GDB 30.0: Three in four

Jonathan Willis
March 23 2013 12:46PM

Tonight’s game kicks off a stretch of three games in four days – the Oilers host St. Louis this evening, go to Nashville to play Monday night, and then play again on Tuesday in St. Louis. To keep up with the playoff pack, they probably need to win two of three, with tonight’s match and the Monday game representing their best chances to come away with two points.

The Standings & Action Today

Today's games:

  • San Jose @ Minnesota
  • Vancouver @ Los Angeles
  • Columbus @ Nashville
  • Colorado @ Dallas

From an Oilers’ playoff perspective, the most important game here is the one at the top of the list: a regulation loss for San Jose to the Wild would make a lot of teams happy. If cheering for the Wild to win even one game bothers the hardcore fan, feel free to spit after that sentence, so long as you aren’t in a library or something. Meanwhile, Nashville vs. Columbus is a two-edged sword; the Blue Jackets are on the precipice of the post-season but the Predators are still in the conversation. Given how few home games the Blue Jackets have left, I’d suggest a regulation win for them is probably the best case scenario here – sure they’re ahead of Nashville right now, but it’s hard to believe the other shoe isn’t about to drop.

From both a playoff perspective and a draft position perspective, a regulation win by Colorado over Dallas is the Oilers’ preferred outcome. Speaking of the latter view – both Tampa Bay and Buffalo play today; a win for both (combined with an Oilers’ loss) would move the Oilers into the eighth overall pick range, and tied in points with the team’s slated to make picks five through seven.

The magic number for the Oilers to make the playoffs entering action today (and assuming all teams maintain their current paces) is 54 points; they likely need either 12 wins and a regulation loss or 11 wins and three regulation losses in their final 19 games for a post-season berth.

The Lineup

The Oilers' official Twitter feed had the lines from the morning skate, which were as follow:

  • Hall - Horcoff - Hemsky
  • Paajarvi - Gagner - Eberle
  • Jones - Belanger - Yakupov
  • Brown - Smyth - Petrell

On defence, the same six - Smid, Petry, the Schultzes, Whitney and Fistric - will dress, while Nikolai Khabibulin gets the start in net.

Predictions

Game day prediction: St. Louis is a very good team and jump out to a two goal lead, but the Oilers fight back in the third, force overtime and ultimately win 3-2 in the shootout.

Obvious game day prediction: Nail Yakupov, who has just one goal in his last 21 games, scores both of the Oilers’ regulation goals. Asked about the goals after the game, Yakupov shrugs and says ‘We win. We scored more goals. We win.’

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Ralph Krueger wears a bright orange blazer and borrows the green hat Don Cherry wore last week for his post-game press availability. Before anyone can ask a question, he yells ‘WHAT DID I TELL YA? DIDN’T I SAY WE COULD WIN IN THE PENALTY SHOTS? SMITTY, SHOW THEM WHAT I SAID.’ At this point a much more conservatively dressed Steve Smith, who nobody had noticed until just then, fires up a monitor and a clip from Friday’s availability of Krueger saying “We just have a lot of confidence in our penalty shooting ability” and “we believe in our ability to win in penalty shots.”

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Dog Train
March 23 2013, 05:52PM
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Looks like we are down to 2 scoring lines tonight. It won't be easy against the Blues and their defensive structure. I will say 3-1 Blues. Hope I am dead wrong.

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#52 Newj
March 23 2013, 06:06PM
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@NewAgeSys

@ Sys.... Nugent-Hopkins even playing?

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#53 DSF
March 23 2013, 06:11PM
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Newj wrote:

@ Sys.... Nugent-Hopkins even playing?

Don't make eye contact.

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#54 Newj
March 23 2013, 07:11PM
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@DSF

Just jiggin' before the game starts, got one bite though.

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#55 Wanyes bastard child
March 23 2013, 08:20PM
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DSF wrote:

Don't make eye contact.

LMAO!!! I had to props that!

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#56 Bonvie
March 23 2013, 08:22PM
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I can't believe we're at this point in the season already but if they are unable to take the two points away from St. Louis, after not sealing the deal with San Jose teams that are taking up the final playoff spots, then the writing is on the wall for another disappointing lottery year.

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#57 DSF
March 23 2013, 08:30PM
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Bonvie wrote:

I can't believe we're at this point in the season already but if they are unable to take the two points away from St. Louis, after not sealing the deal with San Jose teams that are taking up the final playoff spots, then the writing is on the wall for another disappointing lottery year.

What can't you believe it?

i've been telling you this for weeks.

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#58 Reg Dunlop
March 23 2013, 08:31PM
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CBC pregame-P.J.Suck has a serious hate on for the oil. What exactly are his credentials?

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#59 Reg Dunlop
March 23 2013, 08:36PM
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Oh, I remember P.J.'s resume. Paired with a Russian skater in Battle of the Blades. A Russian guy.

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#60 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 08:36PM
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Newj wrote:

@ Sys.... Nugent-Hopkins even playing?

No, sorry, he is out tonight apparently. This must be how Ralph justifys messing with MPS-Gagner-Yakupov as the 2nd line.

As long as we have Hall and Hemmer together no one can handle the speed from both sides , within 5 mins that line has to be attacking the same spot over and over because one side HAS to be weaker, it doesnt matter who we put with them, those two need to alternate rushes until they find the weak spot and them they need to key within 5 mins with the coaches help on the weak side and start chewing. Their center just needs to get open for shots in front.

With the aforementioned 2nd line intact we have a great 1-2 punch.

Nuge needs the rest, and we can win without him. But we will be missing a very solid defensive component.

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#61 @Oilanderp
March 23 2013, 08:43PM
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*click*

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#62 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 08:44PM
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We need to keep our sticks active in our zone because they are ALL greenlighting on the first shot attempt.

We need to hit them in the n-zone high and not let them get speed coming through, their game is very solid north/south, so we need to stop their n-zone speed, and their d-men are posturing up high in their zone so they are vulnerable to the short dump-in to the middle we were useing last game.

They are really posturing in the shooting areas and lanes without the puck so we need to focus on hard and terminal contact with the puck carrier ASAP at our blueline or sooner, they arent looking for set plays they are relying on a fast shot or pass and are all going to hot spots and spreading us out, we need to engage the puck carrier before the break into our zone at the very least with our sticks to stop the speed of the pass or shot which is what they are catalysing off of.

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#63 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 08:52PM
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They are weak down the middle so we should try to headman it down the pipes, maybe stack a few guys and just penetrate the neutral zone relaying the puck. Because they are weak there we should have immediate sucess. The short dumin into the middle will be effective as well, we just need to draw their d-men into early contact and then saucer it right into the middle for an upspeed support man we need to bring in late and at high speed right to ther middle.

They are counting on stopping us in the n-zone with a numbers advantage and by keeping their d-men postured high so lets stack players and just force our way down the middle and open up the wings for our speed off the give and gos.

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#64 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 08:54PM
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We need a faster first shot we are hanging on a bit to long before we let it go, we have good rebound support and positioning but are being overly patient, lets see some urgency.

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#65 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 08:58PM
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We really need to start making contact at our blueline because they are ALL greenlit to shoot and are waiting for gaps as our coverage adjusts then simple shooting at will, they arent looking for set plays, its all catalysing off of the first shot. So all we need to do is as a group stop that first shot or pass ASAP remembering they arent going to be picky because they are looking for speed of execution, and knowing their linemates are either planted in or cruising through shooting spots. Contact at the blueline and active sticks and extra long pursuit of the puck carrier through the n-zone.

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#66 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:04PM
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Our 1st line needs to stop trying the deflection play and hit them down the middle with direct penetration, dont waste zone possesions on deflections unless you can set up two layers of attack or deflection areas in front of the net.

What MPS just did is what we need to do, pursue the puck carrier longer because they are all greelit to skate it into the zone and just let it go as fast as they can, so we know they will hold onto the puck longer than usual, our speed should give us an edge here.

Simple give and gos in their zone using upspeed support will be effective because they are giveing us the zone easily and collapseing in early.

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#67 BingBong
March 23 2013, 09:10PM
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My comment won't be as detailed as NewAgeSys...but we're lacking desperation so far. And weak goal by Khabbi, screen or no screen.

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#68 The Soup Fascist
March 23 2013, 09:11PM
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What we really need is a "block" button.

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#69 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:14PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

CBC pregame-P.J.Suck has a serious hate on for the oil. What exactly are his credentials?

Poor P.J had his bell rung here a few times, and you are right he is outwardly aggressive in his refusal to aknowledge the progress we are making monthly and our skillsets especially that we have , I love it when the other guys mention our deeeep talent and skillset depth it makes him go into convulsions and I swear to god his scar gets longer he strains so hard,ha ha ha.

Just say the words team of the future and then try to guess what Stockpots heartrate will spike at, haha ha ha.

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#70 Mike Krushelnyski
March 23 2013, 09:17PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

CBC pregame-P.J.Suck has a serious hate on for the oil. What exactly are his credentials?

Even if he had an incredibly impressive resume, I can't take a man who pops the collar of his suit jacket seriously. How do they allow him to look like that much of a jackass on tv?

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#71 Walter Sobchak
March 23 2013, 09:23PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

Even if he had an incredibly impressive resume, I can't take a man who pops the collar of his suit jacket seriously. How do they allow him to look like that much of a jackass on tv?

Really? it's the CBC man!

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#72 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:24PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

What we really need is a "block" button.

@ The Soup Fascist

What you really need to do is play nice.

But you bring up a good point, they are rushing the puck at ever opportunity from everywhere and releasing the shots as fast as they can as soon as they enter the zone they are just going on one man rushes as the rest of the line sets up in hotspots, waiting for the quick pass or rebound they know us coming from somewhere, no real set play reliance, so BLOCKING shots is a great focus for us for the rest of the game because stopping that playaction coming out of the quick first shot and erratic one-man penetration that catches us in transitions defensively is key for us, we need to eliminate that first puck directed at the net. They are simply funneling the puck to the net and hoping they can have one of their guys in a hotspot when the puck arrives at the net from virtually anywhere, we need ontact or blocks, or cative sticks or longer puck pursuit anything to stop that first erratic one-man penetration and first fast on net shot.

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#73 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 23 2013, 09:27PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

What we really need is a "block" button.

or a negative props button.

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#74 The Soup Fascist
March 23 2013, 09:29PM
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@NewAgeSys

Excellent tie in. All in good fun, NAS. Your dedication and commitment to your craft is commendable.

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#75 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:30PM
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Taylor needs to STOP going for the deflection crossice and needs to drive the puck in himself for a shot from the middle, he needs to drive the net or go wide and draw the d-man over to open up the middle, but that is the 4th time they missed that same play and its time to retire it for a period.

The 1st line is getting good zone penetration but we need both Hall and Hemmer to take it to the net like hemmer just did, way to go Hemmer. Just take turns doing their thing and going for it every rush, they need to work on the %s and make every rush a total speed issue with a sot on net. Just pound the wings. Stop being so fancy. Get a solid shot on net every zone possesion.

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#76 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:40PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Excellent tie in. All in good fun, NAS. Your dedication and commitment to your craft is commendable.

@ The Soup Facist

For sure all in good fun, you are both a Scholar and a Gentelman.

I want to say how much of an NHS style the Blues are useing but it would be redundant at this point, but they are catalysing their offense from all over the ice in very much the same way the NHS does, very very close, but they are still useing the same adjusted-hybrid we are only with different offensive initiation tactics, they have a swarming tactic that emulates the NewAge Hockey Systems Two-Phase Cycle.

They are just greenlightng everyone to penetrate the zone and try to get the best shot or pas they can ASAP, all the playaction is coming off of the puck carrier and they are not using set plays really at all, they are instead really useing their spheres of influence well and going to shooting lanes and hot spots early to beat our defensive transitions which folow the puck and playactio. They are doing this because Dougie Weight was learning last year during the playoffs when he was an analyst seeing the NHS influenced adjusted -hybrid LA was useing so sucessfully. The Blies liked what they saw and worked on their own version of the same system.

They arent that hard to stop. Just smother the puck carrier with contact immediatly from the front preferably at our blueline or in the n-zone and with extra long puck pursuit looking for the takebacks using our footspeed and body position to seperate the puck from the play ASAP and deny them the directional lobs at out net from everywhere.

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#77 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:45PM
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On that PK it was hard not to notice EVERY Oiler holding their sticks high and off the ice, tell them to drop those sticks and remember how important they are to their spheres of influence.

Get those sticks on the ice and get them active on that puck, not the man, but immediatly on the puck. Dont play the puck positionally be aggressive and disrupt the playaction they are trying to initialise so quickly. They will always beat us to the zone positions, the hotspots because they arent taking time to set up set plays and this is why we need IMMEDIATE disruption of that ability to lob the puck at the net at the blueline at better yet with n-zone contact.

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#78 Oilersfan4
March 23 2013, 09:46PM
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The more I watch Hemsky the more I think we should trade him,there has to be a better player out there for 5mill than Hemsky. The play always starts on his stick and always dies on his stick too. He is way over paid for what he does which on most night is nothing. Also I feel way more comfortable with Habby in net than Dubby

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#79 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:48PM
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It would be a good time to reunite the 2nd line of MPS-Gagner-Yakupov. We are not getting enough zone penetrations converted to shots now, we need to make an adjustment. Only our 1st line is effective in the zone entry dept tonight and it is hurting our offense big time.

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#80 @Oilanderp
March 23 2013, 09:49PM
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I don't feel comfortable even with Jesus Christ in net given the way this team is playing in front of their goalie.

That's not a knock on the defence... just seems this entire team can't take or make a pass tonight. Oh yeah and they can't shoot either. Other than that everything is great.

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#81 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 09:50PM
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Now would be a really good time to make a good pick at the blueline and blast a d-man straight out of the zone and go for the shorthanded goal. We definately need to contact the puck much sooner on the PK and not worry so much about the body and we always need to be looking for offense in games on the PK.

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#82 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 23 2013, 09:52PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

I don't feel comfortable even with Jesus Christ in net given the way this team is playing in front of their goalie.

That's not a knock on the defence... just seems this entire team can't take or make a pass tonight. Oh yeah and they can't shoot either. Other than that everything is great.

He is a UFA July 5th, what kinda money's he making now?

If there was ever a guy who'd make the players in front of him better, he'd be the guy.

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#83 @Oilanderp
March 23 2013, 09:53PM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Bah I hear he just gets killed out there, constantly being nailed to the boards.

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#84 Harry Crack
March 23 2013, 10:00PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

The more I watch Hemsky the more I think we should trade him,there has to be a better player out there for 5mill than Hemsky. The play always starts on his stick and always dies on his stick too. He is way over paid for what he does which on most night is nothing. Also I feel way more comfortable with Habby in net than Dubby

Hemsky started out lights out but has certainly slid into obscurity of late. Trade him quick before his shoulder realizes how long he has been playing without being on "IR'

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#85 Harry Crack
March 23 2013, 10:02PM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

Even if he had an incredibly impressive resume, I can't take a man who pops the collar of his suit jacket seriously. How do they allow him to look like that much of a jackass on tv?

Pretty sure he found the jacket in Mr. Dress Ups tickle trunk

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#86 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 10:03PM
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Nice job of getting the sticks down and useing the spheres of influence much better, we are putting even zone pressure on them now, and we are engaging the puck much better, now just a tad faster working on the same platform .

we need to keep the pressure on the puck up high and very early so we draw their middle support man up and out of the middle in front of our net, as long as we can keep that middle support man of theirs up high responding to our blueline pressure he cant be scabbing rebounds or taking those fast passes, and Khabby and the d-men can handle the shots and rebounds as long as that middle pressure is drawn up high to give them space to work and a fair numbers match. Plus we are in a high strong postion to recover rebounds and takeaways and rush them straight up the middle .

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#87 Oilersfan4
March 23 2013, 10:05PM
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Harry Crack wrote:

Hemsky started out lights out but has certainly slid into obscurity of late. Trade him quick before his shoulder realizes how long he has been playing without being on "IR'

Hahaha you know it. Trade him to the Flames they need a lot of help there

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@Oilanderp wrote:

Bah I hear he just gets killed out there, constantly being nailed to the boards.

Yeah and he takes a few days off in April.

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#89 The Soup Fascist
March 23 2013, 10:13PM
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No resurrecting this one. Terrible game to watch.

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#90 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 10:15PM
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We need to initiate contact with the PUCK on our blueline.

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#91 Harry Crack
March 23 2013, 10:16PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

Hahaha you know it. Trade him to the Flames they need a lot of help there

LOL ,Thats just all out mean. !! My beloved Flames need a new majority Owner, and President that will allow a GM to make Hockey decisions , not emotional decisions. Jay Nevermissafeaster can likely do what needs to be done over the next 3-4 years if those Bettmans can get out of the way. Habi looks good for the Oil so far tonight !

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#92 Slats
March 23 2013, 10:17PM
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Cmon boyz we ar lucky to be only down one.

Whitney please make 1 just 1 hockey play this period!

Belanger may break the seal tonight.

Cant believe Hitch is trying to beat us with the cycle down low in our end . . . man he's good.

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#93 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 10:19PM
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When all else fails sometimes it pays off to play like a team and work the give and go with short crisp passes. And good support coming behind the playaction.

Maybe we can draw a penalty by working the give and go,lets just draw it out through the n-zone and not give them takaways chances.

We need to hit them in the middle immediatly with our speed and MPSs size, we need to ignite our offense , good time for a timeout Ralph.

Put the 2nd line back together before its to late.

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#94 slats
March 23 2013, 10:21PM
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horcoff looks like he forgot how to skate this evening

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#95 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 10:22PM
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Perhaps Mr.Brown would like to offer his team a spark.

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#96 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 10:24PM
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Well there went one breakaway from jackman, had we had aggressive blueline pressure we were off to the races.

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#97 Oilersfan4
March 23 2013, 10:24PM
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Well the real Jordan Eberle please stand up, I repeat well the real Jordan Eberle please stand up.

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#98 NewAgeSys
March 23 2013, 10:27PM
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As we run out of time we will end up flooding the o-zone with numbers so why not start now, go for it we need to change momentum right now, just use the Flying V-Door play through the n-zone and flood them with lateral numbers and pressure them right to their net.

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#99 Harry Crack
March 23 2013, 10:27PM
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@slats

Horc has done so much for your Team since he got back , he surely gets a hall pass. Still overpaid, but a big hole to fill when he is not skating for the Oil !

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#100 Slats
March 23 2013, 10:28PM
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@NewAgeSys

After that hit on Hall watch his next shift!

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