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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#151 Lofty
November 09 2013, 01:19PM
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That's the most emotion I've seen from Eakins on the bench.

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#152 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 01:19PM
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Arcobello playing miles ahead of Sam Gagner at this point in time.....setting up plays...delivering BIG hits....

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#153 Johnnydapunk
November 09 2013, 01:19PM
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Match penalty?!?!? Pffft.....

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#154 Mike Krushelnyski
November 09 2013, 01:19PM
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Haha I flipped back to the game in time to see Belov to get tossed for a vicious shot to Giroux's...arm? At least it was something different!

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#155 Soccer Steve
November 09 2013, 01:19PM
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A freezeframe of that could be posted on Shanny's office wall with a caption saying: "The perfect hit in my NHL".

So, yeah, game mis for Belov makes sense.

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#156 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:20PM
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James wrote:

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!

So we lose arguably our best defenceman for a phantom hit to the head.What did this team do to the hockey gods?

Can we sacrifice Lowe(by firing not the human kind) to appease them.

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#157 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:20PM
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The hockey gods owe us a short handed goal for that call.

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#158 Reg Dunlop
November 09 2013, 01:20PM
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Hall looks like he may have spent last night at the bar.

For anyone thinking that size doesn't matter, watch Eberle. If the smaller player is as committed, is quicker to change direction and is faster from point A to B then size is not relevant. However, big, mean NHLers in today's NHL are just as fast, quick and motivated. This isn't 1980 when slewfoots like Brad Marsh populated rosters. All else being +/- equal size is the determining factor. The oil will remain detritus feeders until more than 1 of the dwarfs are converted into actual men.

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#159 ubermiguel
November 09 2013, 01:21PM
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Lesson learned from Giroux today: every time you get hit whip your head back to draw a penalty.

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#160 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:22PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Hall looks like he may have spent last night at the bar.

For anyone thinking that size doesn't matter, watch Eberle. If the smaller player is as committed, is quicker to change direction and is faster from point A to B then size is not relevant. However, big, mean NHLers in today's NHL are just as fast, quick and motivated. This isn't 1980 when slewfoots like Brad Marsh populated rosters. All else being +/- equal size is the determining factor. The oil will remain detritus feeders until more than 1 of the dwarfs are converted into actual men.

No poop.

I would say two Gagner and Hemsky.

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#161 James
November 09 2013, 01:22PM
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@Spydyr

Bullsh*t call for sure! As if we need any help from the zebras to lose this game. Ugh! Good thing we have so much depth right now on D, right MacT?

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#162 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:23PM
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Make up call.

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#163 Soccer Steve
November 09 2013, 01:23PM
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And your classic make-up call by this "ref". So lame.

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#164 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:24PM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

And your classic make-up call by this "ref". So lame.

Maybe the ref was at the bar last night too.

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#165 DrunkGuyTy
November 09 2013, 01:26PM
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BRUTAL CALL!!!! On Belov. Embarrassing - not even close!! I can't even guess how 4 different officials can't see that he missed Giroux's head by foot. He'll, he barely even got his shoulder!

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#166 James
November 09 2013, 01:26PM
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They keep this up and we'll all be at the bar, permanently. Hall and co can all buy us beers to make up for their crap play.

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#167 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 01:27PM
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DROUGHTBUSTERS!!!

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#168 James
November 09 2013, 01:27PM
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Nice give away by Hemmer and Hall on that one. Good grief!

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#169 ubermiguel
November 09 2013, 01:28PM
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James wrote:

Nice give away by Hemmer and Hall on that one. Good grief!

Staple Hall's butt to the bench. Awful giveaway.

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#170 Alsker
November 09 2013, 01:28PM
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How many drop passes at the blueline do we have to endure...bench the whole line...

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#171 Hockey fan 1976
November 09 2013, 01:28PM
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What do you do if you need to end a scoring drought? Play the Oilers silly!!! Haha

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#172 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:29PM
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And there is" Dubnyk's weak goal of the game"(™). He is a one man slump buster.

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#173 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:29PM
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Well Hemsky helped get Giroux his first goal, maybe the Flyers will want him now.

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#174 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 01:29PM
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3-1 Flyers. This game is officially over. Is a loser of a team was MacT's idea of a "bold move"?

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#175 Bucknuck
November 09 2013, 01:29PM
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Gawd Dubnyk. Break the Giroux drought. Nice.

I'm tired of watching this team right now.

Wake me when they start playing like they want to win.

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#176 DevoKnows
November 09 2013, 01:29PM
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Your welcome Giroux!!!!

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#177 Alsker
November 09 2013, 01:30PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Hall looks like he may have spent last night at the bar.

For anyone thinking that size doesn't matter, watch Eberle. If the smaller player is as committed, is quicker to change direction and is faster from point A to B then size is not relevant. However, big, mean NHLers in today's NHL are just as fast, quick and motivated. This isn't 1980 when slewfoots like Brad Marsh populated rosters. All else being +/- equal size is the determining factor. The oil will remain detritus feeders until more than 1 of the dwarfs are converted into actual men.

"may have", question is who was along for the ride?

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#178 James
November 09 2013, 01:31PM
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@ubermiguel

He's had several this game, and usually does but somehow he gets a pass. Kid needs to learn, and fast.

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#179 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:31PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Gawd Dubnyk. Break the Giroux drought. Nice.

I'm tired of watching this team right now.

Wake me when they start playing like they want to win.

If we did that we would have to call you rip van winkle.

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#180 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 01:31PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Staple Hall's butt to the bench. Awful giveaway.

Taylor hall for PK Subban straight up!!!

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#181 Hemmercules
November 09 2013, 01:32PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Chicago has been looking at Gagner and Smid for a couple years now.I wonder if MacT even called them before the trade?

If you know Chicago was looking at them then how could Mact not know? Good grief. Why even bother with your goofy comments.

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#182 Clarko
November 09 2013, 01:32PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Gawd Dubnyk. Break the Giroux drought. Nice.

I'm tired of watching this team right now.

Wake me when they start playing like they want to win.

Ference backed up below the hashmarks on that goal. You're asking to get scored on when you allow screened shots from 15-20 feet out...

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#183 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 01:33PM
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James wrote:

He's had several this game, and usually does but somehow he gets a pass. Kid needs to learn, and fast.

Hall do you like me now!

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#184 wtf
November 09 2013, 01:33PM
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Slumpbusters indeed

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#185 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:33PM
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See what happens when you get pucks to the net with someone in front of it.

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#186 James
November 09 2013, 01:33PM
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Kid needs to stop being such a himbo and learn how to make a pass without giving it away.

Although, I guess he just made up for that a bit. I feel so bi-polar right now. Mad at his constant supid give aways, but happy that he scored. Ah the life of an Oilers fan.

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#187 ubermiguel
November 09 2013, 01:33PM
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OK Hall, glad you weren't benched.

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#188 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 01:33PM
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CHED just commented "Oilers gave up on their offence". 3-2 Hall

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#189 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:34PM
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@ubermiguel

If Eakins benched everyone who made a terrible giveaway he'd be stuck icing a lineup of the training staff with Joey Moss in net.

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#190 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:34PM
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Hemmercules wrote:

If you know Chicago was looking at them then how could Mact not know? Good grief. Why even bother with your goofy comments.

Feel free not to read them.It won't hurt my feelings.

What I said is I wondered if he called them not if he knew they were looking at them.

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#191 Bucknuck
November 09 2013, 01:35PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

Gawd Dubnyk. Break the Giroux drought. Nice.

I'm tired of watching this team right now.

Wake me when they start playing like they want to win.

I'm glad I just can't turn off an Oiler game... just one more..

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#192 Bob
November 09 2013, 01:35PM
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6 min left, i hope our retarded coach pulls the goalie...

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#193 James
November 09 2013, 01:35PM
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Another marginal call. Jesus!

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#194 bazmagoo
November 09 2013, 01:36PM
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Got to ask, how long before MacT replaces Eakins behind the bench?

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#195 Bob
November 09 2013, 01:36PM
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Rheal1 wrote:

Taylor hall for PK Subban straight up!!!

your an idiot

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#196 Bob
November 09 2013, 01:37PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Got to ask, how long before MacT replaces Eakins behind the bench?

that would be great. hopefully tomorrow

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#197 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:37PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I'm glad I just can't turn off an Oiler game... just one more..

All of here understand your jones.

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#198 ubermiguel
November 09 2013, 01:37PM
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James wrote:

Another marginal call. Jesus!

The rare "Hit from the side then the opposing player turns into the boards to make it look like a hit from behind" call.

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#199 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:37PM
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@Bob

Why does trading Hall for a Norris winner make you an idiot?

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#200 Hemmercules
November 09 2013, 01:38PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

The rare "Hit from the side then the opposing player turns into the boards to make it look like a hit from behind" call.

That guy could barely hide the shame on his face for diving on a Gagner hit.

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