GDB 29.0: SHARK HUNTING...UPDATE RNH OUT

Jason Gregor
March 20 2013 10:47AM

Breaking News: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is sick and will not play tonight...Rishaug just reported from the rink. So Oilers will have to dress two non-centres tonight. Ouch.

After a gutsy third period got them a win over Nashville on Sunday, the Oilers need to attack the struggling San Jose Sharks early tonight and get them on their heels. The Sharks have been one of the worst teams in the league since February 1st.

The Sharks are a woeful 5-10-6 after starting the season with seven straight wins. The Sharks outscored their opponents 27-12 in their first 7 games, but they've been outscored 59-36 in their last 21.

They Sharks are struggling and if the Oilers want to stay in the playoff hunt tonight is a game they need to win.

The Sharks don't have any offensive depth. Joe Thornton (27), Patrick Marleau (23), Logan Couture (21) and Joe Pavelski (17) are the only forwards with more than ten points.

The Oilers have way more scoring depth. Sam Gagner (27), Taylor Hall (26), Jordan Eberle (20), Ales Hemsky (17), Nail Yakupov (14) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11) are in double-digits, while Magnus Paajarvi has 6 points in his last 8 games.

The Sharks are ahead of the Oilers in the standings, but right now they are not playing like a superior team.

LINEUP

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Paajarvi/Gagner/Yakupov
Jones/Nugent-Hopkins/Eberle
Brown/Smyth/Petrell

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

Dubnyk

The only change might be Hartikainen coming in for Jones, but after listening to Ralph Krueger yesterday I think he'll stick with Jones. Jones couldn't do any activity for the entire month of January, due to his eye injury, and that hurt his conditioning. Krueger feels Jones is getting better every day and feels the extra time between games has allowed him to improve his cardio. It sounds like he wants to give him a few more games and see if the improved conditioning will help Jones.

TRADING WHITNEY

The Oilers are in the midst of their first playoff run in four years and yesterday Jonathan Willis and David Staples suggested it would be wise to trade Ryan Whitney. Let's look at this a little closer.

There is no doubt Whitney struggled early this season, but lately he has played better, especially offensively.  After the nine-game road trip, where Whitney scored three goals, he admitted that despite his offence coming around he still needed to work on his gaps and his overall defensive game. No one is arguing he can't improve there.

He'll never be considered a great defensive D-man, however, he does excel on the powerplay and that is why trading Whitney at this point of the season would be a step backwards.

  • 37% of the Oilers goals have come on the powerplay. They rely on their PP more than any other team in the NHL, and Whitney is the best PP D-man they have. The Oilers have no adequate replacement on the roster, and considering they rely that much on the PP to score, I don't see why you would risk trading away your best PP D-man while you are at the start of a playoff run.
     
  • Staples ad Willis suggested Corey Potter could fill in. The same Potter who has 0 points this year. First off he shoots right, and the Oilers 2nd PP unit is set up so a left shooting D-man quarterbacks the powerplay. So, outside of replacing Whitney with an inferior PP player, you are now going to adjust their system, even though the Oilers PP has been very effective at 22.9%. I say, pardon.
     
  • Staples suggested Potter was great on the PP early last season, but then he lost PP time to Whitney. Let's look at that. 

Player  Team Pos  GP  PP TOI PP TOI/G 
 
Corey Potter EDM D 62 153:24:00 2:28
Ryan Whitney EDM D 51 115:02:00 2:15
Jeff Petry EDM D 73 93:26:00 1:16
Cam Barker EDM D 25 58:01:00 2:19

  • In fact, Potter averaged more PPTOI/G and he had 38:36 more PP time all season. Potter finished with 11 PPP, while Whitney had 10. Potter had six of his PPP in the first 9 games of the season, and then produced only 5 in the remaining 57. He had a great start to the season, but I don't think we should use a good nine-game stretch as the basis that Potter is an above-average PP player. 
     
  • In the 21 games Whitney has played this season the PP is 21 for 78, 26.9%. Whitney has been on the ice for ten of those goals and has five points. In the 7 games he sat, the PP was 4 for 31 at 12.9%.
     
  • In the six games Potter played while Whitney sat, Potter played 11:48 on the PP scoring no points and he was on for one PP goal. He averaged 1:58 of PP time in those games, while Whitney plays 2:38.
     
  • It is clear that Whitney has a much bigger impact on the PP than Potter. 
     
  • Whitney is even better than Justin Schultz when you look at PP time=production. Whitney has played 55 minutes of PP TOI and he's been on the ice for 10 PP goals. Schultz has 155 minutes of PP TOI and he's been on for 15 goals. Schultz is a rookie and he's already a very good PP player, and I expect he'll be even better in the future, but right now Whitney is still more productive.
     
  • Unless you believe the Oilers are suddenly going to become a productive ES team, I see no reason why you trade Whitney. The organization wants their young players to experience "playoff-like" games, and if they want that to happen they should keep Whitney because he helps the PP. And right now the Oilers can't win without a successful powerplay.
     
  • The other suggestion was that you could replace Whitney with Jeff Petry. Petry is already playing 22 minutes a night, and he isn't dominating. Adding more minutes and giving him less rest won't make him play better, nor will it make the PP more effective.
     
  • Trading him for a draft pick is pointless, absolutely pointless, at this juncture of the season. The Oilers need to play meaningful games, and stay competitive now, rather than add another 2nd round pick that might, slim chance, help them in four years.
     
  • It is clear Whitney is very good on the PP, and considering how much production they need from their PP to win games, it makes little sense to move Whitney him. The Oilers do not have an adequate replacement. If the Oilers are out of it after the next seven games, then for sure you look at moving him, but if they are in the mix I wouldn't move him for a draft pick.

 QUICK HITS

  • Last night Daniel Alfredsson become only the 57th player in NHL history to record 1,100 career regular season points. He is also one of the rare players who had his best offensive season between the age of 30-35. He had 78 points at 30 years of age, 80 at 31, lockout at 32, 103 at 33, 87 at 34 and 89 points as a 35-year-old. Impressive.
     
  • He's likely to become only the 11th player with 1,100+ points to play for only one team/organization for his entire career. Can you name the other ten? *Answer below.
     
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets are 7-0-4 in their last 11 games and are now tied for 8th place. They only way they keep winning is if Sergei Bobrovsky keeps standing on his head. The Jackets were outshot in 9 of the 11 games, by a margin of 297 to 362. They are giving up 33 shots against in this unbeaten streak. They also played 9 of those games at home and a whopping nine of them went to OT.  They were 3-2 in SO and 2-2 in OT. It is great for fans in Columbus to have their team in the hunt, but they will need to tighten up defensively to stay competitive. Bobrovsky has a .966 SV% in their last nine games. Incredible.
     
  • The Oilers had almost a perfect last few days, and they didn't even play. There were no 3-point games involving teams in the playoff hunt, and the Sharks, Predators, Flames, and Coyotes (twice) all lost. Now it is up to the Oilers to win.
     
  • Carey Price is getting a lot of hype for the Vezina, and deservedly so, but Tukka Rask has been stellar with for the Bruins with a 1.92 GAA and 0.928 SV%. If Bobrovsky continues his stellar play he'd have to be considered.  

PREDICTIONS....

 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers score three minutes in, and skate away with a 4-2 win led by two goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Devan Dubnyk is much better in the first frame tonight than he was when the Sharks lit him up for six goals in 20 minutes in the home opener. (Easiest prediction ever.)

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: With only one goal in his last 20 games, Nail Yakupov is the second one on the ice for warm up. As he is circling the ice he stops at the top of the right faceoff circle and motions to Paajarvi to come over. Paajarvi stops and after a brief moment, he smiles and laughs. Yakupov looks at him seriously and then Paajarvi mouths something to him. Yakupov smiles and says something back, then he skates away. Paajarvi looks a bit perplexed, but then continues his warm up.

Yakupov scores a PP goal in the 2nd period, and after the game he explains the what happened during warm up. It turns out Russian are very superstitious. Yakupov asked Paajarvi to say, "ни пуха ни пера!" which roughly translates to "neither fur, nor feather!" which means good luck.  Then Yakupov replied, "К чёрту!" which means, "To the Devil," which is a way of securing good luck. Yakupov explains Russians do this before important tests, and since he tonight was considered a "good test" for the Oilers he thought he'd try it. 

TRIVIA ANSWER

** Daniel Alfredsson is now the 11th player in NHL history to play for only one team/organization and score 1,100 points.

Alfredsson sits 57th all-time in scoring with 1,100 points. Senators
Mike Bossy:            52nd with 1,126. Islanders
Nicklas Lidstrom:  50th with 1,142. Red Wings.
Bobby Clarke:         42nd with 1,210. Flyers
Jean Beliveau:       39th with 1,219. Canadiens.
Alex Delvecchio:    33rd with 1,281. Red Wings.
Gilbert Perreault:   32nd with 1,326. Sabres.
Stan Mikita:             14th with 1,467. Blackhawks
Joe Sakic:               9th with 1,641. Nordiques/Avalanche
Mario Lemieux:      7th with 1,723. Penguins
Steve Yzerman:      6th with 1,755. Red Wings. 

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 Poolanov
March 20 2013, 11:04PM
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How the hell do we have their number numbnuts, they've beaten us all three times this year....Yeesh!!

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#202 Alsker
March 20 2013, 11:04PM
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Epic fail...SJ have gotten 6 poimts from us this year, yes we are better than last year BUT no where near truly copmpetitive, this is a game we needed,wanted and should have died for, instead we blow third period lead and lose in SO. We dress 2 centers, really, Klobellini must go!!

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#203 Reg Dunlop
March 20 2013, 11:05PM
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That was a good effort but a bad result. Can we now put to rest talk about the playoffs this year? Now the rumors about Whitney or Smid going bye-bye at the deadline can commence, as well as speculation about who our starting tender will be next year(better not be NK or DD).

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#204 outdoorzguy
March 20 2013, 11:06PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

That was essentially a playoff game, we had the game but couldnt convert on a 4 min PP, and that was the turning point , it is what it is, I would love to be in a final with the Sharks right now, we have their number.

What does "It is what it is" mean? We sucked. This team has been "it is what it is" for 15 years. Enough!! The Sharks beat us...again. How can you say we have their number? We don't even have our own number, let alone anyone else's. The number we should have is Kruegers to call him up and say you're fired. But Timid Tambellini doesn't have the ability or skill to use a phone to make that call.

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#205 RyanCoke
March 20 2013, 11:06PM
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So the next article should be, do we pick up mike kamisarek (sp) on waivers.

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#206 dougtheslug
March 20 2013, 11:08PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

I've lived in Edmonton for the last 14 years. Every year, except for the lucky cup run, this team has fought for the last playoff spot or worse. Every year. Twelve, thirteen, fourteen years. This organization will not change it's culture unless people stop spending money on the Oilers. Going to games, buying jerseys has to stop. The only way to force this team to make any move to improve the on ice performance is to hit it in the pocketbook. I even worked in the building for years and had to deal with the organization on a daily basis. There is an arrogance that goes back to Sather's days and as long as the old boys club/boys on the bus are in control, that arrogance will continue. It starts at the top and just permeates itself down through the entire organization. This is a toy for Katz and as long as dollars flow into his pocket he's happy. He doesn't care about the quality of the team. He wants money. He lives in Vancouver. There are 16802 people at every game so why should he care? Come on people. Start to understand why nothing ever gets done with this team. Everything is fine in Oilerland because the money is coming in. Imagine what would happen if there were only 7 or 8 thousand at about 5 games in a row. There would be absolute chaos. And Katz may fall off that list of richest people. That's all that matters to him, and the organization.

Actually the year of the lucky cup run they also fought for the last playoff spot

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#207 Oilersfan4
March 20 2013, 11:10PM
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Still not sold on Dubnyk,still lets in weak goals every game.Just shoot blocker side and its a goal for sure,also for such a big goalie he sure makes himself look small when in the butterfly position. Big time goalkeepers make big saves when needed.

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#208 outdoorzguy
March 20 2013, 11:10PM
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RyanCoke wrote:

So the next article should be, do we pick up mike kamisarek (sp) on waivers.

The next move, and it should have been done by now, since the ending of the game, is to fire Tambellini and Krueger. I'd give Krueger a severance cheque, Tambellini, I'd give a taxi chit.

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#209 Czar
March 20 2013, 11:11PM
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I'd like to slap the taste right out of Couture's mouth. No, not the taste of victory.

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#210 Jimmy
March 20 2013, 11:13PM
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Dud-nyk sucks. The ONLY team that would call him a #1 keeper is one who has a 40 yr. old worn out backup. With Dubnyk in net Oiler fans will once again be left to bleed, out of the playoffs and listening to another chorus of Oiler management's eternal bleating, 'wait til next year. Oh by the way kindly leave your ticket money over there' on your way out.

Dud-nyk has become a sickening joke to watch. He has single-handedly blown too many games over the last two seasons. E-freaking-nuff already!

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#211 outdoorzguy
March 20 2013, 11:13PM
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@dougtheslug

I know. As I've said before, if this team was based somewhere in the Americas, based on its last 15 years performance, every hockey fan in canada, Edmonton included, would be calling for it to be moved to Quebec City. But because we keep filling the building, the powers that be only see dollar signs and thats all that matters to them.

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#212 Alsker
March 20 2013, 11:14PM
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In some ways this reminds me of '06 before we traded for Dwayne or '90 when Ranford wasnt sure if he was a #1, growing pains suck(especially for us fans) BUT they are growing pains, and we will get past them(providing management has the know how to see what we need and make it happen), Slats where are you

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#213 Dog Train
March 20 2013, 11:15PM
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Big time missed opportunity. Playing the game with basically 2 centres really hurt. We need to start closing these ones out. A good 40 or so minutes can get erased so easily by a bad 20. We played well up 2-1 and our game slowly started to fall apart after Jones put us up by 2 and we got comfy. Whitney's idiotic penalty and the horrible PK that followed really shifted the momentum in their favour.

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#214 outdoorzguy
March 20 2013, 11:18PM
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Alsker wrote:

In some ways this reminds me of '06 before we traded for Dwayne or '90 when Ranford wasnt sure if he was a #1, growing pains suck(especially for us fans) BUT they are growing pains, and we will get past them(providing management has the know how to see what we need and make it happen), Slats where are you

"Growing Pains"?? It's been 15 plus years, quit making excuses for a very poorly run organization.

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#215 outdoorzguy
March 20 2013, 11:20PM
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Just heard Brian Urlacher was released by the Bears. Retire Smyth, let Loser Lowe go and pay half their salaries to Urlacher to be a motivational coach. Just like in baseball...a bench coach. Makes me quiver!!

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#216 DrDave
March 20 2013, 11:25PM
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Hall needs training wheels to learn how to stay up and Smyth just cant keep up anymore... So frustrating!

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#217 outdoorzguy
March 20 2013, 11:26PM
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In case you can't tell. I'm pissed. As much as I'd like to, I just can't support this team under whatever plan it is they have. Is there a plan? We have an absentee owner. Management that is in place not on merit, but only because the owner wants to surround himself with ex players and who have zero skill whatsoever in running a successful professional sports team and a coaching staff who at best can lead a small European country to some success at a questionable world championship tournament. I'm going to bed. Maybe when I wake up this management farce will all be unemployed? I doubt it. We get what we support. I hope I can sleep.

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#218 Reg Dunlop
March 20 2013, 11:29PM
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Oilers defence collapses back into their crease trying to block shots. Smid and old Schultz have to be close to the league lead in blocks. Obviously they have no confidence in DD, for reasons made clear by tonight's effort. We would have won if we had played with 6 skaters all game and put a couple of boots in front of the net.

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#219 Alsker
March 20 2013, 11:33PM
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@outdoorzguy

Defend Klowe + co. not a chance in f*#kin hell, they have done squat since the rebuild has begun, the growth comes from our core,they need to know what it takes to win and WHO is capable of doing it(we all learned alot from our defeat by LA and our loss to in 82-83SCF)if mgt cant find or draft whats needed than I hope Katz has the knowhow and the stones to turf the lot of them.

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#220 Serious Gord
March 20 2013, 11:34PM
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19 games to get 25-27 PTs.

That's 12-5-2 or 11-6-2

The stars fans with the exact same record are making noises that its time to deal - the run is all but dead.

The flames fans are talking the same as the stars fans - they are just 3 PTs back of EDM with two games at hand.

When are oilers fans going to get with the program?

KL&T are going to sit on their hands unless the wrath from the fans becomes intolerable.

...

Some bizarre line combos by Krueger tonight. Is he really rewarding effort with ice time?

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#221 Rob
March 20 2013, 11:36PM
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This management troika has outlived it's usefulness. If I had 200+ mil invested in an NHL franachise I think I would be just a wee bit more involved in who I turned it over to.

It certainly would not be the current pasty-faced garden gnomes that are installed in Oilers head office at present.

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#222 Alsker
March 20 2013, 11:41PM
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Until actual management structure is set(who really runs this gong show, Klowe,Tambellini or MacTavish)there will be NO acccountability, how can there be when no one knows whos responsible, its worse than the government,well we do get to elect the fools that sit in office, obviously this is worse

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#223 Serious Gord
March 20 2013, 11:43PM
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Rob wrote:

This management troika has outlived it's usefulness. If I had 200+ mil invested in an NHL franachise I think I would be just a wee bit more involved in who I turned it over to.

It certainly would not be the current pasty-faced garden gnomes that are installed in Oilers head office at present.

He IS involved. That's the problem - he's hiring heroes and sycophants - not sobs who are in it to win not to be liked.

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#224 Brutis
March 20 2013, 11:46PM
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I pin this on Dubeschit

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#225 TDSM31
March 20 2013, 11:50PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

Still not sold on Dubnyk,still lets in weak goals every game.Just shoot blocker side and its a goal for sure,also for such a big goalie he sure makes himself look small when in the butterfly position. Big time goalkeepers make big saves when needed.

I'm with ya. People point to Dubnyks save % in his defense but he lets in an untimely goal every game. Whether its a rebound that he should have controlled or getting beat cleanly from a shot 20-30 feet out, it happens every game. Me thinks his save % is so high because teams know to shoot from anywhere on him. As long as he's our goalie we go nowhere. No one frustrates me more on the Oil than Duberdink.

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#226 Time Travelling Sean
March 21 2013, 12:05AM
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Why are people so upset with Smyth? He wasn't great but it isn't like he was noticeably awful out there... Same with Dubby, he should of had that 3rd goal, but if we played some D that shot wouldn't have happened.

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#227 jason
March 21 2013, 12:07AM
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wow, another piece of crap effort resulting in a blown opportunity. we start the night 2 points out and finish 3 points out. we blow a 2 goal lead in the third and choke in the shoot out. this wasn't just any game this was the most important game the organization has played since game 7 2006, and they failed. unlike most of you i was born in 1974 and remember when this team was good, had skill, character and self respect, qualities lacking in the current oilers where failure and under achieveing seem to be the most valued assets a player can have. i've been a fan of the oilers since day one, but i've had enough, i'll chear for the senators. there line up may be decimated but they still win, and if they were playing tonight they would have won against the sharks. why? not because they're more skillfull or they're regular linup is playing, but because they have heart. and thats why this group of oilers will never succeed they are natural born losers.

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#228 Rob
March 21 2013, 01:59AM
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Fact is fellow Oiler fans (fOf), based on this season's performance RNH may as well call in sick every night. He has been a non-fctor in most games he has played in this year. He may want to figure out a way to take his Wheaties intra-venously.

No way the usual team apologists dare blame anyone for this loss other than Dubnyk. His fumblebum style has to ripping the will to win out of the Oiler dressingroom.

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#229 rubbertrout
March 21 2013, 09:33AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

True story, the EXACT same thing was said about Penner.

Penner had another year on his deal though no?

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#230 Romulus' Apotheosis
March 21 2013, 10:39AM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Romulus,

Perhaps you should re-read my post. I am not knocking Gagner as a player, his compete level or his grit. I stated I liked Gagner. My point was that the general consensus throughout the media/blog/hockey "expert" world is that the Oilers need to get bigger in the top 6 if they are going to get to the next level. If that is in fact the case, someone has to go. Most people agree that RNH/Eberle/Hall/Yakupov are untouchable, which leaves Hemsky or Gagner. Gagner currently has the highest rate of return.

As for Gagner being only 23 and he will learn the face-off/defensive side of the game, normally I would agree, but he has been in the NHL for 5 years already!!! People seem to forget that fact based on his age.

I got your argument.

I was simply nudging you to challenge this "general consensus" you seem to put such credibility into.

Trading talent for size never wins and trading talent for talent and size never happens. These are simply limiting factors.

Also, consider the possibility of a 3 for 1. We have a lot of good quality prospects at F and D that can be cashed for actual NHL players without ditching our very young and talented 2nd line center, which would leave us decimated at a position we are already weak at.

Finally, Gagner's time in the NHL is a red herring.

Crappy mgt. rushed his development. Your expectations of a wiley veteran capable of playing against the Zetterbergs of the league and not bleeding chances is directly related to the unreasonable expectations mgt. has created for Gagner.

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#231 Quicksilver ballet
March 21 2013, 11:11AM
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Good result, not great, why couldn't horseteeth finish that baby in regulation. 11-11-11 appears attainable.

Management is impervious to embarrassment. Man we suck! thanks to these bozos.

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The result wasn't ideal. However, the whole game I found myself on pins and needles and on the edge of my seat. It was like a playoff game, something on the line! Forgive me haters if I seem drunk on koolaid but I have not been that emotionally involved in an Oiler game since before I started shaving.

If we miss or make the playoffs this year doesn't matter. I don't miss too many Oiler game every season but for the first time in a long time, I felt passionate as a fan again! HOPE BITCHES!

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#233 Harry Crack
March 23 2013, 07:06PM
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No thread hijack intended ! Just wanna express serious appreciation for Jason Gregors article "a Loving Father". Truly awesome and heartfelt stuff.Good Luck to your Boys tonight against the Blues ! Give us at least one Alberta Team to pull for in the playoffs. My Flames management has continued Duhryls management style of Farm and prospects be darned.... and now Father time found Kipper , and all weakness is exposed. Sigh

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