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 Old School G
November 07 2013, 02:25PM
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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.

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#252 EasyOil
November 07 2013, 02:26PM
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#253 A-Mc
November 07 2013, 02:27PM
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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.

Alright, then if we can't use injury as an excuse, Arco still deserves that 2c spot based on performance alone.

Same Gagner: 3gp, 0-0-0 -6
Mark Arco.: 16gp, 2-10-12 +1

It sways even further Arcobello's way if we factor in FO%, which he's quite good at - especially compared to Gagner.

The AHL midget centerman is tied for team lead in points and has a +1 with a 52.9 FO%. He deserves to play anywhere in the line-up other than 1C (while nuge is healthy).

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#254 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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#255 Spydyr
November 07 2013, 06:46PM
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Rocket wrote:

Good lord is Gagner bad at faceoffs. Has he even won any tonight? How did he get this far into his NHL career with such a low faceoff win percentage?

Tough to generate scoring chances when they're constantly trying to retrieve the puck.

The sad part is they have Acro playing wing.

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#256 Chainsawz
November 07 2013, 06:57PM
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Taylor Hall wrote:

I'm the one that have Yak the weak pass into the skates leading up to the turnover! It was also a suicide pass! I'm an NHL player it should be on the tape clean or don't pass it.

Lolz, just saw the replay, puck first hits Yaks stick. Do you know anything about hockey?

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#257 James
November 07 2013, 07:28PM
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Rocket wrote:

Good lord is Gagner bad at faceoffs. Has he even won any tonight? How did he get this far into his NHL career with such a low faceoff win percentage?

Tough to generate scoring chances when they're constantly trying to retrieve the puck.

He's actually won the same amount as Gordon has tonight if you can believe it. He's at 57% currenly with Gordon at 58% and Nuge sitting at 40%. I wouldn't have guessed those stats but that's what they have listed.

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#258 James
November 07 2013, 07:29PM
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Sorry 56% vs 57%

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#259 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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#260 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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#261 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:37PM
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@RexHolez

I hope not, we have enough Gardiner types on D. We need a big, nasty bastard.

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#262 Rocket
November 07 2013, 07:41PM
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@James

Cool thanks for the stats

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

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#264 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 07:56PM
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Great dish from Yak. Can't believe how well Bishop is playing.

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#265 Reg Dunlop
November 07 2013, 07:57PM
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Bishop>>>>>Dubnyk. The difference in the outcome tonight is goaltending.

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#266 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 07:59PM
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Tampa goalie was all world tonight. Could have been a W but wasn't.

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#267 Rocket
November 07 2013, 07:59PM
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If only The Oilers had a goalie like Ben Bishop who could steal games when his team gets outshot.

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#268 Serious Gord
November 07 2013, 08:01PM
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Battle for 28th overall on Saturday.

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#269 Sidd
November 07 2013, 08:05PM
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Maybe Kevin Lowe should run for Mayor in Toronto

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#270 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
November 07 2013, 08:08PM
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Rob... wrote:

So once again the Oilers forwards were expected to score 4 goals for the win.

Bishop pulled a Bachman tonight, he was an absolute monster in net. Must be nice...

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#271 jonny94
November 07 2013, 08:11PM
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If Dubnyk gets the start in Philadelphia I bet Giroux gets his first goal.

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#272 Rob F
November 07 2013, 08:15PM
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@DSF

even a crack head could tell we need a goalie....today the team with a better goalie won

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#273 Mikey
November 07 2013, 08:29PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

Cory Conacher

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#274 The Real Gongshow
November 07 2013, 08:30PM
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DSF wrote:

I agree.

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

Because Oilers.

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

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#275 BingBong
November 07 2013, 08:44PM
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Sloppy game all around; TB's second goal summed up our season nicely I thought: sloppy pass by Ference, Eberle mishandles it and doesn't play the body, then Dubs gives up a weak wrap-around.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind if our big money guys could score. Eberle, RNH, Hemsky...0 goals in the last 4 games now? If our top 2 lines can't score, we're doomed.

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

Who the hell is Rory Gallagher ?!

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

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

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

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#277 gongshow
November 07 2013, 09:01PM
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@The Real Gongshow

Hello

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#278 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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#279 Rob F
November 07 2013, 09:06PM
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DSF wrote:

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

The Oilers can't even sniff their jocks.

huh! did someone say sniff?

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

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

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

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

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#281 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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#282 FireKLowe
November 07 2013, 09:45PM
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Get a god damn goalie for fcuk sakes!!!

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#283 MKE
November 07 2013, 09:47PM
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Randaman wrote:

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?

No what I'm saying is you have to look beyond saving one season.

Before I moved anyone I would want to let Eakins have at least half a year to see what he can do with this team.

Do they need to get better? Yes

Is change needed? Yes

Do I want a winning team? YES!

Making one deal is not going to fix anything.

Without a culture change you can fire people and trade people all day long and nothing will change.

I want a team that contends year after year. That's what I want.

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#284 Chainsawz
November 07 2013, 09:50PM
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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.

This sums it up nicely.

It's quite sad, actually.

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#285 Evilas
November 07 2013, 09:52PM
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DSF wrote:

You follow the Oilers?

Get a life.

Really ???

DSF, what does that stand for anyway?

BTW, despite whatever drivel you may spew, YOU follow the Oilers, otherwise how could you not possibly be so knowledgeable about this team?

Oh, Okay now I get it Definitive Sage Facts

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#286 MKE
November 07 2013, 09:54PM
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Evilas wrote:

Really ???

DSF, what does that stand for anyway?

BTW, despite whatever drivel you may spew, YOU follow the Oilers, otherwise how could you not possibly be so knowledgeable about this team?

Oh, Okay now I get it Definitive Sage Facts

Or maybe definitive sage farts?

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#287 Quicksilver ballet
November 07 2013, 09:55PM
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That 24 yr old Frederick Andersen from the Ducks. Does he have to clear waivers when he gets sent down again?

There's a kid the Oilers could use. Ducks are waist deep in goalies.

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#288 MKE
November 07 2013, 09:59PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

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

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#289 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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#290 D
November 07 2013, 10:31PM
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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.

Not sure who will claim that the Oilers are better than the Canucks or Sharks. I'm an Oilers fan. The Canucks and Sharks are better teams.

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

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

Oiler fans are becoming Leaf fans.

It's quite sad, actually.

Those are all very good teams.

Certainly much better than the Oilers have been recently.

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

Those are great teams.

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#292 D
November 07 2013, 10:32PM
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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.

*edit* sorry double post.

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#293 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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#294 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
November 08 2013, 07:38AM
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Dubbie misses Horcoff.

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#295 PapaMike
November 08 2013, 08:07AM
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Florida just cleaned house and fired all coaches.

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

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#297 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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#298 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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#299 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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#300 PapaMike
November 08 2013, 09:28AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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.

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.

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