Oilers crush Panthers in lopsided, not-close-at-all, 4-3 overtime win

Jonathan Willis
November 05 2013 08:22PM

 

Taylor Fedun scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game a little earlier tonight. Another rookie, Mark Arcobello, scored the first two goals of his NHL career - including the game-winner. Philip Larsen scored his first goal as an Oiler.

The offence came from unexpected places, but it sure came in handy against Florida.

In Brief

As I saw it, the Oilers were clearly the better team after about the five minute mark of the first period, and dominated the first two frames. With some exceptions (more on those later), the call-ups played quite well and the team as a whole dominated both the possession and territorial battles. The 3-1 lead got a bit of help from Jacob Markstrom, who wasn't good, but on balance the Oilers firmly deserved to be ahead.

Then the team started sitting back. Maybe it was a change in strategy, maybe it was complacency; whatever the case, Edmonton allowed a decidedly mediocre Panthers team to crawl back into the game. First it was 3-2, then 3-3, and yet another loss seemed inevitable. Instead, the Oilers got an overtime powerplay and Ales Hemsky teamed up with Mark Arcobello to put the game away.

The Goals

The Panthers scored first on a shift where Ryan Smyth in particular took his sweet time moving and Sam Gagner was awfully passive. Marcel Goc had all the time in the world with Smyth, Petry and Ference standing still on the Oilers' goal line.

There's a lot to like about this goal. Whether it's Ladislav Smid and Boyd Gordon making smart plays along the boards in the defensive zone, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins rushing over to spring the rush or Philip Larsen reading the play perfectly, this was a great example of a team taking advantage of an opponent trapped way back at the far end of the ice. We've seen this goal a lot this year, but generally off the sticks of the opposition.

This one isn't complicated. Mark Arcobello made a nice shot from nowhere dangerous and Jacob Markstrom misplayed it badly.

Normally I wouldn't mention the stuff that happened right before the video started, but here it's significant. Ales Hemsky went down to block a hard point shot, found the puck in his feet and knocked it to Nugent-Hopkins, who started the rush that's in process as our video starts. That sent the Oilers away, and as they generally do Jordan Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins played the rush perfectly, culminating in Taylor Fedun's first career goal.

This play starts with a grenade of an Eberle pass right up the middle in the defensive zone. Hemsky makes the simple 'bank the puck off the boards and out' play to neutralize it, but Scottie Upshall makes a great sliding block to keep it in the zone. At this point it's a 3-on-3 and the Oilers should still be fine but Nugent-Hopkins gets puck-watching and that's all she wrote.

Devan Dubnyk, feeling that it's unfair for the Oilers to get a freebie goal and not give one up, mercifully allows the Panthers a guaranteed point for getting it to overtime.

What I like about this goal is its simplicity. The Panthers collapse to defend the 4-on-3. Hemsky and Arcobello swap places so that Arcobello can take the one-timer from the faceoff circle. Then they take the shot. If the Oilers could do this all the time, we wouldn't spend so much time fretting over their power play percentage.

Lastly...

  • It's always nice to see hockey succeeding so well in non-traditional markets. Also, hats off to the Panthers' public relations people for handing out matching red shirts to create the illusion of an empty arena - that's the kind of tongue-in-cheek humour everyone loves!
  • I'm pretty happy calling the first game of the 'Ales Hemsky at left wing' experiment a qualified success. The first line dominated scoring chances (+6/-2 at even-strength by my count) and looked a lot better than it has lately. I'd be comfortable leaving Hemsky there until Hall or Perron is back.
  • That second line is a mess, though. More than half of Florida's chances came against them. I don't know if it's a function of Ryan Smyth being less than 100 percent, or Sam Gagner being less than 100 percent, or whatever's going on with Nail Yakupov this season, but the whole line looked bad against a pretty weak opponent.
  • I go through stages of annoyance with the fourth line; tonight I was struggling to see anything positive out of them. It felt like they'd go out, quickly lose possession, and then skate around the defensive zone for 40 seconds until someone mercifully chipped the puck out of the zone and real hockey players could come back on the ice.
  • Regular readers know that I hold Jeff Petry in high regard; I think he's the best defenceman on the team. He was a trainwreck tonight, though.
  • Philip Larsen looked pretty good on Ladislav Smid's side, and once people get healthy I suspect he'd look even better in a third-pairing role where he's asked to do less. What I really like is his ability to make short, safe passes that minimize the number of mistakes on routine defensive-zone puck-handling. Smid needs a partner with good puck skills; so to does Nick Schultz.
  • I can't imagine there's anybody unhappy to see Taylor Fedun make his NHL debut. The goal was icing on the cake but I liked his tenacity in the defensive zone; he seemed to engage well and win his share of puck battles despite being undersized.
  • I watched the Panthers' feed tonight (I thought somebody, somewhere probably should) and the commentators ripped on Andrew Ference pretty hard for turning a first period power play into a four-on-four with some gratuitous cross-checking. Generally, I'm a fan of disciplined hockey but I have to admit that as a rule I'm okay with making it clear to an opponent that charging the crease has repercussions. That can mean a scrum, a fight, or in Ference's case stickwork. 
  • Finally: did someone put a bounty on Nugent-Hopkins' knees or something? 
74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Claremont
November 05 2013, 08:32PM
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Isn't it weird that all the goals came from Todd Nelson's guys

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#2 DrDave
November 05 2013, 08:41PM
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YAYYY!!!! ***puts beer of disappointment away*** ***opens beer of celebration***

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#3 dougtheslug
November 05 2013, 09:27PM
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OK, I didn't watch the game. I had other things to do night (grocery shopping, yoga class, dog walk...). But I'm driving home and listening post-game, to Bob Stauffer talking to Taylor Fedun about his first NHL goal, and reflecting on his long journey from the AJHL, to Princeton , undrafted free agent, horrible fractured femur (watched the replay, once only, and still get shivers of horror when I think of his screams of pain), to a year of rehab, minor league comeback, and now an NHL goal (OK, for an almost NHL team against another almost NHL team...), well, as Taylor starts talking, his voice quavers and then cracks with emotion, and my heart melts and I remember that I love this team and this game when it is played by guys who care enough about what they are doing to get choked up by the moment.

Its in my DNA and in my blood. I can't stand what has been done to this team by a group of incompetent managers and indifferent players. But as long as there is a spark, (provided tonight by Fedun and Arco), well, I'm back in, baby.

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#4 Serious Gord
November 05 2013, 10:03PM
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Watched the third goal on dubnyk again. That may be one of the worst attempts at a save I have ever seen in the nhl. Mind blown.

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#5 Big Cap
November 05 2013, 08:38PM
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Eakins saying "we took some baby steps in the right direction defensively"

Does Eakins think he's some defensive genius? This whole swarm defense system is a joke.

We gassed a 2 goal lead in the 3rd period to FLORIDA and barely squeaked out a win.

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#6 vetinari
November 05 2013, 09:05PM
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The game was imperfect and the team narrowly walked out of Florida with a win, but how about Fedun? His first game, his first goal and he ended the game +2.

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#7 Gerald R. Ford
November 05 2013, 08:34PM
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So nice to be on the other end of that "Huh? How did THAT get in the net!?" look on Whitney's face for a change.

Ugly, but better than a pokey thing in the eye.

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#8 Retsinnab5
November 05 2013, 08:32PM
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We should give Arco Paulina Gretzky's number!!!

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#9 Roadhouse
November 05 2013, 08:29PM
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Atta boy Fedun!!

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#10 OilCanFan
November 05 2013, 09:18PM
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At this point, what is the harm in sliding Yakupov down for some seasoning with Todd Nelson?

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#11 Dan 1919
November 05 2013, 09:38PM
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I watched only the highlights and it’s plain and simple, no more dissection needed.

DEVAN DUBNYK DOES NOT CUT IT. The first and last goal were absolutely inexcusable, never mind the rest of team defence. A team cannot be expected to score 4 goals a night to win a game.

Management needs to get serious, they’ve taken more than their sweet time to make the decision, buck up and make a move for a goalie.

Not saying it will be the end all solution, but we all have more than enough evidence to safely start there and reassess from there.

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#13 Muji
November 05 2013, 10:37PM
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Dubnyk is awful. It's not just the number of bad goals he's letting in; it's WHEN he's letting them in. At the very beginning of games, right after we score, right after they score, at the end of games, etc. It's KILLING and totally deflating the team.

Dubnyk was okay 2 years ago. He was above average last year. I like him. But he's been really bad this year. The worst player on our team.

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#14 TKB2677
November 05 2013, 09:39PM
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Cudos to the Oilers for winning despite Dubnyk trying as hard as he could to single handily lose it for him. I think you could actually see the NHL symbol on the puck flip over and over on the 3rd goal as it somehow gently eluded Dubnyk. I don't know how a supposed NHL goalie lets in a goal like that.

The Oilers will continue to not live up to expectations as long as Dubnyk has an Oilers symbol on his jersey. Terrible terrible goaltending once again.

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#15 TayLordBalls
November 05 2013, 09:45PM
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1 in a row

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#16 Craig1981
November 05 2013, 08:28PM
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"oilers win despite themselves" Even on a win, we are kind of depressed.

Jonathan can we change the name of this to "Oiler's DESTROY Panthers"???? We need some positive energy. I felt like they let up in the end since the players themselves, believe themselves the shouldn't win.

BTW, As much as everyone has said they are giving up, I have never seen so many posts as the last few days

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#17 ?
November 05 2013, 10:56PM
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Spoils wrote:

Also didn't like Kipper barking about Oilers trading Yak.

Yak will = goals = good.

Del Zotto is kind of an interesting return being a 23 year old 1D.

imagine this D in 2015 - Nurse, Klefb, JSchultz, Del Zotto, Petry, Smid

Del zotto is another young dman that doesnt care about defense. Sounds a lot like j.Schultz huh? If the oilers were to get a dman in a trade with nyr, you'd better hope it's girardi or mcdonaugh coming to edm, someone who can actually help the team prevent goals.

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#18 TDSM31
November 05 2013, 10:53PM
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Okay Dubnyk...now I'm starting to think you're doing this on purpose...

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#19 etownman
November 05 2013, 10:15PM
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Tending is still this teams biggest problem! No faith in Dubnyk! Did you see the exasperation on Schultz's face when Dubnyk whiffed on Florida's tying goal! Speaks volumes!

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#20 MMAX
November 06 2013, 06:00AM
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BingBong wrote:

Considering how brutal the last 3-4 games have been, I thought we played pretty well. We looked dominant in the 2nd when we were riding the confidence high.

I definitely think Willis is being harsh; I thought Petry played much better than the last few games; I also thought the 4th line had some good stretches out there.

Dubnyk looked bad on that last one but to be fair it was quite the knuckler. Save still needs to be made though. I also thought senior Schultz played pretty well and has for the last week or something. Really the first time I've ever seen him good.

No being fair here and I don't care if it was a knuckler or not. No screen, no tip, clear sight line and it almost cost the game. For f**k sake Dubnyk, put your body in front of it.

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#22 hemi
November 06 2013, 03:49AM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

I watched only the highlights and it’s plain and simple, no more dissection needed.

DEVAN DUBNYK DOES NOT CUT IT. The first and last goal were absolutely inexcusable, never mind the rest of team defence. A team cannot be expected to score 4 goals a night to win a game.

Management needs to get serious, they’ve taken more than their sweet time to make the decision, buck up and make a move for a goalie.

Not saying it will be the end all solution, but we all have more than enough evidence to safely start there and reassess from there.

I am in absolute agreement! DD has proven he is an adequate to average goalie. Sure, the D is suspect in front of him and I do believe he has been given credit for the so-so Defence in front of him. But as you have stated, "does not cut it" is a pretty darn good description of Devan,

Just one more hole in the overall picture that the everyday fan can see when they look at the Mighty Oil. You can bet your bottom dollar that MacT sees this as well but until he has a dance partner, it is what it is.

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#23 ThatButthurtOilersFan!
November 05 2013, 08:30PM
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Hey, at least we won. #Oilers4Stanley2089

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#24 Batfink
November 05 2013, 08:45PM
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oh, and JW could you go on the GDB and do a spot of moderating? Thanks! I think about #154 or around there.

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#25 Ed in Edmonton
November 05 2013, 09:15PM
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I agree the 2nd line is a train wreck.

Is there room for Yakupov on the roster when, and if, all the forwards get healthy?

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#26 Chainsawz
November 06 2013, 06:16AM
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The score flattered the Panthers. They were totally crushed. Will the Oilers lose another game this year? I think not.

I wonder if the cup parade will could come by Capilano? That way I won't need to find a designated driver.

Arcobello for Calder. Fedun for Norris. I'd like to say Dubnyk for Vezina but I'm trying to be realistic here.

Okay, I'm peaked out. Ready to crash into another valley.

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#27 120 stitches
November 05 2013, 11:17PM
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Still have problem with Dallas's decision making 1) goes with 8 forwards the last 15 minutes of game trying to hold on to the lead. Demonstrates the futility of the 4th line particularly Acton. Understand why you don't put yakapov,eager and Gadzic out there but Acton is supposed to be a defensive specialist who can play wing--at least if he played those 15 minutes we would be rolling 3 lines. Why does Dallas not play him in this situation---simply put he is not good enough. Why isn't he sent down- bad judgment to have the son of your Associate coach playing on a professional team. Anton Lander should be the 4th line centre on this team or let Arcobello play center and move Gordon to the 4th line. You can give Gordon extra minutes on the pk and power play 2) why dress the 4th line against teams that do not have intimidating enforcers. For instance why were these guys playing against Detroit?it just meant that Detroit was able to roll with 4 lines against 3 oiler lines. Evens the playing field for Detroit who had to have some fatigue playing back to back. 3) has anybody taught Yakapov what a shooting lane is?none of the coaching staff were goal scorers perhaps they don't know this. He has to learn to move in the offensive zone to free passing lanes from teammates who have control of the puck in the corners. Most of the time he is standing still with an opponent between him and the puck. I would bet Rob Brown could fix this obvious deficiency in the kids game with a couple of on ice sessions with him. This is one of the major reasons he is not getting shots on goal.

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#28 Slats
November 05 2013, 11:29PM
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Florida Goal #1 is everything that's wrong with this team from Day 1 of the season - from a crap backcheck, to a lazy stick check, to poor coverage and a goalie with a .840 save percentage - if I were Eakins I would show that clip every day to these guys.

I would follow with Fedun's goal. . .. enough said. That effort is what we need. Huge smile to see him score that - I hope he celebrates big time. "Welcome to the NHL Mr. Fedun we are glad to have you!"

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#29 Bryan in SK
November 06 2013, 06:18AM
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Well, I'm not a goalie, and never was, so maybe this isn't fair comment. However, I think that if Dubnyk would just learn to resist the urge to drop to his knees so often, and just stay standing like the 6'6" goalie he is, that would solve half the problem. We shouldn't be seeing so many goals going in over his shoulder.

If Chabot will work on that with Dubnyk, I think our goaltending would go from "average at best" to "better than average."

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#30 Oiler Al
November 05 2013, 09:55PM
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Hopefully this limited win, will serve as some kind of a confidence builder for the players for the next game.String a few wins wont take them to the playoffs, but could be foundation for the team to play and compete as a NHL team instead of Jr."B" team.

Good to see some of these first time scorer's get in on the action. Who said Arco couldn't score from the wing... he was flying.. liked Larsens game as well .. might be a one of, but he played well.

The fourth line is a disgrace to the game of hockey.

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#31 DougWeightProblem
November 06 2013, 08:43AM
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Not sure Hemsky is getting enough credit for that block he made on the second goal. A nice example of his underrated defensive awareness and willingness to compete.

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#32 ThatButthurtOilersFan!
November 05 2013, 10:08PM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

I watched only the highlights and it’s plain and simple, no more dissection needed.

DEVAN DUBNYK DOES NOT CUT IT. The first and last goal were absolutely inexcusable, never mind the rest of team defence. A team cannot be expected to score 4 goals a night to win a game.

Management needs to get serious, they’ve taken more than their sweet time to make the decision, buck up and make a move for a goalie.

Not saying it will be the end all solution, but we all have more than enough evidence to safely start there and reassess from there.

I agree, Dubnyk needs to play better, but he had no chance on the first goal, and the second goal was a pretty tough shot too. Yeah, the third goal was terrible, but the Oilers are a train-wreck in their own zone. If we don't get at least three, capable, Top 4 defenseman and some backchecking forwards by next season, it's going to just be a repeat of this year.

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#33 Oilcruzer
November 05 2013, 10:49PM
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94 played well.

Gagner early return experiment is... well...

...you do the math.

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#34 WheresYourTowel
November 06 2013, 08:09AM
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Wake me when the team is over .500

They will steal no more evenings or money from me until the product is improved.

Do I still care about the Oilers? Sure do.

Will I continue to enable Lowe et al? Sure won't.

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#35 Vik
November 05 2013, 09:43PM
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I've seen both you and Dellow criticize Eberle's pass on the first Upshall goal but I can't figure out why. He's got pressure on both sides and two Oilers with no Cats around them in the middle so why shouldn't he throw it to them? Is it just the old adage of nothing through the middle that you guys are sticking to or are you just looking to pass blame since others are throwing it on Hemmer? Because I'd say that was a nice outlet pass that unfortunately got turned over on a nice kick save by Upshall.

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#36 Allan Iverson
November 05 2013, 10:49PM
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"Oilers crush Florida"??

We're talking about Florida! You know we're talking about Florida, right? Florida. Man,....you know we're talking about Florida....Florida

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#38 The Towel Boy
November 06 2013, 08:03AM
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LOL

"Devan Dubnyk, feeling that it's unfair for the Oilers to get a freebie goal and not give one up, mercifully allows the Panthers a guaranteed point for getting it to overtime."

...sigh.

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#39 **
November 05 2013, 10:56PM
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They played a decent game but once again goaltending almost cost them a game. Dubnyk keeps getting beat top left shoulder. I wonder if it's something in his mask that blocks his peripheral on that side or his positioning. It,s way too many of the same goals for it to be just plain being bad. Hopefully it is something workable. I liked the changes, yak ups on rig wing, hem sky o left, yak finally nod the right dot on the pp, and best of all smid and petty finally separated. The fourth line looked pretty good. Loved Gazdic drilling Whitney against the glass. Ganger hasn't looked good and anyone still doubting arcobello as a legit nhler can go out to lunch.

A win is a win. They still have lots of work to do but it was good to see them win even if the game was an orchestra of turnovers for both teams.

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#40 Ari Gold
November 05 2013, 11:42PM
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madjam wrote:

Well here's hoping it's not one and done . How would the Oilers fair it was 4 on 4 hockey the whole game ? I think rather well overall , and the entertainment value would sky rocket . We'll call it the Oiler Rule .

Imagine any Oil duo against Dats/Zetterberg or Toews/Kane or Hossa/Sharp or Crosby/Dupuis or Malkin/Neal or Lucic/Kreiji or Getzlaf/Perry or Thorton/Marleau or Pavelski/Couture or Brown/Kopitar or Richards/Carter or Backstrom/Ovechkin or Stamkos/St. Louis

Wake up. The only reason we think the Oil are great is because it's the only team we're truly watching. They'd get eaten alive if the players noted above had more room.

This team simply isn't as good as we thought they were. Integrity, heart & resolve should all be in question when looking at this Oilers roster.

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#41 HardBoiledOil
November 06 2013, 07:26AM
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the Oilers still can't hold a lead, but i am glad they finally won, albeit against the lowly Panthers.

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#42 ngj
November 05 2013, 08:58PM
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Isnt there anyone here that look at the positive : they won

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#43 Spoils
November 05 2013, 10:36PM
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Dan 1919 wrote:

I watched only the highlights and it’s plain and simple, no more dissection needed.

DEVAN DUBNYK DOES NOT CUT IT. The first and last goal were absolutely inexcusable, never mind the rest of team defence. A team cannot be expected to score 4 goals a night to win a game.

Management needs to get serious, they’ve taken more than their sweet time to make the decision, buck up and make a move for a goalie.

Not saying it will be the end all solution, but we all have more than enough evidence to safely start there and reassess from there.

The biggest problem is giving the puck up in our own zone - that led to two goals (one of which Dubnyk should have stopped). We don't do that we win 3-1.

I still think ride Dubnyk out until we are a contender - ideally next year, maybe 2015.

Then we can trade prospects for a goalie and we have the best possible chance to win the cup.

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#44 Cynic
November 06 2013, 12:20AM
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@WayneG

Satire.

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#45 madjam
November 05 2013, 10:05PM
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Ah , Arcobellow funny fellow .

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#46 MessyEH!
November 06 2013, 12:20AM
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TKB2677 wrote:

Cudos to the Oilers for winning despite Dubnyk trying as hard as he could to single handily lose it for him. I think you could actually see the NHL symbol on the puck flip over and over on the 3rd goal as it somehow gently eluded Dubnyk. I don't know how a supposed NHL goalie lets in a goal like that.

The Oilers will continue to not live up to expectations as long as Dubnyk has an Oilers symbol on his jersey. Terrible terrible goaltending once again.

Doobie is a hippy. Somehow he has come to beleive the puck is made of black Rhino horn.

It upsets him to touch it.

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#47 godot10
November 06 2013, 07:08AM
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Justin Schultz is better with Belov than with Ference.** Jeff Petry is better with Smid than with Ference.

**small sample size

Perhaps Ference talks a better game than he delivers.

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#48 olesvenson
November 06 2013, 08:06AM
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Maybe I haven't had enough coffee, but realistically the Oilers were lucky to get the win. 20 other teams would have taken advantage of them in the first 10 minutes. They were passive and showed very little confidence in themselves. The best part of this game was that it was the Panthers, it did allow the team as a whole to get some confidence and I would agree that they played better as the game went on. Not good enough to beat most teams in this league, but good enough to gain some confidence and hopefully generate some momentum going into the next two games.

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#49 Lochenzo
November 06 2013, 09:09AM
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DougWeightProblem wrote:

Not sure Hemsky is getting enough credit for that block he made on the second goal. A nice example of his underrated defensive awareness and willingness to compete.

That's ol' Skool Hemsky. He used to do some of that under MacT as coach. He's done that a few times this year.

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#50 Craig1981
November 05 2013, 08:58PM
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@Jonathan Willis

hahahahaa. Thanks, you're top self

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