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 SnailYakupov
October 07 2013, 12:54PM
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@Oiler_lover

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

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#52 2004Z06
October 07 2013, 01:18PM
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I can stomach a loss from a superiorly talented team, I cannot however stomach a lack of effort!

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

2) Disappointed that Joensuu is banged up.

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

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

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

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

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

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#56 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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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#60 Gkpoil
October 07 2013, 08:45PM
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Please get us a GOALIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#61 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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#62 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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I hope the next period is less scary than my wife's.

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#64 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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#65 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 09:54PM
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HALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!

OK, OK, screw the rest of the season, just give us the cup tonight!

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#66 Clyde Frog
October 07 2013, 10:19PM
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JEBERLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

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

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#68 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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#69 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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#70 Oiler63
October 07 2013, 11:22PM
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The taste of a hard earned victory is priceless!

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#71 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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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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#73 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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#74 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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#75 ubermiguel
October 07 2013, 02:03PM
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It only took 3 games to remind people why Smyth was never going to be named Captain.

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

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

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

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

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#77 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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#78 1983 and This Year
October 07 2013, 03:55PM
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Dear RNH, Ebs and Hall,

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

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

Dear RNH, Ebs and Hall,

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

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

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#80 1983 and This Year
October 07 2013, 04:20PM
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David S wrote:

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

Octane Girls Calender, Miss February 2012.

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#81 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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#82 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 07 2013, 05:04PM
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N-U-U-G-E

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

N-U-U-G-E

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

Oilers should get first win here

Four-Three shootout win

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#84 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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#85 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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#86 Sl111
October 07 2013, 08:03PM
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This is awful. Just awful.

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#87 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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#88 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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#89 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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#90 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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#91 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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#92 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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#94 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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#95 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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#96 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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#97 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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#98 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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#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 Shaun Doe
October 07 2013, 09:55PM
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Dear Oilers,

Lets never fight again

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