GDB 31.0: TWO-STEPPING IN NASHVILLE

Jason Gregor
March 25 2013 01:42PM

The Oilers enter Nashville in the midst of a dangerous dance routine; one step forward, two steps sideways and one step back. They wrapped up a crucial four-game homestand with only one win and capped it off with a dreadful performance against the Blues.

Their only victory came against the Predators, and if the Oilers have any hope of staying in the playoff race, they will need a victory in Nashville tonight.

The Predators handed the Oilers their worst loss of the season, 6-0, back on March 8th, so if you combine that with their woeful effort on Saturday you'd expect the Oilers to put forth a much better effort tonight.

LINEUP

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took the morning skate and he will play. In order to get him on the roster the Oilers had to send Teemu Hartikainen down to OKC.

And with RNH coming back Lennart Petrell will come out of the lineup. I don't think the line combinations matter as much as the Oilers finding a combination of hustle, smarts, effort and consistency.

Hall/Horcoff/Hemsky
Smyth/RNH/Yakupov
Paajarvi/Gagner/Eberle
Jones/Belanger/Brown

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

Devan Dubnyk will start in goal.

YAKUPOV ICETIME

I asked Ralph Krueger to share his thoughts on how he uses Nail Yakupov in the 3rd period.

JG: Are you trying to protect Yakupov late in games, or are you concerned about his defensive awareness?

RK: He has our confidence. He’s an 18 year old, he’s going to be playing in this role, probably very similar, for the rest of the year. Not For lack of ability or will, he’s very responsible without the puck now. He’s trying to play the team game all of the time. We’re happy with him, but he’s an 18 year old and down the stretch the hierarchy has it in a way that we have more experience in other positions and other players. When you’re reduced to six to nine forwards and you’re trying to close games up and take them either into overtime or finish them with a lead, he understands that it’s just not his time yet. It was no different when we went back a few years to the roles that Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle had to now being able to play in those minutes.

But it’s nothing against Nail, we all know that putting a player of that age in the lineup has its unique challenges, and I think that we’ve been able to use him very well and we’re happy with the minutes that he’s played.

JG: What about in overtime when it’s 4-on-4?

RK: We just have a lot of confidence in our penalty shooting ability. We’ve had some troubles 4-on-4 during the season, so we did have him playing if you think back. And there were some 4-on-4 breakdowns that cost us games that were extremely painful, and so we’ve kind of gone with more experience there. Those are gut feelings, whether you have 8 guys, or whether you end up going with 6. And he just wasn’t in the top 6 mix the last game, but he could be the next one. There’s nothing wrong with Nail playing there, but there’s a defensive element there and a risk reward. I’ve been in situations before where you play three forwards and one defenceman and just go for it.

But again, we believe in our ability also to win in penalty shots and we just felt the way that that game had been going, and the way that San Jose had been pushing us through the last part of the game that our chances might have been better. But we did play one of our best 4-on-4 periods, I thought, this season. They had 0 shots on our net and we had a couple of scoring chances, so I thought it was actually pretty good overtime period.

JG: How do you balance the feeling as a coach from game to game? You mentioned how right now you’ve got some veteran guys, and when it’s a tight game you'd lean towards them. Against San Jose after that shift in the third period when he had two big hits and got the crowd and bench energized, yet he didn’t see the ice again. How do you balance it? Is it just a gut feel, do you have a plan going into the 3rd period, or do you go from game to game and switch it that easy?

RK: I have all of the numbers and I’m a numbers man. I have them in my head and I’m working them down as the game evolves. I’ve got nine forwards in my head. On the one side I’ve got the green side; that means we need goals. The other side is the red side, we’re trying to shut a game or close it down, I’ve got nine forwards in my head and then going down to the last four minutes I’ve got six forwards. It’s a game to game thing. It really truly is conversations that we have with Bucky and Freddy between periods coming from above. It is final conversations with Steve (Smith) while we’re in those TV timeouts so I get some input from around me, and then the stomach just really takes you down the stretch. And you go with the players who really feel good that night for that situation. "

Yakupov was on the ice for two OT losses, on February 04th and 06th. He did lose his man, Tanev, vs. the Canucks but he made no mistake on the Jagr game-winner. We can agree or disagree with Krueger's responses, but I respect him for taking the time to express his thoughts on Yakupov. I do agree with the coach on bringing him along slowly in regulation, but considering Krueger admitted Yakupov has worked extremely hard at becoming more responsible at ES, I'd look at giving him a shift in OT when there is more room to be creative.

QUICK HITS

  • Why is Sam Gagner having his best NHL season? A big reason is because of a guy named Andy O'Brien. Read more here.
     
  • If you honestly believe the Oilers are better off moving out veterans and replacing them with unproven youth, then you can expect the Oilers to remain near the bottom of the western conference moving forward. The Oilers need to find PROVEN NHL players, not more "maybe," "might be," or "what if" type players.
     
  • I'm not saying the Oilers can't move a veteran or two, but the return is likely more prospects and picks. These trades won't fix the Oilers' problems immediately. The Oilers need more experience, more consistency in their competitiveness and they need some size/skill in their top nine.
     
  • The Oilers will be competitive when their best players are equal to the best players on the other teams. The 4th line doesn't win games for the Penguins, Blackhawks or Ducks. Their best players do, and until the Oilers best players are mature and have more experience the Oilers won't win. That isn't a knock on their young kids, it is just a fact. 
     
  • Case in point. The Capitals have won 5 of 7 and are suddenly two points out of the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin has 7 goals and 11 points in those 7 games. To win consistently in the NHL you need production from your top lines, top defenders and goalies. Focusing on the woes of the Oilers 4th line is a great distraction, but it isn't the main problem in Edmonton.
     
  • A stellar quote from Ovechkin courtesy of Corey Masisak from NHL.com: "Right now I'm scoring goals and I'm king of the world. Couple weeks I was almost in the toilet. Maybe [they] forgot to flush me."
     
  • Today is the last day to help my hometown, New Sarepta, win the right to host a concert, but more importantly raise money to build a new arena. Do me a favour and take 30 seconds and vote here for New Sarepta. Thanks.
     
  • The Oilers play their remaining 18 games in a span of 34 days. They have four sets of back-to-back games and they only get two days off between games three times. The Oilers will have to play unbelievably well to have a shot at the playoffs.
     
  • If you were GM of the Oilers what moves would you make? Now you can show your intellect with www.websimhockey.com. It is a 100% web-based, multi-player hockey simulator. You take on the role of the General Manager of a virtual hockey team. You manage the various aspects of your team (drafts, trades, lineups, coach strategies, negotiations and contracts signings, arena construction, tickets, beer, hot dog and parking costs, and much more).  Properly managing your team and its finances will ensure your success.  The first 12 Nations readers who email wsh.info@websimhockey.com with "Nations promo" as the subject line will get a free trial. Good luck.  

  • This is an awesome beer commercial. I'm sure most of you have a buddy that reminds you of the guy brushing his teeth.
     

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the last three meetings between these teams in Nashville one of them scored six goals. The Oilers got blanked 6-0 this year, but won 6-3 and 6-2 last year. I'm a fan of offence so I'm hoping that trend continues. The Oilers surprise us with a 6-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ales Hemsky scores twice thus heating up discussions over whether the Oilers should trade him before April 3rd.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: During intermission Sportsnet will feature "trade watch," and instead of Ryan Jones' name coming across the prompter it will read Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Even though the hosts will say it was an error, many will take to twitter and blogs suggesting destinations for Nugent-Hopkins. Seriously, some will believe that moving RNH would be a good move.

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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#151 Smokey
March 25 2013, 08:36PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

The first goal Dubnyk should of had, the second one he gave up on the play,I'll give you guys the third goal he had no chance. But really you people think Dubby is a number 1 goalie, his back up tonight(Habby) is a better goalie positionally.Just watch Dubby he is a flopping fish. Brutal .Don't get me wrong the D is brutal too, but a true number 1 goalie steals games and Dubby doesn't

Dubby's not a top ten goalie. But he's a starter. He has stolen games for the Oiler this year and last.Arguing he doesn't is laughable and not worth responding to,

Schultz is playing too many minutes, DSF. He's a mess at times and.sometimes he is not. Reminds me of Fowler the first two years, thrown into the deepend. He has to carry Schultz senior or Whitney who.were supposed to take him under his wing, but hes carrying the mail. Hes doing as to be expected. Still a damn good player.

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#152 Eddie Shore
March 25 2013, 08:39PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

The last goal was one Dubby was down on and thats his achilles heel. Teams have him targeted there so he needs to stay up.

Perfect shot at the end of an absolutely horrendous defensive display by Potter/Fistric on a 2on2. Lots of blame to go around, very little should be directed at Dubnyk.

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#153 Eddie Shore
March 25 2013, 08:41PM
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@Smokey

Exactly. He's a rookie dman playing 25 mins a night. Are you (DSF) actually surprised he's struggled?

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#154 NewAgeSys
March 25 2013, 08:41PM
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Three pass rule fellas, we need to get shots, and no long crossice passes that arent onetimers, there is no need for them unless those long passes are onetimers.

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#155 The Soup Fascist
March 25 2013, 08:41PM
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DSF wrote:

Going for a skate around the net while Nashville forwards are crashing the net is not a winning formula.

At least he is a rookie and it is going to happen. The guy that is disappointing me is Schultz the Elder. I always remembered him as a strong defender. So far in Edmonton ..... Not so much.

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#156 Rod from Viking
March 25 2013, 08:43PM
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SLAM wrote:

All I can say is thank God I don't have season tickets. Still not sure how Tambellini stays employed. Hopefully we can start to tank and get another lottery pick... Sigh.

I am a season ticket holder but have sold the last three home games plus all but the last two of the year.I have been stateside the last couple of weeks and have to listen to the games on Ched,the last time the Oilers were in Nashville after the game Rob Brown made some pretty scathing remarks about the organization, he must of gotten in a little hot water because since then they have all been sickening to listen to. Is it just me or does Jack Micheals make you want to throw up! Hey Rod please come out of retirement.

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#157 washed up
March 25 2013, 08:45PM
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@The Soup Fascist

It's amazing how guy's who seem like soild vets die in Edmonton. Cole, Schultz, Belanger.

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#158 Sammy
March 25 2013, 08:46PM
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@washed up

Brian Burke was right about the Oilers

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#159 DSF
March 25 2013, 08:46PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Exactly. He's a rookie dman playing 25 mins a night. Are you (DSF) actually surprised he's struggled?

See Brodin, Jonas for reference.

He's 19.

Schultz is almost 23.

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#160 RSD
March 25 2013, 08:46PM
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@washed up

Not going to happen; you should hope for a management change, that would be more productive than letting the guy with he most points on the team walk for nothing.

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#161 DSF
March 25 2013, 08:46PM
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Sammy wrote:

Brian Burke was right about the Oilers

Yes he was.

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#162 Eddie Shore
March 25 2013, 08:50PM
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DSF wrote:

See Brodin, Jonas for reference.

He's 19.

Schultz is almost 23.

So, thats a yes then?

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#163 washed up
March 25 2013, 08:50PM
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RSD wrote:

Not going to happen; you should hope for a management change, that would be more productive than letting the guy with he most points on the team walk for nothing.

A trade would be perfered. I just hope they don't sign him to some kind of 6 year 5.5mil deal.

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#164 NewAgeSys
March 25 2013, 08:50PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

Perfect shot at the end of an absolutely horrendous defensive display by Potter/Fistric on a 2on2. Lots of blame to go around, very little should be directed at Dubnyk.

Just change your first two words to perfect save and I might see it your way, ha ha ha, Dubnyk needs to stay on his feet wayyy more, and he has been targeted and burned repeatedly by the midrange high wrister because he drops way to early. If we dont step up and stop that shot we are vulnerable constantly.

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#165 SLAM
March 25 2013, 08:52PM
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@Sammy

Sorry I'm not saying that I want that draft pick. Hell I'd take close to the playoffs or at the very least exciting hockey with some jam. I am just saying failing either of those, at least I can one day where I can be sure something good will happen...

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#166 Oilersfan4
March 25 2013, 08:53PM
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Smokey wrote:

Dubby's not a top ten goalie. But he's a starter. He has stolen games for the Oiler this year and last.Arguing he doesn't is laughable and not worth responding to,

Schultz is playing too many minutes, DSF. He's a mess at times and.sometimes he is not. Reminds me of Fowler the first two years, thrown into the deepend. He has to carry Schultz senior or Whitney who.were supposed to take him under his wing, but hes carrying the mail. Hes doing as to be expected. Still a damn good player.

He's not even a top goalie, but I'll give you he is a good back up goalie

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#167 Sammy
March 25 2013, 08:53PM
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I wonder if the Oilers were in the AHL this year would they win?

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#168 NewAgeSys
March 25 2013, 08:55PM
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Anyone want to place bets on when Ralph pulls Dubby? I say with 2:50 left to go,ha ha ha.

I do wish he would wait a bit longer but its fun to bet on him,ha haha. 2:48 has been the earliest i have seen him pull the trigger so far.

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#169 Sanaa Montana
March 25 2013, 08:57PM
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Is Gagner french for random?

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#170 RSD
March 25 2013, 08:59PM
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Smokey wrote:

Heads should role...Watching this crap every night.

Barkov or Monahan anyone. Hell I say tank it and get Jones or McKinnon.

I believe we are already tanking it.

McKinnon or Drouin would be good for me.

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#171 Alsker
March 25 2013, 09:02PM
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Ummm...320 learning experience in the last half dozen years...yaaaa...what have we learned...it takes way more brews to get thru an oilers game this time of year

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#172 RSD
March 25 2013, 09:02PM
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washed up wrote:

A trade would be perfered. I just hope they don't sign him to some kind of 6 year 5.5mil deal.

Agreed. Deadline day will probably decide it.

We will be sellers.

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#173 NewAgeSys
March 25 2013, 09:02PM
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The burning question is why we didnt bring our 3rd period game in the 1st period because we won the 3rd period of the game, whatever we adjusted to was what we should have started with. Why is that? What did the coaches change in the 3rd that they should have adjusted in the 1st????

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#174 Alsker
March 25 2013, 09:04PM
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Its ok to lose this game there was effort....at times

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#175 Sammy
March 25 2013, 09:05PM
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I need to check the out of town scores

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#176 Alsker
March 25 2013, 09:06PM
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Trade?? Pffft that requires understanding of the situation and if that existed "trade" would have been done long ago.

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#177 Walter Sobchak
March 25 2013, 09:10PM
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RSD wrote:

I believe we are already tanking it.

McKinnon or Drouin would be good for me.

So another small winger and center will do wonders for this team!

They need size and skill at center period.

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#178 michael
March 25 2013, 09:10PM
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RSD wrote:

I believe we are already tanking it.

McKinnon or Drouin would be good for me.

The Oilers are good enough not to be 28-30th. Florida is so bad they'll have the most amount of bingo balls on draft day. But now that 14 teams have a shot at number1 its not a lock for anyone. The Oiler's look like a 26th place team. Close some nights.Like tonight. But not good enough yet to get over the the lack of experience in their top players. Still it will take patience and time for that experience to grow these players into"legitimate" NHL stars .

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#179 Alsker
March 25 2013, 09:11PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

The burning question is why we didnt bring our 3rd period game in the 1st period because we won the 3rd period of the game, whatever we adjusted to was what we should have started with. Why is that? What did the coaches change in the 3rd that they should have adjusted in the 1st????

Lol..we've been asking that question for what 4 coaches now, liked RK but DAMN I miss slats' attitude, his ruthlessness behind the bench kept everyone honest and on their games. It also made them HOFers. Mr.Ruff are you willing to come and put up with Lowbellini(until you bitchslap both of them into reality), PLEASE!!!!

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#180 RSD
March 25 2013, 09:13PM
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@washed up

If a team wants smyth or Belanger for a bag of pucks let them have em.

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#181 Dog Train
March 25 2013, 09:16PM
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Too many wasted opportunities. Tonight was the final nail in our coffin. We didn't show enough intensity for the first 2 periods. We never seem to learn.

At least we made it to late March with meaningful games. Not too hard to do in a 48 game season but the spin doctors will do whatever it takes to frame this season positively.

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#182 Walter Sobchak
March 25 2013, 09:17PM
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washed up wrote:

Oilers should only trade player's that are going UFA at the deadline. Unless a legit roster player is coming back the other way.

The Oiler's need to move 3/4 of this roster by next training camp or this team will be right back here again.

Gagner - Hemsky - Smyth - Horcoff - Jones - Paajarvi - Schultz Sr. - Kahbibulin - Petrel - Hartikinen - Petry - Peckham - Belanger - Potter -

These players can be used to acquire the necessary players this team needs.

The Oiler's have burned through the ELC and are now going to start burning through contract years.....Brutal. Edit: Can someone explain WTF Schultz Sr. was on the ice for in the last minute of play! good God!

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#183 RSD
March 25 2013, 09:20PM
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Sammy wrote:

Oiler fans check the out of town scores for different reasons then most fans.

Oiler fans are looking for a lottery pick.

For the past 3yrs. that's all oilers fans have to look forward to. The draft lottery is now our "playoffs" and the draft is the "Stanley Cup" finals.

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#184 Sammy
March 25 2013, 09:23PM
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@RSD

Kevin Lowe must be so happy.

Well done Kevin.

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#185 DSF
March 25 2013, 09:23PM
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Dog Train wrote:

Too many wasted opportunities. Tonight was the final nail in our coffin. We didn't show enough intensity for the first 2 periods. We never seem to learn.

At least we made it to late March with meaningful games. Not too hard to do in a 48 game season but the spin doctors will do whatever it takes to frame this season positively.

One goal on a phantom PP.

One goal on a flukey deflection.

Should have been 3-0

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#186 washed up
March 25 2013, 09:24PM
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@Walter Sobchak

Agreed. I'm just saying that most of these trades need to be made during the off season. No sense trading Paajarvi at the dead line for a draft pick. Like I said the oiler Need legit roster players. I think you should add Yakapov and Eberle to that list. Not because there not good player's with lots off upside. Your just not going to get a good player in return for a Peckham.

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#187 RSD
March 25 2013, 09:34PM
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Sammy wrote:

Kevin Lowe must be so happy.

Well done Kevin.

Yes, all applaud K.Lowe and his fantastic crew of do-fu@k-all spinsters. His time is up, he's had his chance.

It is definetly time for a new management regime. Starting with hiring B.Burke; he has substantially improved every team he's worked for, we need that..... Last year.

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#188 Hoping4betterdays
March 25 2013, 09:49PM
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@Flynn

I am with outdoorzguy....I'll be happy to pitch $$$ and have it on the front page of the Sun. Anyone who thinks we have a shot at the playoffs after tonight needs to book a scan.

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#189 Crusty Grit
March 25 2013, 10:13PM
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@Hoping4betterdays

Agreed.

Even though we have some of the best talent and potential in the league our management is failing in their duties.

All organizations that succeed have strong mentorship programs that thrive on challenge and accountability.

Until we see (demand) that in Edmonton, we can continue to debate draft potential and non-core asset acquisitions.

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#190 Oilersfan4
March 25 2013, 10:21PM
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I'll throw some $$$$$ in as well. That would be perfect to have a ad like that in the local paper. Well said

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#191 Devolution
March 25 2013, 10:24PM
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washed up wrote:

Agreed. I'm just saying that most of these trades need to be made during the off season. No sense trading Paajarvi at the dead line for a draft pick. Like I said the oiler Need legit roster players. I think you should add Yakapov and Eberle to that list. Not because there not good player's with lots off upside. Your just not going to get a good player in return for a Peckham.

Even if you chose to, good luck trading Eberle now with his $6M/year contract with his 0.6ppg pruduction rate.

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#192 Serious Gord
March 25 2013, 10:24PM
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Flynn wrote:

I would be willing to chip in a few bucks for a full page add in the paper for this letter!

Ditto. Seriously. Ill drop $100 towards the cause.

I looked at the EDM journals ad page for rates, but damned if I could figure it out.

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#193 Devolution
March 25 2013, 10:25PM
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Sorry, production!

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#194 Quicksilver ballet
March 25 2013, 10:39PM
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I can see how many of the closed minded individuals here feel this team is only a couple contributing veterans away from helping this hockey club get over the hump.

In case you haven't heard, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr retired long ago. They're no longer available to help here.

Ryane Clowe will cure what ails this club, Steve Ott will help this club......ah rubbish, all of you naive bastages. Since day 1 the plan was to rebuild from within. What part of this don't you understand...

Like it or not, the lottery is still Edmontons best option. This is why management assesses, and then does nothing.

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#195 Oilersfan4
March 25 2013, 10:41PM
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Full page ad would be about 1200$ during the week and more on the weekends. S**t I'll throw in 100$ as well.

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#196 Smokey
March 25 2013, 10:51PM
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Flynn wrote:

I would be willing to chip in a few bucks for a full page add in the paper for this letter!

I'd chip in 20 bucks for the ad. Moderators on this board should set this up asap. It says what we all feel and I personally would like to send a message.

Problem is they sell out games and whether I like it or not the only way these doofus' listen is with their bottom line. I am in no way saying don't support the team, but you see what happens in centers where hockey is less relevant, changes are made. Hell CBJ and the Lightning and I argue the Islanders are run better then us. We are in the desert with Florida and probably Calgary.

Thanks Katz....

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#197 Serious Gord
March 25 2013, 10:52PM
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Oilersfan4 wrote:

Full page ad would be about 1200$ during the week and more on the weekends. S**t I'll throw in 100$ as well.

Half page is likely 7-800. Let me know who to make the check out too when we have enough interested parties. Who wants to organize this?

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#198 Serious Gord
March 25 2013, 10:54PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Half page is likely 7-800. Let me know who to make the check out too when we have enough interested parties. Who wants to organize this?

And I can easily get another Hun from some friends - maybe three total.

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#199 moe
March 25 2013, 10:54PM
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WE WANT BURKE !!!!!! IM ON BOARD!!!!

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#200 Smokey
March 25 2013, 11:01PM
Trash it!
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moe wrote:

WE WANT BURKE !!!!!! IM ON BOARD!!!!

Its not worth the joke.

The only way Brawling Burke comes here is for a Big OL Barn Brawl with Kevin the Looser Lowe. Hell I bet we could could 16800 at Rexall for 5 rounds in a cage at Rexall.

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