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 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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#52 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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#53 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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#54 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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#55 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 08:13PM
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@DSF

Someone up above said it best, we switch goalies with Tampa tonight, we win by a large margin. Not saying the Oil are better than Tampa, but Bishop stole this game.

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#56 God
November 07 2013, 08:34PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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

He was certainly a step behind tonight. I bet he is being rushed back far too quickly. Hope there's not chance of making the injury worse.

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#57 MKE
November 07 2013, 09:26PM
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@DSF

Ya we got it. The Oilers suck :).

Get a life.

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

That would explain alot

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#59 Cold
November 07 2013, 11:38PM
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@wanye

How long will the mods allow dsf to troll this site and derail conversations?

I may have to go to the other oil site

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#60 reaperfunkss (2nd tier fan)
November 07 2013, 01:03PM
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Dubnyks problems are not mental lapses. They are the deficiencies in his game such as he does not track the puck exceptionally well. Has little to no reflex speed. Depends totally on his size so in this it is not so much him making the save as it is the puck hitting him.

When challenged with a shot that takes skill to stop he more often than not fails. Eakins knows this i think MacT knows this but Lowe needs Dubnyk to come through and so he can prove himself right.

The foundation of this organization is so busted that management spends more time "selling us" on how good they are than proving how good they are by having a competitive team.

I am hoping for the best tonight but history doesnt give me much hope

Side note Just saw the 30 on 30 about Spanos and the Islanders and found the state of the islander fans very interesting.

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#61 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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#62 pkam
November 07 2013, 02:10PM
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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

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.

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#63 Dallylamma
November 07 2013, 02:30PM
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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

Principe's schtick is extremely stale at this point. I feel bad for the rest of the guys in the crew because you know Gene spends all day trying out bits on them.

Bob is ok...but ever since he got on the Oilers corporate tit his objectivity is non-existent. He's a totally different guy compared to the Bob of a few years ago who was usually one of the only media voices holding the team accountable.

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#64 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 God
November 07 2013, 06:56PM
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Seriously, what is it with this organization's love affair with Sam Gagner? Yes, he's good offensively. Yes, he plays with heart. But. But he's terrible at:

centre faceoffs backchecking bodychecking defense playing big

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

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

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#69 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:16PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Someone up above said it best, we switch goalies with Tampa tonight, we win by a large margin. Not saying the Oil are better than Tampa, but Bishop stole this game.

I agree.

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

Because Oilers.

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#70 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:33PM
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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 ?

Duh.

Which management team had the brains to put a proper value on Bishop and got the deal done?

Ryan Jones?

Good grief.

You can pick up far better players off the waiver wire or in the offseason for nothing.

See Mason Raymond for reference.

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

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#72 Quicksilver ballet
November 07 2013, 09:47PM
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YYYESSSSS!

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#73 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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#74 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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#75 boxman
November 08 2013, 08:37AM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Couldn't care less than your mom died 10 years ago dude, get a life. My parents both died 5 years ago, I don't expect random strangers to pity me and excuse me for being a douche bag because of it.

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!!

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#76 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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#77 Oiler63
November 07 2013, 12:42PM
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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 and Adam Larsson are the reason why Seth Jones was drafted No. 4.

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#78 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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#79 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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#80 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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#81 Ignoramus
November 07 2013, 02:41PM
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bwar wrote:

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.

Apparently you didn't watch the end to last season. That line was producing and had chemistry.

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#82 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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#83 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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#84 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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#85 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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#86 Jeff Petry
November 07 2013, 06:17PM
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Poolanov wrote:

100% Ference's fault

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!

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#87 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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#88 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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#89 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 06:50PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

This x100, Gags on the wing please.

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

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#90 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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#91 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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#92 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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#93 Drowning in Oil
November 07 2013, 08:04PM
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Smyth plays 6:00 minutes more than Yak..... I thought Eakins was giving him a chance. When you are down by 2 goals, that kid should be out every second shift. When he breaks out, he's going to make Eakins look like the idiot he is!!

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#94 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:36PM
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John Kirsch wrote:

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

Dubs was .880 tonight.

Bishop was .950.

Game over.

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#95 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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#96 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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#97 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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#98 hankthetank
November 07 2013, 10:41PM
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@bazmagoo

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

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#99 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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#100 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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