GDB 25.0: A TOUGHER TEST...

Jason Gregor
November 25 2013 12:27PM

Fresh off a three-day break, the Oilers will try to extend their three-game winning streak vs. the defending Stanley Cup champions. Since the start of the 2010/2011 season the Oilers are 6-5-1 against the Hawks. The Oilers are 2-3-0 at home at 4-2-1 on the road.

The games in Edmonton have been blowouts. The Oilers have won by scores of 9-2 and 8-4, while the Hawks won 4-1, 5-0 and 4-1. The Oilers have outscored their opponents 15-3 during this short winning streak, but beating Chicago should be more difficult than beating Calgary, Columbus and Florida.

The Oilers' are playing their best hockey of the season, but so are the Hawks. Chicago is 10-2-1 in their last 13 games and they've scored 4+ goals in nine of those games. Patrick Kane is on a ten-game scoring streak and has 16 points in 13 games, while Jonathan Toews has 15 points in that same span, and they are on different lines.   

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Gordon-Perron
Jonesuu-Acton-Gazdic

Belov-J.Schultz
Ference-Petry
N. Schultz-Potter

Dubnyk

No reason to change anything when you are winning, although at some point you'd like to see more from Jesse Joensuu. He hasn't done much, and once they lose I could see Ryan Jones and Marc Arcobello re-inserted into the lineup.

Marian Hossa is in Chicago taking care of a personal matter, so look for Brandon Saad to play with Toews and Patrick Sharp. Kane has Brandon Pirri as his centreman, and recently acquired Kris Versteeg will play the other wing.

QUICK HITS

  •  This is the healthiest we've seen the Oilers in years, and if they can stay healthy we will get a much more accurate assessment of who they are as a team. The Blackhawks have 12 skaters who have played every game. Their top-five D-men; Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Oduya and Leddy, and forwards Toews, Sharp, Kane, Shaw, Saad, Kruger and Bollig. Hossa had missed four games and Bickell has missed two. Being healthy, especially when it is yoru best players, gives you a much better chance to win.
     
  • Look for the Oilers to attack Kane when he has the puck and not give him time to set up. If Kane has time to set up in the offensive zone he will embarrass you. Eakins said he'd rather see the puck on Kane's linemates' sticks.
     
  • Ken Hitchcock moving close to Hall of Fame, a goalie the Oilers have to look at in free agency, and a major blunder by the CFL. Read here.
     
  • Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team's MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn't watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don't overestimate his contributions.
     
  • After reading Willis' solid piece on Perron's spike in shots on net, I asked the winger about his increased totals. "I've always liked to shoot, and right now I'm getting a lot of chances to shoot. I'm not sure if the system allows me more chances, or if I'm just getting more right now. It is early, but it seems every game I'm in a good spot to shoot. I really like playing with Gordo (Boyd Gordon) and Smitty (Ryan Smyth). We work well together and they get me the puck in good areas. I don't think I'm doing anything really different than I have in the past, but I noticed I have almost as many shots this year than I had all of last season, so hopefully I can keep it up," Perron said.

    He said he wanted to shoot more the past few years, but this year he said he has tried to shoot the puck quicker, and felt that he had more shots blocked last year. Interesting.
     
  • The Oilers PP is now 9th in the league at 21.5%. After going 6 for 49 (12.2%) in their first 15 games, they are a sizzling 11 for 30 (36.7%) in their last nine games. The Oilers are 18th in PP chances, but if you went by games played, they'd be closer to 23rd.
     
  • The Oilers PK has moved up to 15th overall at 83%. In their first 15 games they allowed 13 goals in 55 attempts (76.4%), but in their last nine games they've only allowed 2 goals in 33 kills (93.9%).
     
  • The Oilers still take too many penalties. They've been shorthanded 88 times thus far, tied for 7th most in the NHL. Eakins has no problem with aggressive penalties, but he feels his team still takes too many stick infractions. They've been one of the most penalized teams for the past four seasons, and eventually that needs to change if they want to start winning.
     
  • A big thank you to everyone who came out to DJ Suitcase party on Friday. It was a great night and we raised over $15,000 for the Inner City Children's Program. Nice work.

LOOKING AHEAD....  

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fans will be entertained with nine goals, but this won't be a blowout...The Hawks pick up their second 5-4 victory over the Oilers this season.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall picks up two more points. Hall has 7-10-17 in 11 career games vs. the Hawks.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner scores the first goal of the game, and a few people suggest he's on his way to another 8-point night. That won't happen, but Gagner picks up an assist to finish with two points. Gagner gets rocked by Andrew Shaw early in the 2nd period, and can't drop the mitts because his jaw isn't 100%, so Andrew Ference rushes in and he and Shaw have a spirited tilt.  

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 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 25 2013, 01:37PM
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@Dog Train

Ebs is long overdue for a hatty.

And re: my comment about Perron being the most playoff ready, I might retract that statement and say Ference is the most ready. But Perron looks a close second.

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#52 David S
November 25 2013, 02:13PM
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HOLY ICE GIRLS!!!

Could someone send that pic over to the Octane office because they DO have some hotties and if they dressed like that at our games...*cough*... hey is it just me or is it getting hot in here?

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#54 John Chambers
November 25 2013, 03:05PM
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Q - would anyone be open to trading Ales Hemsky straight up for Martin Erat?

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#55 pkam
November 25 2013, 03:16PM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

Here is something to think about:

Since the 2009 draft, Chicago has the following home grown non-first round players in their top 9: BRANDON PIRRI 2ND (59TH OVERALL) 2009 BRANDON SAAD 2ND (43RD OVERALL) 2011 ANDREW SHAW 5TH (139TH OVERALL) 2011

On the roster, you can add: BRYAN BICKELL 2ND (41ST OVERALL) 2004 BEN SMITH 6TH (169TH OVERALL) 2008 NIKLAS HJALMARSSON 4TH (108TH OVERALL) 2005 DUNCAN KEITH 2ND (54TH OVERALL) 2002 COREY CRAWFORD 2ND (52ND OVERALL) 2003

The Oilers have Petry. Hall, Hemsky, Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, Dubnyk, and Smyth were all 1st rounders. If the Oilers did half as well as the Hawks in drafting after the 1st round this team would be a playoff team right now.

Sigh…

It is not just the drafting, but development as well. How many of our 1st round pick before 2008 is still playing in NHL?

You can blame the previous owners for not willing to invest in scouting and development. Or you can blame the fans for not providing the financial support before 2006. Or you can blame the poor economy in Alberta.

I am just glad that despite the difficult financial hardship in the 90, the Oilers hadn't left like the Jets did.

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#56 Time Travelling Sean
November 25 2013, 04:36PM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

Here is something to think about:

Since the 2009 draft, Chicago has the following home grown non-first round players in their top 9: BRANDON PIRRI 2ND (59TH OVERALL) 2009 BRANDON SAAD 2ND (43RD OVERALL) 2011 ANDREW SHAW 5TH (139TH OVERALL) 2011

On the roster, you can add: BRYAN BICKELL 2ND (41ST OVERALL) 2004 BEN SMITH 6TH (169TH OVERALL) 2008 NIKLAS HJALMARSSON 4TH (108TH OVERALL) 2005 DUNCAN KEITH 2ND (54TH OVERALL) 2002 COREY CRAWFORD 2ND (52ND OVERALL) 2003

The Oilers have Petry. Hall, Hemsky, Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, Dubnyk, and Smyth were all 1st rounders. If the Oilers did half as well as the Hawks in drafting after the 1st round this team would be a playoff team right now.

Sigh…

Having a great team makes role players look a lot better than they really are or would be on a more mediocre team.

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#57 Serious Gord
November 25 2013, 06:13PM
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Lowe Expectations wrote:

Chicago Ice Girls. High maintenance doing ice maintenance.

Alimony written all over them...

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#58 Hemmercules
November 25 2013, 07:53PM
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Oilers are getting exposed by a top team right now. Need to see some fight back soon or this could get away fast.

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#59 Alsker
November 25 2013, 08:41PM
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Finally, the Bryzster should have started this period and the 4thline needs to be sent to OKC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#60 Alsker
November 25 2013, 08:48PM
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Hahahahaha...Bryz actually had our 1st shot on net,lol, nice goal by JSchultz

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#61 Rob...
November 25 2013, 10:13PM
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Hall needs to sit for a game. Those turnovers were far less excusable than Yakupov's bobbling of the puck on the short-handed goal.

I'd also bagskate every player who decided the best play was to blindly pass it behind them while deep in their own zone and under pressure.

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#62 Clarko
November 25 2013, 10:37PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

He didn't play well, that's for sure. Of course, Yak blowing a tire on a PP, Kane winning a scramble on their PP, Corey Potter punching the puck into the net and Shaw scoring on a 3 on 1 didn't help matters.

Look, no one EVER said Dubnyk was amazing.

What they (myself included) said is that he was playing terribly but was way more likely to rebound to his historical average (which happens to be league average or very slightly better, i.e., not amazing, not terrible), then to remain in the gutter, which many were dead certain of happening.

His play over the last 10 games was very good. And, I expect it to even out over the course of the season to league average or slightly better.

Feel free to continue to think otherwise. You would probably be seriously wrong and if you were in charge of an NHL team you would be likely to make many very bad decisions.

Dubnyk had no help tonight...I'm not sure which of those 4 goals he was suppose to save. This team continues to give good teams many amazing scoring chances. The Hawks basically had to play hard for half a game tonight and then shut it down. This team proves once again that they are the easiest team in the league to play against.

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#63 U
November 25 2013, 11:27PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I have high hopes for the Bryzgalov-era Oilers. They've looked pretty good ever since he's been in net for them!!

Wow....like wtf.........ummm...... What have u been doing the last 2 hours man?

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#64 MessyEH!
November 26 2013, 12:50AM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I have high hopes for the Bryzgalov-era Oilers. They've looked pretty good ever since he's been in net for them!!

You can say that again.

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#65 Richard
November 25 2013, 01:07PM
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If someone like Dave Tippett had Taylor Hall as a rookie I think he would be in the conversation for the Olympic team and perhaps a lock to make it.

Oilers philosophy has always been run and gun, we will outscore you. Obviously that has not worked for the Oilers and it hurts the development of players.

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#66 Fresh Mess
November 25 2013, 04:44PM
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DSF wrote:

You are old enough to be their grandfather you creep!

And I hope when I am old enough to be their grandpa I am still interested and have the opportunity to get it on with young beauties.

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#67 Rocket
November 25 2013, 07:50PM
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Wow did Toews undress Dubnyk on that goal.

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#68 Richard
November 25 2013, 09:57PM
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Chicago can play so many different games , Oilers run and dun is the only one they can play. In a non contact league Oilers would be a playoff team

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#69 steelymac
November 25 2013, 10:04PM
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4 goals on 14 shots we were done basicaly when it started.

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#70 Johnnydapunk
November 25 2013, 10:04PM
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Maybe I am just apathetic with the Oil losing but in this game, Chicago just plain were the better team. No real shame in that. I think the Oil put an effort in but just weren't good enough.

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#71 Stack Pad Save
November 25 2013, 10:40PM
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@Clarko

I was at the game, the Hawks played good for maybe like 5 shifts. But when you have break downs like the Oilers do that is all it takes.

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#72 Curcro
November 25 2013, 01:03PM
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@Gregor

"Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team's MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn't watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don't overestimate his contributions."

Isn't he really the team's MVP by default? No one else deserved it.

Personally I think it is Gordon.

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#73 Jeff
November 25 2013, 01:30PM
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DarkLinkCosplay wrote:

Actually, I would argue the opposite. Blowout games like the ones against the Blackhawks, the Jackets, and so forth suggest that if the Oilers are on their A game, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that could stop them. Consistency is a big problem for us. I would also argue confidence, since the kids have been immersed in a losing culture for so long.

Oilers have Worst record in the NHL since the 2005 lockout and your excuse is if they brought their A game. Wow

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#74 YFC Prez
November 25 2013, 06:26PM
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Harlie wrote:

Awesome to hear that Suitcase and Gregor have the pull and raised 15G's for charity in addition to Suit's work on the Blades and the 35G's from there.

Props to you G's!

Why would someone trash this? Trigger happy whack job.

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#75 vetinari
November 25 2013, 08:46PM
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I hope that the Chicago model is our future... they're loose, talented, back check, control gaps and can wheel on a dime...

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#76 Clyde
November 25 2013, 10:03PM
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Anyone still wondering why Saad was a Calder finalist and Yak wasn't?

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#77 MessyEH!
November 25 2013, 10:09PM
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This Oilers team shouldn't ever beat the Hawks. I think Doobie was hung out to dry on a couple of goals. But his rebound control stinks.

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#78 Johnnydapunk
November 26 2013, 12:11AM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I have high hopes for the Bryzgalov-era Oilers. They've looked pretty good ever since he's been in net for them!!

Dude, your interwebs is broken, I remember the last game you made like 3 pages of comments. Either you are spamming like a trooper or there is something seriously wrong with your PC or whatever device you are commenting from. It's not being a dick or anything, just you should get it fixed :-)

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#79 curcro
November 25 2013, 03:20PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I agree Gordon has done more, and he'd have been close in first 20 games...which shows how bad their best players performed...

Their best players have played better the past 6-8 games and not surprisingly they are wininng more.

Absolutely. The age old thought that your best players have to be your best players to win consistently cannot be overstated for the Oilers first quarter.

The last few games have shown this to be the case. I think the biggest difference to me in last few games has been that they have been able to get more flow into the game by completing series of passes regularly, whereas earlier in the season the play was often dying in the neutral zone with only one or two touches by the Oilers.

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#80 $3M
November 25 2013, 04:23PM
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Lowe Expectations wrote:

Chicago Ice Girls. High maintenance doing ice maintenance.

The sexism Gregor adds to his articles is totally unneccessary!Put in some pictures of house plants instead so MAC iq 6.29 can be happy!

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#81 gcw_rocks
November 25 2013, 04:51PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Having a great team makes role players look a lot better than they really are or would be on a more mediocre team.

Pirri and Saad play in the top six. Shaw and Bickell anchor the third line. Hjarlmsson plays top for minutes. Crawford is the starting goalie. Keith is a top pairing defender. What's your definition of a role player?

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#82 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 25 2013, 05:06PM
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gcw_rocks wrote:

Pirri and Saad play in the top six. Shaw and Bickell anchor the third line. Hjarlmsson plays top for minutes. Crawford is the starting goalie. Keith is a top pairing defender. What's your definition of a role player?

Think Andrew Ference on the Bruins and Andrew Ference on the Oilers.

Team/line effects are real. Good teams have the ability to shelter up and coming and waning players in a variety of ways.

None of which is to say that making the most out of opportunities and succeeding in roles above your weight class can be ignored. They are big achievements.

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#83 Rocket
November 25 2013, 05:13PM
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Lately I've been pretty stoked to watch Edmonton-Chicago games. They're usually entertaining at least. Unlike watching San Jose beat the snot out of The Oilers, Blackhaws games are not boring.

OGP: Oilers win (why not eh?), Gagner finishes with a minus stat and does terribly in faceoffs (prove me wrong Gags), RNH crushes Call of Duty later tonight.

NSOGDP: Ebs & Kane start to go at it but then decide they don't want to mess up their pretty faces 'cause they're gonna party down whyte tonight.

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#84 Serious Gord
November 25 2013, 10:12PM
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Alsker wrote:

And you honestly thought it would be any different..granted the bounces have not gone our way tonight

Nope went pretty much the way I expected - which is the way I expected the season would be before it started. Management has failed at a very high level.

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#85 madjam
November 25 2013, 10:58PM
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Hawks made us look like cellar dwellers again despite a good effort by the boys . Defence and center acquisitions will not be coming forth anytime soon , as MacT. has simply run out of options on ones they might want . So long as we stick with our fab o called stars our chances of getting much better seem remote at this stage .

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#86 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 25 2013, 02:48PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

It was relevant because the journal website had a poll asking who was MVP and those who voted had Arcobello 3rd. Ridiculous.

Your boxcars mean little considering that if Arcobello gets in the lineup it will be on the 4th line. No one knows if he can be effective playing 7 or 8 minutes a night. It is much harder to stay in the game.

Playing fewer minutes is hard on guys and many can't succeed in that role. Just like players who produce with 14 minutes, don't produce more automatically when they play 17 or 18...

So your "proper light," isn't as clear cut as you assume it is.

Sorry, I missed the EJ piece and it wasn't linked in your article so I had no context for the question.

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/11/23/who-has-been-the-edmonton-oilers-best-player-so-far-this-year/

3rd does indeed seem high. I'd include him on the list, but I share your surprise to see him doing so well. Then again, fans love an underdog :)

I think you have a point about Arco in limited minutes. But I'm not sure how compelling it is.

Arco doesn't just have nice boxcars, he is winning the shot metrics race too against significantly higher competition than Acton/Gazdic/Joensuu are seeing.

He has also demonstrated very good PK ability so far something neither Gazdic, nor Joensuu offer.

Moreover, there is no reason he has to usurp Acton, or play only 7-8 minutes.

Eakins could easily sit Gazdic or Joensuu and place Smyth on the 4th line and put Arco just about anywhere in the top 9.

Not only does having Arco in the lineup give you another competent and defensively reliable center he gives you another PK option.

Finally, I'd like to see at least Arco fail at Acton or Gazdic's minutes before deciding it won't work (which is not what you are doing, I'm not saying that).

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#87 Jeff
November 25 2013, 02:51PM
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I will admit it, I was wrong, the team appears to be more aware of their defensive responsibilities and more aware of what they should be doing.

Perhaps it was the rock bottom GM discussion in the media, or team meeting, what ever it was, the team is gelling more so than it has year to date.

So I will admit that my post in the past have been harsh but I will own it.

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#88 coachwannabe
November 25 2013, 08:36PM
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Someone please explain to me what Yak and Hall are doing on the point on the power play. I don't understand what Eakins is thinking. Confused.

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#89 vetinari
November 25 2013, 08:37PM
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Well, we're boned...

Is it wrong to want to scream out:

"Kneel before Saad!"*

*obscure Superman II movie reference

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#90 Reg Dunlop
November 25 2013, 08:45PM
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The oil with this group of players will NEVER be competitive against the top teams, the Hawks are toying with them. At least the oil can beat some of the detritus feeders so that's progress, I guess.

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#91 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 25 2013, 09:08PM
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@Alsker

He should get a giant bear on the top of the mask. Batman style. 'Is time enemy share my fear, comrades.'

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#92 Alsker
November 25 2013, 09:30PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

4-1. Not really close. Now firmly in 29th with fla now three points ahead.

Same flaws.

Same as it ever was.

And you honestly thought it would be any different..granted the bounces have not gone our way tonight

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#93 moog's helmet
November 25 2013, 09:54PM
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Got to admit I like Eakins' layoff beard.

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#94 MessyEH!
November 26 2013, 12:54AM
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U wrote:

Wow....like wtf.........ummm...... What have u been doing the last 2 hours man?

I used the word fist and Brownlee had a fit. Where is a monitor when you need one.

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#95 Keeper of the bridge
November 26 2013, 09:26AM
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@Jeff In Lethbridge

Back under the bridge, u sarcastic troll.

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#96 DarkLinkCosplay
November 25 2013, 01:04PM
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Richard wrote:

Really does not matter what Edmonton does. If Chicago brings it's A game, it is over.

Hard to get motivated playing Edmonton but we will see.

Actually, I would argue the opposite. Blowout games like the ones against the Blackhawks, the Jackets, and so forth suggest that if the Oilers are on their A game, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that could stop them. Consistency is a big problem for us. I would also argue confidence, since the kids have been immersed in a losing culture for so long.

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#97 pkam
November 25 2013, 03:34PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Q - would anyone be open to trading Ales Hemsky straight up for Martin Erat?

Hemsky and Yakupov are having some chemistry going lately, why do we want to destroy that with a trade for a guy who is 2 years older and half productive as Hemsky, and cost almost as much and still has one year left in his contract?

Looks worse than trading Smid + Roy for Horak + Brossoit.

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#98 oilers2k10
November 25 2013, 03:50PM
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Arcobello should be in Hemsky out simple as that.

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#99 Fresh Mess
November 25 2013, 04:33PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Q - would anyone be open to trading Ales Hemsky straight up for Martin Erat?

So trade an underperforming, massively overpaid expiring contract for a massively overpaid, unproductive contract with an extra year of term remaining? No I would not make that trade if I were Oiler GM.

I think the Oilers would be better off purging Hemsky's contract for as high a draft pick as possible. The fact MacTavish chose Smid's contract to dump tells me there is (rightfully) no interest around the league in Hemsky at his cap number.

Prior to the season, there were rumours out of Ottawa that Murray was willing to trade Zack Smith for Hemsky. If that were true MacLooselips should have taken it.

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#100 Bryzarro World
November 25 2013, 08:42PM
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Here we go

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