GDB 17.0: BRACING FOR THE BOLTS

Jason Gregor
November 07 2013 12:06PM

When you are a 28th place team every game is tough. Two days after a 4-3 OT victory over the 27th place Florida Panthers, the Oilers at least have some momentum heading into a showdown with the 10th place Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Oilers, most likely Andrew Ference and Jeff Petry, will have the pleasure of trying to shut down the dangerous duo of Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis. Stamkos is 2nd in NHL scoring with 20 points, while St. Louis is tied for 17th with 16.

Those two have scored 40% of Tampa Bay's goals, and only twice this season have both of them been held pointless. The Bolts lost both games, 3-1 and 5-0, and both losses came against the Bruins.

The Oilers don't have a Zdeno Chara, so it is unlikely the Oilers can shut out Stamkos and St. Louis, but they will need to contain them.

The Bolts have five players with 4+ goals, while the Oilers only have two, Gordon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Twenty different players have scored a goal for the Oilers this year, but they need get a few more players scoring consistently. It is difficult to win regularly without a few go-to players, but the Oilers will get a huge boost as Taylor Hall returns to the lineup.

LINEUP...

Hemsky-RNH-Eberle
Hall-Gagner-Yakupov
Omark-Gordon-Arcobello
Jones-Smyth-Gazdic

Hall will play his first game since being injured in Ottawa and Eakins is hoping Hall can jumpstart two struggling players, Gagner and Yakupov. Hall is the best option to do that.

The only aspect of the line juggling that I question is moving Ryan Smyth to centre. Smyth struggled mightily last season playing in the middle. He excels on the wall, not in the middle of the ice. You can't expect him to contribute when he is playing centre.

There is no way you could demote Mark Arcobello or Boyd Gordon to the 4th line. They've arguably been the two most consistent forwards all year. There is no way Eakins could retain respect within the room if you demoted them, yet played struggling players like Yakupov, Gagner, and recently recalled Linus Omark ahead of them in the top-nine.

Smyth at centre has to be a short-term experiment. He is better on the wall.

I'm most interested to see who Eakins will use to try and contain Stamkos and St. Louis. Gordon is his best defensive forward, but with his wingers I'm not sure that is a matchup Eakins wants to run. I'm guessing he'll try to get the RNH line out against them.

Ference-Petry
Smid-Larsen
N.Schultz-Fedun

There is no reason to switch up the D pairs. Petry and Ference are the Oilers best option to face 91/26. I liked Larsen's game in Florida, especially on the PP. Fedun and Schultz won't outmuscle many players, but both play smart, positional defence.

Dubnyk

Tampa Bay is getting solid goaltending. Dubnyk needs to match Ben Bishop's play to give the Oilers a chance. 

YAK SUPPORT....

Yesterday head coach Dallas Eakins and Craig MacTavish made it clear that Nail Yakupov wasn't being shopped.

“Nail Yakupov is not being shopped, he’s not going anywhere and I wanted him to hear that from me, look me in my eye, and let him know that we’re attached at the hip," Eakins said after he had a heart-to-heart chat with Yakupov on the ice in Tampa Bay that had some speculating the first pick in 2012 might be a healthy scratch.

While scouting the Rangers/Pengiuns game, MacTavish said this to the media, "We very much believe Nail will evolve to become that dynamic, electric player — become one of the most entertaining guys in the game. I told that to Igor (Larionov) (Yakupov's agent) and I told that to Yak. Development is very rarely a straight line. It has ups and downs.”

It was smart for the coach to tell a young player who is struggling he believes in him, but the harsh reality of pro sports is that if you aren't performing you likely won't be playing much. Yakupov didn't see the ice for the final 9:30 or regulation, and the 1:55 of OT, while the Oilers were trying, unsuccessfully, to protect a lead.

That isn't surprising, considering he's not a defensive stalwart just yet, but if he continues to sit for long stretches, and continues to struggle offensively, will the Oilers consider a stint in OKC?

MacTavish wisely said development is rarely a straight line. Yakupov isn't the first sophomore to struggle, but due to his age they could let him gain some confidence in OKC. Yakupov has high-end skills, so he could score tonight and no one will worry about his offence, but if his slump continues the Oilers should consider OKC a viable option.

QUICK HITS...

  • Unless they acquire another goalie the Oilers need to stick with Devan Dubnyk. Jason LaBarbera is not going to perform better, so tell Dubnyk he's your guy, and tell him to stay focused the entire game. Challenge him to be consistent.  
     
  • The Oilers have actually played pretty well at ES on the road this year outscoring teams 26-25. They've been decent at ES, but they've been outscored 9-3 on PP. Their PP is only 9.4% on the road. Their PP looked much better in Florida, and if it can get going, they might start to pull out some wins away from Rexall.
     

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Four of the last five games between these two teams in Tampa have ended in 3-2 scores with each team winning twice. In those four games Oilers won, Tampa won, Oilers won and Tampa won, so based on extensive scientific research (none whatsoever) the Oilers continue that trend tonight with a 3-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Omark scores, because Oilersnation thrives on drama/debate.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After opening the Florida broadcast with a muscle shirt and shorts, Mean Gene Principe starts his segment standing along the boards at the zamboni entrance. He does a quick spin-o-rama then walks towards the camera talking about the return of Hall and Omark's recall from OKC. As he gets closer, he tosses it upstairs to two guys who are "classy" and "no joke", Louis Debrusk and Kevin Quinn, and then stares into the camera and drops the mic. BOOM.

** Principe was playing off the words of the Tampa Bay Lightning players after Omark's infamous SO goal on December 10th, 2010, when they whined about his move being a joke and Dan "cancelled my twitter account" Ellis claimed it "wasn't very classy."

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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#101 Slava
November 07 2013, 06:28PM
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Wäx Män Riley wrote:

Is anybody else watching the TBay feed?

Commercial after commercial of pharmaceutical companies and war recruiting.

Or maybe it's just me.

I liked how they tried implying an American wrote O Canada.

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#102 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 06:28PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Good lord, this comments section went south fast.

Almost as quick as the Oilers season.

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#103 Mikey
November 07 2013, 06:29PM
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PoolanovIsStupid wrote:

HE CHASED STAMKOS BEHIND THE NET! THEREFORE PETRY SHOULD HAVE BEEN COVERING HIS SIDE BECAUSE THATS WHERE THE PUCK IS GOING! YOU DON'T KNOW $HIT ABOUT HOCKEY IF YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS THAT!

Nope thats on Ferrance. Why even make the pass? He should have skated around the net where no TB fowards are.

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#104 Poolanov
November 07 2013, 06:32PM
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PoolanovIsStupid wrote:

HE CHASED STAMKOS BEHIND THE NET! THEREFORE PETRY SHOULD HAVE BEEN COVERING HIS SIDE BECAUSE THATS WHERE THE PUCK IS GOING! YOU DON'T KNOW $HIT ABOUT HOCKEY IF YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND SOMETHING AS SIMPLE AS THAT!

All Ference had to do was skate the puck out, If you can't see that, You are the idiot.

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#105 Poolanov
November 07 2013, 06:34PM
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Mikey wrote:

Nope thats on Ferrance. Why even make the pass? He should have skated around the net where no TB fowards are.

What he said.

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#106 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 06:35PM
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Well so far aside from a few lapses and giveaways, and of course Dubnyk, we haven't played nearly as bad as I thought we would.

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#107 DamnDuby
November 07 2013, 06:45PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

I completely agree, our stats were better in all areas that first period except save percentage. Go Figure!!

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#108 Rocket
November 07 2013, 06:45PM
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Good lord is Gagner bad at faceoffs. Has he even won any tonight? How did he get this far into his NHL career with such a low faceoff win percentage?

Tough to generate scoring chances when they're constantly trying to retrieve the puck.

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#109 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 06:46PM
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Rocket wrote:

Good lord is Gagner bad at faceoffs. Has he even won any tonight? How did he get this far into his NHL career with such a low faceoff win percentage?

Tough to generate scoring chances when they're constantly trying to retrieve the puck.

The sad part is they have Acro playing wing.

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#110 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 06:49PM
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@Spydyr

This x100, Gags on the wing please.

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#111 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 06:50PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

This x100, Gags on the wing please.

I would prefer Gagner to New York.Acro is already a better centre.

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#112 Ari Gold
November 07 2013, 06:56PM
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Seriously, what is it with this organization's love affair with Sam Gagner? Yes, he's good offensively. Yes, he plays with heart. But. But he's terrible at:

centre faceoffs backchecking bodychecking defense playing big

This kind of player is terrible redundant in the Oilers lineup. I'd say Arco has made him expendable. Get rid of that contract! We aren't deep at centre if we have terrible centres.

Move him to the wing or get rid of him. I bet you could get a #3 Dman for him. Package him a few draft picks and move on.

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#113 Chainsawz
November 07 2013, 06:57PM
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Taylor Hall wrote:

I'm the one that have Yak the weak pass into the skates leading up to the turnover! It was also a suicide pass! I'm an NHL player it should be on the tape clean or don't pass it.

Lolz, just saw the replay, puck first hits Yaks stick. Do you know anything about hockey?

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#114 Johnnydapunk
November 07 2013, 07:06PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

I agree as well, though I cannot figure out if the Oil are playing at Tampa's level or if it is the other way around. No one is sitting in front of the Bolts' net as Bishop has been able to see most shots clearly. And as I write this Dubnyk somehow let's another sad goal in.....

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#115 StHenriOilBomb
November 07 2013, 07:07PM
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Best 15 minutes of hockey I've seen the Oilers play in years, they can't finish, and they get scored on. Figures it would go like that.

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#116 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:07PM
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Always in the last minute or two, Dubnyk. Why. WHY.

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#117 StHenriOilBomb
November 07 2013, 07:12PM
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I think people should start realizing that Sam Gagner is not going anywhere. MacT signed him for 3 years, publicly promising that he wouldn't trade Sam during the first two. Unless Sam wants to go, It would be professional suicide.

Arco may be here to stay, too, and when have we ever been in a position to scoff at having too many centres. If Gags plays wing (and as a solid replacement centre) and Arco can stay at center, it gives a serious option to deal a winger for a dman.

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#118 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 07:13PM
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If the oil lose tonight they will basically be in 29th. The flyers will have one fewer point but have three games at hand.

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#119 Poolanov
November 07 2013, 07:14PM
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Not sure why, but I smell a comeback...

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#120 michael
November 07 2013, 07:17PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Always in the last minute or two, Dubnyk. Why. WHY.

P Lasen got caught. Can't blame DD on the 3rd goal. It was tic tac oh no! Hall is on his horse tonight. Can he buy a goal against Bishop? The guy is a monster in net. Why isn't he on our team? Right. ST. Hopefully the 3rd period brings better news. I did not think we would win this game. But one can have hope. I do think that The Flyer is winnable. There as woeful as we are. Plus Perron will add net prescence.

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#121 Reg Dunlop
November 07 2013, 07:19PM
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A moral victory tonight. Our shots on goal could be way higher if some of the open misses were a bit more accurate. Overall, a decent effort so far except for Skorodenski in net.

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#122 Jason
November 07 2013, 07:20PM
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Kevin Lowe you've done a great job. I feel sorry for Canada

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#123 Rod from Viking
November 07 2013, 07:20PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

I think people should start realizing that Sam Gagner is not going anywhere. MacT signed him for 3 years, publicly promising that he wouldn't trade Sam during the first two. Unless Sam wants to go, It would be professional suicide.

Arco may be here to stay, too, and when have we ever been in a position to scoff at having too many centres. If Gags plays wing (and as a solid replacement centre) and Arco can stay at center, it gives a serious option to deal a winger for a dman.

I have the feeling that if there was a deal with Toronto or the Rangers Sam would be very happy to get a fresh start, six seasons no playoffs.

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#124 michael
November 07 2013, 07:21PM
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On the scoreboard I see Calgary is in the soup again tonight. They are getting fired like chicken by the Blues. How good is MInny? Wow. Sharks vs Van City tonight. Should be fun.

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#125 DSF
November 07 2013, 07:23PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

A moral victory tonight. Our shots on goal could be way higher if some of the open misses were a bit more accurate. Overall, a decent effort so far except for Skorodenski in net.

Moral victories and 5 bucks will get you a Tall Grande Loser at Starbucks.

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#126 DSF
November 07 2013, 07:24PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I have the feeling that if there was a deal with Toronto or the Rangers Sam would be very happy to get a fresh start, six seasons no playoffs.

7 actually.

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#127 James
November 07 2013, 07:28PM
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Rocket wrote:

Good lord is Gagner bad at faceoffs. Has he even won any tonight? How did he get this far into his NHL career with such a low faceoff win percentage?

Tough to generate scoring chances when they're constantly trying to retrieve the puck.

He's actually won the same amount as Gordon has tonight if you can believe it. He's at 57% currenly with Gordon at 58% and Nuge sitting at 40%. I wouldn't have guessed those stats but that's what they have listed.

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#128 James
November 07 2013, 07:29PM
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Sorry 56% vs 57%

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#129 StHenriOilBomb
November 07 2013, 07:30PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I have the feeling that if there was a deal with Toronto or the Rangers Sam would be very happy to get a fresh start, six seasons no playoffs.

I doubt it. It sounds like he wants to win with this group. After a couple of more years if they're not winning, he can go wherever he wants as a free agent.

Either way, it's a long shot. Solutions with him are far more likely, and so for me, far more interesting to consider.

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#130 James
November 07 2013, 07:31PM
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Is Dubnyk ever going to stop letting in bad goals in the last couple minutes of a period? God those are a killer.

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#131 fig pucker
November 07 2013, 07:32PM
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michael wrote:

P Lasen got caught. Can't blame DD on the 3rd goal. It was tic tac oh no! Hall is on his horse tonight. Can he buy a goal against Bishop? The guy is a monster in net. Why isn't he on our team? Right. ST. Hopefully the 3rd period brings better news. I did not think we would win this game. But one can have hope. I do think that The Flyer is winnable. There as woeful as we are. Plus Perron will add net prescence.

really? how many breakaways has bisop stoped tonight? to put this in perspective if the oil and bolts swapped goalies we'd be up 6 to 1 by now. duby is as useless as they come, if the only way we can expect a save is if everyone plays perfect defence? the bolts have played sloppy on d, but bishop bails them out. i say suck it up, overpay and get a real goalie. then take duby out behind the barn and put us all out of his misery!

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#132 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 07:34PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

I doubt it. It sounds like he wants to win with this group. After a couple of more years if they're not winning, he can go wherever he wants as a free agent.

Either way, it's a long shot. Solutions with him are far more likely, and so for me, far more interesting to consider.

I suspect he will have tears of joy if he gets dealt to a contender.

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#133 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:34PM
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I think Eakins is juggling his lines too much.

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#134 RexHolez
November 07 2013, 07:34PM
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Is there a gagner for gardiner type deal to be made with T.O?

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#135 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 07:35PM
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Oil seems to be getting anesthetized by Tampa in the third. Seems to happen a lot this season - a lack if adjustment by Eakins perhaps?

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#136 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:37PM
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@RexHolez

I hope not, we have enough Gardiner types on D. We need a big, nasty bastard.

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#137 Rocket
November 07 2013, 07:41PM
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@James

Cool thanks for the stats

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#138 James
November 07 2013, 07:46PM
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@Rocket

Yeah who knows? Half the time I think those guys who keeps those stats are smoking something.

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#139 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:46PM
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That was a laser beam. Welcome back Hall you magnificent bugger, you've been missed.

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#140 Randy
November 07 2013, 07:47PM
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This is the 8th year and Edmonton is not getting better. Something is very wrong. They have changed coaches GM's and nothing has worked. Someone is making bad decisions. Were all the coaches bad?

Kevin Lowe must know at some level he has been responsible for this mess you would think. Daryl obviously is protecting him because if this was a business and he was losing money based on results he would have been gone already.

So does this mean another decade of losing . I wonder

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#141 Alsker
November 07 2013, 07:54PM
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Not much Yak or Omark, go with whos hot.

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#142 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:56PM
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Great dish from Yak. Can't believe how well Bishop is playing.

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#143 Reg Dunlop
November 07 2013, 07:57PM
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Bishop>>>>>Dubnyk. The difference in the outcome tonight is goaltending.

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#144 Love4Yak
November 07 2013, 07:57PM
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3:00 min left, get Smyth out there again. Pathetic! Look at that move by Yak. He is the man. Eakins just won't give him a long enough look.

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#145 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 07:59PM
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Tampa goalie was all world tonight. Could have been a W but wasn't.

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#146 Rocket
November 07 2013, 07:59PM
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If only The Oilers had a goalie like Ben Bishop who could steal games when his team gets outshot.

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#147 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 08:01PM
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Battle for 28th overall on Saturday.

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#148 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:02PM
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Randy wrote:

This is the 8th year and Edmonton is not getting better. Something is very wrong. They have changed coaches GM's and nothing has worked. Someone is making bad decisions. Were all the coaches bad?

Kevin Lowe must know at some level he has been responsible for this mess you would think. Daryl obviously is protecting him because if this was a business and he was losing money based on results he would have been gone already.

So does this mean another decade of losing . I wonder

Yes.

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#149 FireKLowe
November 07 2013, 08:03PM
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Mickey mouse team, mickey mouse coaching, mickey mouse scouting, mickey mouse management. End of story.

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#150 Drowning in Oil
November 07 2013, 08:04PM
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Smyth plays 6:00 minutes more than Yak..... I thought Eakins was giving him a chance. When you are down by 2 goals, that kid should be out every second shift. When he breaks out, he's going to make Eakins look like the idiot he is!!

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