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 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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#102 Ari Gold
November 07 2013, 08:21PM
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Terrible turnover by Fedun resulting in that empty net goal.

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#103 Umm... What !?!?!
November 07 2013, 08:25PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Here is one of the things that is wrong with the Oilers.

A couple of years ago the Tampa Bay Lighting sign a 21 year old undersized undrafted player to an AHL contract. Kid plays well in the AHL, gets a shot with the big club. Kid exceeds expectations, so they showcase him, sometimes with sheltered minutes, sometimes with talented line mates. At age 23 kid gets serious consideration for NHL Rookie of the Year. The kids name is Cory Conacher. So, what do the Lightening do? Rather than sit around and thank their lucky stars, they have the COURAGE to trade the kid while the kid is at his peek of expectations/potential, to the Ottowa Senators for back up goalie Ben Bishop.......THAT TAKES COURAGE! THATS NOT EASY...THAT IS BOLD !

Except for the part where they showcase him and then have the courage to trade him at peek value, this is actually the story of the Oilers Mark Arcobello.

The two kids Conacher and Arcobello are one year apart in age.

*edited ..took out Gallagher....put in Conacher*

Who the hell is Rory Gallagher ?!

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#104 Mikey
November 07 2013, 08:49PM
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Clarko wrote:

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.

Uh, no one believes that its only just Dubnyk. And Dubnyk has now officially earned the right to be the whipping boy.

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#105 DSF
November 07 2013, 09:24PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

The Cup isn't the main thing.......ITS THE ONLY THING!!!....Just ask Stan Smyl...

Might want to send a memo to SJS, STL, MIN , PHX, WSH, VCR that, since they've never won a cup, the Oilers are better because they won almost 25 years ago.

Oiler fans are becoming Leaf fans.

It's quite sad, actually.

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#106 Rheal1
November 08 2013, 04:19AM
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I have the solution for change, fellow Oilers fans! You deserve better! Do not go watch games at Rexall Do not buy merchandising. Do not watch games on TV. Katz is happy: as a businessman, his coffers stay full with all the money he sucks out of Oilers suckers. He is happy: he makes money. His bottom line is great therefore the team is doing just fine. Boycott the Oilers now!!!

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#107 Will
November 07 2013, 01:07PM
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I also think tonight will be another night of how many goals do the Oilers need to actually win a game. Here's a question, what is the lowest amount of goals the oilers needed to win a game.

Why do I get the feeling the answer is 4.

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#108 nick
November 07 2013, 01:26PM
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Smokey wrote:

Had a good coach in OKC who almost made it to the Calder Cup playoffs. I think if Nelson made it to the final dance he would of gotten consideration with the Oilers this year. Frankly he appears to be the only decent coach we have in the organization.

Good Post, Eakins is a disaster, Todd Nelson should have been the guy up here if MacT found an urge to fire a guy after 48 games.

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#109 Dog Train
November 07 2013, 01:26PM
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This will be a tough game. If we can somehow limit Stamkos and St. Louis, then we'll have a chance. Easier said than done but that's where Dubnyk needs to step in and make some big saves. Come on big guy, stop the puck!

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#110 loweblows
November 07 2013, 02:17PM
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get another win and the next player that tries to take out RNH's knees please retaliate accordingly-to my count there has been three knee contacts on RNH that the defender deliberately threw out-as for gazdic call out the person that threw out the knee, not the other teams toughie!

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#111 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 05:01PM
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5-2 Tampa. The day off at the beach and a team that actually is NHL caliber puts the oil back where it belongs - in the loss column.

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#112 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 06:00PM
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Holy crap, Fedun. Great dish from Ebs.

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

This x100, Gags on the wing please.

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#114 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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#115 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 07 2013, 08:14PM
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Here is one of the things that is wrong with the Oilers.

A couple of years ago the Tampa Bay Lighting sign a 21 year old undersized undrafted player to an AHL contract. Kid plays well in the AHL, gets a shot with the big club. Kid exceeds expectations, so they showcase him, sometimes with sheltered minutes, sometimes with talented line mates. At age 23 kid gets serious consideration for NHL Rookie of the Year. The kids name is Cory Conacher. So, what do the Lightening do? Rather than sit around and thank their lucky stars, they have the COURAGE to trade the kid while the kid is at his peek of expectations/potential, to the Ottowa Senators for back up goalie Ben Bishop.......THAT TAKES COURAGE! THATS NOT EASY...THAT IS BOLD !

Except for the part where they showcase him and then have the courage to trade him at peek value, this is actually the story of the Oilers Mark Arcobello.

The two kids Conacher and Arcobello are one year apart in age.

*edited ..took out Gallagher....put in Conacher*

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#116 Bucknuck
November 07 2013, 08:59PM
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frickin dubnyk. friggin Bishop. Damn. Such a good game to watch.

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#117 Harlie
November 07 2013, 08:59PM
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DSF wrote:

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

The Oilers can't even sniff their jocks.

Sorry old man, the cup is the barometer and you know it. Don't try bending the rules now.

Sounding desperate, haha!

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#118 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 07 2013, 09:01PM
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Umm... What !?!?! wrote:

Who the hell is Rory Gallagher ?!

Rolling Stone magazine ranks him as 47th best guitar player of all time!

But he was Irish so he couldn't really play hockey.

*pours another drink....puts needle back on Rory Gallagher album...gets back to posting giberish*

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#119 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 07 2013, 09:34PM
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This cup conversation is absurd.

In the past decade both the Nucks and the Oilers have played game 7s for the Cup.

In the weird myopic view that only winning the cup matters, these two teams are both equal in achievement.

No right thinking fan, however, wouldn't trade the success and domination of the Nucks over the past decade for the putrid horribleness of the Oilers over the same period.

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#120 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:14PM
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DSF wrote:

One.

No, you.😳

Again I'm not the one with nothing else to do but be a troll on a daily basis.

Maybe your mom will by you an Xbox for Christmas

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#121 Serious Gord
November 08 2013, 02:40AM
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Johnnydapunk wrote:

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.

In WW2 France put up little resistance in the nazis march to the Atlantic, while Greece was the similar scenario going east... ( doormats)France was glorying in its Napoleonic zenith while Greece was - and still does - talks about how great it was a couple of millenia ago. And the way this rebuild is going, it will be few millenia before the oil gets the cup...

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#122 CaptainLander
November 08 2013, 08:10AM
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Goaltending is broken, MacT have you seem the goalie depth in Anaheim? Please make a move I would rather see the Oil lose with a 20 year old John Gibson, then a 27 year 3.7 mil failed experiment. Or how about that Anderson guy,? Fasth? Hiller?

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#123 camdog
November 08 2013, 08:58AM
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CaptainLander wrote:

Goaltending is broken, MacT have you seem the goalie depth in Anaheim? Please make a move I would rather see the Oil lose with a 20 year old John Gibson, then a 27 year 3.7 mil failed experiment. Or how about that Anderson guy,? Fasth? Hiller?

Why would the Ducks help the Oilers out after what we did to them with Justin Shultz and Dustin Penner? The reality is no other organizations are going to help us out. Other organizations feel that Lowe/Katz's plan to intentionally nose dive to get high draft picks was a joke. They love us losing, there is no help coming without a massive over pay.

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#124 Oiler63
November 07 2013, 12:40PM
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So Dallas Eakins, like Kreuger, thinks Smyth can play well at center? Wait a minute, who is the real coach here? Why could two different coaches (assuming they are both smart people) come out with the same stupid idea? Is this Lowe coaching again?

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -- Albert Einstein

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#125 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 01:34PM
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"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.

Didn't paying him like a starter tell him he was their guy?

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#126 Taylor Gang
November 07 2013, 03:08PM
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Well once Joensuu and Perron get back, our team suddenly looks pretty good up front. Assuming Arco can play at least half as good as he is right now, maybe, JUST MAYBE, we can get this season rolling...

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#127 pkam
November 07 2013, 04:22PM
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Zarny wrote:

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.

If I am correct, Sid's injury is classified as moderate and didn't need a surgery. And he was out for about 5 weeks.

Gagner's injury is severe and required a surgery. And you honestly think they will recover to the same state in about the same amount of time?

If I remember correctly, Sid removed his full mask before the conference final, which means he was about 4 weeks from fully heal when he returned.

Last I heard, Gagner has to wear his full mask at least after Christmas, likely until the Olympic break.

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#128 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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#129 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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#130 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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#131 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 08:01PM
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Battle for 28th overall on Saturday.

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#132 Ari Gold
November 07 2013, 08:29PM
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Harlie wrote:

C'mon man, game was done by then and you know it.

A 1 goal game with a minute to go? Seriously?

That game was far from over. It was a rookie turnover, so I simply expect him to learn from it. I'm condemning him.

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#133 John Kirsch
November 07 2013, 08:32PM
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jonny94 wrote:

If Dubnyk gets the start in Philadelphia I bet Giroux gets his first goal.

Dubs was fine tonight Stamkos burned 2x get over it, he is the best pure goalscorer on the planet.

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#134 Mikey
November 07 2013, 08:45PM
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The Real Gongshow wrote:

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

Damn oilers, should have thrown in Omark! Would have been an overpay, but worth it.

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#135 Randaman
November 07 2013, 09:46PM
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Stack Pad Save wrote:

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.

I don't blame Ferrance. Everybody makes mistakes. At least he shows effort and calls a spade a spade. Dubnyk has to go, Smid has to go, one of the fab five have to go, BOLD!!

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#136 Zarny
November 07 2013, 10:32PM
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DSF wrote:

Might want to send a memo to SJS, STL, MIN , PHX, WSH, VCR that, since they've never won a cup, the Oilers are better because they won almost 25 years ago.

Oiler fans are becoming Leaf fans.

It's quite sad, actually.

Those are all very good teams.

Certainly much better than the Oilers have been recently.

But they aren't Chi, LA, Bos, Chi, Pit and Det...

Those are great teams.

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#137 bazmagoo
November 07 2013, 11:02PM
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hankthetank wrote:

wow, thanks for keeping things clean. high class comments for sure...

Sorry guys, just a little annoyed this DSF character still comes on here every day. Just trying to have one night without the C.

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#138 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
November 08 2013, 07:38AM
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Dubbie misses Horcoff.

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#139 CaptainLander
November 08 2013, 10:08AM
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camdog wrote:

Why would the Ducks help the Oilers out after what we did to them with Justin Shultz and Dustin Penner? The reality is no other organizations are going to help us out. Other organizations feel that Lowe/Katz's plan to intentionally nose dive to get high draft picks was a joke. They love us losing, there is no help coming without a massive over pay.

Then a massive overpay it is.

Justin Schultz for Anderson and Penner. That should earn me some good trashes

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#140 pkam
November 07 2013, 01:07PM
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I am still a bit disappointed that we didn't get Jon Cooper to coach the Oilers.

He has been a winner everywhere. Never get fired even once, just moved up the ladder from one job to another. I don't know how he did it, I just know he did it every single time.

Tampa was 2nd last in the East last season, now they are 2nd best in the East. Under his coaching, Lightning will probably win the cup in a few years.

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#141 tileguy
November 07 2013, 01:34PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

Gagner should not be playing ahead of Arcobello at this time (especially coming off of a 2 goal game) and Smyth should not be playing center. I would include Gagner on the PP, but until he gets his timing back I would change the lines from:

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

TO:

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

I would as well except switch Jones and Smyth.

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#142 pkam
November 07 2013, 01:40PM
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Normally, you expect the healthy player to help those who return from an injury. But we expect Hall to jumpstart Gagner and Yakupov in his first game back after out 2 weeks? Isn't it too much to ask from a 21 year old?

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#143 Lochenzo
November 07 2013, 01:50PM
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@@stevegregson2

I think that Gagner's less than stellar defensive work is why they got Perron. Perron pretty good defensively and the Gagner-Perron combo in the preseason looked pretty good. Too bad they have yet to play with each other during the regular season.

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#144 Zarny
November 07 2013, 02:11PM
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Smokey wrote:

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.

Umm no.

Eakins has 3 NHL lines and a bunch of AHLers on the 4th.

Which is one of the key problems with the Oilers...zero depth...anywhere.

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#145 Wax Man Riley
November 07 2013, 04:04PM
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Gordie Wayne wrote:

Gagner should not be playing ahead of Arcobello at this time (especially coming off of a 2 goal game) and Smyth should not be playing center. I would include Gagner on the PP, but until he gets his timing back I would change the lines from:

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

TO:

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

I like your lines.

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#146 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
November 07 2013, 06:19PM
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That second Stamkos goal was WEAK Devan.

STEP YOUR GAME UP

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#147 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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#148 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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#149 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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#150 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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