GDB 18.0: MORNING MADNESS

Jason Gregor
November 09 2013 09:06AM

Yesterday at 4:45 p.m. news broke that the Oilers had traded Ladislav Smid to Calgary, and a half hour later the Ilya Bryzgalov signing became official. Some wondered if the two deals were connected. I believe they were, but not just for financial reasons.

Trading Smid freed up $2.786 million in cap space for the remainder of the season, and $3.5 mill cap hit for the following three years, while Ilya Bryzgalov was signed for $1.75 million, which starting today is $1.393 million in actual cap space. The Oilers could have signed Bryzgalov to that deal without moving Smid; however, I do see a connection between the moves.

The Oilers aren't making the playoffs this season. The coaches and players won't think that way, as they should, but in making these moves I believe Craig MacTavish recognizes the disappointing reality that the Oilers are already 12 points out of a playoff spot.

I expect the Oilers to be better in their final 65 games, but they won't go 38-17-6 in their final 65 (which would give them 92 points).

An hour after making the deal, MacTavish stated that he felt the Oilers had more depth on the blueline, and he expected Oscar Klefbom or Darnell Nurse to be two possibilities to replace Smid's size. Klefbom is 6'3" while Nurse is 6'4", but neither will replace Smid right now. Both of them will push for a roster spot next season, although Klefbom likely will get some games near the end of this season.

MacTavish made this move with the long-term future in mind, more than the short term, and I believe the Bryzgalov move was also made with the bigger picture in mind.

MacTavish is hoping Bryzgalov can come in and either out perform Devan Dubnyk, or push him to play better. That helps right now, but more importantly he needs solid goaltending so his players can taste some success. I don't see the Bryzgalov signing as a big risk. He can't be worse than what they have, and despite some of his past comments, I doubt he will be a bad influence in the dressing room.

The Oilers are finally starting to get comfortable with Dallas Eakins system, and if they can get some victories they are more likely to buy in even more and should enter next season more comfortable in their overall game. For that to happen they need better goaltending.

The Oilers outplayed Tampa Bay on Thursday, one of the better teams in the league, but they lost. We all saw the need to try and improve the goaltending right away, but I feel that MacTavish also did it with an eye on next season.

Eakins isn't getting fired, and next year will be the first time in four seasons that the Oilers won't have to learn a new system. They will enter a season with some actual continuity and understanding of their system. They won't need 10, 15 or 50 games to get comfortable with their new coach.

The Oilers need to have a strong second half. They will get more comfortable in the system, and if they can win some games down the stretch, at least they will end the season with some confidence.

These trades were about the big picture, and the Smid move also gave MacTavish some cap flexibility so he can make even more moves leading up to the trade deadline.

SMID TRADE...

The Oilers lose this trade today; because Roman Horak and Laurent Brossoit are both prospects and there is no guarantee either one of them will ever play. They won't help the Oilers today. It is fair to question why MacTavish made the move, but I believe he made it to get some cap flexibility short term and long term, and he felt Smid was expendable.

Smid was their best shot blocker and most physical defender. He will be missed. Despite his offensive shortcomings, no one ever questioned his willingness and desire. He competed, and he was sick of losing. He was well-liked in the dressing room, and he really enjoyed living in Edmonton. I know being a good guy off the ice, doesn't always coincide with victories on the ice, but the community will miss him. I

On a personal note, I enjoyed interacting with Smid. He was always throwing out barbs and chirps. He would chirp anyone and he was always smiling, even when he was pissed off. A part of me feels bad for Smid, because he is leaving one rebuild for another. I don't see him racking up a lot of wins in Calgary and being on a losing team for that long must start to wear on a guy.

At the same time I don't think Smid's departure is a major blow to the Oilers. They will miss his competitiveness and shot-blocking abilities, but Andrew Ference plays the same game, and if Klefbom is ready next season he has more overall upside.

I also don't think Taylor Fedun's play led to the Smid trade. Craig MacTavish said he had been discussing this deal with the Flames for a few weeks. Smid's puck moving ability was a concern for the team, especially in Dallas Eakins' new system.

TODAY'S GAME....

The Oilers and Flyers are the poster boys for underachieving so far this season. The Oilers sit in the basement of the western conference, while the Flyers are a disappointing 2nd last in the east. The Flyers only have nine points.

Claude Giroux has 0 goals in 15 games. Scott Hartnell has 1 point in 11 games. Wayne Simmonds and Jacob Voracek each have 1 goal in 15 games.

Giroux had 41 goals and 140 points in his previous 125 games.
Hartnell had 45 goals and 75 points in his previous 114 games.
Simmonds had 43 goals and 81 points in his previous 127 games.
Voracek had 40 goals and 85 points in his previous 126 games.

The Flyers are struggling because their best forwards can't produce.

Flyers analyst Steve Coates told me yesterday that the Flyers are an extremely fragile team right now. When something goes wrong in a game they unravel, and they haven't been able to overcome adversity.

Despite below average goaltending and some five-star giveaways the Oilers haven't folded their tents, except for the brutal Detroit game, so far this season. The Oilers have at least battled throughout the majority of their games.

The Oilers need to attack the Flyers right away. Score first and see if the Flyers will wilt. Eventually Giroux, Hartnell, Simmonds and Voracek are going to start scoring, the Oilers have to try and delay that inevitability for at least one more game.

LINEUP...

Perron-Nugent-Hopkins-Eberle
Hall-Gagner-Hemsky
Joensuu-Gordon-Arcobello
Gazdic-Smyth-Yakupov

The fourth line could also include Ryan Jones or Wil Acton. Those players rotated in and out during yesterday's practice.

David Perron and Jesse Joensuu will return to the lineup, and the Oilers will dress their healthiest forward group of the season. If you switched Yakupov for Arcobello, the top three lines would be what most projected them to be, but Arcobello has earned the right to stay in the top-nine.

If the Oilers can stay healthy, Eakins will finally have the option to move guys in and out, or up and down the lineup based on performance.

Ference-Petry
Belov-Larsen
N.Schultz-Fedun

Dubnyk

The D pairs could also change with Anton Belov replacing Smid. The Oilers backend isn't very big or physical, but the Oilers feel they can move the puck quickly, and that should allow their fast, skilled forwards to generate offence.

MORNING GLORY....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Flyers and Oilers will each get a point. This one ends in a SO, and the Oilers get the bonus point in a 4-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Wanye and many others miss the first period. Wanye slept in because he spent three hours talking to babes on line after returning home from the bar. Unlike Chip from Napolean Dynamite, none of Wanye's babes lived in the same country, however, so there will be no nuptials in his immediate future. But he will SQUEEEEEEEE when Eberle scores in the 2nd period.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fedun scores for the third consecutive game. His comeback story just gets better and better as he becomes the first D-man in the expansion era to score a goal in his first three NHL games. Fedun was the first D-man to score in his first two games since, Marcus Ragnarsson in 1995/1996. (Thanks to Elias Sports Bureau for getting me that answer.)

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 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:22PM
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If you don't want to get traded as a Flyer make sure your NTC doesn't go into effect next year.

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#102 Alsker
November 09 2013, 12:22PM
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man do we look disinterested. The PP was embarrassing, turnover after turnover. Yak needs to go to OKC and pray Nelson can turn him around. Beer fridge is empty, off to the store.

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#103 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 12:23PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Some one will sign him this summer.As the player he is - a backup goalie.

I hear you sir. And with the busload of impending UFA goalies in the summer, the Oilers can get a proven winner for a reasonable price. However I must confess that the Bryz nut guy could actually use his rental status (I highly doubt he wants to re-sign long term in the frozen tundra of Deadmonton)to re-emerge as a hot tender. Please.

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#104 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:23PM
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@James

That explains our dismal PP how?

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#105 Alsker
November 09 2013, 12:24PM
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Did gags think it was the shoot out, 2 guys infront open...lol...afternoon syndrome

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#106 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:25PM
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Anyone think Paul Holmgrens gonna want any of the Oilers he's watching today?

Coburns looking pretty big....uh...I mean good....

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#107 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:25PM
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wtf wrote:

Team with the least amount of hits last season: Chicago Blackhawks

Teams with :Marian Hossa,Patrick Sharp,Patrick Kane,Duncan Keith,Brent Seabrook,Jonathan Toews also Chicago.Do you think the Oilers have anything close to that?Even remotely close?

You don't hit much when you have the puck most of the game.

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#108 James
November 09 2013, 12:26PM
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@Spaz

It doesn't, but we're also playing guys like Gordon on the pp and keeping the first line out way too long. Yak is struggling and yet he's getting tons of pp time over people who may have a better chance. I find these combinations, for both special teams, a headscratcher sometimes. Why in the hell is Nuge on the PK, even if it's to take a draw? He's been abismal in faceoffs this game.

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#109 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:29PM
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James wrote:

It doesn't, but we're also playing guys like Gordon on the pp and keeping the first line out way too long. Yak is struggling and yet he's getting tons of pp time over people who may have a better chance. I find these combinations, for both special teams, a headscratcher sometimes. Why in the hell is Nuge on the PK, even if it's to take a draw? He's been abismal in faceoffs this game.

Until they put someone in the goalies lap on the pp it will continue to suck.

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#110 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:29PM
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They also used Smyth and Horcoff as net presence on the PP last year too? I would think they are at least comparable players in this instance.

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#111 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:29PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Hmmmm ORG must be a Riders fan when it comes to the CFL because he started drinking early today with a comment like that. Get out today.

I resemble that remark!

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#112 Bob
November 09 2013, 12:32PM
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Why am I always grumpy on Oilers' game days?

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#113 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:33PM
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At least Gazdic knows his role.Unfortunately it looks like he busted a knuckle.

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#114 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:34PM
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Bob wrote:

Why am I always grumpy on Oilers' game days?

That is why we have liquor stores.

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#115 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:35PM
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Maybe things will really get out of hand and DD will punch Mason in the back of the head. Thats what you cheer for in Philly right?

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#116 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:35PM
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Oilers management are thinking "Man! Sure wish we coulda caught Philly in the MIDDLE of their losing streak".......(not realizing that THEY are the streak busters!)

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#117 James
November 09 2013, 12:35PM
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@Spydyr

Agreed, we need some greasy goals. Stop trying to score the pretty, highlight reel ones because it's not working.

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#118 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:36PM
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Maybe the Oilers should trade for Giroux he can't finish either. Perfect fit.

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#119 James
November 09 2013, 12:39PM
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@Spaz

Yep, we are sorely missing that net presence. And the PK, I mean, Hemsky on for a few seconds? Hall? Nuge? WTF? Our best PK person hasn't played any minutes on it since he's been back and that was Gagner. I mean he's not doing great 5 on 5 but he was tops on PK last year, shouldn't we try that? I mean, if we're trying Eberle and co, why not give it a shot?

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#120 James
November 09 2013, 12:41PM
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FINALLY!! Thank you Perron!

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#121 Hockey fan 1976
November 09 2013, 12:42PM
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Wow...you would almost think the Flyers are in the PP. team is the biggest joke in the league. Must be nice to pay 6 mill for 3 players and they are invisible on the ice. What a joke!!!

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#122 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:42PM
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James wrote:

Agreed, we need some greasy goals. Stop trying to score the pretty, highlight reel ones because it's not working.

I don't think you want any greasy goals....If there are 5 greasy goals scored today.....the score will be Philly 5 Oilers 0

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#123 Serious Gord
November 09 2013, 12:42PM
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wtf wrote:

Team with the least amount of hits last season: Chicago Blackhawks

That's because they always had the puck. Hit stats can be very misleading.

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#124 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:43PM
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Quick MacT call the Philly GM see if he will trade Simmonds for Hemsky.

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#125 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:44PM
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I kind of get the desire to get the skill guys on the PK, I mean you want your best players to be the best players in every situation. Rather than having the Sedin situation where they used to sit for half a period when the team got into PK trouble.

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#126 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:45PM
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Gadzic fights....we get energized... 2nd order effect.....we get energized...we push the river ....3rd order effect....we push the river...we score a goal....4th order effect...

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#127 James
November 09 2013, 12:45PM
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@Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

Haha, well played good sir.

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#128 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:45PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Quick MacT call the Philly GM see if he will trade Simmonds for Hemsky.

Lol

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#129 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:45PM
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Not to say that I'm approving of Eakins use of them so far, but I get why he's trying.

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#130 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:47PM
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James wrote:

Haha, well played good sir.

Thank you James.....and I echo your post..."Thank you Perron!"

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#131 James
November 09 2013, 12:47PM
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@Spaz

Yeah I get that, but at what point do you see it's not working and move on? It's not a small change in effectivness on our special teams, it's a huge one. You'd think you would try some different people when your special teams got from top 10 to middle/bottom in the league.

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#132 Batfink
November 09 2013, 12:48PM
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How are we still in this? Thank god Giroux is snake bitten. He will have a brake out soon, hopefully not in the 3rd!

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#133 Serious Gord
November 09 2013, 12:49PM
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Stauffer is going to interview MacT in a couple min. Could be worth tuning in for.

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#134 Bucknuck
November 09 2013, 12:51PM
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This feed from Philly is perhaps the only American feed that hasn't irritated the stink out of me. They aren't half bad.

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#135 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:59PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

This feed from Philly is perhaps the only American feed that hasn't irritated the stink out of me. They aren't half bad.

The camera seems far away and at a weird angle but you are right it is not half bad.

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#136 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:59PM
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James wrote:

Yeah I get that, but at what point do you see it's not working and move on? It's not a small change in effectivness on our special teams, it's a huge one. You'd think you would try some different people when your special teams got from top 10 to middle/bottom in the league.

I'd tend to agree, but who would you sub in to fill that role?

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#137 Lofty
November 09 2013, 12:59PM
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When will the Oil stop giving up there own blue line so easily?

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#138 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 01:01PM
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MacT talking to Stauffer on CHED now (I get via internet here in Ontario); he does talk the talk but... On Smid being traded: "the organization is deep at that position" and "change is a natural by-product". Stauffer fails to ask the tough, necessary questions... MacT: "We've got to get better". "Dubnyk will get many opportunities", "we playing better but things got to change for the better", "changes are imminent", "we are not at the level we need to be", etc etc etc

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#139 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:06PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

MacT talking to Stauffer on CHED now (I get via internet here in Ontario); he does talk the talk but... On Smid being traded: "the organization is deep at that position" and "change is a natural by-product". Stauffer fails to ask the tough, necessary questions... MacT: "We've got to get better". "Dubnyk will get many opportunities", "we playing better but things got to change for the better", "changes are imminent", "we are not at the level we need to be", etc etc etc

It is called propaganda.You have been feed it for years from the Oilers.Selling hope is their job.

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#140 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:09PM
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10-15 years ago I used to wonder how anyone could be an Islanders fan.

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#141 James
November 09 2013, 01:09PM
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@Spaz

Not sure. It's his first game back, but what about Jonensuu on PP? Big body, could hang out in front of the net for the shovel/re-direct. I'd try Gagner on the PK again to see if he can get back to where he was last year. Also, shorten the shifts of the first line PP, they clearly aren't getting it done as well as they need to be. Belov also hasn't played any PK time. Not saying these will work any better, but maybe it's worth a shot.

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#142 James
November 09 2013, 01:10PM
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Gazdic will not be back, bad shoulder.

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#143 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:11PM
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@James

Wouldn't hurt to try starting the second unit first as a 'message' and maybe an opportunity to get the first PP unit against the second tier PK.

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#144 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 01:11PM
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Spydyr wrote:

It is called propaganda.You have been feed it for years from the Oilers.Selling hope is their job.

No doubt! If MacT gets fired one day (is that even not an eventuality?)he should move to the USA and run for the Republican Party - GOP - with quotes like those!!! 5 minutes in the 3rd, CHED says that Philly needs another goal to wrap this game.

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#145 James
November 09 2013, 01:13PM
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@Spaz

True, maybe they could gain a little more confidence from facing the second PK unit. Gagner was also decent on the PP for us last year, but his time has been limited in his return. I don't get that, but I'm not Eakins so...

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#146 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:14PM
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James wrote:

Not sure. It's his first game back, but what about Jonensuu on PP? Big body, could hang out in front of the net for the shovel/re-direct. I'd try Gagner on the PK again to see if he can get back to where he was last year. Also, shorten the shifts of the first line PP, they clearly aren't getting it done as well as they need to be. Belov also hasn't played any PK time. Not saying these will work any better, but maybe it's worth a shot.

Feed JJ taco bell before the game.Then tell him to stand in front of the goalie and to not move his whole shift.Then they might get going on the PP.

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#147 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:16PM
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How is that a match penalty?

NHL is becoming the No Hit League.

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#148 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:17PM
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What a joke.

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#149 James
November 09 2013, 01:17PM
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@Spydyr

Yeah I dunno man, but we've got to try some other things. Our special units are BAD.

On another note, Belov out of the game? WTF refs?! Terrible call!

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#150 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:18PM
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https://twitter.com/ryandittrick/status/399269272775430144/photo/1

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