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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#201 Johnnydapunk
November 07 2013, 11:19PM
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MKE wrote:

I could be wrong but I think he's on a two way deal. But he's someone i'd love to have on my team. But I don't think he's the guy the ducks would move

The ducks are in a interesting position as they only have Perry, Getzlaf, and Fowler on long term deals so, they have a lot of cap space to play with. I'm sure they are gonna offload one goalie before the trade deadline, but I would think that they will also wait a bit to see if Fasth and Andersen can be the ones to carry them forward as they are both signed for next season and Hiller will be quite expensive to resign.

If I remember correctly there will be a lot of Number 1 goalies on the free agent market this summer, will be interesting.

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#202 Cynic
November 07 2013, 11:58PM
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Aaaaah. Did DSF huht yo widdo feewings?

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#203 Serious Gord
November 08 2013, 08:37AM
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PapaMike wrote:

Florida just cleaned house and fired all coaches.

They beat the oil to it?

With several teams struggling - and several if them having postponed making changes last year due to the strike/lockout - and the unique cap restrictions in this year preventing much in the way of trades, we can expect lots of action in the management ranks.

Likely to be conspicuous in not making any changes will be the oil, though they probably need change more than any other team.

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#204 Clarko
November 08 2013, 09:12AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

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.

Ya...the atrocious giveaways with almost no Tampa pressure on either of the first two goals had nothing to do with the loss...

Giveaways, poor defensive zone play, and bad goaltending have led to this team's demise...not just goaltending.

And Edmonton is also 22nd in the league in scoring...although I'm sure we can somehow blame that on Dubnyk as well.

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#205 loweblows
November 08 2013, 09:46AM
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the oilers offered jones in a deal for bishop but Ottawa preferred conacher-couldnt mac t have sweetened the pot a little more to get bishop?

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#206 Smokey
November 07 2013, 01:18PM
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pkam wrote:

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.

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.

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#207 nick
November 07 2013, 01:36PM
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Citizen David wrote:

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.

Don't disagree with your statement on Hedman, pretty solid defenseman but in today's NHL cannot be a number 1 D-man because of the lack of offence. Everyone is caught up on the catch phrase of this decade and that is "puck moving D-man". Hedman would be a good number 2 guy.

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#208 @stevegregson2
November 07 2013, 01:42PM
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I am a bigger fan of this line up than many the oilers have iced this year. I like that Hall and Yak will play together with Gagner. I've never been sold on Gagner's Defensive abilities and I hope with Hall back and a re-energized yak playing with him, they will skate like the wind and keep the puck in the O zone.

My biggest concern is this. Has anyone heard what the diagnosis of halls knee injury was/is?? I heard swelling on an interview, but no actually telling if it was sprain, tear, bruise etc. I see the worst case scenario being Hall has come back early from a injury that should require surgery. Maybe he can play at 80-90%, but will still need surgery in the offseason. Either way, there's a lot that can go wrong with knees. I hope for the oilers sake that they aren't being reckless. I'd like to see hall okay more than half the season. The oilers silence on this injury does scare me. Trying not to get my expectations up too high for his return because it may not last.

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#209 westcoastoil
November 07 2013, 02:13PM
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Hemsky-RNH-Eberle Hall-Arcobello-Yakupov Omark-Gordon-Gagner Smyth-Acton-Jones

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#210 #TheNugeIsHuge
November 07 2013, 03:08PM
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GDP: Don't think the Oilers are able to hold off #91/#26.

Dubnyk will get one or two ugly goals and the Oilers lose 5:3.

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#211 Alsker
November 07 2013, 03:32PM
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Seriously, did QSB put the line up together?? Fail or nothing!!! Well Capt Morgan I think we go and find something better to do tonite because this is going to frightful.

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#212 DamnDuby
November 07 2013, 06:19PM
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Make a save, just any normal average save please.

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#213 Taylor Hall
November 07 2013, 06:20PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Scratch Yak

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.

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#214 Poolanov
November 07 2013, 06:21PM
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Jeff Petry wrote:

It was my fault! I'm a retard and raced over to Ference's side leaving my side wide open for Stamkos to do a wrap! Idiot learn your hockey!

Get a grip loser. Watch the replay. Ference was behind the net and telegraphed a suicide pass that was easily turned over .

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#215 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 06:27PM
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Good lord, this comments section went south fast.

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#216 Slava
November 07 2013, 06:28PM
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Wax Man 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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#217 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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#218 James
November 07 2013, 07:29PM
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Sorry 56% vs 57%

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#219 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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#220 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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#221 Harlie
November 07 2013, 08:06PM
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Ho hum another loss. I guess I'll just console myself with some Sailor J and Pepsi and some home made Escargot with garlic butter and melted cheese.

Once there was a snail who was tired of being slow. He went out and bought a really fast sports car and had the dealer paint a big 'S' on each side of it.

Whenever someone saw him zooming past in his new car, they would say, "Hey, look at that S-car go!"

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#222 MKE
November 07 2013, 09:25PM
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@Randaman

I for one am glad he's not making a deal for the sake of making a deal. I'd say MacT has made a bold move by not making a move from a position of weakness.

MacT clearly won the deal for Perron.

Belov has been decent.

Some other moves haven't worked out so far.

I for one am fine giving MacT some time to put his fingerprints on this team.

This team needs a culture change. Time will tell if Eakins is the right guy to do that. A culture change will take more then 20 games

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#223 Harlie
November 07 2013, 09:34PM
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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...

Wow, one of my friends growing up, his uncle is Stan Smyl. My other buddy growing ups uncle is Bernie Federko.

Reminiscing now about the time when I saw the Smyl Motors calendar at my friends house and I said 'haha what's with that farmer Calendar?', and my buddy say's 'you heard of Stan Smyl, right? Played in the NHL?' And I'm thinking, damn I'm better than this guy and his uncle is the NHL player?

Then later I learn a bit more. Same thing about Bernie.

Props to both of my friends, and two of the greats that played in the NHL. #RESPECT

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#224 DSF
November 07 2013, 09:34PM
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MKE wrote:

Ya we got it. The Oilers suck :).

Get a life.

You follow the Oilers?

Get a life.

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#225 Randaman
November 07 2013, 09:35PM
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MKE wrote:

I for one am glad he's not making a deal for the sake of making a deal. I'd say MacT has made a bold move by not making a move from a position of weakness.

MacT clearly won the deal for Perron.

Belov has been decent.

Some other moves haven't worked out so far.

I for one am fine giving MacT some time to put his fingerprints on this team.

This team needs a culture change. Time will tell if Eakins is the right guy to do that. A culture change will take more then 20 games

So you are saying you don't mind staying the course (losing) and waiting for the perfect deal to just fall into our lap? Sorry, been there, done that and look where we are. Eberle, Smid and a second rounder for Subban would be BOLD. Not saying that would happen but we have to be worth more as fans than we are receiving. Am I wrong?

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#226 Randaman
November 07 2013, 09:41PM
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Six rings is still there. Sorry, my typing sucks when I'm pissed off!

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#227 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 10:03PM
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While getting names engraved on the cup is THE goal, it the quest that really matters.

Simple odds put winning the cup at a once in thirty years chance. would you rather follow the pirates in MLB or the red sox up until they really did win the WS?

All things being equal, watching the canucks for the last decade would unquestionably have been more rewarding than watching/enduring the oil.

Being an oilers fan for the last seven years has been a curse...

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#228 DSF
November 07 2013, 10:11PM
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MKE wrote:

Takes one to know.

One.

No, you.😳

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#229 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:19PM
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acg5151 wrote:

As a Canucks fan, I really don't see how you guys can honestly say your team is better just because the Oilers won 5 cups 30 years ago. I swear that the only fanbases more entitled than you guys are the Red Wings and the Canadiens. I really wish the Oilers were competitive but after hundreds of Oilers fans told me my team sucks when your team hasn't made the playoffs in like 7 years, I really don't even pity you guys anymore.

So explain to me how a team that won 5 cups 30 years ago but has won nothing since and has picked first 3 times in a row and has missed the playoffs 7 years in a row, soon to be 8 years, is better than the Canucks or for that matter the Sharks.

Even on here I don't think you will find anyone trying to make the case that the Oilers are better right now. It's all about wins, and the Oilers have failed miserably to get enough of them.

But some of us are faithful and will stand behind this team. And say that it is great to be an Oilers fan. I think you would do the same for your team. No matter how much they sucked.

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#230 bazmagoo
November 07 2013, 10:32PM
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MKE wrote:

I'm not the one trolling a website for a team I don't even like :)

On a daily basis no less.

DSF's got some suppressed Oilers anxiety. I think he's a Canucks fan who had to blow his step dad after every Edmonton win in the 80's.

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#231 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:35PM
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@bazmagoo

That would explain alot

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#232 Slats
November 08 2013, 08:29AM
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PapaMike wrote:

Florida just cleaned house and fired all coaches.

at least the Oilers can say they impacted something in the NHL this season!

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#233 DSF
November 08 2013, 09:51AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

As I stared earlier, I think that Tampa is playing over its head - they aren't as good as their record implies. So even with a full roster, against the true elite teams. - all of which are in the west save Pitt - the oil is going to lose and lose badly most nights.

Interesting that the Lightning are getting scorched for how they played last night.

Damian Cristodero ‏@LightningTimes

After Thursday's lazy win over the Oilers, nothing but 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 puck battles so far at Friday practice.

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#234 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 08 2013, 11:38AM
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boxman wrote:

Wow, a new low for the site. Bazmagoo how do you leap from Oilers fan to I couldn't care less your mom died. DSF is certainly a troll but in my memory he has never sunk as low as you Basmagoo. Shame on you!!

You may be new here....but DSF brings this kind of thing on himself.....and it's not as big a deal as it first looks like....trust me DSF can handle it.....in fact he relishes it....

That's why you see reactive comments that are normally so offensive to most people, get propped a few dozen times. (And that's even after the moderator takes out the really offensive stuff)

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#235 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 08 2013, 12:07PM
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Looking for small positives.....for the first eight games or so, Eakins stood on the bench like a frozen statue...saying nothing.......in the last few games his facial expressions have gotten a lot more animated ....and at times he's been seen swearing like a Drunken Bazmagoo!

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#236 pkam
November 07 2013, 01:08PM
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Will wrote:

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.

The Oilers did win the Sens 3-1 with an EN earlier this year.

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#237 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 07 2013, 01:27PM
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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."

Do you mean Labarbs won't perform better than DD (I agree), or than he has so far (seems impossible)?

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#238 bulldog12
November 07 2013, 02:09PM
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Lightning have scored 7 more GF and allowed 27 less GA than the Oilers in 10 games Oilers better get the message soon or we already know the outcome of this game Eakins said Omark needs to buy into the teams defensive strategy ???? Am I missing something here

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#239 Craig1981
November 07 2013, 02:25PM
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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

But didn't he score those 2 goals on the wing after not scoring any at center? Food for thought

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#240 EasyOil
November 07 2013, 02:26PM
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#241 bwar
November 07 2013, 02:30PM
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Hall Gagner Yakupov? Every time that line hits the ice somebody is scoring. GDP: It's a tight one with The Lightnings top end out powering the Oils in the end 10-9 TB in a thrilling game then ends with a dramatic "classy" SO.

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#242 srbuhr
November 07 2013, 02:50PM
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@Ignoramus

Apparently you haven't watched Yak and Gagner play this year.

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#243 Silver Streak
November 07 2013, 03:07PM
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whats the story on Pitlick`s knee....

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#244 Alsker
November 07 2013, 05:59PM
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DamnDuby wrote:

Shocker blocker side from the blue line......

You forgot to add..down early too...

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#245 Mikey
November 07 2013, 06:14PM
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Nick Schultz is brutal. Trade him, keep Fedun. Same player but Fedun is smarter, better offensively and hungrier.

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#246 Wax Man Riley
November 07 2013, 06:15PM
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Is it just me, or has it been a better game positionallly for the Oilers?

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#247 Poolanov
November 07 2013, 06:18PM
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What he has in fitness and work ethic , he seems to lack in intelligence

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#248 Wax Man Riley
November 07 2013, 06:18PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

Is it just me, or has it been a better game positionallly for the Oilers?

It's just you, douche.

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#249 Wax Man Riley
November 07 2013, 06:20PM
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Is anybody else watching the TBay feed?

Commercial after commercial of pharmaceutical companies and war recruiting.

Or maybe it's just me.

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#250 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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