GDB 09: ONE IN AND ONE OUT

Jason Gregor
February 04 2013 01:09PM

Shawn Horcoff returns to the lineup tonight, but Eric Belanger walked into Rexall Place this morning in a walking boot and he's been put on the injured list. Belanger has been infinitely better this season than he was last year, especially on the PK, and he, like Horcoff, will be missed.

It isn't great for the Oilers to have their veteran centres sitting out due to injuries, but it is another opportunity for Anton Lander to keep developing. As long as the injured list remains short the Oilers should be able to stay competitive.
The Oilers face the Canucks for the 2nd time in nine games, and after a come-from-behind win in their season opener the Oilers will try to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Edmonton wasn't very good in Colorado on Saturday, and they will need a much more energetic effort tonight.

Hall/RNH/Eberle
Yakupov/Gagner/Hemsky
Smyth/Horcoff/Petrell
Paajarvi/Lander/Hartikainen

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Fistric/Potter

Dubnyk

Ryan Whitney was paired with Theo Peckham at the morning skate, and he will be take a seat in the pressbox. Whitney hasn't been great, but I think this is Ralph Krueger trying to send a message that anyone can be benched. That wasn't the case last year, and sometimes the only way a coach can get people's attention is by sitting a veteran in the pressbox. This is the first time in his career that Whitney has been a healthy scratch, and he was obviously disappointed. "I don't agree with it obviously, but I respect the decision and I will be better when I get back in," said Whitney.

I suspect this will be short-term for Whitney, who seems to be lacking confidence more than anything, because is overall game is better than Potter and Fistric. However, if you aren't playing up to your potential, Krueger is showing he won't be afraid to cut your icetime.

Krueger is also hoping that 91/57/56 can find the chemistry they had in OKC. Todd Nelson said they were his most consistent trio in both ends of the rink, and we'll see if they can bring that level of consistency to the NHL.

QUICK HITS

  • Lots of teams are interested in Whitney, and after being stripped of his "A" and now a healthy scratch, I could see a trade scenario unfolding at some point. The issue is the Oilers still don't have enough quality NHL depth to make that move, unless it is for another D-man. I can see situation where Whitney gets dealt, and then plays well somewhere else, and those fans who have been begging for his benching, will then complain he got dealt. Whitney is not nearly as bad as some are portraying him. Of course he can play better, but I'd rather let him play out of it than move him when his value is likely lower than it should be.
  • Belanger has an open cut on his foot so he will be out at least a week. He was put on IR so he is out at least 7 days.
  • Peckham has done a few three-a-day workouts as they Oilers try to get him back in game shape. Right now Krueger has mentioned, "We have 7 D-men" on numerous occasions, so it is clear Peckham isn't in the picture right now. OKC only plays on Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks, so if the Oilers send him down for a conditioning stint, it likely won't happen until later this week. They'd rather put him through extensive conditioning here.

  • It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role.
     
  • I wonder who will be the first person to write the article saying how Yakupov can't keep scoring like this because of his ridiculous 29.4%. I will name that person the ultimate "fun sponge."
     
  • Thomas Vanek has been in on 19 of the Sabres 27 goals. He's been incredible so far this season and I hope he keeps it up. I love offence.

LOOKING AHEAD

 

 GAME DAY PREDICTION: In previous years you'd expect the Oilers to lose this game, fall to .500 and extend their losing streak, but they will avoid the obvious and pick up an exciting 5-4 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gagner matches his career-high and extends his scoring streak to nine games. The Oilers PP gets back on track with two goals while the Sedins combine for five points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After picking up an assist in the first period, Yakupov delivers a crushing hit on Maxim Lapierre. Yakupov finishes the evening with two hits. After the game he says, " I'm surprised more people aren't mentioning that I have more hits, 9, than points, 7. I wonder if "Plums"* will point that out this Saturday. I thought he loves gritty players."

*If you didn't catch the Plums reference read NSOGDP from GDB: 08 below.

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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#1 Bi-Curious Gord
February 04 2013, 01:13PM
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Hey Diddle Diddle, we need some depth up the middle

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#2 ubermiguel
February 04 2013, 02:45PM
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"Plums"? Old-man Cherry is more like "Prunes" now.

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#3 Zamboni Driver
February 04 2013, 02:00PM
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FINALLY a veteran takes a seat. Been a LONG LONG time since a coach had the 'nads to do that.

This is sacrilege I know but...

How long before 94 takes a seat in popcorn row?

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#4 Charlie
February 04 2013, 08:17PM
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God I hate the Canucks.

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#5 Mikey
February 04 2013, 02:14PM
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I wish we could have traded for Rupp. Sad face.

Game prediction:

If the oilers win, the world is great, the Nuge is sick, Hall is a beast, Dubnyk is a superstar.

If the oilers lose, we should have drafted Seguin, Nuge is too small, Horcoff needs to go, we need a proven number one goalie. The team is too small.

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#6 The Soup Fascist
February 04 2013, 03:19PM
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Can we PLEASE have a moratorium on any trade involving Linus Omark? You are better off including Linus Van Pelt in a trade - because they have exactly the same amount of value.

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#7 Phixieus666
February 04 2013, 02:10PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

"It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role."

The Oilers also lost both games, could be coincidence as well but the Oilers do miss Horcoff when he's not in the line up.

He wins draws, retrieves pucks, can maintain possession, and creates traffic in front. All things that are needed on a power play that skill players generally don't bring. No Coincidence.

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#8 book¡e
February 04 2013, 02:30PM
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I wonder who will be the first person to write the article saying how Yakupov can't keep scoring like this because of his ridiculous 29.4%. I will name that person the ultimate "fun sponge."

Let me be the first to say this is unsustainable!!! There is no way Yakupov continues to average only 2 shots per game. His shots per game average is certainly going to trend upwards to 3 or 4 shots per game and with a 30% shooting percentage, that means he is going to score more than a goal per game!!! Projected out to an 82 game season, that's trending to break Gretzky's 92 goal record! Awesome!!!

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#9 Clyde Frog
February 04 2013, 07:48PM
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@Sanaa Montana

Yes, why would the Oilers want to keep a young second line centre that can actually score?

Especially when you can obtain a older 3rd line centre to go along with our other 2 older 3rd and 4th line centres...

Can never have too much checking!

/leh sigh...

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#10 Clyde Frog
February 04 2013, 09:04PM
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@Sanaa Montana

Just take a peak at the top 45 scoring centres for the last 3 years.

Find one that is older, cheaper and puts up PK minutes.

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#11 Time Travelling Sean
February 04 2013, 02:36PM
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2 years ago this is a game we would lose. Let's see if we're over the hump and ready to be taken seriously.

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#12 bdiddy18
February 04 2013, 03:42PM
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Sure Whitney has played sub-par but can't believe how Oiler Fans dump on players returning from major surgery. Hemsky last year which was clearly a rehab year - he is flying and back to his normal self this year.

and now Whitney - who basically has had reconstructive surgery on not one but both feet. An issue that is worse than what forced Petr Forsberg to retire.

so it is an absolute that it will it take time for him to return to form. But I'd stop there, he is not junk, a pylon, (insert insults used for horcoff here)

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#13 OilLeak
February 04 2013, 06:57PM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

Sure Whitney has played sub-par but can't believe how Oiler Fans dump on players returning from major surgery. Hemsky last year which was clearly a rehab year - he is flying and back to his normal self this year.

and now Whitney - who basically has had reconstructive surgery on not one but both feet. An issue that is worse than what forced Petr Forsberg to retire.

so it is an absolute that it will it take time for him to return to form. But I'd stop there, he is not junk, a pylon, (insert insults used for horcoff here)

Uh, you mean the surgery he had 2 years ago now? Whitney's ankle is done, which is sad to see, but he can't pivot and keep up with the pace at NHL level anymore.

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#14 Ryan14
February 04 2013, 07:12PM
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I don't think Willis is going to like being called a "fun sponge." ;)

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#15 Wax Man Riley
February 04 2013, 09:33PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

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.

You were one game early on that NSOGDP Jason! Your crystal ball might need a tune-up, lol.

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#16 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 04 2013, 01:24PM
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GDP: Oil win 6-4. Goalie controversy in Van escalates.

OGDP: Horcoff gets a hat trick. All in the PP. One off his bum, one off his shoulder and a he'll get credit for one that Bieksa puts in his own net.

NSOGDP: The wife and I will be on the kissing cam. I'll give her a deep longing and loving look then turn to my beer and chug it.

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#17 The Resistance
February 04 2013, 01:31PM
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Kinda felt like BFM in Groundhog Day half way through that article. Good read anyway. Oil lose 3-2

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#18 Truth
February 04 2013, 01:33PM
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If a team is willing to offer compensation for the Whitney of 2 years ago, trade him now! Otherwise the return would be minimal.

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#19 Dan the Man
February 04 2013, 01:50PM
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"It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role."

The Oilers also lost both games, could be coincidence as well but the Oilers do miss Horcoff when he's not in the line up.

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#20 A-Mc
February 04 2013, 02:06PM
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Good call on Whitney. He's a good player but he isn't playing well; Krueger needed to do something to send a message.

GDP: Oiler's lose tonight, 5-2, but Nuge finally gets one in.

OGDP: Hall will be skating circles around people tonight as he tries to set the tone for the rest of his team. His team will be reluctant to follow his lead.

NSOGDP: Paajarvi-Lander-Harti will look great and will actually come in 2nd for most scoring chances as a line for the Oilers despite having lower ice time vs lines 1-2. Potentially, the 2nd goal is theirs. Dare i say Paajarvi's?

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#21 Will
February 04 2013, 02:13PM
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This will be another game where the win comes on the PP. Luongo has been deadly this year -- surprising no one -- but Vancouver still doesn't have a second line. As good as Kassian has been, I think our second is able to eat there's for breakfast.

Dubnyk will again have to be stellar tonight. And the Nordic line will be considered a success in my book if they keep a positive puck possession number, are not responsible for any goals against, and draw a penalty or two.

Drive to the net boys and lets take another one from Van tonight.

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#22 Oiler Al
February 04 2013, 02:58PM
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I hope Fistric is up for rocking Kassians world tonight. There's no one else in the line up to take care of business.

The Canucks will come out banging, the OIl will turtle and the game is over.

If there are hitters on this team they are too polite, guys like SMid, Petrel, and Hartikien.

Not sure when Dithers Tambilini will do something about this. Eager is always one poke to the chin away from IR, and Hordichuck is a fraud when it comes to taking care of business.

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#23 Old Retired Guy
February 04 2013, 03:00PM
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OilClog wrote:

Whitney seems like he's lost more then his ankles or a step. Or maybe losing that step shows his lack in ability to read the defensive play. He can pass the puck no question, unfortunately for Whitney it doesn't offset the brutal one on one beatings he takes. With an expiring contract you would have to figure the Oilers would need to include other assets to get anything of value in return. Could we pry a bottom six forward or a regular 3-4defenseman with a Whitney, Omark, pick combo?

Whitney and Omark to Detroit.

Detroit need a D man like (the old) Whitney and the Zetterberg, Brunner, Omark line where lighting it up in the Top Swiss Leaque during the lockout (playing for EV Zug).

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#25 Will
February 04 2013, 03:27PM
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These inter division games are killing me. God forbid we play Nashville, or Columbus, or even Chicago. Hell, I'd even take Detroit this year with the way they've been playing.

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#26 John Chambers
February 04 2013, 03:52PM
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Trade Whitney for a forward with size.

Trade Hemsky for a defenseman.

Problem solved.

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#27 Eastern Oil
February 04 2013, 03:59PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Can we PLEASE have a moratorium on any trade involving Linus Omark? You are better off including Linus Van Pelt in a trade - because they have exactly the same amount of value.

Who is this Linus Van Pelt that you are referring to? Can he take draws? Play on the pk?

Never mind, I already don't like him because I can't fight him at hockeyfights.com, he's obviously too soft.

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#28 Oilersman
February 04 2013, 04:39PM
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Just hoping we can get to that place where we start winning games by 2-3 and really finish up at the top and not be the squeaker. Also, hoping my damn slow arse dial-up Internet beat everyone to the fist punch.

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#29 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
February 04 2013, 06:13PM
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EHH Team wrote:

But his sister, Lucy is tough and will take care of business in the parking lot after the game.

5 cents please

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#30 Rama Lama
February 04 2013, 06:17PM
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I believe that Whitney just needs a different prespective and watching the game from 100 feet up will be a good thing.

He has more time and space than he probably thinks and watching a game may provide that prespective.........he is too good not to recover from a benching.

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#31 RSD
February 04 2013, 07:38PM
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@gr8one

I agree with you 100%; when a player hasn't been playing consistently like Whitney, they need half a season in in order to really get their legs under them, however his ankle injury is a concern as to how that may turn out. I've seen players whom were stagnant all season long, get traded and turn it on. We're only 9 games in we shouldn't get to impatient and send him packing.

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#32 OilersBrass
February 04 2013, 08:10PM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

Sure Whitney has played sub-par but can't believe how Oiler Fans dump on players returning from major surgery. Hemsky last year which was clearly a rehab year - he is flying and back to his normal self this year.

and now Whitney - who basically has had reconstructive surgery on not one but both feet. An issue that is worse than what forced Petr Forsberg to retire.

so it is an absolute that it will it take time for him to return to form. But I'd stop there, he is not junk, a pylon, (insert insults used for horcoff here)

Well said! People don't realize how hard and fast these NHL games really are. It's difficult for a player to play well every single game, let alone after being injured for a year.

Gagner is the perfect example of why they shouldn't go trade someone just because they aren't playing well. Gagner had his off year last season, and now this year he's been one of the best players every game.

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#33 2004Z06
February 04 2013, 08:24PM
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I'd love to see someone teach Taylor Hall that he can't deke through 5 guys standing up on the blue line. He has turned the puck over 5 times already and we are only in the first period!

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#34 Lofty
February 04 2013, 10:37PM
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Wish there was an option to decline the penalty shot and take the powerplay

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#35 2004Z06
February 04 2013, 10:46PM
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Shots were 40-25 in favor of the opposition yet again. Stop the BS passing and shoot the damn puck! Dubnyk has faced more shots than any other goaltender in the league. RNH looks awful, and won't throw a check. Smitty has a piano tied to his ass, Hemsky is a puck hog and Taylor Hall is a turnover machine! Great first period though....minus the horrible first powerplay.

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#36 andrewmk20
February 05 2013, 10:24AM
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@OilersBrass

I agree it will take time. The tough thing is that he is an offensive defenceman who has enough defensive ability not to be a liability. Now coming off two years of injury he's reticent to make those risky passes because he seems aware that the risk is too high because his skating just isn't there. So now he's an ineffective offensive defenseman with somewhat marginal defensive ability without his skating.

Also the problem is that Whitney's injuries affect the most important aspect of any player's game which is his skating. The shoulder issues of Hemsky don't affect his skating, which is his strength, while his shot has always been average to slightly above average and his passing skills don't really require a lot of force from his shoulders.

PS. I've always been a big fan of Gagner and thought his production was fairly decent. The fact that he's only 1 year older than Eberle should never be lost on fans either. Now at age 23 he finally looks stronger and quicker with his turns and pivots. He hasn't played as well as some people are saying but he has definitely improved and the one thing I like is he's been finishing his checks.

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#37 The Hall Way
February 04 2013, 01:23PM
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Great Article again JG, and i don't want to be one of those guys who points stuff out, but you repeated the first couple paragraphs, .... Sorry. its funny in your prediction, you mentioned the Oilers of the last few years would lose a game like this, and i have to admit it was my first thought about tonight's game as well. Lets hope this years team is different

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#38 EricOG
February 04 2013, 01:26PM
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One thing that I have noticed is that Hall, Nuge aand Eberle always go for pretty goals. In a lot of sorties, the play ends with them not even taking a shot on net. That is something they have to work on.

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#39 Spydyr
February 04 2013, 01:36PM
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My goat Whitney has been the worst defensman in pretty well every game this year. He deserves the press box. If as you say there are teams interested.Trade his ass before the rest of the league figures out he is washed.Good pass nothing else.

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#40 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
February 04 2013, 01:37PM
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Is Lander the slowest Oiler outside of Whitney?

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#41 Phixieus666
February 04 2013, 01:43PM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

Is Lander the slowest Oiler outside of Whitney?

So Whitney is out, well this should be a really good test to see where exactly he stands in the lineup and whether he is expendable or not. Not too sure if Lander is actually as slow as people think or he just cheats towards the defensive side of the game.

I kinda felt that the team let Nail down last game. Seems to have a lot of fight in him. Loved his emotion at the end of the game. We need a ball of crazy on this team. Keep everyone on their toes.

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#42 OilClog
February 04 2013, 01:52PM
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Whitney seems like he's lost more then his ankles or a step. Or maybe losing that step shows his lack in ability to read the defensive play. He can pass the puck no question, unfortunately for Whitney it doesn't offset the brutal one on one beatings he takes. With an expiring contract you would have to figure the Oilers would need to include other assets to get anything of value in return. Could we pry a bottom six forward or a regular 3-4defenseman with a Whitney, Omark, pick combo?

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#43 Truth
February 04 2013, 02:14PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

"It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role."

The Oilers also lost both games, could be coincidence as well but the Oilers do miss Horcoff when he's not in the line up.

Could be true.

Or, could be that I was drinking Bud instead of Kokanee the last two games. Switched back, so we should be good.

The Oilers played pretty good vs. the Sharks considering how hot they've been lately. We all know a shootout could go either way and is not indicative of who is a better team.

The game vs. Colorado the Oilers definitely didn't show up and Colorado did, especially Duchesne. It always seems like the Oilers forget to show up to the afternoon games.

I think tonight's game will be a good one. The Oilers should be motivated to play, and the Canucks won't be happy about the results of the last game.

Canucks win 4-2 with an empty netter.

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#44 Mac962
February 04 2013, 02:27PM
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Canucks are too veteran savy and are picking up steam. Oilers suffer first home game after road trip blahs and lay a stinker, 5-1 nucks and our biggest losing streak of the season picks up steam.

F--k - i hope i am wrong. Pins and needles every game in this short season.

All out effort for 60 minutes needed tonight boys.. no shifts off. SPEED SPEED SPEED.

GO OIL !

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#45 Old Retired Guy
February 04 2013, 02:38PM
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Truth wrote:

If a team is willing to offer compensation for the Whitney of 2 years ago, trade him now! Otherwise the return would be minimal.

Exactly. If you get the right offer/deal take it. If not, he's a servicable 5-6 who may still have upside from where he's at now.

Oilers 3 Canucks 1

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#46 Phixieus666
February 04 2013, 02:39PM
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@Time Travelling Sean

I think the team is going to come out with all kinds of energy after the Whitney benching. But still think it will be a loss in the shootout. Lou will stand tall this time around.

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#47 Old Retired Guy
February 04 2013, 02:41PM
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EricOG wrote:

One thing that I have noticed is that Hall, Nuge aand Eberle always go for pretty goals. In a lot of sorties, the play ends with them not even taking a shot on net. That is something they have to work on.

Thats their skill set at the age they're at. Which makes you wonder if Krueger will be forced to seperate them at some point (adding a netfront presence to the line), or if he is going to stick to his guns through thick and thin?

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#48 Concur
February 04 2013, 02:49PM
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Two things one specific one general.

I watched the Oil Change episode, and the part that Krueger had to tell the trio of OKC Barons that they were being sent back stands out to me. He told them that they were up there to get a feel of how the Oiler system works for when they get called up. He didn't say it, but he insinuated that they would be the first call ups in case of injury or otherwise. I wonder what Vande Velde is feelin after seeing Lander called up...

The other thing I want to mention is about shooting percentages and how they are not a real gauge of a player. Shooting percentages are based on how many shots a player has on net and how many of those shots go in. They do not count how many time a player actually shoots. This statistic does not count shots that miss the net or are blocked. but what they do count is tip-ins which are not actual shots. It is not a statistic I look at all to gauge a player.

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#49 Phixieus666
February 04 2013, 02:56PM
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@Concur

I think that Lander got the call up because he doesn't have to clear waivers and I believe CVV would have to clear to go back down. If a trade happens then I could see CVV come up as long as they are looking at it as a permanent move for the remainder of the season

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#50 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
February 04 2013, 03:06PM
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While I agree Whitney isn't as bad as people make it out to be and that we will probably realize that what we have is worse once he's gone, is it really that bad of an idea to trade him?

Is Whitney going to be back next year? If not is it not worth it to get something before he ends up on the IR? At the same time you can save your owner some cash for the time being.

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