DRUDGERY TAKES A DAY OFF

Robin Brownlee
March 10 2013 09:25PM

Will the Edmonton Oilers have a better second half to this lockout-shortened 48-game season? And, even if they do, will it be enough to make them playoff contenders in the Western Conference?

I don't know the answer to that, but Sunday's all-over-the-place 6-5 nail-biter over Chicago at the United Center – the Blackhawks first regulation time loss at home this season -- damn sure was worth the price of admission and kicked off the second half of Edmonton's schedule with a bang.

Languishing in the basement of the Western Conference when the game began and on a five-game losing streak, the Oilers jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then hung on for dear life to win for just the second time in eight games on this nine-game road trip after being shutout in back-to-back games.

Along the way, the Oilers lost starter Devan Dubnyk, who took a knee in the coconut from Teemu Hartikainen, leaving third-string stopper Yann Danis to close the deal and send the Oilers to Colorado to wrap-up the trip feeling, I'm guessing, pretty good about themselves.

It wasn't remotely close to the way coach Ralph Krueger would have drawn it up for Game 25, but it was two points for a team that was in the throes of a difficult stretch and starting to look like a bunch that was flat-out beaten down and ready to fold.

WHAT'S NEXT?

"I'm proud of the team to be able to dig this one out," Krueger said after the Oilers improved to 9-11-5 for 23 points going into Denver for a match-up with the Avalanche Tuesday.

People like to call wins like this one "character builders." Maybe so, but if the Oilers are going to make anything resembling a concerted playoff push in the 23 games that remain, character-builders are going to have to take a backseat to points in the standings.

It goes without saying there's obviously a helluva long way to go, but there is something to be said for the lift, however brief, a win like this one provides. There's been a lot of heads hanging and shoulders slumping over the past few weeks, and that starts permeate a locker room. "Here we go again . . ."

Against the Blackhawks, Sam Gagner continued to shove it to his critics with two more goals. Captain Shawn Horcoff, who called a team meeting Saturday, made his return from a busted knuckle and scored a goal. Buzz-saw Mike Brown contributed with his gloves on with the 1-0 goal and continues to look like a timely and much-needed pick-up. Hartikainen returned to the fold. Ryan Whitney looked like, well, the player he used to be.

So, what now?

DOWN THE STRETCH

While it's tempting to say the win over the Blackhawks could set a tone heading into Denver, that tone changes completely if the Oilers revert to recent form against the Avalanche. Given the swings in performance we've seen this season, that's entirely possible. Maybe even probable.

Will the veteran leadership of Horcoff make a difference in the remaining 23 games? Is Whitney finding his game or was Sunday a blip on his way to a new address at the trade deadline? And what of Dubnyk? If he's not ready to go against Colorado, it'll be Danis and somebody not named Nikolai Khabibulin tending the twine.

That'll play out, as it always does, soon enough. Besides, plotting a trend for the Oilers, as we've found out, has been next to impossible, so it's probably prudent not to read too much into what we saw against the Blackhawks.

What I do know is this: for the first off-day in a long time, the Oilers have something to feel good about as they make their way to Denver instead of digesting yet more defeat and disappointment. Likewise their fans, who've had precious little to cheer about lately. Take a day to enjoy it.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 09:27PM
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Really. One game and they almost lost it.

Robin you're usually the sensible one around here. Did you drown a couple Kool Aids tonight.

Forget it. Fire the Management, get rid of (or replace with a less expensive but better suited model see Horcoff. Sigh. I can't believe I am saying Horcoff has any value) the washed out veterans and make it a goal to get into the playoffs. Quit Patting each other on the back for anything until you make the playoffs.

Anyone else remember the "Lowered Expectations" commercials on SNL? The director of those should make Commercials for the Oilers.

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#2 OilersBrass
March 10 2013, 09:38PM
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Horcs has been the missing key to getting wins this whole time!

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#3 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 09:46PM
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OilersBrass wrote:

Horcs has been the missing key to getting wins this whole time!

SIgh. I know. I hate to admit it but the team needs him. I threw up a little when I said that. That has been the way it's been for a couple years too. The Oilers Record with him in the line up is better then with out. I don't get it because it looks like he is juggling the puck, can't hit the side of a barn, thats if he actually makes contact and really sucks as a hockey player, but for some very strange reason, they do better with him, then with out him.

They need to get rid of Hemsky and Smyth but until they find a viable replacement....Horcoff Stays.

Sigh....why are the Oilers sooo cursed.

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#5 Señor
March 10 2013, 09:49PM
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Problem is after a win like this, management believes they have the right pieces and will continue to avoid solving obvious problems. "We beat Chicago! What's the problem?"

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#6 Time Travelling Sean
March 10 2013, 09:59PM
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We beat Dallas and Colorado as well. Maybe these severe swings in the quality of our play has to do with some learning curve, who knows? all I know is that this game was worth that awful game in Nashville, amazing entertainment.

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#7 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 10:03PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You missed the point or chose to ignore it. Given what we've seen, there's a 99-out-of-100 chance this win doesn't "signify" anything beyond two points.

But if you can't take a day to enjoy a win, however disjointed, over the Blackhawks in Chicago before getting back to the drudgery of bitching and moaning about the big picture, you need to take a break from this "fan" thing.

Lowered Expectations Robin? Not my thing bud. I'm a fan and thats why I'm not letting up or stopping to enjoy the moment. One win is for losers.

As for bitching and moaning.

Win another one.

And another one.

Then maybe we'll talk.

Making the playoffs 3 of the last 12 years.....LOSERS

I'm so use to them losing that I only get pissed now if they win. What can I say.

I do agree with you. After they flop in Colorado, everything will be back to normal and I can go one living in Peace and tranquility.

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#8 sizedoesmatter
March 10 2013, 10:03PM
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Couldn't agree more Robin nice win by the oilers

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#9 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 10:04PM
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Señor wrote:

Problem is after a win like this, management believes they have the right pieces and will continue to avoid solving obvious problems. "We beat Chicago! What's the problem?"

This is the reason I get so mad. You could here the popping of corks from the Oilers Management suite as soon as the last buzzer went off.

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#10 Time Travelling Sean
March 10 2013, 10:09PM
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@PutzStew

It matters not, if this team has not the pieces these wins will be few and far between, and then management will be gone.

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#11 Hammers
March 10 2013, 10:11PM
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In other words enjoy it while it lasts as tomorrow is another day . This doesn't change a GM decision and how many players they need to move .

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#12 Alsker
March 10 2013, 10:11PM
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Positives: We won...Calgary is now 15th in the west. Yes I know they have games in hand(or should I say loses in hand...Rex)All three returning H's were noticable and effective, now to prove its not like Dallas, back to back solid efforts would be nice

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#13 DigDeepNBleedBlue
March 10 2013, 10:15PM
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@PutzStew

Ice Cube said it best! "A B**ch is a B**ch." And, the name, sir, is fitting.

Nice effort, boys! Way to go, Blue! Lets make it two in row!

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#14 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 10:21PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

It matters not, if this team has not the pieces these wins will be few and far between, and then management will be gone.

I so hope your right. 12 long years my friend. 12 Long years.

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#15 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 10:23PM
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DigDeepNBleedBlue wrote:

Ice Cube said it best! "A B**ch is a B**ch." And, the name, sir, is fitting.

Nice effort, boys! Way to go, Blue! Lets make it two in row!

Bahahahahaha. How long you been waiting to use that Quote. What is that like 1994ish???

Your real name isn't Sillis is it?

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#16 He Who Knows
March 10 2013, 10:24PM
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There is still time to relieve management and the motivational speaker Darryl before the trade deadline. Do not let the current guys make ill-advised moves and then fire them. Do it after Colorado game. DO IT.

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#17 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 10:25PM
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Hammers wrote:

In other words enjoy it while it lasts as tomorrow is another day . This doesn't change a GM decision and how many players they need to move .

Crossing fingers, toes, and anything else that will cross. Biggest disappointment will be if they don't all get skidded.

Is Oil drop suppose to be a horror show?

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#18 DigDeepNBleedBlue
March 10 2013, 10:31PM
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@PutzStew

I dare you to wear that jersey with pride...

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#19 LoweBlow
March 10 2013, 11:01PM
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This win will unfortunately pacify the fan-base for a few more games, distracting them from the screaming bitch of a problem in the front office.

Management needs an overhaul. The old boys club needs to be put-down. Fire them and hang them all from the bronze statue out front of Rexall. That'll give incentive to the predecessor.

Ridiculous problems require extreme solutions.

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#20 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 11:02PM
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DigDeepNBleedBlue wrote:

I dare you to wear that jersey with pride...

You must be kidding. Have you seen the way this team has played in resent years. My Jersey is stuffed so far back in my closet and it's staying there until some actual changes are made. Something along the headlines of a want add in the journal looking for an individual whom can fill the role of a NHL GM. Must be competent, not have previous ties with the team or be living on success from the glory days, 20+years ago. Also must know how to initiate, complete and win a trade as well as be accountable for any Mis-managements.

Once this happens I will be happy to pull it out and cheer. Until then.....well.... 3/12 years in the playoffs. That's like cheering for a Rick to suddenly jump up and do a jig. Not gonna happen.

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#21 PutzStew
March 10 2013, 11:05PM
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LoweBlow wrote:

This win will unfortunately pacify the fan-base for a few more games, distracting them from the screaming bitch of a problem in the front office.

Management needs an overhaul. The old boys club needs to be put-down. Fire them and hang them all from the bronze statue out front of Rexall. That'll give incentive to the predecessor.

Ridiculous problems require extreme solutions.

Wow. My comments seem so low key compare to this.

I'm on board with you though.

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#22 nuge2nail
March 10 2013, 11:42PM
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Oiler Domination To Follow

This win will only confuse management on the task at hand... which is a complete overhaul.

Hemsky for a late first rounder + prospect. Smid for a late first rounder. Jones for a second rounder. Whitney for a third rounder. Belanger for a third rounder. Khabibulan for a sixth rounder.

The Vets are useless.

Than TRADE all Three First Rounders, all Three Second Rounders, both Third Rounders and Paajarvi, Omark, etc for Shea Weber-if preds dont make the playoffs.

Teams will be looking to dump salary with the cap going down and good players might become available. The picks will help us shop at the draft. The cap space will allow us to trade for or sign the missing peices. Which is obviously size. Anything is better that keeping these guys together.

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#23 Taylor Gang
March 10 2013, 11:46PM
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Ugh, it's such a hollow victory for two reasons. One: you know what's coming next. Doesn't matter that Horcoff makes our team play better, we have been getting killed in games, and this will only put our guard down. I expect another skid following this. And two, did anyone else notice the fact that after the first period we were getting pummeled by the Blackhawks? Let's face it, the score didn't reflect how the game went.

I noticed something else tonight too. Worryingly, I might have found our problem once and for all (at least for this year). Our defense need an entirely new strategy for breaking out. Take Nick Schultz for example. After hard pressure from the opposition he makes a nice play and checks a player off the puck. And what does he do with it? He throws it down the ice, hoping that the forwards beat their defense to the puck. It almost neglects the play in which his defense is good for. They just grab it and come back into the zone. Please tell me I'm not the only one noticing this.

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#24 dougtheslug
March 11 2013, 12:01AM
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Come on, guys, isn't it obvious? We just need to schedule more games against the Blackhawks. 33 goals against them in our last 6 contests. 4-1-1. Those guys have nothin', I tell you. Nothin'!

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#25 Mr. Sense Common
March 11 2013, 12:05AM
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Señor wrote:

Problem is after a win like this, management believes they have the right pieces and will continue to avoid solving obvious problems. "We beat Chicago! What's the problem?"

Exactly, 100% right, Tammy and KLowe will now think they should be patient and not make any moves.....sheesh.

How about mike brown? What a beauty. If the oil deleted hemsky, petrol, eager, smythe, jones and added Ott, Dubinsky, Simmons and glen cross....oh man, what a great lineup and balance we'd have

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#26 oilman3
March 11 2013, 12:06AM
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@Taylor Gang

no you're definitely not the only one noticing it. i think the only "strategy" they have is to ring it around the boards or dump it out unless the other team gives them time and space to carry it out or make a pass. obviously teams are going to take away their space because they know they can force them into turning the puck over again and again...and again. it absolutely drives me nuts. i don't know if this is just a lack of a better plan or not enough skill to move the puck quickly and accurately with a plan going up the ice. there's no question we need some higher grade defenders who can move the puck much more effectively under pressure.

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#27 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 11 2013, 12:30AM
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"...and send the Oilers to Colorado to wrap-up the trip feeling, I'm guessing, pretty good about themselves."

If anyone in the Oilers organization feels good about themselves at all after this road trip, they should be fired immediately.

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#28 Taylor Gang
March 11 2013, 12:36AM
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oilman3 wrote:

no you're definitely not the only one noticing it. i think the only "strategy" they have is to ring it around the boards or dump it out unless the other team gives them time and space to carry it out or make a pass. obviously teams are going to take away their space because they know they can force them into turning the puck over again and again...and again. it absolutely drives me nuts. i don't know if this is just a lack of a better plan or not enough skill to move the puck quickly and accurately with a plan going up the ice. there's no question we need some higher grade defenders who can move the puck much more effectively under pressure.

Where's Gilbert when you need him? Oh god I can't even hold a straight face saying that! But actually, I feel our woeful 5v5 numbers directly correlate to improper breakout technique. How are we supposed to generate offense if we never have the puck? Almost every game where we've outshot the competition we've won. I don't think our offense is the problem (go figure) despite our poor 5v5 numbers. If management wants to fix our, let's be nice, incomplete defensive unit, we need some solid two way defensemen.

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#29 Taylor Gang
March 11 2013, 12:38AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

"...and send the Oilers to Colorado to wrap-up the trip feeling, I'm guessing, pretty good about themselves."

If anyone in the Oilers organization feels good about themselves at all after this road trip, they should be fired immediately.

Amen

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#30 Shane
March 11 2013, 12:49AM
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IM SAYING NEGATIVE THINGS!!!! LISTEN TO ME!!!!

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#31 Wanye
March 11 2013, 01:04AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

You missed the point or chose to ignore it. Given what we've seen, there's a 99-out-of-100 chance this win doesn't "signify" anything beyond two points.

But if you can't take a day to enjoy a win, however disjointed, over the Blackhawks in Chicago before getting back to the drudgery of bitching and moaning about the big picture, you need to take a break from this "fan" thing.

Amen Robin. Good god PutzStew WE NEED SOME CAUSE FOR POSITIVITY

*goes back to parade route planning*

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#32 Oilers4ever
March 11 2013, 01:17AM
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nuge2nail wrote:

Oiler Domination To Follow

This win will only confuse management on the task at hand... which is a complete overhaul.

Hemsky for a late first rounder + prospect. Smid for a late first rounder. Jones for a second rounder. Whitney for a third rounder. Belanger for a third rounder. Khabibulan for a sixth rounder.

The Vets are useless.

Than TRADE all Three First Rounders, all Three Second Rounders, both Third Rounders and Paajarvi, Omark, etc for Shea Weber-if preds dont make the playoffs.

Teams will be looking to dump salary with the cap going down and good players might become available. The picks will help us shop at the draft. The cap space will allow us to trade for or sign the missing peices. Which is obviously size. Anything is better that keeping these guys together.

Truly hope that was sarcasm there.. Weber's good but he's not worth three first round pics.. are you saying he's better than three Halls, three Yakupovs or three RNH's... Not bloody likely...

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#33 Taylor Gang
March 11 2013, 01:20AM
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Oilers4ever wrote:

Truly hope that was sarcasm there.. Weber's good but he's not worth three first round pics.. are you saying he's better than three Halls, three Yakupovs or three RNH's... Not bloody likely...

To be fair, those picks could be at best, first second and third. Still, three franchise players for one? I'll pass

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#34 Taylor Gang
March 11 2013, 01:24AM
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Oilers fans must give up on the pipe dream that is Shea Weber. We could make a meme on it.

Signs to team long term

Becomes trade bait for oilers

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#35 pan0ramic
March 11 2013, 04:24AM
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We're still in BIG trouble as we got out-shot, out-chanced, out-drawed, and out-played.

We've done nothing to fix these problems and we're still at the bottom of the league in faceoffs, even strength goals for, and shots against.

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#36 non descript
March 11 2013, 06:23AM
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they only show up to play every couple of weeks so i wouldnt be overly concerned about a winning steak clouding anyones judgement.

besides, tambo et all dont have a clue.

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#37 hemi
March 11 2013, 06:24AM
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I will take a win anyday! Accepting a lose just does not sit well with me. The Oil has a very long road to go yet before any of us fans can actually place real faith in the franchise to finally become a contender year in and year out. There is no doubting that the management of this once winning organization has to shoulder many of the problems of a non competative team that has been passed on as the Edmonton Oilers. This is not a team that one should be proud off. After going through coaches, bit players and etc, we are stil in a place where most fans think (me included) we should not be! We have no chance of going anywhere again this year. Rebuilding or not, the time was this season to show the forward movement of this team. Unfortunately, it has not materialized. There is no way else to put it, we are a bad team. Patience has all but run dry for me, time to sh*t or get of the pot for this organization.

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#38 bwar
March 11 2013, 06:31AM
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Nice to see some offense finally. Also nice to see the "talent" dispersed across three lines, potentially making the team nearly viable 5v5. Horcoff did seem to make a difference to the team but at times he seemed very weak and shaky on the puck. I'm worried that he may not be fully healed and might end up playing 5 or 6 games then head back to the IR.

Scoring some goals finally was a very welcomed sight but nearly blowing a four goal lead shows we haven't turned the corner yet.

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#39 jason
March 11 2013, 06:32AM
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don't get excited we've seen this movie before. like the alchoholic who tells his wife he's going to clean up his act, and quits just long enough to keep her from leaving, but then disapoints again. listen they've played one good period of hockey in 20 or 30, let's remember they nearly blew a 4 goal lead, so now they'll turn around and lose 4 or 5 games (notice how their play got progressively worse as the game went on). i'm sorry but nothing but making the playoffs will convince me that things have changed. even if they play really well and just fall short, that never seems to translate into success the following season, how do i know? we've all seen that movie before to.

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#40 admiralmark
March 11 2013, 06:55AM
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Sheesh.. so much negativity. This team just knocked off most likely the best team in the NHL. A team hungry to get a win after having there winning streak ended. Were they out matched? yah. They are almost always outmatched because Tamblow have decided not to address weaknesses(yet). We started the year by adding 2 rookies to a team that finished 29th... Who actually thought playoffs were probable? Possible.. yes... but probably not. The team is 5 points out of a playoff spot after a brutal road trip. Things are not as far off as it seems. We need to address these weaknesses between now and next season. 1)Top 4 D. 2) Toughness in top 6. 3) Lines 3 and 4 we need to revamp pretty much completely. Now this likely requires a change of about 6 players .. 1 top 4 D man and 1 Top 6 gritty player will be hardest to acquire.. But it can be done. Must be done. And playoffs will be reality next season.

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#41 Oiler Al
March 11 2013, 07:07AM
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Good thing time ran out on the game, othewise, it would have been a Hawks win.

IN any case, its a spirit lifter for the players, which was much needed. I just like watching Quinville chewing his lip blanket off this face, knowing he just lost to a last place team.

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#42 106 and 106
March 11 2013, 07:31AM
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LOUD NOISES.

Hey Brownlee - we've been so long without winning, it sort of makes you feel good, doesn't it? There's still a long way to go, but there's nothing wrong with a little bit of optimism...

for once.

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#43 Spydyr
March 11 2013, 08:11AM
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What most Oiler fans fail to take into account. Every game involves two teams. Not just the Oilers. Last night the Hawks and especially Emery had their worst period of the season. It was not the Oilers being so good it was the Hawks being so bad.

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#44 j
March 11 2013, 08:48AM
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A win like this demonstrates how close most NHL teams are in terms of skill and how critical the intangibles are (i.e. confidence, execution, intensity, effort). Any team in the league can win games when things align. The good teams are able to keep them aligned. The Oilers aren't yet able to do this consistently but I don't think we need to throw the baby out. Lot's of great potential. We need someone to oversee the project, steer the ship, and teach the kids how to win.

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#45 Matt Henderson
March 11 2013, 08:54AM
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The time change for Daylight savings has been jarring enough, but last night my Calendar changed from 2013 to 1987 back to 2013 in a 3 hour span.

Needless to say, I wouldnt have got the mullet if I knew we would be leaving the 80's so soon.

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#46 Shane
March 11 2013, 09:25AM
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@Spydyr

I'm sure that most Oilers fans understand the concept that the team that plays worse will usually lose.

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#47 Rama Lama
March 11 2013, 09:36AM
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Good to see the team rebound..........it's about time.

I think that Ralph has to be a better coach more than the players have to be better players.

I liked his line make-up against Chicago...........you can't have three puck carrying type of players on one line( RNH, Eberle, Hall) and it was good to see them in different line combinations for a change.

I say Potter played a hell of a game.........where has this guy been?

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#48 VK63
March 11 2013, 09:36AM
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Soooooooo. Now Calgary is a last place team.

That should satisfy those with flames psychosis around these parts.

For those so inclined. A 6' 4" stud of a dman lurks at the top of the draft. Not incentive to fail but one heck of a booby prize at the end of futility road.

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#49 justwondering
March 11 2013, 09:44AM
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You know I don't really care where they end up in the standings...as long as they are working every game and not taking nights off like they did in at least 4 games on this road trip.

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#50 Will
March 11 2013, 09:44AM
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If COlumbus can string together 5 wins in a row, why can't we? Also, even though they have two games in hand, it's nice to see Calgary in the basement. At least that prophecy could come true.

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