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

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#103 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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#104 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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#105 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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#106 ubermiguel
October 07 2013, 11:30PM
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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.

Props for the reminder to appreciate that on the other side of the puck were Jagr and Brodeur. Both are HHOF first ballot entries when they retire.

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#107 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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#108 Spydyr
October 08 2013, 06:39AM
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TDSM31 wrote:

Glad the Oil could pull it out for Joey's birthday!

Joey's birthday was in September.

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#109 LoweBlow
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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#110 Cynic
October 08 2013, 07:35AM
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Oilers Nation. Come for the suicide watch. Stay for the celebration.

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#111 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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#112 Hemmercules
October 08 2013, 08:34AM
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Rob... wrote:

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?

I think Gord nailed it. Every oiler fan across the country was fuming after the first two periods. They looked slightly better than they did in Vancouver but they were still really bad for most of the game. No shots in the first 12 minutes!!! 2-0 in the first 10 minutes!!!

Slow starts have killed this team over the last few years. Great win but lots of work to do yet.

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#113 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
October 08 2013, 10:50AM
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TDSM31 wrote:

Glad the Oil could pull it out for Joey's birthday!

AGREED! Cause Joey is one Oiler who HATES TO LOOSE!

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#114 Quicksilver ballet
October 08 2013, 04:18PM
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TDSM31 wrote:

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

It was only after the fact the Eskimos had a celebration (that filtered out through the media) for Joey they felt obligated to acknowledge him.

Oh, I forgot, the Oilers probably never had any home games in late September. Yeah, that was it.

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#115 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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#117 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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#118 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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#119 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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#120 Walter White
October 07 2013, 06:34PM
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Game Night: Time to cook boys

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for touching on this JG

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#122 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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#123 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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#124 Alsker
October 07 2013, 08:11PM
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Taking it to the blue paint keep it up

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#125 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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#126 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 08:40PM
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OMG we suck more!

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#127 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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#128 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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#129 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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#130 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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#131 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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#132 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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#133 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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#134 dw
October 07 2013, 09:38PM
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NUGE!

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#135 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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#136 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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#137 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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#138 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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#139 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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#140 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 07 2013, 09:54PM
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OMG we're awesome!

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#141 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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#142 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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#143 Shaun Doe
October 07 2013, 10:02PM
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Perron has an absolute laser of a shot. Would love to see more on net. Just explodes off the stick and quick release

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#144 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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#145 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
October 07 2013, 10:22PM
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Well holy hell

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#146 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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#147 Rod from Viking
October 07 2013, 10:33PM
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The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

You still suck Horcoff!

Boyd Gordon is a better in all aspects of the game, he is a solid 3rd line center that can move up if needed, bold move Mac T.

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#148 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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#149 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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#150 Spydyr
October 08 2013, 07:17AM
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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.

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