YAK CITY: WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY

Robin Brownlee
October 09 2013 09:14PM

Three games into the 2013-14 NHL season, the Edmonton Oilers have scored 10 goals and Nail Yakupov, who led the team with 17 red light celebrations as a rookie last season, doesn’t have any of them. Problem?

I think not, and for a lot of reasons, but then I wasn't expecting Yakupov to simply pick up where he left off at the end of last season, when he padded his stats with six goals – more than one-third of his total -- in Edmonton's final three games.

That ridiculously hot three games – he scored the half-dozen on 13 shots – didn't have me projecting him for 30 or 35 goals this time around (I pegged him for 25 goals in an earlier item) and these first three mostly so-so games don’t have me thinking in terms of a sophomore slump.

Streakiness, lack of consistency and big swings between the best efforts and the worst are very common with young players, and Yakupov, who just turned 20, is simply another example. He's had some good shifts. He's had some bad shifts. He's had a lot of mediocre shifts. It's been three games.

For context, it should be noted that Yakupov went three games or more without a goal on four different occasions in 48 games last season, including stretches of 16 games and nine games without an over-the-top celebration.

UP AND DOWN

Yakupov's been playing about 16 minutes a night, mostly on a line with Boyd Gordon and Ryan Smyth. He's been credited with six shots on goal, which actually represents a slight increase in his shot output of last season, when he had 81 shots through the shortened 48-game campaign.

Yakupov's shooting percentage as a rookie was 21.0 per cent, making him one of just five players in the league who clicked at 20 per cent or better while playing 40-or-more games.

"He’s shown some flashes of excellence. He’s had a couple of dark periods, as well,” head coach Dallas Eakins said today. "That’s not uncommon, though, for a player of his age.

"The more experienced a player the more level, even-keel they play every night. The more inexperienced the player, the more ups and downs from game to game and from shift to shift. He’s trying to find himself.

"We’ve got a lot of work to do with Yak, but he’s got so much upside. Boy, when he grabs that puck, everyone leans forward on their seat. He got a fair bit of ice-time in the third period against the Devils, about nine minutes, almost half the period. He’s OK."

THREE DOWN, 79 TO GO

Eakins is right, of course. While coaches love consistency in their players because it makes their lives infinitely easier, expecting it from a youngster like Yakupov isn't realistic. That doesn't mean Yakupov shouldn't strive to tighten up the gaps between his best and worst shifts, but it takes time.

If Yakupov goes out against the Montreal Canadiens at Rexall Place Thursday and pots a couple, consternation about his bagel through three games will no doubt turn, at least in some corners, to about how Yak City is back on track score the 40 goals so-and-so predicted.

When the droughts and hot streaks are done, I'm still thinking 25.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Wax Man Riley
October 09 2013, 09:58PM
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madjam wrote:

When your relegated to turd line you play like a terd ? Why is Hemsky playing above him if he is the future and Hemsky unlikely to be here next year? Tomorrows game the Hobbits against the Termites ? Price against the Dubbinator . Oilers 8-2 in a blowout .

Today, Hemsky is a better NHL player. 2 years from now will probably be a very different story, but today hemsky is better in the NHL.

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#2 Spydyr
October 09 2013, 09:32PM
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Look at his line mates.That might be an issue.

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#3 Walter Sobchak
October 09 2013, 09:57PM
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What I don't understand is why the double standard for Yakupov?

We watch Hall who arguable cost the Oilers at least 4 goals directly relating to a bad give aways and just poor defensive plays.

We watched Eberle & Schultz Jr have massive blunders.

The Oilers play Smyth on the first line, in which he was completely out classed.

I'm not saying Yakupov is not without fault, it seems that Eakins already has himself a fall guy.

While the others can make costly game changing mistakes Yakupov doesn't close down on his man fast enough he gets benched! Go figure!

Meanwhile, the Oilers are playing the sh!t out of Hemsky on what should be Yakupov's line, Hemsky has a great chance at not being here next year, doesn't seem like good player management to me.

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#4 Johe
October 09 2013, 09:22PM
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Yakupov is going to score tomorrow. That is all.

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#5 oilers2k10
October 09 2013, 10:12PM
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@Robin Brownlee

haha didn't know it was possible to see who gave the props..now I'm slightly embarrassed, but your comment gave me a good laugh before I go to sleep lol But lets face it, who doesn't give themselves a prop now and then..

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#6 Jason RM
October 09 2013, 10:37PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes! Absolutely you play Yakupov more then Hemsky!

Hemsky is gone!! Why don't you get Yakupov playing important minutes now?

Yakupov needs to play more, period, he needs those minutes more. He's not learning jack playing with Gordan & Smyth.

Which Hemsky are you talking about? The Hemsky that has been our best player through three games? That Hemsky?

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#7 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 09 2013, 11:01PM
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719 wrote:

Mr. Brownlee is quickly becoming one of my favourite bloggers.

An insightful and well thought out piece, wish there were more bloggers like him!

Samuel Brownlee......is that you?

The things a kid has to do to earn his allowance.

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#8 #ThereGoesTheOilers
October 09 2013, 09:59PM
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Who really cares what line he's on?

I just want to see us win for a change.

If Yak has ups and downs, fine. I, for one, won't complain about Hemsky getting x_amount of ice time if it means we have a better chance of success.

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#10 Spydyr
October 09 2013, 10:11PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes! Absolutely you play Yakupov more then Hemsky!

Hemsky is gone!! Why don't you get Yakupov playing important minutes now?

Yakupov needs to play more, period, he needs those minutes more. He's not learning jack playing with Gordan & Smyth.

Yak skates backwards faster then Smyth skates forwards.

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#11 Will
October 09 2013, 09:36PM
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Trade Yak for Omark.

.... Then Omark for Weber.

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#12 Wax Man Riley
October 09 2013, 09:59PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

What I don't understand is why the double standard for Yakupov?

We watch Hall who arguable cost the Oilers at least 4 goals directly relating to a bad give aways and just poor defensive plays.

We watched Eberle & Schultz Jr have massive blunders.

The Oilers play Smyth on the first line, in which he was completely out classed.

I'm not saying Yakupov is not without fault, it seems that Eakins already has himself a fall guy.

While the others can make costly game changing mistakes Yakupov doesn't close down on his man fast enough he gets benched! Go figure!

Meanwhile, the Oilers are playing the sh!t out of Hemsky on what should be Yakupov's line, Hemsky has a great chance at not being here next year, doesn't seem like good player management to me.

When was Yak benched? Not last night playing almost half of the 3rd period.

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#13 JodanM
October 10 2013, 12:34AM
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For everyone complaining that Hemmer is getting a push when he might not be here past the trade deadline when YakCity is toiling on the third line...STOP! THINK....

MacT was blunt about trying to trade Hemsky this off season. MacT was blunt about 29 other teams not valuing Ales as the Oliers do. Dallas Eakins strikes me as an intelligent guy who might realize that in order to drive up the value of an asset you might have to showcase him a little bit.

I am ok with Eakins playing Hemmer in a top six role with cushy zone starts and letting him play PK and PP too. It showcases Hemsky as a versatile professional who can still produce, and it just might mean that come the trade deadline, teams in a playoff hunt may come knocking with offers. In a salary cap NHL, the GM and Coach can both sell other teams on the value of their teams "trade bait"

All that being said, Nail has had an opportunity to light it up against weaker opposition (albeit with 'weaker' line mates) and so far hasn't. It's only been three games though and I think that 79 games is plenty of time to pot 30 or so goals.

Cheers!

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#14 oilerjed
October 09 2013, 09:24PM
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Heres to Yak getting his SECOND against the Habs! Derrrrrrrrrrrrr

Edit: Umm who do I have to thank for the edit? That would have to be his Fist would it not?!

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#15 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 09 2013, 09:52PM
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This is just Dallas Eakins lack of experience on display. How can he honestly say Yakupov has struggled more than Hall and Eberle have. Eakins created this mess himself by having Nail on the 3rd line and on the bench for 45 minutes against the Jets. May have cost them the 2 pts that night in fact.

It's little bonehead moves like Eakins made that night that will cost the Oilers games. Obviously the coaches are making their share of mistakes as well. Yakupov on the 3rd line and Ryan Smyth on the first......get ready for yet another new head coach next summer. Where does Lowe keep finding these guys...anyone know Laviolettes phone number? This battle won't last long between Yak city and Eakins. The sooner Eakins lays off of him the longer Dallas will have work.

Yak is so fluffy I could die....

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#16 oilers2k10
October 09 2013, 09:59PM
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Eakins said that he wanted to surround Hall with veterans, so he surrounds him with the two vets that have struggled the most in the past three seasons..how about put the top goal scorer from the oilers last season on the wing? To much common sense?

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#17 DrDave
October 10 2013, 12:30AM
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madjam wrote:

When your relegated to turd line you play like a terd ? Why is Hemsky playing above him if he is the future and Hemsky unlikely to be here next year? Tomorrows game the Hobbits against the Termites ? Price against the Dubbinator . Oilers 8-2 in a blowout .

Why did you spell turd 2 different ways in the same sentence??

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#18 Aitch
October 10 2013, 08:47AM
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"Yakupov's been playing about 16 minutes a night, mostly on a line with Boyd Gordon and Ryan Smyth."

I know Smyth-bashing has become the favourite past time of most Oilfans these days, but I'm not sure we can blame Yak's lack of production on Smyth. Didn't Smyth line up next to Hall and Hemsky in the first two games and next to Orville Redenbacher against the Devils?

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#19 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 09 2013, 10:14PM
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@Wax Man Riley

Darn Tootin

Hopkins between Hall and Yakupov. Eberle between Perron and Hemsky. Crisis averted tomorrow night.

Then Yakupov can toss his hat trick puck at Eakins on the bench. If Eakins wants another Grabovsky/Carlyle situation, he best mention Yakupovs game has come along way in just one night, very soon.

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#20 Puritania
October 10 2013, 02:30AM
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DrDave wrote:

Why did you spell turd 2 different ways in the same sentence??

Because he's a tird.

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#21 Bi-Curious Gord
October 10 2013, 05:32AM
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oilers2k10 wrote:

haha didn't know it was possible to see who gave the props..now I'm slightly embarrassed, but your comment gave me a good laugh before I go to sleep lol But lets face it, who doesn't give themselves a prop now and then..

If I can't fall asleep at night I usually prop myself. I find it helps...

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#22 Walter Sobchak
October 09 2013, 10:22PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Yak skates backwards faster then Smyth skates forwards.

This there is no doubt! amen brother.

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#23 The Last Big Bear
October 09 2013, 09:24PM
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Sean Monahan: 4 GP, 3G, 2A, 5P

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#24 Walter Sobchak
October 09 2013, 10:06PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I don't think Eakins said Yak has struggled more than Hall or Eberle.

Also, are you suggesting that Yak plays ahead of Eberle and Hemsky?

Yes! Absolutely you play Yakupov more then Hemsky!

Hemsky is gone!! Why don't you get Yakupov playing important minutes now?

Yakupov needs to play more, period, he needs those minutes more. He's not learning jack playing with Gordan & Smyth.

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#25 Walter Sobchak
October 09 2013, 11:25PM
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Jason RM wrote:

Which Hemsky are you talking about? The Hemsky that has been our best player through three games? That Hemsky?

Yes, the same one that won't be here in March.......That one.

The one that produced less then Yakupov last year....that one too.

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#26 madjam
October 09 2013, 09:43PM
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When your relegated to turd line you play like a terd ? Why is Hemsky playing above him if he is the future and Hemsky unlikely to be here next year? Tomorrows game the Hobbits against the Termites ? Price against the Dubbinator . Oilers 8-2 in a blowout .

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#27 Walter Sobchak
October 09 2013, 10:02PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

When was Yak benched? Not last night playing almost half of the 3rd period.

The first or second game, player 2 minutes in the second period. That's being stapled to the bench.

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#28 Westcoastoil
October 09 2013, 10:12PM
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So far - all 3 games- Ebs and Hemsky have been better. They should be at this point in Yak's career. His numbers will also no doubt pop when Sam is back and the top 9 depth improves.

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#29 719
October 09 2013, 10:53PM
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Mr. Brownlee is quickly becoming one of my favourite bloggers.

An insightful and well thought out piece, wish there were more bloggers like him!

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#30 Spydyr
October 09 2013, 09:38PM
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Will wrote:

Trade Yak for Omark.

.... Then Omark for Weber.

Madjam is that you?

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#31 Spydyr
October 09 2013, 10:06PM
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#ThereGoesTheOilers wrote:

Who really cares what line he's on?

I just want to see us win for a change.

If Yak has ups and downs, fine. I, for one, won't complain about Hemsky getting x_amount of ice time if it means we have a better chance of success.

Yak might care who he plays with.The Smyth triangle or Hall and Ebs.Hmmmmmmm.

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#32 K_Mart
October 10 2013, 07:20AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes! Absolutely you play Yakupov more then Hemsky!

Hemsky is gone!! Why don't you get Yakupov playing important minutes now?

Yakupov needs to play more, period, he needs those minutes more. He's not learning jack playing with Gordan & Smyth.

Hemsky has been one of, if not the, best oilers forwards so far. Sure Yak would likely have more success offensively with more icetime and better linemates, but we're trying to win here. Until Yak starts to outplay Hemsky, which could happen tonight, Eakins should keep doing what he's doing. Besides, 16.6 minutes a night and some pp time is still indicative of top six minutes.

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#33 Wax Man Riley
October 09 2013, 10:03PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

This is just Dallas Eakins lack of experience on display. How can he honestly say Yakupov has struggled more than Hall and Eberle have. Eakins created this mess himself by having Nail on the 3rd line and on the bench for 45 minutes against the Jets. May have cost them the 2 pts that night in fact.

It's little bonehead moves like Eakins made that night that will cost the Oilers games. Obviously the coaches are making their share of mistakes as well. Yakupov on the 3rd line and Ryan Smyth on the first......get ready for yet another new head coach next summer. Where does Lowe keep finding these guys...anyone know Laviolettes phone number? This battle won't last long between Yak city and Eakins. The sooner Eakins lays off of him the longer Dallas will have work.

Yak is so fluffy I could die....

I don't think Eakins said Yak has struggled more than Hall or Eberle.

Also, are you suggesting that Yak plays ahead of Eberle and Hemsky?

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#34 Retsinnab5
October 09 2013, 10:49PM
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YAKCITY!!! Yak scores 2 tomorrow problem solved.

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#35 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
October 09 2013, 11:17PM
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Jason RM wrote:

Which Hemsky are you talking about? The Hemsky that has been our best player through three games? That Hemsky?

That would be the one. 4pts and -3 his first week.

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#36 Oilers Coffey
October 10 2013, 12:33AM
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Yakupov on the 3rd line with who? Who's going to give him a clean pass? Who can take a pass? Then again 64-27-6 were the best line of the opening night roster, than 64 sat benched??? That I still don't understand. Right now I'd be rolling: 1- 64-4-93 2- 14-57-27 3- 83-26-94 4- unchanged. When Gags returns he slots in for Gordon. 83 can push the play on his own for the third line. He's done it for nearly a decade that he doesn't use his line mates that effectively. (I am a 83 fan) I would just like to see what kinda flair we have in 3 #1 selections and their dynamics as a line! They were #1 each for their own reasons, and they'd match perfectly. 93 the magician 4 the bull 64 the finish! Thoughts?

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#37 sizedoesmatter
October 10 2013, 06:51AM
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Hemsky and Smyth will be trashed on this site till they get traded.no matter how well they play.

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#38 russ99
October 10 2013, 07:46AM
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Yak played primarily with Hall and Gagner last year during his scoring runs.

Gordon and Smyth ain't gonna cut it.

IMO, Eakins is giving him less icetime and lesser linemates for a reason. To show Yak that you have to work for icetime, not give up on the puck when it's in the D-zone and nothing comes easy.

He'll be a better player for it, and I expect him to pile up the numbers in the second half of the season.

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#39 Staypuft
October 10 2013, 08:27AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes! Absolutely you play Yakupov more then Hemsky!

Hemsky is gone!! Why don't you get Yakupov playing important minutes now?

Yakupov needs to play more, period, he needs those minutes more. He's not learning jack playing with Gordan & Smyth.

See this attitude has been the Oilers' problem for too long.

"Play the kids because they need the experience! Who cares about the vets because they'll be gone soon!"

The problem is, relying on a bunch of kids won't get you wins in this league. It doesn't happen. You play the guys that are a)performing the best and b)have been there before.

Your attitude will get Yak more points (leverage for a higher contract) and will hurt the team on the ice as well (he's not playing great). Doesn't sound too smart.

I also have no idea how playing more = learning more. What do you learn with 19 minutes a game that you can't with 16?

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#40 justthestatsman
October 09 2013, 11:13PM
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oilers2k10 wrote:

haha didn't know it was possible to see who gave the props..now I'm slightly embarrassed, but your comment gave me a good laugh before I go to sleep lol But lets face it, who doesn't give themselves a prop now and then..

Mental note...don't trash a Brownlee comment if I know what's good for me...

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#41 Hammers
October 10 2013, 12:41AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Yes, the same one that won't be here in March.......That one.

The one that produced less then Yakupov last year....that one too.

Don't be so sure he won't be here in March . He seems more like an Eakins player than Yak or Eberle . If Yak gets 20 -25 goals most of us will be happy especially if his defensive game improves. We have a tough game against the Habs who lost to Calgary then a road trip . Right now I don't care who scores lets just get some goals .

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#42 Batfink
October 10 2013, 07:35AM
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719 wrote:

Mr. Brownlee is quickly becoming one of my favourite bloggers.

An insightful and well thought out piece, wish there were more bloggers like him!

Self-propping Mr. Brownlee? LOL, is this you?

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#43 oilers2k10
October 09 2013, 09:59PM
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Eakins said that he wanted to surround Hall with veterans, so he surrounds him with the two vets that have struggled the most in the past three seasons..how about put the top goal scorer from the oilers last season on the wing? To much common sense?

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#44 Spydyr
October 09 2013, 10:16PM
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oilers2k10 wrote:

haha didn't know it was possible to see who gave the props..now I'm slightly embarrassed, but your comment gave me a good laugh before I go to sleep lol But lets face it, who doesn't give themselves a prop now and then..

Prop yourself?For shame.

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#45 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
October 10 2013, 05:37AM
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Masturpropping?? Here??

One does NOT Masturprop here

Make sure you clean up.

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#46 K_Mart
October 10 2013, 07:28AM
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Hall has our worst forward so far but he's always been a slow starter for us(even last season). He has a larger track record than Yak as well. IMO, right now when they are all at the top of their games, Ebs, yak, and Hemsky are pretty even. Not to say that won't change. But my money has the three of them finishing the season with similar minutes/game played. In the 17-21/game range. They will all have time on the 1st,2nd,and 3rd line.

Also, never read into Eakins' lineup before a game. If last game was any indication of his habits, then many of those combinations might not make it through the first period.

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#47 Avatarget
October 10 2013, 07:28AM
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@Oilers Coffey

Yak should play with RNH. At least it needs to be tried. A finisher with a playmaker is a tried and true recipe for success. The other experiment that needs to happen is Eberle at center. He is weak along the boards but has the skillset to thrive in the middle. C'mon Dallas, give it a try. He will do better than Hall did at the position.

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#48 Leef O'Golin
October 10 2013, 08:20AM
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Tomorrow at this time people will be arguing about whether Yak should have toned down his goal celebrations.

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#49 A-Mc
October 10 2013, 12:25PM
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Holy Christ, it's only 3 games in people; I'm shocked by the level of desperation already.

Yakcity will Yakattack soon enough, don't you worry! There's Only Been 3 Games!

ps: My gf thinks i made up Yakcity or Yakattack in a lame attempt to be funny.. Little does she know that even sports writers use these terms. #GOilers #YAKCITY

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#50 pkam
October 10 2013, 09:21AM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

That would be the one. 4pts and -3 his first week.

What is your point? So you don't think he is not the best Oilers after the first 3 games?

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