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 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 01:04PM
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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:Stamkos lights up Gagner's line.

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#102 Gordie Wayne
November 07 2013, 01:25PM
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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

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#103 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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#104 A-Mc
November 07 2013, 02:28PM
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Old School G wrote:

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

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

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

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#105 Hall's Knee Brace
November 07 2013, 02:57PM
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uh oh...Gregor picked the Oil to win predicting 2 wins in a row for the Oil is the kiss of death!

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#106 YakSaitl
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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#107 A-Mc
November 07 2013, 03:17PM
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Taylor Gang wrote:

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...

I agree. I think Joensuu is a big piece. I really liked his game in the few game's he's played.

It's really sucked with out him. I think he brings an element the oilers have almost Zero of.

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#108 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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#109 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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#110 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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#111 Jason
November 07 2013, 07:20PM
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Kevin Lowe you've done a great job. I feel sorry for Canada

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#112 Randy
November 07 2013, 07:47PM
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This is the 8th year and Edmonton is not getting better. Something is very wrong. They have changed coaches GM's and nothing has worked. Someone is making bad decisions. Were all the coaches bad?

Kevin Lowe must know at some level he has been responsible for this mess you would think. Daryl obviously is protecting him because if this was a business and he was losing money based on results he would have been gone already.

So does this mean another decade of losing . I wonder

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#113 DSF
November 07 2013, 08:02PM
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Randy wrote:

This is the 8th year and Edmonton is not getting better. Something is very wrong. They have changed coaches GM's and nothing has worked. Someone is making bad decisions. Were all the coaches bad?

Kevin Lowe must know at some level he has been responsible for this mess you would think. Daryl obviously is protecting him because if this was a business and he was losing money based on results he would have been gone already.

So does this mean another decade of losing . I wonder

Yes.

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#114 Rob F
November 07 2013, 08:05PM
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im not sure who's had a worse couple months.....me or the oilers....

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

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#116 Harlie
November 07 2013, 08:24PM
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Ari Gold wrote:

Terrible turnover by Fedun resulting in that empty net goal.

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

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#117 Harlie
November 07 2013, 08:39PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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

Who? You mean Toedrag?

Two minutes left, Taylor Hall speeding down the left wing as he enters the zone with 2 Oilers crashing the net. The pass opportunity is wide open, yet Taylor Toedrag Hall decides to advance further into the zone, attempt a lame toedrag, get pokechecked, and the scoring opportunity is lost.

C'mon Hallsy, use your brain and your balls.

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

Time for some Big Boy Hockey ®.

Vancouver @ San Jose.

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

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

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#119 Stack Pad Save
November 07 2013, 09:35PM
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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.

I would hate to be a fan of any of those teams. To come so close and then not get it and know that your window is closing or is closed and you might hold on to being good for 5 more years and than go in the tank and eventually rebuild when your sisters get too old to score and Jumbo is too Jumbo to skate, and Ovechkin has finally gone back to the KHL.

BTW DSF "it" was the cup and it is the only thing that matters. Also why would you include Minnesota, they suck.

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

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

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#121 MKE
November 07 2013, 09:43PM
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DSF wrote:

You follow the Oilers?

Get a life.

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

On a daily basis no less.

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#122 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:09PM
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DSF wrote:

Those " windows" are just stupid.

5 years ago, everyone was predicting the Sharks window was closing. It isn't.

Now it's the Canucks. It isn't.

Minnesota is 9-4-4 and 2 points out of the Central Division lead.

Yeah, they suck.

After you put on the nose...the rest of the clown costume is just makeup.

Takes one to know.

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#123 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 10:41PM
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Harlie wrote:

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.

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

Someone needs to explain this to oilers management.

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#124 MKE
November 07 2013, 10:41PM
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Is this the point where we start hoping the Oilers give in and finally see they need to give up Omark if they ever hope to get Webber? #omark4webberstraightup

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

But nothing is ever good enough for you.

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

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

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

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

But nothing is ever good enough for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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#129 Rob...
November 08 2013, 09:23AM
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11 games last night and in 9 of them the winning team scored 3 or more goals. As pissed as I am that Dubnyk let in 3 goals last night, I guess he is an average goalie.

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#130 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 08 2013, 12:11PM
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DSF wrote:

Edmonton Oilers ‏@EdmontonOilers 1m

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

Thank God! Let's hope we never need to call them up again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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#134 PChan121
November 07 2013, 01:20PM
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Dubby with the SO tonight!!! BOOK IT LOL!!! ....... One can dream!!!!

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#135 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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#136 Chainsawz
November 07 2013, 01:29PM
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Anyone else getting sick of the verbal no-trade promises? First Gagner, now Yakupov. What valuable trade chip does MacTavish have in mind to drastically improve the blueline or goaltending?

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

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#137 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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#138 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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#139 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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#140 Zarny
November 07 2013, 02:56PM
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6rings wrote:

How is it that a #1 pick does not know how to use his teammates? After all the games he's played over the, top notch skill , and all thd coaching he can't look up for an open linemate?

It's not that they can't look up for an open linemate; they're just used to being able to beat 2 or even 3 guys 1 on 1 in junior.

Can't do that in the pros. Even the best players have to play as a unit.

The biggest problem for almost every draft pick is too much junior in their game when they first get into the NHL.

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#141 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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#142 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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#143 Derian Hatcher
November 07 2013, 04:52PM
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BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull wrote:

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

Gene Principe = Buzz Killington

Bob Staufer = Mediterranean Chicken

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

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

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#144 Retsinnab5
November 07 2013, 04:53PM
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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

Thats not very Punny

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#145 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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#146 DamnDuby
November 07 2013, 05:57PM
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Shocker blocker side from the blue line......

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#147 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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#148 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 06:00PM
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The post so nice, it appeared twice.

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#149 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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#150 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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