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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#201 Alsker
November 09 2013, 10:53AM
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Oasis wrote:

Big game for the Flyers. I can hear their dressing room now "Guys, if we can't get out of our scoring slump against the Oilers......we might never get out of our slump". Flyers have had this game circled for weeks.

Now, now, Duby is not the cure to a scoring drought, just ask Scotty Upshall.

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#202 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 11:11AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

I like the kid, but he has been awful. I know he dominated the A offensively, but it seems to me he should be sent down for a few weeks with orders to work purely on his defense.

I like the kid too...but I've said it since last year....the kid is overrated by Oilers fans.....but with good reason....he chose us, he scored like crazy in the AHL, ETC......but our euphoria needs to be tempered by reality.....he's a kid....he needs to be DEVELOPED properly......right now he is much more potential than reality.

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#203 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 11:12AM
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JJ looks way out of game shape.Going to take the big guy a few games to get it back.

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#204 James
November 09 2013, 11:44AM
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Man, Nuge hasn't won a single draw so far. Not good for us, I hope he picks gets some in there. This is shaping up to be one of those games where we are expected to score 4 or more goals to win.

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#205 Dog Train
November 09 2013, 11:45AM
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Typical afternoon game. Oilers are sleeping in. Ugh.

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#206 Fresh Mess
November 09 2013, 11:45AM
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I just can not understand why this organization would trade out an asset that they are in short supply of (tough physical, experienced second pairing defensemen) yet continue to horde assets they have an excess of (expensive, small offensive forwards)....and for very little return. These are not blue chip prospects they received.

As a salary dump, this makes no sense.

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#207 Alsker
November 09 2013, 12:01PM
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For a minute I thought I was watching a replay from couple years ago...unable to seperate anyone from the puck, unwilling to throw a check, unable to get out of our own zone and issues in between the pipes. Well at least kBlowe has been able to keep the ship floating upside down year after year. Getting tougher to be choked with the players or sorry for them.

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#208 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:04PM
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Alsker wrote:

For a minute I thought I was watching a replay from couple years ago...unable to seperate anyone from the puck, unwilling to throw a check, unable to get out of our own zone and issues in between the pipes. Well at least kBlowe has been able to keep the ship floating upside down year after year. Getting tougher to be choked with the players or sorry for them.

But let's not forget the advanced stats guys.....size doesn't matter.....

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#209 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:07PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

But let's not forget the advanced stats guys.....size doesn't matter.....

On the ice in a physical game played by large highly competitive men in foul moods size matters.On the stats page it does not matter.You don't win games on the stats page you win them on the ice.

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#210 Rheal1
November 09 2013, 12:09PM
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DD is .846 after one period; 2 goals & 13 shots. Does he look like he wants to save his neck after Bryz became an Oiler rental? I guess the guy (DD) will go back home to Saskatchewan with at least a sizeable personal fortune over his 5 NHL years...

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#211 clyde
November 09 2013, 12:10PM
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Gazdic needs to change Philly's focus.

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

That is so sexist......and hilarious!!

I gave it props...and I'm a girl.

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

On the ice in a physical game played by large highly competitive men in foul moods size matters.On the stats page it does not matter.You don't win games on the stats page you win them on the ice.

I'm sure they'll find a stat that PROVES you wrong.......of course their stats won't take into consideration any 2nd or 3rd order effects....or anything that you can't add up on an abacus....

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#214 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
November 09 2013, 12:13PM
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DCC wrote:

I gave it props...and I'm a girl.

I love you.

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#215 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:14PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

God what tortured logic Jason.

If Bryz could be afforded without dealing smid, then why did they trade him?

Trading smid makes one if the leagues weakest defenses even weaker. And the prospects won't help save team morale this year.

Bryz is a very low percentage chance of success. I recommended taking that chance at the beginning of the year when there was a sliver of hope of making the playoffs. Now with no hope, it is a senseless waste that ties up yet more $$ and a roster spot making a big deal near the trade deadline even harder to pull off.

This is - as robin posted earlier - a desperation set of moves made to save face and to demonstrate that management is trying to change the teams trajectory for this year - to hell with the long term consequences and to hell with trying to win the deal.

A better course of action would have been for MacT to call a presser and state that the teamsong term quest is the cup and that no moves will be made that retard the timeline of that quest. - no desperation moves. I think oilers nation is four square vmbehind that approach and that MacT's moves yesterday make them question whether he shares that view.

I have always like Smid's game.He plays hard with courage and heart every night.

That being said if you can trade any player for what you feel is an upgrade do it.

The problem I have is trading an actual NHL player and not getting one in return.

The time for trading for a player at least a few years away has passed.

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#216 Lochenzo
November 09 2013, 12:19PM
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I saw Smid's 4 years plus Ference's contract as a bridge to give Klefbom and Nurse time. Smid is a big loss. Hopefully Belov continues to play well and stays for a while.

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#217 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 12:19PM
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Spaz wrote:

Remember when we had great special teams last year? What a joke this team is.

Somewhere Ralph has a sly smile on his face.

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#218 Spaz
November 09 2013, 12:19PM
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Maybe they should try the "swarm" on the PP? It has to be good for something.

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#219 justthestatsman
November 09 2013, 12:20PM
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So if you're a Flyer and you don't want to get traded to the Oilers should you go out and score a hat trick or really suck?

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#220 James
November 09 2013, 12:21PM
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@Spaz

Because we're expecting guys like Hall and Eberle to kill penalties when we had better PK personel last season.

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

That explains our dismal PP how?

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#222 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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#223 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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#224 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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#225 Bob
November 09 2013, 12:32PM
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Why am I always grumpy on Oilers' game days?

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#226 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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#227 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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#228 James
November 09 2013, 12:41PM
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FINALLY!! Thank you Perron!

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#229 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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#230 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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#231 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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#232 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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#233 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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#234 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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#235 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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#236 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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#237 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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#238 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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#239 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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#240 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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#241 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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#242 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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#243 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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#244 Spaz
November 09 2013, 01:18PM
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https://twitter.com/ryandittrick/status/399269272775430144/photo/1

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#245 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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#246 Johnnydapunk
November 09 2013, 01:19PM
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Match penalty?!?!? Pffft.....

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#247 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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#248 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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#249 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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#250 Spydyr
November 09 2013, 01:23PM
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Make up call.

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