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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#251 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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#252 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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#253 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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#254 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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#255 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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#256 Rod from Viking
November 07 2013, 08:18PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Is there a gagner for gardiner type deal to be made with T.O?

How about Reimer?

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#257 rectal place
November 07 2013, 09:05PM
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James wrote:

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.

I was thinking about the exact same thing Tuesday night...

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#258 Tokenhill
November 07 2013, 10:22PM
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I believe DSF stands for Destroy Satisfaction of Fans

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#259 DSF
November 07 2013, 10:31PM
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MKE wrote:

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

My mom died 10 years ago.

And Xbox's are so passé.

And, I'm really busy.

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#260 DSF
November 07 2013, 10:32PM
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Tokenhill wrote:

I believe DSF stands for Destroy Satisfaction of Fans

What "Satisfacion", exactly?

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#261 DSF
November 07 2013, 10:33PM
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Zarny wrote:

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.

I think you'll find SJS, STL and MIN are right up there.

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#262 mayorblaine
November 08 2013, 06:06AM
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go stats!

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#263 Fresh Mess
November 08 2013, 07:40AM
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MKE wrote:

Gord lets face it. This team needs to become much better. But even if this team was contending, you would still find a way to suck all the fun out of it.

Enjoy life sometimes :). It's good for you

I thought this was a site for HOCKEY fans to discuss the Oilers. Apparently you feel it should remain a giant circle jerk of delusional Oiler superfans and other assorted enablers to fantasize.

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#264 Lochenzo
November 08 2013, 09:19AM
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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.

I don't think most organizations care what the Oilers do outside of the opportunity to improve their own franchise or improve their chances of winning the Cup.

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#265 camdog
November 08 2013, 09:25AM
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Clarko wrote:

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.

You can add poor coaching. Why on earth was Yaks on that second line with Gags to start the game. Stamkos must have been licking is chops, knowing full well that his coach was going to take that line match to the bank. Why on earth would any coach set up a young developing player to go head to head with the best sniper in the world, knowing full well what was going to happen. Maybe Eakins is trying to teach Yaks a lesson or two, but that is painful to watch, when you know exactly how it is going to turn out. I guess Yaks crying about not playing with skilled players has helped him get some more minutes, but it sure hasn't helped the team win games.

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#266 Lochenzo
November 08 2013, 09:42AM
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Some of you guys are sure on the Ben Bishop parade. Bishop has some very good numbers this year, no disputing that. Funny thing is that they mirror the numbers that Dubnyk posted last year. And what's your opinion on Dubnyk?

Two real bad turnovers when I'm sure the message going into the game was to absolutely not turn over the puck with Stamkos or St Louis on the ice.

The Oilers were chasing the Lightning on the scoreboard as a result and that's not how you win games.

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#267 loweblows
November 08 2013, 09:48AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Some of you guys are sure on the Ben Bishop parade. Bishop has some very good numbers this year, no disputing that. Funny thing is that they mirror the numbers that Dubnyk posted last year. And what's your opinion on Dubnyk?

Two real bad turnovers when I'm sure the message going into the game was to absolutely not turn over the puck with Stamkos or St Louis on the ice.

The Oilers were chasing the Lightning on the scoreboard as a result and that's not how you win games.

Bishop made the big save that some Edmonton writers feel that no goalie "dead or alive could make". Bishop must be dead.

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#268 camdog
November 08 2013, 09:49AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Some of you guys are sure on the Ben Bishop parade. Bishop has some very good numbers this year, no disputing that. Funny thing is that they mirror the numbers that Dubnyk posted last year. And what's your opinion on Dubnyk?

Two real bad turnovers when I'm sure the message going into the game was to absolutely not turn over the puck with Stamkos or St Louis on the ice.

The Oilers were chasing the Lightning on the scoreboard as a result and that's not how you win games.

I thought the weakest goal of the game was the Hall goal given up by Bishop who was flopping around on his knees, he's standing and he makes that save.

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#269 DSF
November 08 2013, 09:56AM
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Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers 1m

#Oilers assign forwards Ben Eager and Linus Omark to @OKCBarons.

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#270 Lochenzo
November 07 2013, 01:45PM
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I was worried about going with the smaller D in Florida, but I'm glad they proved me wrong with Larsson and Fedun both scoring. Petry jumps up a fair bit, so now there's one guy on each pair that can join the rush.

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#271 vetinari
November 07 2013, 02:09PM
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Eakins seems to like at least one veteran (5 years+) per line but I think that i'd switch Arcobello (sorry, Arco) with Smyth. Otherwise, keep the fourth line to 6 minutes or less of ice time or they'll get slaughtered when Stamkos' line hits the ice.

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#272 bwar
November 07 2013, 02:49PM
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@Ignoramus

I'm not predicting them to play poorly. I'm just saying that it is a high risk, high reward type of line.

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#273 Jay Gray
November 07 2013, 05:17PM
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Thanks JNH and Wax Man for the suggestions…gonna watch at a buddies place I guess….big screen>iMac lol

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#274 Poolanov
November 07 2013, 05:39PM
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What in the name of Gods green earth are they wearing???

Maybe my sattelites out of whack too

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#275 DamnDuby
November 07 2013, 05:57PM
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Shocker blocker side from the blue line......

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#276 Rocket
November 07 2013, 06:18PM
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How are The Oilers still so bad at breaking out of their own end? What do they do in practice?

I thought MacT emphasised puck moving defencemen. They should try moving the puck out of their own end first.

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#277 Alsker
November 07 2013, 06:19PM
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2 shots for Stamkos, 2 goals. Wonder if he can maintain that shooting%. Not our worst period, we must find a way to keep #91 off the ice. Maybe Omark can pick a fight with him.

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#278 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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#279 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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#280 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 07 2013, 09:47PM
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YYYESSSSS!

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#281 Harlie
November 07 2013, 10:11PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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...

And how many years did the Canucks wallow in the quagmire until they got competitive? It was from Richard Brodeur until the Sedin twins and they still ain't got a cup. Some could say that they are the one's that are cursed.

At least we have had the cup. Many times at that.

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#282 acg5151
November 07 2013, 10:28PM
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@MKE

Definitely have to agree with you on that. I've always stood by my team and I always will.

Even when I'm getting mercilessly belittled in EA NHL drop in lobbies by Oilers fansl

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#283 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:31PM
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@acg5151

ha ha i know what you mean.

but looking at the overall history, 5 cups and all, you can see why some Oilers fans also take great pride in that.

especially now. because we sure as heck can't take a ton of pride in the current on ice product

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#284 justDOit
November 08 2013, 01:44AM
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Did Some Fungi

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#285 Serious Gord
November 08 2013, 09:37AM
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PapaMike wrote:

I think that there will be some changes at the trade deadline and not before then. I would like to see how they play with a full staff if that is even possible. If they compete like they did yesterday at least it would be fun to watch.

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.

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#286 bazmagoo
November 08 2013, 09:53AM
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.

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#287 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 08 2013, 11:53AM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Interesting , Eakin loses and says they played a pretty good game, Tampa wins and their coach says they played a poor game.

The real point is that Dubby sucked the big banna again, and Bishop outplayed him 2 to 1.

Dont know if this is good news or bad, but Nuge was on the ice for all six goals.

Everything you said is true. I think the reason is that Eakins has to be concerned about his own job, and publicly trashing his starting goalie (when he has no viable options in the organization) who is already suffering from a lack of confidence, or even trashing his team who is obviously down on one knee, is not going to help anything.....from a coaches point of view.

Would like to hear what he's saying behind closed doors.....I doubt very much that it's the same message we're hearing publicly.

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#288 pkam
November 07 2013, 01:58PM
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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.

I am not sure who is better between Eakins and Nelson. My guess is they are very close.

But most interesting, Jon Cooper lead the Norfolk Admirals to Calder cup 2 years ago. A team with many small but skillful players just like the Oilers, where many posters here will consider it a midget team.

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#289 Jay Gray
November 07 2013, 04:36PM
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Pretty sure my roofers knocked my satellite outta schwack. Anyone know where I can stream the game?

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#290 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 04:46PM
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@Jay Gray

If I need a stream, I just Google 'free hockey streams', there are a few websites out there. Be warned, the feeds are generally bush league and it's usually an American broadcast, but at least you'll see the game.

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#291 Wax Man Riley
November 07 2013, 04:52PM
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Jay Gray wrote:

Pretty sure my roofers knocked my satellite outta schwack. Anyone know where I can stream the game?

http://atdhe.eu/hockey

copy and paste to your bookmarks :)

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#292 Rama Lama
November 07 2013, 05:14PM
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I do not like Smyth down the middle either..........but DE will blender the lines anyways.

Too bad that Omark has been set-up to fail once again, might as well not play him if he is going to see fourth line minutes.

I suspect that Flubnyk will make some big saves early only to let two softies in late in the game ........just when we need a big save.

GO OIL!

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#293 book¡e
November 07 2013, 05:22PM
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Jay Gray wrote:

Pretty sure my roofers knocked my satellite outta schwack. Anyone know where I can stream the game?

Jamie's House!

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#294 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 05:54PM
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@Poolanov

Looked like a veterans/military warm up jersey.

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#295 Wax Man Riley
November 07 2013, 05:56PM
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Scratch Yak

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#296 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 06:00PM
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The post so nice, it appeared twice.

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

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#298 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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#299 Rocket
November 07 2013, 07:41PM
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@James

Cool thanks for the stats

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

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