

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.

Your such a douche its scary.

Fo everyone a favour and disappear of the site.

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#30 916oiler
October 07 2013, 01:23PM
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All hail King Nuuuuuuge!!!

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#31 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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#33 David S
October 07 2013, 04:09PM
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*Bloop* (The sound of one prop)

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#34 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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#35 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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#36 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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#37 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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#38 misfit
October 07 2013, 01:07PM
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That Kayleigh Semeniuk has some serious skills.

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#39 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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#40 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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#41 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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#42 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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OMG we suck!

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#44 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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#45 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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#46 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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#47 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 07 2013, 09:53PM
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i never left the bandwagon i was just sitting in the back corner chugging the cheapest whiskey i could find.

wooooooooo baby nuge!!

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#48 TDSM31
October 08 2013, 02:20AM
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Glad the Oil could pull it out for Joey's birthday!

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#49 Harry
October 08 2013, 06:49AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

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.

Attacking gramar again hey? What a pathetic reach. Just layoff the team you goof. And like I said when they put it together and start winning remember that ypu day in and day out predict them to lose. DOUCHE!!

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#50 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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