GDB 19.0: SURVIVAL

Jason Gregor
November 10 2013 11:14AM

I didn't pick the Oilers to make the playoffs this season, had them 10th, but I don't think anyone expected them to start the season this poorly; 4-12-2 in their first 18 games and tonight a date with the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

The Oilers have to play like they did in Tampa Bay or they could easily get blown away in the Windy City.

We could break down the stats. Goals for, goals against, PP, PK or any other stat, but we all know that won't be very flattering for the Oilers.

It would be easy to pile on the Oilers right now, and I've noticed many have. Every goal that goes in is either a major breakdown or bad goaltending. The other team is also paid to play and they are capable of making nice plays. Even if the Oilers were 12-4-2 they'd still be allowing goals.

Hockey is about mistakes, they will happen, but the key is trying to force the opposition to make more. We know that hasn't happened often enough, but that shouldn't be a surprise.

The Oilers aren't built to win more games than they lose. They just aren't.

Yesterday I noticed a debate raging about the Oilers depth, and some were suggesting the Oilers finally have lots of depth in their-top nine. Are they better than they used to be in that department? Yes, but they are a far cry from having lots of proven NHL depth. I'm sorry, but that is true.

The reality is the Oilers won't win consistently until the make up of their top-nine is changed. I and many others have written or said this for the past few years. The Oilers aren't heavy enough, don't have enough grit and they don't have enough consistent skill in their top-nine.

That isn't the player's fault. You can't expect them to suddenly become heavier, or more physical. The one thing they can control is their ability to make smart plays. They need to do that more frequently, but even then I'd only see them as a .500 or so team.

Some people believe the Oilers don't really know what they have in their top-nine because they haven't had all of them healthy at the same time. It is true the forwards are finally healthy, but I defy anyone to tell me why the Oilers don't know what they have up front.

We know what type of player Taylor Hall is. He is their most dominant forward.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is still developing his overall game, but he's shown signs of what he can be.

We could describe every player's strength and weaknesses; we've seen them play enough. Marc Arcobello is the only surprise, and thus far he's been a pleasant one. Nail Yakupov has only played 60+ games, but we know where he needs to improve and what skills make him dangerous.

I don't need to see 20 games with a healthy group of forwards to know what the Oilers have. They will show great skill, good speed and creativity, but this team isn't going to win ugly games. They aren't going to overpower you down low. They won't consistently score goals from on top of the crease. They don't have that mixture, and the Oilers need to accept the weaknesses of the group as a whole, and find ways to fix it.

It doesn't mean they don't have good individual players, they do, but collectively as a group this team isn't going to succeed.

The same can be said for their defence.

They don't have any big, physical defencemen. Philadelphia dominated them down low yesterday, strictly by getting good body position. Even if Ladislav Smid was still on the team, the Flyers would have had success. Andrew Ference is now their most physical D-man, and it is unfair to expect him to lead the team in that department. He will battle guys his size, and guys bigger, but the Oilers need some heavy D-man who can stop teams from cycling down low.

WHAT NOW...

 There will be no magical fix for the Oilers. The players have to play smarter and more consistent, and Craig MacTavish has to look for trades that will help balance his lineup; the Oilers need more than just a top-pair D-man.

Until MacTavish tweaks his roster, the leaders need to keep the players unified. It won't be easy, but they owe it to themselves and the fans to compete every shift.

The other teams aren't going to go easy on the Oilers, in fact right now they might look at the Oilers as "point night." After the Detroit loss, Smid said, "Guys think it can't get worse, well it can," and he was correct. It is easy to let negativity overwhelm you. It happens for all of us, and in the case of the Oilers it will be extremely difficult to stay positive and upbeat, but they have to, or the final 64 games might be just as painful, or worse, than the first 18.

LINEUP...

Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
Perron-RNH-Eberle
Smyth-Arcobello-Yakupov
Joensuu-Gordon-Jones

It is fair to suggest that Eakins could stick with the same lines for a few games, and hope they find some chemistry. Switching lines often hasn't helped them win. Every NHL coach switches things up when his team is losing, but maybe Eakins should buck that trend and stick with some combinations to see what happens. I'm not sure there is a right answer at this point, but he will keep his top two lines the same to start the game.

Luke Gazdic is out with an injured shoulder.

The same six D-men will play and Devan Dubnyk starts.

QUICK HITS...

  • My wife is the best. She suggested I use Alice Eve in Oilersnation. I'd never seen Alice before, but I would agree.
     
  • The Oilers are said to be one of the leading teams in terms of using analytics, yet they continue to lose and they are one of the softest teams in the league. Is it just a coincidence, or have they gone too far into looking at statistics rather than on-ice play? Using analytics as another tool is smart, but it leads me to some questions.

    Are the Oilers using them properly?
    Are they relying on them too much?
    Is it too early to see the benefits from them?
    Are they a non-factor, and the issues are mainly with scouting?

    I don't know the answers, but it is something worth looking at. They weren't very good before they started using analytics, so maybe that is the bigger problem. When a team is in the midst of an eight-year losing streak they need to look at every aspect of their organization and try to improve it.
     
  • Speaking of analytics, I'm curious why when Ryan Jones had a bad Corsi rating he was getting ripped, yet now that he is even at Corsi, has two goals in ten games and is +3 no one is suggesting he stay in the lineup?
     
  • Here is a great story on Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame tomorrow, but it will be bittersweet because of his father's battle with Alzheimers. Shanahan was one of my favourite players, and he's very deserving of us his induction into the HHOF.
     
  • Taylor Hall returned from injury with a new stick, and the half-orange shaft matches the Oilers colours. He has two goals in two games, and he's abandoned the toe drag. I'm sure he will bring it back at some point, but he's focusing on beating guys with his speed. He has 60 points in his last 56 games.
     
  • I usually don't rip on the officials, because they have an extremely tough job and they get it right more than they get it wrong, but that 5 minute major to Anton Belov yesterday was the worst call of the season. He never hit Giroux in the head, so how does he get a match penalty? They worst part was they met for three minutes to come up with that decision.

    You can't reverse the call, I understand that, but at least come out after the game, or today, and admit you made a mistake. MLB admitted Angel Hernandez blew a call in May, and Jim Joyce earned a lot of respect when he came out and admitted he blew the call at first base that ruined Armando Gallaraga's perfect game.

    The Flyers never scored on the match penalty, although it did lead to a weak make up call, and a subsequent four-on-four where Giroux scored, but fans deserve hearing someone from the NHL admit it was a horrendous call.
     
  • If the Oilers deal Ales Hemsky, which seems likely, I hope it isn't just for prospects. You won't improve as an organization if you continually ship out proven NHL players for maybes. Dealing Smid for prospects only made sense if they had another trade happening and needed to clear cap space. MacTavish said he felt they had depth and could move Smid, but they don't have size right now. Klefbom and Nurse will add size when they make the team, but today's lineup is smaller without Smid.
     
  • A reminder to watch the Nation's own Jason Strudwick tonight on Battle of the Blades. If you don't watch it, please vote for him. If Struds wins, the Inner City Children's Program will get $50,000. That will make a major difference for many young kids in Edmonton. You can vote here later tonight or tomorrow.

TONIGHT....

GAME DAY PREDICTION:  The Oilers have played the Hawks tough the past few seasons, but I don't see a miracle happening tonight. Hawks win 5-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall picks up two points. Hall has 15 points in 10 career games vs. the Hawks.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The comment section is filled with positive, up beat comments. Fans decide to pull a George Costanza, and write the opposite of what they feel. Everything in Costanza's life was going wrong....

"Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable. I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but I was perceptive. I always know when someone's uncomfortable at a party. It all became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat... It's often wrong."

After that riveting speech George decides to do the opposite of everything that is normal for him. Up is down, down is up....Later in the show Costanza is rewarded...

"A job with the New York Yankees! This has been the dream of my life ever since I was a child, and it's all happening because I'm completely ignoring every urge towards common sense and good judgement I've ever had. This is no longer just some crazy notion, Elaine, Jerry. This is my religion."  

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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#151 kevin
November 10 2013, 08:27PM
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zzzzzzzz wrote:

...theses days i'd prefer a plastic bag....

paper bag, plastic bag, barf bag.....watching this team and thinking of the brain trust behind it all makes me sick to my stomach.

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#152 DSF
November 10 2013, 12:33PM
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120 stitches wrote:

I agree with Jay that it will be interesting to see them play 4 lines tonight that can actually play hockey especially on a back to back. All the good teams have 4 lines that can score ---a primary example being the team we are playing tonight. With the lack of size in our current lineup why not try going with a completely skill, speed lineup and just roll the lines. I would even add Omark to that mix as he reminds me of Ray Whitney when Whitney was trying to get established in the NHL. You will recall Whitney was at the Oiler training camp when he was about Omark's age and Lowe let him go for nothing. Just another example of bad player assessment--as was the case with Glencross, Hejda , Brodziak-- other players we desperately could use right now that were given away.

Ray Whitney had a 40 point season in the NHL when he was 21.

Omark is 26.

At Omark's age, Whitney scored 26G and 64P in the NHL.

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#153 Rob Gilgan
November 10 2013, 12:36PM
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Ever the optimists, in spite of a slow start to the season, Oilers fans are already looking to next year. "It will be great," Oilers fans said, more or less in unison, "Just you wait and see!"

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#154 MessyEH!
November 10 2013, 01:05PM
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Rama Lama wrote:

I'm not totally buying the argument you are laying down here Jason........that being it's totally a heaviness issue with the team.

Look at Colorado, they were worse than the Oilers last year, made no significant player additions ( except for what they drafted) got a new coach ..........and are tearing up the league. Yes they have larger defensemen than we do but presumably they are slower as well.

So why is Colorado doing so well and we are not? Might I suggest the following:

We covet speed way too much.......we are so fast our players are constantly in front of the play and always seem to be skating past the puck.

We do not covet size enough.......should be drafting the best size /skill combination instead of speed/skill combination.

Drafting from the basic principle of back end first........start with goaltending, then defense and finally forwards.

Coaching........I find it incredulous that some how Dallas Eakins and his systems have not come under more scrutiny?? Why are Patrick Roy's systems producing so mightily given the similarities in our player profile? Why were our speciality teams to much better last year ? Our players have gained experience, we have brought in additional skill and grit, but continue to go in reverse??

Management........what's to say here except we have "six rings" and he knows how to win!

I agree with most of what you said. Except I would never draft a goalie in the 1st two rounds.

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#155 Rick
November 10 2013, 01:36PM
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Jeffff wrote:

Bad Goaltending

No #1 pairing D-men

No heavy 2 way center on top 2 lines.

No big wingers top 2 lines

No 4th line.

Worst record in the NHL since the 2005 lockout.

What has Edmonton done with all their picks and players?

8 years I could have done a better job

Probably 3 cities in the NHL that would put up with this bad product.

Edmonton Toronto Montreal

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#156 bazmagoo
November 10 2013, 01:40PM
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@Jason Gregor

All fair points Jason, except for "The dumbest thing MacTavish could do is fire the coach and let the players believe once again that they aren't the issue."

The dumbest thing MacT could do is do nothing. This is the NHL, not training camp for coaches and gm's.

It's my opinion and I believe it will prove to be the right one. Only time will tell.

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#157 J.P Michaels
November 10 2013, 02:09PM
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If they keep playing like they did they don't score 3 goals tonight. The reason is simple..... they don't shoot the Puck. They just move the Puck back n' forth.

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#158 PutzStew
November 10 2013, 02:40PM
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Peter wrote:

Elliott Friedman has mentioned many times the Oilers do lots of analytics. Is he mistaken?

Must be because no one knows anything about hockey in Edmonton, but Edmonton fans. It's because they are so much smarter then everyone else.

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#159 Fresh Mess
November 10 2013, 02:56PM
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@Woodguy

Isn't it below you and the other self-styled oilogosphere intelligentsia to post here?

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#160 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 10 2013, 03:02PM
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@PutzStew

Thanks Putz, I haven't had a chuckle like this all weekend.

Well played sir.

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#161 Jerod
November 10 2013, 05:00PM
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Jason,

have you read this article today?

"Strategy to build a winner"

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=690466&navid=nhl:topheads

I'm shocked they never mention 6 rings Kevin Lowe.

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#162 Spydyr
November 10 2013, 05:09PM
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R-DAWG wrote:

I think Dubnyk will stand on his head tonight...7-2 Hawks!

Great line but I have to ask.By standing on his head do you mean only two weak goals tonight?

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#163 Serioisly
November 10 2013, 06:30PM
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madjam wrote:

Oilers get it together tonite and spank Hawks by a score of 8-3 . Team proclaims now we go home , and start piling up the wins playing in our own conference whom they are familiar with and confident they can beat. Katz so happy he offers all the coaches and management another /additional 2 year contract for their hard work and loyalty . The dream is alive ? They have been in the sewer so long , you have to wonder if things don't pick up they might commit sewercide .

Now that must be some kool aid that your drinking!!!!

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#164 Hockey fan 1976
November 10 2013, 06:57PM
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Watch all the bipolar fans start talking "playoffs" or " turnaround " because they lead 2-1 and Yuks finally scores. Battle hard CONSISTENTLY every game and we could care less if you lose a lot.

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#165 Undead
November 10 2013, 07:24PM
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Has this team been the worst franchise in history of professional sport? I mean you kinda gotta admire just how pathetic this team has been for so long. You could randomly select a name from the phone book, put them in charge, and I'm certain they would have better results!! It's truly remarkable that not even the assistant coaches have changed let alone the brainless trust

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#166 James
November 10 2013, 07:32PM
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@James

Aaaand, fail on my own part, but at least I know that. Paajarvi, stupid extra r.

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#167 Hauk15
November 10 2013, 07:34PM
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Holy Dubnyk is looking like an NHL goaltender tonight!

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#168 Spydyr
November 10 2013, 07:45PM
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James wrote:

I was praying that rumour was true. Sadly it wasn't since MacT seems to think standing pat is an awesome thing to do what with the "no imminent moves" and all.

I know.Then why in the world did they trade Smid.To Calgary of all places.You know he is going to show up every game the rest of his career against us.

I guess MacT thinks you don't need and grit on your back end.Just puck movers.

Why would you want a guy on your team that stands up for his teammates?

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#169 Rocket
November 10 2013, 07:49PM
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I can't tell if The Oilers are actually playing well or if The Blackhawks are just giving 60% effort to try and rest a bit. You know, play The Oilers and take the night off.

*Crys into beer*

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#170 Alsker
November 10 2013, 07:53PM
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We have had 2 stretches of more than 10 min with no shots, if they'd f^ckin play a full game I wouldnt drink so much.

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#171 Hauk15
November 10 2013, 07:56PM
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Belov and Larsen both chasing the same guy! Dallas Eakins swarm defense at its finest, 4-3 CHI.

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#172 James
November 10 2013, 07:57PM
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Ference leading the game in give aways with 4, brutal.

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#173 YFC Prez
November 10 2013, 08:01PM
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Remember when Michel therein called out the pens for being the worst softest team in the nhl to the media. It's time someone calls out these guys from the coaching staff. Defence is brutal from everywhere. They are squandering a very solid performance by their goalie who is busting his but

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#174 Hockey fan 1976
November 10 2013, 08:04PM
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Post game comments from players tonight : " you know not the result we wanted but lots of positives tonight. Larsen with a career game and who cares he was on the ice for most of the goals scored, Dubby played well, and seems to be back to himself slowly , I think we are still in the fight" hahahahah what a joke.

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#175 DevoKnows
November 10 2013, 08:14PM
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Jay wrote:

I have tickets to the Dallas game. I'm offering $200 bucks to whoever takes them off my hands

Does it include free parking?

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#176 zzzzzzzz
November 10 2013, 08:23PM
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Kevin wrote:

and the paper bag !

...theses days i'd prefer a plastic bag....

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#177 MICHAEL
November 10 2013, 09:02PM
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Hauk15 wrote:

Oilers D best to worst IMO.

1.Petry 2.N.Schultz 3.Belov 4.Ference 5.Fedun 6.Larsen

What do you expect from this crap lol. Petry is good, he has potential to become a legit top pairing dman. Belov is a 2nd pairing guy. Nick is a legit 4th/5th. The rest are AHL quality.

You think that line up of d man is bad? Wait till you add ,Klefbom,Nurse and Marincin in the next 1-2 years.Hold onto your whities because its going to be keystone cops around the Oilers until they gain some experience.

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#178 K_Mart
November 11 2013, 08:32AM
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Since we aren't going to make the playoffs this year, what's two more years of crap for Mcdavid. He's potentially a generational player. The kind that only comes around every 10 years or so. Seriously, what's two more years of losing, at this point it's pretty much in our culture to be losers. Darnell Nurse can be our D.Keith, and Mcdavid our Crosby. Nuge can be our veteran Hossa type. Hall, Ebs, and Yak I'm sure can fit in there too.

Still need a goalie though. I have my doubts about Bryz and DD that's foresure. Maybe Bunz or Brossoit can develop, but I really doubt that as well. We really, really need a top 10 goalie. It's the one position that can hide so many mistakes.

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#179 Brack
November 10 2013, 12:27PM
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@kj

Yes, that's a very salient if not comprehensible point.

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#180 Alsker
November 10 2013, 12:52PM
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We better be ready from the get go, the hawks played last nite and are going to want to break us early. A couple quick ones and this could have their fans chanting "we want 10, we want 10" before the end of the second. Not what I want to hear or see but after yesterday.....

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#181 Terrence
November 10 2013, 01:41PM
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You can't fire the players , you have tried firing the coaches and GM's, and the team is still bad. It does not take a detective to figure out the problem is senior management.

Kevin Lowe must be fired or he should resign.

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#182 Alsker
November 10 2013, 01:59PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

The oilers are the best franchise in the NHL. Their management is second to none. Oilers dominate tonight, win 8-2 and proceed to run on a winning streak like no one has ever seen.

Damn I wish you'd share. Love that look on Fry's face.

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#183 Old School G
November 10 2013, 02:27PM
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I feel that when Joensuu and Pitlick are both back and healthy we will have some good functional size in the Top 9. Joensuu needs to stay healthy and find some rhythm. What's the latest on Pitlick?

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#184 clyde
November 10 2013, 02:37PM
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Woodguy wrote:

The Oilers are said to be one of the leading teams in terms of using analytics

No they're not.

They can best be described as "dabbling"

They don't even have an analytics department yet.

Dan Haight's a pretty bright guy, but he's just consulting and not on staff full time.

Also, the fruits of proper use of analytics take time as you use them mostly to make roster decisions.

Teams most heavily using them to my knowledge (know people who work/have done work for the teams) are San Jose, Chicago, Boston.

Iginla has had very poor numbers as far as these advanced stats go over the past few years. Yet, a team apparently using them to help develop their roster(Boston) signed him?

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#185 Lofty
November 10 2013, 05:32PM
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Sammy D wrote:

Hemsky is a late scratch. Trade coming?

Edit -

Guess you can't trust the Oilers official twitter account. He is in

No, this is his mid-season injury that makes him un-trade-able for the rest of the season.

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#186 Alsker
November 10 2013, 06:01PM
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Have we had posession outside of our end in the last 5 min? Every Hawk going top shelf, Dubby on his knees for each, lol.

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#187 Alsker
November 10 2013, 06:12PM
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This looks like a training camp game..longshots vs starters..

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#188 YFC Prez
November 10 2013, 06:23PM
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Lowe Olcyk Smith Eakins Rodriguez

Sillinger Chabot Acton Mac t

That's right put these gentlemen together and we have been watching one of the biggest loser scams in history. Rebuilding as an excuse for not getting the job done and selling hope to the fan base and not delivering. Fitting how it starts with Lowe and ends with Mac t. Hopefully the real problem is ended by Mac t as well.

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#189 YFC Prez
November 10 2013, 06:36PM
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Nuge makes me happy! Especially when I'm lost in oiler sucktitude.

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#190 ubermiguel
November 10 2013, 06:36PM
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Nuuuuuuuuge!*

*Keeping hope alive.

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#191 Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!
November 10 2013, 06:59PM
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James wrote:

Whoever runs the Oilers twitter is a complete goof. "Can of corn! Pop fly! Duby's got it! Puck deflects into the air but #40 snags it with the trapper. Still scoreless late 1st."

What the hell does that even mean, can of corn? *facepalm*

Can of corn: baseball for routine fly ball. This was after the puck went straight up and DD used his awesome glove to grab it. Nicest glove save I've seen him make in ages

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#192 James
November 10 2013, 07:06PM
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@YFC Prez

Also that.

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#193 James
November 10 2013, 07:16PM
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Turnovers, hot and fresh in those last few minutes. Good grief!

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#194 D-Unit
November 10 2013, 07:17PM
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Nice play 36, nothing like losing your stick then being a spectator while the pass goes by you for a goal. Accountability should mean that's his last shift.....tonight or in the NHL...ever.

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#195 James
November 10 2013, 07:31PM
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@Spydyr

It amazes me how many people still get that wrong after almost a decade. It's not that hard, really it isn't, it's not like you're spelling Paarjarvi or something.

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#196 Spydyr
November 10 2013, 07:33PM
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@James

Paajarvi is easy PRV.What's up with the new page stuff?

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#197 Spydyr
November 10 2013, 07:36PM
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Hauk15 wrote:

Holy Dubnyk is looking like an NHL goaltender tonight!

They finally brought someone in to push him.He seems to need a push quite a lot.

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#198 Spydyr
November 10 2013, 07:38PM
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James wrote:

Tha f*ck Hemsky? Way to drop pass and give it away.

That and 5 million is why no one else wants him.

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#199 James
November 10 2013, 07:47PM
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@Spydyr

It doesn't make much sense. We should be past the point of stocking up on prospects. We need capable NHLers at this point. I know he thinks Nurse and Klefbom will come up, but Nurse will be awhile. We need help now FFS!

Avatar
#200 Quintana
November 10 2013, 07:58PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
2
cheers

So dubbie best game of the season? Brutal.

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