GDB 16.0: JUST SHOW UP...

Jason Gregor
November 05 2013 11:59AM

It won't matter what the line combinations are if the Oilers elect to sleep walk through tonight's game like they did Saturday vs. the Detroit Red Wings. Hockey fans, coaches and players can accept losing, as long as you put forth an effort, but the Edmonton Oilers barely registered a pulse vs. the Wings.

Whatever happens tonight, the Oiler must show they care.

I watched the game on Saturday with some diehard Oilers fans and they were distraught during and after the game. These are fans, like many of you, who buy tickets, jerseys and have supported the Oilers through seven years of sucking. They love hockey, and as long as the Oilers put forth an effort that satisfies most of you.

What you saw on Saturday was pathetic.

The Oilers showed no desire. Not one player looked remotely annoyed that they were getting embarrassed in front of their home fans and on national TV.

I rarely will say players don't care, because you don't make it to the best league in the world without caring, but on Saturday night their "care meter" barely registered.

It is obvious this team lacks confidence right now. No one is shooting the puck with any authority, and it seems most players are scared to make a mistake. The harsh reality is that no other team is going to feel sorry for them. If they want to start winning, they simply need to roll up their sleeves and compete.

GOOD NEWS...

They did lose another player to injury on Saturday, Anton Belov, but two Oilers will return to the lineup tonight.

Devan Dubnyk's ankle has healed and he'll make his first start since October 24th. Dubnyk is the best goalie they have, and the Oilers must be hoping he can make some big saves early and inject some confidence into a lineup that looks beaten down.

Ryan Smyth also returns after injuring his groin vs. the Senators on October 19th. At this point in his career, Smyth isn't a go-to guy, but he at least knows how to play hard and go to the net. The Oilers need more guys willing to do the small things, if they ever hope to start winning.

They have to realize that they can't beat teams with skill. You need more than just skill to win in the NHL.

LINEUP....

Hemsky-RNH-Eberle
Smyth-Gagner-Yakupov
Jones-Gordon-Arcobello
Gazdic-Acton-Eager

Eakins moved Yakupov back to the right side with the hope he'll be more comfortable and start producing. With Smyth on his wing, Yakupov is clearly the shooter on that line, and if he uses his heavy shot, while Smyth stands in front, the Oilers might get an ugly goal or two.

Ference-Petry
Smid-Larsen
N.Schultz-Fedun

Eakins has three new pairings. Taylor Fedun will make his NHL debut, and every fan is pulling for him to complete an incredible comeback story. Smid and Petry haven't looked in sync for a few games, so it can't hurt splitting them up.

As I stated earlier, the pairings won't matter if the Oilers don't play with passion.

We can discuss the system, the line combinations, which wing Yakupov is playing or many other aspects of this team, but ultimately if they don't play with desire or passion it won't matter.

Remember when the Oilers of 1997-2004 had little proven talent, yet they managed to be competitive. Why?

Because they had players like Ethan Moreau, Todd Marchant, Jason Smith, Mike Grier, Steve Staios, Ryan Smyth and others who played hard. They weren't the most skilled team, but the worked their ass of every night. This team has more natural skill, but if they don't work hard, or work smart, it is irrelevant.

If the Oilers show a willingness to compete tonight, they will have a shot at beating a team that isn't very good.

QUICK HITS...

  • Craig MacTavish, Kevin Lowe and Mark Messier were scouting the Rangers/Ducks game last night, and since it is safe to assume they weren't watching Dustin Penner, it seems likely they were watching the Rangers. The Rangers, like the Oilers, are struggling and the Rangers need offence. Rick Nash is still suffering concussion-like symptoms and he isn't close to returning, so the Rangers will be looking for some offensive help.

    Ales Hemsky's name has come up again, and so has Nail Yakupov. A deal involving Hemsky would likely have the Oilers eating part of his salary, since the Rangers don't have much cap space, and no one they would trade that is close to $5 million cap hit.

    If a deal involved Yakupov, then we are looking at a major trade, and I'd guess Ryan McDonagh would need to be involved. The Oilers are in no rush to move Yakupov, but to even consider it; they would need a solid D-man coming to Edmonton. McDonagh is a $4.7 cap hit until the end of the 2018/2019 season.
     
  • It is interesting to notice the difference between Eskimo fans and Oilers fans, many of whom are the same people. Many Eskimos fans ripped Ricky Ray and wanted him traded, yet in hockey most of the venom is directed towards the coach or GM. I've never seen a key Oiler player take as much criticism from the fans as I did Ray. Any idea why that is?
     
  • The Oilers couldn't have asked for a better place to start their road trip than in Florida. The Oilers have won their last four meetings in Florida dating back to 2003 and they've outscored them 13-6.
     
  • If you need some positives to convince you to watch tonight's tilt:

    Dubnyk has a career .963 SV% and 0.93 GAA vs. the Panthers.
    Ben Eager has four goals vs. the Panthers, the most he's scored against any team.
    Ryan Jones has two goals in three career games vs. Florida.
    Smyth has 21 points in 18 career games vs. the Panthers.
    The odds are good one Oiler will register their first career goal vs. Florida tonight: Acton, Arcobello, Eberle, Fedun, Ference, Gagner, Gazdic, Larsen, Nugent-Hopkins, Petry, Smid and Yakupov have never scored a goal vs. the Panthers.

CRYSTAL BALL....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Just when you think you are about to stop caring, the Oilers will find a way to draw you back in with a 3-1 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers play better than they did on Saturday. ***Really bold prediction.***

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fedun scores his first NHL goal. Right now the Oilers and their fans need a beacon of hope. Something to make them believe this 87-month losing drought will eventually end. That's right; you've just entered your 87 months of losing hockey since September, 2006. You need something to make you believe their is hope, and if a local boy, who shattered his leg two years ago can score in his NHL debut, then damn rights the Oilers can eventually return to the land of winning.

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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#1 Rocket
November 05 2013, 12:06PM
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*Tim Thomas joke*

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#2 Spydyr
November 05 2013, 12:07PM
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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The teams wins one for Fedun.He has shown more in his comeback from that awful injury than the entire team showed last game.

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#3 6zeppelin6
November 05 2013, 12:07PM
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With regards to ripping the GM and Coach versus the player - I think that has more to do with the core of the team not proving much of anything yet. They haven't had success and achievement throughout their careers, whereas Ricky Ray had excelled at a professional level in the past.

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#4 Spoils
November 05 2013, 12:08PM
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I am pulling for Fedun, but I kind of wish Klefbom was playing so well that they just had bring him up.

Here is the list of DMen that were first team allstars at the WJC -

Phaneuf, Suter - Bourdon, JJohnson - Letang, EJohnson - Doughty, Hedman - Karlsson, PK - Pitrangelo, Carlson - Ellis, Orlov - Gormley, Klefbom - Trouba, McCabe

Pretty great company.

No1 DMen...

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#5 The 'Real' Ron Burgundy
November 05 2013, 12:08PM
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The fan in me wants to be home and fed in time to watch the game, live.

But, the realist in me says PVR it and make better use of my time.

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#6 lolhockey
November 05 2013, 12:08PM
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The good thing about these early games is that when the Oilers lose, I don't have to go to bed right away in an angry state.

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#7 BIngBong
November 05 2013, 12:08PM
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I don't want to be mistaken for DSF, but that Smyth-Gagner-Yakupov line looks like TROUBLE.

And what are the odds that either Whitney or Gilbert scores tonight?

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#8 northof51
November 05 2013, 12:11PM
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Still don't like Gagner at centre with Arco on the wing.

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#9 Danger Pay
November 05 2013, 12:12PM
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Still finding it tough to watch this one Gregor.

B/C I think there's some snow I still need to shovel or garbage to take out or dishes to wash or laundry to do or dogs to feed and walk or a workout to do or make dinner or bills to pay or dusting to do or make the bed or catch up with some family or news to watch or...anything except watch the Oilers.

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#10 shanetrain
November 05 2013, 12:13PM
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I was one of those fans who wanted nothing to do with Ricky Ray at the end. He was playing like a shadow of himself. Holding onto the ball too long etc.

I just didn't expect him to get dealt for virtually nothing.

Personally, I am worried about Yakupov. Yes he has incredible offensive accumen, but in his own zone he is lost. That is being complimentary. When he is not filling the net fans/basement dwelling bloggers and their minions are going to key in on it.

Nobody is going to take Hemsky now, not with that putrid contract and his invisibility in long stretches.

Too bad, two years ago he could of possibly brought in a #2 Dman by himself.

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#11 Oiler4ever
November 05 2013, 12:17PM
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I'm not giving up on the oilers, for years they would tease us with hot starts then fizzle off and miss the playoffs in the end. This to me signals a change , a reversal in luck. When hall comes back it will be like when horcoff came back in the lineup last season and they climbed back into a playoff spot. Trust me I have never in my lifetime seen the oilers lose this much but if there is one team that literally rubs there face in sh@t before getting any reward it's the oilers. Even the season when they went to the playoffs they had a ton of bad bounces but crawled into 8 th place. Nothing has been easy for the oilers. This season is no different. When things are this bad(and the worst things have been) the reward can equally be as good. Oilers crawl in the dance again this year by having a good November and a great December. Remember where u heard it first.

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#12 Me common sense
November 05 2013, 12:20PM
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Still no grit or muscle

Sign/trade/abduct Steve Ott

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#13 mayorblaine
November 05 2013, 12:25PM
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we can't trade anyone - insert name - cause their value is too low. we can't trade - insert name - because their value is too high.

this my friends is part of parcel and how we got to where we are today. fear of change.

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#14 Quicksilver ballet
November 05 2013, 12:28PM
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C'mon, that Oiler lineup is mostly AHL caliber. Oil put in a better effort but they're still a free space on the Panthers bingo card tonight. Oilers will atleast score a goal this evening, Barkov gains some confidence with a 3 pt night..... 5-1 Florida.

Taylor flippin Fedun......is that all they have in reserve during these difficult times?

Stay the course Oilersnation, tankage certainly appears to be on the Oils agenda. And i'm fine with that.

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#15 NsxZero
November 05 2013, 12:35PM
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@Oiler4ever

Honestly even if the Oilers play magnificent, we would need the other western teams to play like crap. It definitely isn't looking that way so far...

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#16 JB
November 05 2013, 12:36PM
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Gregor, what about Arnott, Poti and Kovalenko? Hell, even Cory Cross? I remember those guys being basically driven out of town by the fans.

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#17 Reg Dunlop
November 05 2013, 12:39PM
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Starting tonight, only 6 more consecutive losses before D-day vs Calgary.

Deal Yak now before his lack of production and the perceived KHL flight risk renders him worthless. Watch Mac bring back DelZotto for him; another small, defensively suspect JS clone. Gotta hit bottom before you can climb out. 3-2 Florida with Whitney getting the winner.

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#18 GTL
November 05 2013, 12:40PM
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The brain trust mind melding for a possible Hail Mary?..what could possibly go wrong? This to is all wrong but the flames drop two contracts and hire a educated leader and instant rebuild in process, no three first picks, no selling out or short. I can taste throw up just writing that. Hire leaders of men! In all areas, I'm not seeing player development

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#19 thepeetso
November 05 2013, 12:45PM
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northof51 wrote:

Still don't like Gagner at centre with Arco on the wing.

I still don't like Gagner . . .

. . . on this team anyways.

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#20 match16
November 05 2013, 12:46PM
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Jason, I don't think there's been much difference between the fan bases of Oilers/Esks at all. For years, Oilers fans have been ripping on Horcoff, Whitney, etc. but they have come and gone and the team has still not improved. However, the one constant in the last 7 years is Kevin Lowe which the fans realize and are now wanting a change up top.

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#21 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
November 05 2013, 01:01PM
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I want to believe. i want to care but I cant see me tuning in tonight. As far as Lowe in on a big deal with the Rangers...Who cares he is just gonna screw this up as well

Fire Lowe

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#22 Craig1981
November 05 2013, 01:04PM
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I think the difference is many Oiler fans have played some form of hockey and can relate to the players. Football is a very complicated sport that few of us have played competitively and very few have ever been a QB. Simply we can't relate the same.

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#23 Bi-Curious Gord
November 05 2013, 01:08PM
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Obvious Game Day Pediction:

Oilers lose 8-0

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#24 Dave "Killer" Carlson
November 05 2013, 01:11PM
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The only reason I'd consider watching tonight's game is to see Fedun finally play after that broken femur. Good on him.

Unfortunately, this isn't enough to convince me after last week's games. Hopefully they'll show some heart and I'll watch come Battle of Alberta time.

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#25 Jeff
November 05 2013, 01:11PM
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ok, prepare your fingers on the trash button:

"•It is interesting to notice the difference between Eskimo fans and Oilers fans, many of whom are the same people. Many Eskimos fans ripped Ricky Ray and wanted him traded, yet in hockey most of the venom is directed towards the coach or GM. I've never seen a key Oiler player take as much criticism from the fans as I did Ray. Any idea why that is?"

it is very simple.... and your quote eludes to the very thing that is the fundamental problem... parapharse, boss says Go and a leader says Let's Go.....

If, and a very big If, our leader, Coach is saying Let's Go... and the players are not going with the Coach.... what does that tell you.

To say why Oiler's fans are ripping a coach... why are you head over heals for this coach....?

The tweak to our defense system in the last couples games has not help our team...

There is a lost of faith in the room in the players own ability and the coaches ability... which both equate to a very scary and worrysome result.

My fear lies around our "elite" players looking at our "new" culture and starting to make request to get out of Edmonotn.... deja vu?

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#26 Lochenzo
November 05 2013, 01:20PM
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The other reason to watch is Taylor Fedun. Congrats to Taylor!

Happy to see Petry and Ference together. Hope the other pairs can just settle in behind these guys. Good balance of puck mover and defensive Dman, but Fedun and Larsson in the same game means a smaller defense.

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#27 Coco crisp
November 05 2013, 01:20PM
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Horcoff had a pretty tough ride here in edm, Jason. I always felt bad for both Ricky and Shawn. Underappreciated to say the least.

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#28 Ales Hallsky
November 05 2013, 01:24PM
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I've never seen a key Oiler player take as much criticism from the fans as I did Ray. Any idea why that is... Horc?

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#29 Spoils
November 05 2013, 01:26PM
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The worst thing / or best thing is that I just went to the Oilers website and I saw a pick of Schultz and Yakupov and I got excited for the game today.

How can I be excited for the game tonight?

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#30 Lochenzo
November 05 2013, 01:27PM
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Ales Hemsky for Chris Kreider plus late pick?

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#31 sizzay
November 05 2013, 01:31PM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Ales Hemsky for Chris Kreider plus late pick?

Would never happen

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#32 Lochenzo
November 05 2013, 01:32PM
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Ricky Ray went on to win the Grey Cup after being traded.

If you hash it out, you gotta eat you're humble pie too. I noticed that some people don't follow that rule.

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#33 Nimrod
November 05 2013, 01:35PM
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Time for the $6M boys to at least play like $3M men. Time to show some pride. Time to give the fans something, anything.

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#34 Toro
November 05 2013, 01:37PM
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Hey JG , what is Messiers role with the team? Didn't even know he was working for us, my guess to replace KLowe as President sometime within a year? I would love to add Brian Boyle from the Rangers don't know what the asking price would be though.

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#35 BIGDAWG
November 05 2013, 01:40PM
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am not a big fan of Gags and I didn't like the term and money he got. he would be the first player I would trade. As far as the coach.. we have him for this and next year for sure.. so peeps... you gotta stop cryin about the coach. he isn't going anywhere... Do I agree with some of the things he does... no but he is here and I doubt Mac T lets him go at this point.

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#36 Lochenzo
November 05 2013, 01:41PM
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@sizzay

I'm not so sure. Kreider has been in and out of the Ranger lineup for the past two years. But he's young, great draft pedigree and he has the size that the Oilers need to add to their top 9.

Hemsky creates scoring chances. There's no denying that and the Rangers are woefully in need of somebody to create scoring chances. I'd be a bug in Slats' ear on how good Brad Richards was when he had Marty St Louis feeding him sweet dishes on the PP. Brad Richards does not have that complementary passer in NY.

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#37 Fresh Mess
November 05 2013, 01:46PM
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It is only a matter of time before the unproductive Hemsky goes down with an injury. Trade him for a draft pick, anything, quickly.

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#38 vetinari
November 05 2013, 01:56PM
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One period. That's what they get. If the Oilers can't be bothered to show up and compete then I am not wasting more than 20 minutes of my free time on them.

GDP: somewhere between 6-1 Oilers and 8-3 Florida

OGDP: Every pregame interview will talk about 'accountability' (which is lacking) and Fedun (who deserves some positive karma for a change).

NSOGDP: Yakupov is absent from the bench for the whole second period prompting speculation that he had been traded. Instead, it turns out that he took a wrong turn and ended up outside of the stadium in full Oilers gear. As he never experienced +30C temperatures in November before, he decided to work on his tan for a while before returning to the ice for the third and scoring two goals.

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#39 Hunter5
November 05 2013, 02:02PM
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The Greatest Show on Earth. Go on Stub Hub for a whopping $4.45 you can see the Oilers play Florida. I'm betting the actual attendance will be under 5000 people.

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#40 tileguy
November 05 2013, 02:04PM
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The odds are good one Oiler will register their first career goal vs. Florida tonight: Acton, Arcobello, Eberle, Fedun, Ference, Gagner, Gazdic, Larsen, Nugent-Hopkins, Petry, Smid and Yakupov have never scored a goal vs. the Panthers.

Maybe good odds but no guarantee.

The only reason to watch tonight is to cheer on Fedun.

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#41 #TheNugeIsHuge
November 05 2013, 02:06PM
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5:1 Panthers...

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#42 joshgladu
November 05 2013, 02:06PM
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any trade with NYR should start and end with hagelin. what a hockey player he is. before the mouth breathers talk about size just look at his analytics

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#43 MessyEH!
November 05 2013, 02:08PM
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Cheering for Fedun. I hope he does well.

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#44 Rocket
November 05 2013, 02:18PM
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vetinari wrote:

One period. That's what they get. If the Oilers can't be bothered to show up and compete then I am not wasting more than 20 minutes of my free time on them.

GDP: somewhere between 6-1 Oilers and 8-3 Florida

OGDP: Every pregame interview will talk about 'accountability' (which is lacking) and Fedun (who deserves some positive karma for a change).

NSOGDP: Yakupov is absent from the bench for the whole second period prompting speculation that he had been traded. Instead, it turns out that he took a wrong turn and ended up outside of the stadium in full Oilers gear. As he never experienced +30C temperatures in November before, he decided to work on his tan for a while before returning to the ice for the third and scoring two goals.

Yeah I know what you mean about only giving this team the first period to see if this game is worth watching. I'm doing that more to save time this season. I was at the Detroit game and stayed 2 periods. I've never left an Oilers game early in 25 years. I should have left after the first.

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#45 pkam
November 05 2013, 02:23PM
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Rocket wrote:

Yeah I know what you mean about only giving this team the first period to see if this game is worth watching. I'm doing that more to save time this season. I was at the Detroit game and stayed 2 periods. I've never left an Oilers game early in 25 years. I should have left after the first.

Remember the Devil's game?

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#46 DSF
November 05 2013, 02:37PM
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So, is this game the start of the relegation round?

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#48 G Money
November 05 2013, 03:16PM
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DSF wrote:

So, is this game the start of the relegation round?

We wish.

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#49 Archaeologuy
November 05 2013, 03:17PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

He is a consultant, although the Oilers haven't officially said what his role is.

Special VP of Leaderiness

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#50 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 05 2013, 03:21PM
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So what's Perron's status? I don't remember hearing a time line for his return, and sweet lord I've been missing him.

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