GDB 08: CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN

Jason Gregor
February 02 2013 10:05AM

The Oilers aren't Stanley Cup contenders yet, but if they want to be a playoff contender this afternoon is a game they need to win. The Oilers have to beat the teams below them in the standings, or ones they will be battling with for the final few playoff berths, and Colorado is one of those teams.

Their powerplay dismantled the Avalanche Monday night in Edmonton, going 4-for-6, and after picking up three of a possible four points in Phoenix and San Jose, the Oilers have an excellent opportunity to make this a very successful road trip today.

This is a game they should win.

The Avs are without Ryan O'Reilly, Steve Downie and Gabriel Landeskog, who was put on IR yesterday with a concussion. Those are three of their top-seven forwards, so the Oilers need to take advantage of an injured team.

The Oilers have more skill than Colorado and their goalie is playing much better. Devan Dubnyk has been very good this year, and great in his last three games. Ralph Krueger would be foolish to sit him this afternoon in favour of Nikolai Khabibulin.

Henrk Lundqvist, 7, Jimmy Howard, 7, Jonathan Quick, 6, and Mikka Kiprusoff, 5, are the only other goalies who have started every game thus far. Dubnyk is young, in a groove and he doesn't waste a lot of energy with his style of play. I don't see why Krueger wouldn't play him today, Monday night v. Vancouver, Wednesday v. Dallas and then enjoy two days off before playing in Detroit on Saturday, February 9th. He could play Nikolai Khabibulin v. Columbus on the 10th.

The Oilers need wins, especially against a team like Colorado and Dubnyk should be able to start 11 consecutive games, without getting fatigued, especially when he is playing this well.

LINE UP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Belanger-Petrell
Hartikainen-Lander-Hordichuk

Shawn Horcoff skated yesterday and he will be a game time decision. If he plays I suspect Anton Lander sits down. Cody Mcleod and Patrick Bordeleau took a few healthy runs at the Oilers on Monday, and Krueger might want to have Hordichuk on the bench just in case.

UPDATE...Horcoff will not play. He still isn't feeling right after the Doan hit.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz- J.Schultz
Fistric-Whitney

Krueger should stick with the same six defenders. Fistric played well, and Whitney's overall game has improved this past week.

Dubnyk

Let Dubnyk play.

QUICK HITS

  • I wonder if Oiler fans relish that Calgary is in 30th place this morning. Of course you do. The only good thing about the Flames sucking is that maybe in a few years both teams will be good and the Battle of Alberta will be exciting again.
     
  • Speaking of the Battle of Alberta I'll be calling the game between the Edmonton Rush and Calgary Roughnecks tonight on Sportsnet One at 7 p.m. (no-so-subtle plug).
     
  • Taylor Hall has 9 points during his career-high 7 game point streak. His previous best was 5 games, February 21st to 29th, 2012 when he accumulated 7 points.
     
  • Sam Gagner has a 7-game point streak, 8 points. His career high is 9 games. He tallied 12 points from February 4th to 24th as a rookie in 2008.
     
  • Colorado is 26th on the PK, 74.4% and 29th on the PP, 9.5%, while the Oilers are 4th on the PP, 31.4%, and 6th on the PK at 85.3%. The Oilers have a huge advantage on special teams and need to capitalize on it. 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win a game they need and should win with a strong 4-2 performance. Dubnyk is solid again, and Jordan Eberle pots a pair.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Today is the anniversary of Sam Gagner's out-of-body experience. He tallied 8 points v. the Chicago Blackhawsk last year, and during the intro Sportsnet will play a highlight package of his record-tying night. Gene will tie in the 8-point night with Gagner's career totals of 31 points in 30 games v. the Avs and say his confidence is A Mile High right now.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  Ryan Smyth scores his first of the season on a one-timer. Instantly the blogosphere goes crazy trying to find out if that was his first-career one-timer. After the goal you will see Smyth talking to Yakupov on the bench. "Sick shot Mr. Smyth. I didn't know someone could one-time a puck with a canoe paddle," says Yakupov.

Smyth smiles and replies, "I don't care about the shot, what did you think of my celly? Knee drag on the ice, with two fist pumps. Old school." "Not bad, when I score my next one-timer I'll honour that and add my own Russian twist. By the way do you think that guy they call "Plums" will call you out for that?" "Plums...(laughs) you're a good kid," says Smitty as he hopes over the boards for his next shift.

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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#2 Puritania
February 02 2013, 10:11AM
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*Hugs Jason*

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#3 Time Travelling Sean
February 02 2013, 10:15AM
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Looking at the Avs year to year is very disparaging/cyclical .

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Duchene and Paranteau will each get 3 points but EDM wins 6-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:Varlamov gets scored on 4 times on 17 shots in the first 20 minutes.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Belanger scores on a tip on a Fistric shot, making it 2 games in a row where he gets a goal stolen from him.

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Oil win 12-1. Everyone gets at least one point. Flames still suck!

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#5 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
February 02 2013, 10:19AM
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"Plums". That is funny

Oilers roll this afternoon

Yak with a celly

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#6 Starving Student
February 02 2013, 10:22AM
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I'm actually hoping the flames do WELL this season! To suffer through ONLY a 48 game season and get a high end draft pick doesn't seem deserving. I demand they watch their team suffer through misery of un-holy suck! THROUGH 82 GAMES! The only justice to the flames crapping out this year would be for the Oilers to win the lottery and have Tambi walk by Feaster yelling TROLOLOLOLOLOLOL

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#7 wiseguy
February 02 2013, 10:24AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Enjoy your Saturday knowing there will be no celebrations for the clenched hand crew!

Was it your intent to fist your own article? You must've switched sides in this ongoing battle 8-)

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#8 DSF
February 02 2013, 10:30AM
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The Avalanche are also missing David Jones so 4 of their top 9 forwards are out.

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#9 Oilcruzer
February 02 2013, 10:42AM
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Notes to Gregor...

1) Rather see Toronto in 30th and 'Nuckleheads in 29th.

2) If Whitney having only one giveaway last game that caused a goal is "improving"... well... chocolate on a turd doesn't make the turd taste go away. He's got to pass smarter. Thing is, he (like many) are playing catch-up.

I.E. He can do it... guys like Potter ummm "not so much"...

Would like Lander to go one more game. Kid is next year's 3rd line Center.

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#10 Mark-LW
February 02 2013, 10:58AM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Notes to Gregor...

1) Rather see Toronto in 30th and 'Nuckleheads in 29th.

2) If Whitney having only one giveaway last game that caused a goal is "improving"... well... chocolate on a turd doesn't make the turd taste go away. He's got to pass smarter. Thing is, he (like many) are playing catch-up.

I.E. He can do it... guys like Potter ummm "not so much"...

Would like Lander to go one more game. Kid is next year's 3rd line Center.

You think Lander will displace Belanger next season? I don't think that would be an improvement

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#11 Toro
February 02 2013, 11:01AM
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At work can't watch FML ..... Go Oilers ! I'd like too see a top six of Hall Gags Ebs, and Yak Nuge Hemmer , Nuge gets his first goal today not Smyth

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#12 tileguy
February 02 2013, 11:02AM
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Plums

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#13 nunyour
February 02 2013, 11:03AM
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Have to give Belanger a plug,he is much better than last year.

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#14 T__Bone88
February 02 2013, 11:05AM
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Twenty bucks says Gene will tie in groundhog day and bill murray to gagner today.

I will be looking forward to Gregor calling the Rush game with my cousin Kevin tonight.

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#15 Westcoastoil
February 02 2013, 11:05AM
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I'd like to Lander on the wing on the 4th line over 2 mins. of Hordichuk. Gives you an option if Horc's ice needs to be limited b/c of his back, and he can eat some of the ice time other wingers would have spend doubling shifting. Fistric in the lineup instead of Potter lets you sit Hordichuk

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#16 Westcoastoil
February 02 2013, 11:06AM
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nunyour wrote:

Have to give Belanger a plug,he is much better than last year.

100% - credit where it is due

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#17 geoilersgist
February 02 2013, 11:07AM
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haha your OBGP is going to be classic Gene and the NSOGDP is hilarious.

And so it was written.

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#18 Plums
February 02 2013, 11:12AM
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Hey, wait a minute..

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#19 capebretonoilers
February 02 2013, 11:13AM
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Flames were talking about their game vs the Avs the same way and lost ... ( ie winnable game players missing from lineup) Could be a "trap " game if they are not focused ..

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#20 Westcoastoil
February 02 2013, 11:15AM
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JG - you should tweet your OGDP to Gene to see what he does with it

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#21 Buchburgler
February 02 2013, 11:19AM
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Why don't the oilers send down Peckham and recall PRV? Not a big loss if someone picks him up on waivers, PRV was one of our better players while he was up here.

There is absolutley no point in dressing and playing Hordichuk for three shifts a game.

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#22 Mike Krushelnyski
February 02 2013, 11:20AM
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More like prunes cause he's old amirite?

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#23 Hockey Or Die
February 02 2013, 11:21AM
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With all the recent comparisons to the Oilers of the 80's and today the BOA, the thing that comes to mind in this situation in regards to that team, is that they had a reputation of playing down to their competition quite often.

This game will be a good indication as to how hungry this new group is and if they attack when they see blood or just sit back and relax.

I'm guessing they attack.

Th other things to take into account are the altitude and the time of the game. It'll be interesting to see how they react.

And as for the Flames, I'd rather see them finish last, lose the lottery and have their resulting pick be a bust, and repeat that cycle for a couple years before they're allowed to succeed and renew the proper BOA.

They deserve some ELPH for awhile.

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#24 Oiler Al
February 02 2013, 11:22AM
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The team has played relatively decent hockey this year, however, would like to see dominate game from start to finish , especially 5x5. Maybe today is the today.

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#25 laughing pug
February 02 2013, 11:28AM
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Great NSOGDB. Made me laugh.

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#26 kgo
February 02 2013, 11:57AM
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laughing pug wrote:

Great NSOGDB. Made me laugh.

AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!! too funny!

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#27 OilersBrass
February 02 2013, 12:02PM
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I wonder when/if we'll see Gagner promoted to the 1st line?

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#28 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 12:03PM
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Is it just me, or is anyone else concerned about the Oiler's being out shot every game and not being able to score 5x5?

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#29 Dino
February 02 2013, 12:06PM
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Jason, as a long time Flame hater, I don't want the Lames to end up last. I'd hate for them to win the draft lottery and actually get a good player that will give them a glimmer of hope.

I want them to stay semi-competitive and miss the playoffs every year by a few points, just enough to fool them into thinking they're just "few pieces" away from contending. I want them and their fans to wander the dessert for the next 10 years while the Oilers hopefully become the class of the league.

Is this shallow of me?

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#30 CopperBlueBalls
February 02 2013, 12:06PM
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Fist for plums

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#31 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 12:10PM
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Dino wrote:

Jason, as a long time Flame hater, I don't want the Lames to end up last. I'd hate for them to win the draft lottery and actually get a good player that will give them a glimmer of hope.

I want them to stay semi-competitive and miss the playoffs every year by a few points, just enough to fool them into thinking they're just "few pieces" away from contending. I want them and their fans to wander the dessert for the next 10 years while the Oilers hopefully become the class of the league.

Is this shallow of me?

no

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#32 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 12:15PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Is it just me, or is anyone else concerned about the Oiler's being out shot every game and not being able to score 5x5?

Its just you

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#33 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 12:20PM
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Hockey Or Die wrote:

With all the recent comparisons to the Oilers of the 80's and today the BOA, the thing that comes to mind in this situation in regards to that team, is that they had a reputation of playing down to their competition quite often.

This game will be a good indication as to how hungry this new group is and if they attack when they see blood or just sit back and relax.

I'm guessing they attack.

Th other things to take into account are the altitude and the time of the game. It'll be interesting to see how they react.

And as for the Flames, I'd rather see them finish last, lose the lottery and have their resulting pick be a bust, and repeat that cycle for a couple years before they're allowed to succeed and renew the proper BOA.

They deserve some ELPH for awhile.

Here is the thing about the Flames, The Flames don't need to rebuild like the Oilers did.

The Flames have better players in there line up now then the Oilers fell into a re-build.

With there own 1st round pick plus what Iginla will bring, Kiprusoff -Bouwmeester- Cammalleri - Glencross who ever else they decide to trade off for picks Calgary wont suck as long as the Oilers did.

Calgary could be going to the draft with a potential of 3 first round picks in a very deep draft.

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#35 Mark-LW
February 02 2013, 12:33PM
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Westcoastoil wrote:

JG - you should tweet your OGDP to Gene to see what he does with it

He doesn't read this site?

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#36 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
February 02 2013, 12:39PM
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I know this isn't the popular opinion but in the later stages of the San Jose game i noticed Dubey getting a little tired. The Shark shooters were just a little off when Devan was vulnerable in the later stages on Thurs. Unlikely i know, but with them being off so long it is possible.

Oilers lose 5 or 6-2 if Dubey plays. Just my 2 cents but i hope i'm wrong. Have to give Dubnyk a B+ on his perfomance so far this season.

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#37 NewfoundlandOil
February 02 2013, 12:40PM
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OilersBrass wrote:

I wonder when/if we'll see Gagner promoted to the 1st line?

Not so sure there is a 1st and 2nd line right now. Both are producing well. Gagner stays where he is I think while he is on a scoring streak.

Might this be the first time in eons that the better line isn't so obvious?

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#38 Sox and Oil
February 02 2013, 12:41PM
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2 things.

I hope RK puts Lander on the 4th line in Hordichuks spot. Belanger would be a good role model for Anton and Hordi is useless.

My GDP - This is Nuge's breakout game this year, 3 points this afternoon.

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#39 Rip van Winkle
February 02 2013, 12:53PM
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FML this 48 game schedule does a number on ones sleep schedule

Go Oilers

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#41 SurfacetoAirMissile
February 02 2013, 12:57PM
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Dino wrote:

Jason, as a long time Flame hater, I don't want the Lames to end up last. I'd hate for them to win the draft lottery and actually get a good player that will give them a glimmer of hope.

I want them to stay semi-competitive and miss the playoffs every year by a few points, just enough to fool them into thinking they're just "few pieces" away from contending. I want them and their fans to wander the dessert for the next 10 years while the Oilers hopefully become the class of the league.

Is this shallow of me?

I'm picking up what you are putting down. I also don't like seeing the Flamers have any success. However, Gregor made a comment on his show that made me change my tune. If both teams were actually competative at the same time and they were to some how meet in the playoffs....... The hype for that series would be sick!!!!!!!!!!!! If you are old enough to remmember the 80's battle of Alberta, then you can appreciate what Gregor was talking about. There is nothing that can approach the high you feel by beating your provincal rival in the playoffs and conversly there is no low that approaches losing to the Flamers either.

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#42 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
February 02 2013, 01:01PM
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The situation has improved to the point where i think we can give that 1st line, 2nd/3rd/4th line category as far as the forwards go, a rest. When things are going well Krueger is rolling 4 lines. As guys grow comfortable with each other/bond as a 20 player unit, there's no less importance on what each line contributes. There'll be less importance on the who's first line or 2nd/3rd line labels.

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#43 SurfacetoAirMissile
February 02 2013, 01:16PM
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Fire it up! Fire it up! Fire it up! GOILERS!!!

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#44 Rip van Winkle
February 02 2013, 01:20PM
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@SurfacetoAirMissile

my clock shows 1:00 yet your comment shows 1:16pm. R yu commenting from the future or is something seriously wrong with the server time?

Where's Wanye?

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#45 SurfacetoAirMissile
February 02 2013, 01:23PM
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Rip van Winkle wrote:

my clock shows 1:00 yet your comment shows 1:16pm. R yu commenting from the future or is something seriously wrong with the server time?

Where's Wanye?

Yes I am from the future. I will give you a little hint as to what is to come........ Oilers are the Stanley Cup Champions 2013/2014

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#46 Oilcruzer
February 02 2013, 01:23PM
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@Mark-LW

Ah ya - agree Belanger better... that wasn't the centre I was thinking would be gone next year...

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#47 Sanaa Montana
February 02 2013, 01:29PM
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Why is Hordichuk playing?

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#48 Clyde Frog
February 02 2013, 01:30PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Here is the thing about the Flames, The Flames don't need to rebuild like the Oilers did.

The Flames have better players in there line up now then the Oilers fell into a re-build.

With there own 1st round pick plus what Iginla will bring, Kiprusoff -Bouwmeester- Cammalleri - Glencross who ever else they decide to trade off for picks Calgary wont suck as long as the Oilers did.

Calgary could be going to the draft with a potential of 3 first round picks in a very deep draft.

But that means they lose 3-4 NHL players and will have to wait 2-3 years before those first rounders have a chance to make a positive impact.

Trading that much would put them in an Oilers blow it up rebuild model... Or at least make a huge line up gap they have to fill while they develop the kids.

All I know is those years will be fun ones for us :)

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#49 Rip van Winkle
February 02 2013, 01:32PM
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Yakity Yak!!!!!

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#50 @Oilanderp
February 02 2013, 01:33PM
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Holy crap they passed it to Yak!

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