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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#51 Quicksilver ballet
November 07 2013, 10:11PM
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Some teet wrote this yesterday...

Has to be close to getting time to put Archo in ahead of Gagner on a more permanent basis. Sam should still be sitting another week or two, can sure see he's far from a hundred percent. Archobello, one of the Oiler leaders on the hit parade, he's been as good as or even better than Gags offensively as well as in the faceoff circle.

Great find. Time to punt that 4.8 to the curb in favour of a Gagner duplicate in Archobello, before that no trade kicks in next season. 600.000 vs 4.8, not a tough decision to make considering those funds could go towards bringing in better depth players. What does Gagner have that Archobello doesn't, beside that bloated contract. Put that coin towards Steven Ott. RNH,Gordon,Archobello and Ott would be a step up from where things are at now. Imagine what MacT could do with nearly 10 million in cap space next summer (Gags and Hemmer gone).

starting to make sense...

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#52 Ari Gold
November 07 2013, 11:17PM
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@Gregor

Some of these comments are in serious need of moderation.

On another note, Yak made a great play to get the puck to Gordo who was stoned by Bishop in the last 3 mins. Great hustle and good on him to out-muscle the dman. I think Gordo looked great from what I saw in the 3rd.

How did Omark look?

Hemsky is a giveaway machine! Seriously. So much upside and downside all at the same time. I blame past coaching for not whipping him into shape.

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#53 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 07 2013, 08:22PM
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Maybe we need a mercy rule like in PeeWee when one team is getting slaughtered, they trade goalies for the third period.

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#54 Evilas
November 07 2013, 09:52PM
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DSF wrote:

You follow the Oilers?

Get a life.

Really ???

DSF, what does that stand for anyway?

BTW, despite whatever drivel you may spew, YOU follow the Oilers, otherwise how could you not possibly be so knowledgeable about this team?

Oh, Okay now I get it Definitive Sage Facts

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#55 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:44PM
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@Serious Gord

But nothing is ever good enough for you.

You were the guy in the 80's picking out the flaws in those teams while they were winning cups.

MacT isn't a moron. I'm 100% sure he doesn't want to have a team that sucks year to year

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#56 bazmagoo
November 07 2013, 10:57PM
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I don't really get how Eakins get's a free pass by a lot of people. The guy hasn't won anything as a coach, but for some reason he was the "hot" commodity in the coaching market. Only the Oilers would fire a coach who took Switzerland from nothing on the world hockey scene to a legitimate contender, to hire an AHL coach who's never coached a championship team in his ENTIRE CAREER. And I was a big critic of Ralph, but at least we showed improvement. *edit* And he had 48 or so games of NHL experience, versus 0.

Fire Lowe! Fire them all!

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#57 hockeycrazed
November 07 2013, 11:00PM
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If Oil can out-shoot first place Lightnings and lost, I think I am not as disappointed as they got shut out back to back games to the Leafs and Red Wings. As usual, if the opposing Goal keep plays for the Oilers, they would have won the game tonight, we'll not be sitting here bashing the Oilers! I just hope I am not the only person to see that, is all!!!

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#58 Smokey
November 07 2013, 01:14PM
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I don't get why if you got four centers that why you play a guy outta position who plays well on the boards. Eakins has enough horses to roll four lines 5x5. Play your top two lines consistently, and make your 3/4 lines battle it out who will play more down the stretch.

Instead you got Gagner who is non-existent on the dot, who will probably go 2-14. Stamkos will get this match-up and the Oilers will get roasted in their own zone. The fourth line will continue to play 5 minutes, with Smyth getting a shift on the PP, and a few on the penalty kill. Tampa's got two Oiler lines to destroy tonight. I'm predicting a 5-4 Oiler loss, with Stamkos with the trick.

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#59 **
November 07 2013, 02:06PM
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Obvious game day prediction: Dubnyk let's in yet another softie top shelf above his left shoulder.

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#60 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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#61 Rob...
November 07 2013, 08:05PM
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So once again the Oilers forwards were expected to score 4 goals for the win.

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#62 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:28PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Oh Yeah........and Taylor Hall's a BEAST!

Steven Stamkos says:

LOLOLOL

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#63 The Real Gongshow
November 07 2013, 08:30PM
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DSF wrote:

I agree.

The Oilers had a chance to trade for Bishop but decided to sign Dubnyk to a stupid contract instead.

Because Oilers.

The Oilers offered Jones and a 3rd. The Bolts offered Conacher and a 4th. Who would you rather have if you were the Sens ?

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#64 Larry
November 07 2013, 08:46PM
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Good grief DD needs to go...

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#65 Johnnydapunk
November 07 2013, 11:02PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

I prefer not to cling to past glory but rather work on attaining future glory. Otherwise you become France or Greece - a doormat.

Someone needs to explain this to oilers management.

I'm asking not sarcastically but I'm genuinely confused by what you mean by calling France and Greece doormats? I am not sure if you are referring to sport or anything else?? No offence intended, just baffled actually.

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#66 MessyEH!
November 08 2013, 01:41AM
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Doobies career sent him a "Dear John letter."

After that 3rd goal tonight, It has decided to move on.

Also, I think Eberle needs to be traded. Buy low, sell high. He will never be worth more than he is now.

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#67 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 12:58PM
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I think Stamkos is gonna ventilate Dubey tonight. I hate to say it, but he's lighting it up (as usual), and that half hearted wave Dubnyk made on the tying goal last game has me worried.

Here's hoping Hall comes out flying, if he and Yak can get it going we should be able to roll with the Bolts.

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#68 A-Mc
November 07 2013, 02:28PM
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Old School G wrote:

In regards to our smallish skilled guys getting run all over the rink.

Perron, when healthy, demonstrates nightly how to intimidate the opposition while being the smaller guy in the scrums most of the time. Watch how he does it and act accordingly.

I would love to have 3 or more of this guy. He's the perfect example of how you can be a smaller skilled guy that is a total pest! If we can't get size, hopefully we can get more guys like Perron, the dirty frenchman!

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#69 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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#70 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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#71 James
November 07 2013, 08:11PM
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I wonder what our stats are when we pull a goalie for the extra man, it never seems to work very much for our team but it sure seems to work for other teams a lot more.

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#72 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 08:18PM
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@DSF

Can't argue there. Always the smartest guys in the room.

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#73 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 07 2013, 08:25PM
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Oh Yeah........and Taylor Hall's a BEAST!

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#74 BingBong
November 07 2013, 08:44PM
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Sloppy game all around; TB's second goal summed up our season nicely I thought: sloppy pass by Ference, Eberle mishandles it and doesn't play the body, then Dubs gives up a weak wrap-around.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind if our big money guys could score. Eberle, RNH, Hemsky...0 goals in the last 4 games now? If our top 2 lines can't score, we're doomed.

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#75 Clarko
November 07 2013, 08:44PM
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DSF wrote:

Dubs was .880 tonight.

Bishop was .950.

Game over.

Well, Dubnyk is the official whipping boy for Oiler fans everywhere. The Oilers played well tonight, but we are all delusional to think that goaltending is the only thing that is stopping this team from being a contender.

The giveaways on the first were absolutely terrible. They were both no pressure giveaways to one of the best two goal scorers in the game. But that was Dubnyk's fault too.

Then Smid gets turned inside out and a one-timer from 5 feet goes in. But that was Dubnyk's fault too.

I am not saying that Dubnyk has played well this season...he hasn't been good. But the giveaways and defensive liabilities were far more atrocious in this game then our goaltending.

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#76 Harlie
November 07 2013, 08:46PM
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DSF wrote:

Time for some Big Boy Hockey ®.

Vancouver @ San Jose.

Until one of them wins a cup they are failures just the same as the Oil.

Don't even delude yourself, Mr. Dashing Silver Fox.

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#77 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:54PM
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Harlie wrote:

Until one of them wins a cup they are failures just the same as the Oil.

Don't even delude yourself, Mr. Dashing Silver Fox.

Phhhttt...there are many great teams that haven't won the cup.

The Oilers can't even sniff their jocks.

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#78 Stack Pad Save
November 07 2013, 09:40PM
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@Randaman

We all want bold................I just want some D-man who is our captain to not be such a goat with the puck. I also want a coach who doesn't stick his worst center *cough* Gagner out against one of the games best in Stamkos to continually get embarrassed shift after shift after shift. I swear every time Gagner is on the ice the puck is in the Oilers end it doesn't leave or it dies on his stick in the offensive zone.

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#79 Serious Gord
November 08 2013, 02:48AM
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MKE wrote:

But nothing is ever good enough for you.

You were the guy in the 80's picking out the flaws in those teams while they were winning cups.

MacT isn't a moron. I'm 100% sure he doesn't want to have a team that sucks year to year

Actually I'm the guy who argued that the oil in the eighties were the greatest and most dominant team in the history of hockey - a far more capable team than Mtl in the fifties - there should have been more than five cups except for an own goal and a illiquid owner. And that unlike the Cdns of the 50s the oil had a true rival and foil - cgy flames - to test their mettle.

What really ticks me off in the present mess is that there is some fantastic talent on this team that is being squandered and possibly damaged and stunted by epically inept management and ownership. They deserve better. And the fans deserve better.

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#80 Bruner
November 07 2013, 12:26PM
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My prediction: A 5-4 victory for the Oil. Dubnyk continues to let in a plethora of goals

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#81 Citizen David
November 07 2013, 12:38PM
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Rocket wrote:

I'm amping to see how Stamkos lights The Oilers up. Watching him play against Hall (maybe) should be fun to watch.

Also, I wonder how Hedman is doing? He was drafted high but since then I haven't really heared much about him.

Hedman is a legit number one in my mind. Not a lot of offence but Defense is super solid. He's the best case scenario of what Klefbom can be.

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#82 Derian Hatcher
November 07 2013, 04:52PM
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BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull wrote:

The broadcasting crews for radio and TV are so bad that I always watch the opponent's broadcast. It's the only way to keep me sane.

Gene Principe = Buzz Killington

Bob Staufer = Mediterranean Chicken

Stauffer is so busy pumping his own tires...."I was the only media guy after 2006 to state that the Oilers needed to tear it down and do a complete rebuild"...."The minute I looked at the schedule, I said the Oilers would get off to a rough start.."...."I played on the same line with Guy Gadowsky with SSAC" ."I said, I said, I said., I , I, I, ..blah blah blah....Bob and KLowe....both seem to know about winning - "if there's ever a concern".

Agree - Bob was much more objective before Rexall boy started signing his cheques. Come on Bob, less about you and what you said and more from qualified guests.

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#83 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 06:26PM
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Why do some people still think Dubnyk is a starting goalie.What does it take to allow them to see the truth?

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#84 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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#85 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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#86 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:34PM
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Time for some Big Boy Hockey ®.

Vancouver @ San Jose.

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#87 Rob...
November 07 2013, 08:56PM
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DSF wrote:

Hockey is a team game.

The better team won the game.

What? You think you're insulting the Oilers with that one? Lightning weren't a lot better than the Oilers tonight, they just had the phenomenally better goalie. Were I the Lightning I'd be damn shaken over the fact that the Oilers could have tied it at and pushed for a victory if not for the D&D-Suck factory.

If they want to push for a contender spot the Lightning forwards and D need to do a hell of a lot better than they did tonight.

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#88 Slats
November 07 2013, 09:16PM
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Game Thoughts:

1. Bishop outplayed DD this was obvious. How many goals have gone in via the middle of the net. That 5hole goal with a minute left and the wrap around was awful but the plays prior to it were worse! See #2

2. Ference's pass was bad (he should have skated the puck out no one was around), next Eberle's attempt at trying to soccer juggling the Ference's pass was just as bad AND then Petry could have gone the other way for coverage and could have crushed Stamkos with a huge hit but decided to switch - dumb, dumb and dumber!

Until they get rid of these plays and start to show the passion of "keeoing the puck out of our net" it will go on and on. . . .

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#89 Quicksilver ballet
November 07 2013, 09:55PM
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That 24 yr old Frederick Andersen from the Ducks. Does he have to clear waivers when he gets sent down again?

There's a kid the Oilers could use. Ducks are waist deep in goalies.

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#90 Walter Sobchak
November 08 2013, 12:11AM
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Dubnyk is some kind of bad! Awful! He's an overrated hack! A back up goalie who single handily lost the Oilers another game.

So after the Oilers lose to one more weak eastern team they get to start playing the western conference teams..........This is where you get to see just how bad the Oilers are.

If you think this has been tough to watch, just wait till the Oilers start playing SJS, STL, LA , VAN, CHI on a regular basis.

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#91 jbogus
November 08 2013, 01:27AM
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Hey mates just finished another session thanks to another L, thanks oil. Raining now and spewing I just washed car by hand anyhow, dipsh@t toe drag Hall thanks for your continued selfishness et al, you wankers.

Honestly our beer hockey has more heart and accountability.

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#92 Loweblows
November 08 2013, 06:51AM
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Can we get rid of smid now-and when can our goalie make the big save? Sorry but DD is not winning this team any games?

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#93 TayLordBalls
November 07 2013, 12:11PM
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going for 2 in a row!

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#94 Chainsawz
November 07 2013, 01:29PM
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Anyone else getting sick of the verbal no-trade promises? First Gagner, now Yakupov. What valuable trade chip does MacTavish have in mind to drastically improve the blueline or goaltending?

Despite their inept managment, I feel a 2 game win streak coming on!

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#95 Zarny
November 07 2013, 02:15PM
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pkam wrote:

The problem is Gagner is not physically fit to play. In the last game, his jaw hurt after taking a big hit to his shoulder.

He never plays physical even when he is healthy, how can you expect him to play in the 4th line with a broken jaw?

I don't understand why they didn't let him rest for another week or 2.

Because as good as Arcobello has played he's nowhere near a #2 C in the NHL. And depth at C is the Oilers biggest weak spot...which is saying something.

Gagner is physically fit to play or else he wouldn't be dressing. His jaw hurts? So what.

Pretty sure Sid's jaw hurt when he came back too.

This isn't house league.

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#96 Old School G
November 07 2013, 02:25PM
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In regards to our smallish skilled guys getting run all over the rink.

Perron, when healthy, demonstrates nightly how to intimidate the opposition while being the smaller guy in the scrums most of the time. Watch how he does it and act accordingly.

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#97 Mandy
November 07 2013, 04:26PM
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Odd how some are referring to Arcibello as an undersized midget in a game against the ultimate midget in St. Louis. Definitely not saying that they're the same player by any means. But St. Louis is coming up on 1000 games and he spent his early career dogged by comments about his size. He's not a big guy, but at least he finishes a check. You don't have to put a guy through the boards to be effective. That's where skating and hockey sense come into play. Position yourself to just ride the guy into the boards. Just take him out of the play. Those small things, you know.

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#98 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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#99 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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#100 Randy
November 07 2013, 07:47PM
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cheers

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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