NO JOKE...IT IS APRIL AND OILERS ARE IN THE MIX

Jason Gregor
April 01 2013 11:02AM

One of the best April Fools Day jokes I remember was when the Edmonton Journal had a sidebar piece stating Bo Jackson was going to become a three-sport athlete and play hockey. I remember reading it and thinking, "If anyone can do it, Bo can." He was such a freakishly good athlete, but after my brother and I discussed it for about 20 minutes we realized there is no way he could be a good enough skater. Or could he?

Nowadays it is much more difficult to come up with a good prank, since numerous "fun sponges" on social media and blogs remind everyone to be aware.

The good news for Oilers fans is that you woke up today, looked at the NHL standings, and realized the Oilers are actually in the playoff hunt. No joke.

Here is a quick look at where the Oilers are at:

Western
  Western DIV GP W L OT P ROW GF GA Diff Home Away S/O
1  * - Chicago CEN 34 26 5 3 55 22 116 74 +42 12-3-1 14-2-2 4-3
2  * - Anaheim PAC 35 23 7 5 51 18 107 90 +17 13-4-0 10-3-5 5-3
3  * - Minnesota NW 34 21 11 2 44 17 97 86 +11 13-3-1 8-8-1 4-1
4  Vancouver NW 35 19 10 6 44 15 92 90 +2 10-5-3 9-5-3 4-5
5  Los Angeles PAC 35 20 12 3 43 19 103 88 +15 12-4-1 8-8-2 1-2
6  San Jose PAC 34 17 11 6 40 11 85 84 +1 11-1-4 6-10-2 6-3
7  Detroit CEN 35 17 13 5 39 15 91 92 -1 9-6-3 8-7-2 2-2
8  Columbus CEN 36 15 14 7 37 11 87 97 -10 11-4-5 4-10-2 4-4
 
9  St. Louis CEN 33 17 14 2 36 15 94 93 +1 8-7-1 9-7-1 2-1
10  Dallas PAC 34 16 15 3 35 15 94 103 -9 8-8-2 8-7-1 1-1
11  Edmonton NW 34 14 13 7 35 12 87 95 -8 7-5-4 7-8-3 2-3
12  Nashville CEN 35 14 14 7 35 12 87 96 -9 9-3-4 5-11-3 2-5
13  Phoenix PAC 35 14 15 6 34 11 94 101 -7 10-7-1 4-8-5 3-4
14  Calgary NW 33 13 16 4 30 13 93 114 -21 10-6-2 3-10-2 0-3
15  Colorado NW 34 12 18 4 28 11 84 108 -24 10-6-1 2-12-3 1-1

The Oilers have 14 games remaining, eight at home and six on the road

Only five of those games are against non-playoff teams; Calgary three times including tonight, Wednesday and next Wednesday, Phoenix and Colorado.

The Oilers need to sweep the Jarome Iginla-less, 14th place Flames this week, and if they do that they'd only have to go 7-5 in their final 12 games to reach 54 points. That isn't unrealistic. It would be difficult for sure, but far from impossible.

OPPONENTS

Date Visitor Home
Mon, April 1st Flames  Oilers
Wed, April 3rd  Oilers  Flames
Thu, April 4th  Oilers  Canucks
Sat, April 6th  Oilers  Kings
Mon, April 8th Oilers  Ducks
Wed, April 10th Coyotes  Oilers
Sat, April 13th Flames  Oilers
Tue, April 16th Wild  Oilers
Fri, April 19th Oilers  Avalanche
Sun, April 21st Ducks  Oilers
Mon, April 22nd Ducks  Oilers
Wed, April 24th  Blackhawks  Oilers
Fri, April 26th Oilers  Wild
Sat, April 27th Canucks  Oilers

THE COMPETITION

7th place Detroit: 13 games remaining, 6 at home and 7 on the road. Five games vs. current playoff teams.

8th place Columbus: 12 games remaining, 4 at home and 8 on the road. Eight games vs. current playoff teams.

9th place St. Louis: 15 games remaining, 8 at home and 7 on the road. Nine games vs. current playoff teams.

10th place Dallas: 14 games remaining, 6 at home and 8 on the road. Thirteen games vs. current playoff teams.

12th place Nasvhille: 13 games remaining, 8 at home and 5 on the road. Ten games vs. current playoff teams.

13th place Phoenix: 13 games remaining, 6 at home and 7 on the road. Nine games vs. current playoff teams.

Detroit has the easiest schedule on paper, while Dallas has the most difficult and a very quirky schedule this week. They play Anaheim three straight times. Tonight at home and then Wednesday and Friday in Anaheim.

QUICK HITS

  • Nail Yakupov has an exceptional first three strides, but he needs to work on his top-end speed before he becomes a major threat on the rush. He doesn't beat many D-men one-on-one with his speed, which isn't a major surprise considering he is only a rookie. Sam Gagner has had a break out year mainly due to his increased speed and improved balance. Yakupov will need to increase his top-end speed this summer. He isn't close to Paajarvi, Hall, Hemsky or even Eberle at this point. Todays' game is all about speed, and I suspect the Oilers will want him to improve his during the off-season.
     
  • I'm not surprised the Oilers re-signed Smid, and I don't think it matters that it was done today and not two weeks ago. He is signed for the next four years, and at a workable cap hit of $3.5 million.
     
  • Taylor Hall picked up his third career  regular season hat-trick on Saturday. That moves him into a tie for 9th all-time with Petr Klima and Alex Selivanov. Wayne Gretzky is first with 43, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson have 20, Mark Messier is 4th with 13, Esa Tikkanen and Ryan Smyth have 5, while Paul Coffey and Blair MacDonald have 4.
     
  • Krueger's two-shift benching off Taylor Hall in the 3rd period vs. Columbus clearly got Hall's attention. He was exceptional on Saturday and I'd expect that to continue tonight. Hall has 34 points in 31 games and he is 10th in the NHL in points-per-game at 1.10. *Joffrey Lupul, 1.44, is currently 2nd, but he's only played 9 games.
     
  • Jordan Eberle has yet to score a hat-trick, and even his own father likes to juice him about it. "He knows that Hallsy and I are competitive so he just subtly text me, 'I see Taylor got another hatty, is that 3 now?' Eberle was quick to point out that it is a friendly competition, and in no way a negative thing, but you know that it rips him that his buddy is up 3-0 in career hat-tricks. I love that his father can give him a friendly chirp. They clearly have a close relationship.
     
  • Anton Lander was recalled yesterday, but no word if he will play tonight. I will send an update when I get to the rink.
     
  • Due to our on-going bet with flamesnation.ca they get to do the GDB today, because the Flames won the last game between them. Just another reason the Oilers better win tonight... but keeping with tradition, here are some predictions...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers keep rolling with a solid 5-1 win over the Flames. Hall stays hot with a pair of goals.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Curtis Glencross scores a goal, and most Oiler fans will rant over the Oilers not re-signing him FIVE years ago. It might be time to let that one go....

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Mike Brown scores a goal, adds an assist and delivers two big hits early in the first period. He has a solid game, meanwhile Magnus Paajarvi shocks everyone and gets into his first NHL scrap, but registers no points. In keeping with recent tradition Paajarvi will be named the 3rd star and not Brown.

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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#51 Panther
April 01 2013, 03:12PM
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DSF wrote:

Sounds like you don't know much at all about the Panthers.

While they signed a few players like Campbell to reach the cap floor, they also have the second best prospect pool in the league. (Only Minnesota is ranked higher).

By the way, it's "you're" not "your" in that context.

http://www.hockeysfuture.com/team-rankings/

Yeah, they have a nice prospect pool because they've sucked for years. Just like the Oilers. But they've screwed up by picking up guys like Campbell, Upshall, Versteeg, Jovanoski, Kuba, etc. Overpaying 3rd liners is not how an NHL team should reach the cap floor. Those guys are not part of the future going forward. They instead should have given bigger contracts to guys who are their future. Guys like Matthias and Kulikov should have bigger cap hits. And the guys on their entry level deals (Huberdeau, Gudbranson, Howden, etc) should be getting paid max salaries on their ELC's so that the team can play them with the big club and utilize their larger cap hits.

BTW, almost all those guys I mentioned have NTC's. Would you like the Oilers to sign Filip Kuba

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#52 Ogie Oilthorpe
April 01 2013, 03:12PM
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So why bring up Lander?

This is purely speculation, but maybe the Oil are shedding a (right) winger and a pick for a D-man?

I would think maybe for a bigger power forward, but if I'm not mistaken Hatikainen's contract is up after this year, so is management hoping he will fill that role and are just looking for D?

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#53 bazmagoo
April 01 2013, 03:13PM
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Why oh why are you guys still engaging DSF! Best way to deal with an internet troll is to ignore him.

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#54 messyEH!
April 01 2013, 03:15PM
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DSF wrote:

Half the team down with injury...it happens.

Speaking of the Panthers...did you notice Huberdeau has taken over the scoring lead among rookies despite playing on a dreadful team?

On pace for 30G 29A 59P over an 82 game season.

Pretty impressive.

See every post we're you ripped MPS for time on ice. But huberdeau is a beast . All the injuries have given him the chance to step up. Probably the Panthers next Captian.

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#55 DigDeepNBleedBlue
April 01 2013, 03:21PM
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DSF wrote:

Half the team down with injury...it happens.

Speaking of the Panthers...did you notice Huberdeau has taken over the scoring lead among rookies despite playing on a dreadful team?

On pace for 30G 29A 59P over an 82 game season.

Pretty impressive.

Huberdeau: Probably first line minutes, first PP unit, first guy to drink out of the water bottle and gets first crack at the honeys on the Miami beach.

My point: "Dreadful team" actually helps his stats. 19 year old season too.

Good for him, though. Putting up points may be the only thing he can look forward to in F-L-A. Beach bunnies aside.

Now, back to our regular programming: Kill, kill, kill the Flame!

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#56 DSF
April 01 2013, 03:23PM
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SLAM wrote:

Pretty awesome.

RNH definitely should have won the Calder last year then.

On pace for 24G 45A 69P over an 82G season on a dreadful team.

Also:

Taylor Hall on pace for 27G 56A 82P over 82 games Tyler Seguin on pace for 27G 33A 60P over 82 games

Wow this is fun! Jason Garrison on pace for 12G 7A 19P over 82 games Justin Schultz on pace for 12G 27A 39P over 82 games Chris Kreider on pace for 10G 5A 15P over 82 games

No he shouldn't have.

Landeskog was a better player.

Interesting that Landeskog, despite missing 12 games due to injury has scored 7 goals this season...Hopkins 2 goals.

Landeskog has 12 points in 22 games while Hopkins has 19 points in 33 games.

Looks like Landeskog was definitely the right choice.

Justin Schultz has 0 goals and 3 points and is -7 in his last 15 games despite playing #1PP.

Looks like the opposition has figured him out.

Patrick Weircioch of the Senators has 1 less point, is younger and is +3

Pretty awesome.

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#57 MessyEH!
April 01 2013, 03:27PM
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Oilers should sign Bo. Do you think he could win faceoffs. Automatic hall of famer. The man use to play with Gretzky and Jordan every saturday morning. Would surely be a Pro-star on our team And I would take his hip over Whitney's feet any day.

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#58 DigDeepNBleedBlue
April 01 2013, 03:27PM
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Ogie Oilthorpe wrote:

So why bring up Lander?

This is purely speculation, but maybe the Oil are shedding a (right) winger and a pick for a D-man?

I would think maybe for a bigger power forward, but if I'm not mistaken Hatikainen's contract is up after this year, so is management hoping he will fill that role and are just looking for D?

Coach says Lander is up for insurance and to keep the other 12 forwards honest. But, you could be right about a winger moving.

We shall see.

I'm loving this sh*t guys! The beer is tasting real good these days.

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#59 Butters
April 01 2013, 03:29PM
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Make that Taylor Hall is out-producing Minnesota's 98 million dollar man.

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#60 Butters
April 01 2013, 03:43PM
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DSF, Parise is 28, Hall is 21. I will go out an limb and predict that Taylor Hall will be killing penalties by the time he is 28.

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#61 Time Travelling Sean
April 01 2013, 03:44PM
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@DSF

Gudbranson has 0 goals and 4 assists while playing 20 minutes a game and is a nice -17.

Schultz not getting a lot of points probably has to do with transitioning from 40 games a season to 80 games while playing against more physical men. Most college players hit a wall at the 40-50ish game mark and Schultz has played 66? games this season.

Landy missed games with injury while RNH was playing through an injury, and we all know that Landy was supposed to be a better player in the short term because Landy was NHL ready and RNH was 160 lbs, and still 4-5 months younger.

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#62 DSF
April 01 2013, 03:45PM
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Butters wrote:

DSF, Parise is 28, Hall is 21. I will go out an limb and predict that Taylor Hall will be killing penalties by the time he is 28.

Yes he might but he isn't.

Winning hockey games has nothing to do with what will happen in 7 years.

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#63 DSF
April 01 2013, 03:48PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Gudbranson has 0 goals and 4 assists while playing 20 minutes a game and is a nice -17.

Schultz not getting a lot of points probably has to do with transitioning from 40 games a season to 80 games while playing against more physical men. Most college players hit a wall at the 40-50ish game mark and Schultz has played 66? games this season.

Landy missed games with injury while RNH was playing through an injury, and we all know that Landy was supposed to be a better player in the short term because Landy was NHL ready and RNH was 160 lbs, and still 4-5 months younger.

You forgot to mention that Gudbranson has missed 19 games due to injury.

I'm sure it wasn't intentional :)

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#64 DSF
April 01 2013, 03:54PM
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messyEH! wrote:

See every post we're you ripped MPS for time on ice. But huberdeau is a beast . All the injuries have given him the chance to step up. Probably the Panthers next Captian.

Did Paajarvi score 30 goals in his rookie season?

I forget.

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#65 Time Travelling Sean
April 01 2013, 03:55PM
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@DSF

Doesn't really matter, in 25 games he has 0 goals and 4 assists and is a -17. That counts as 11 games to injury btw.

Most D-men show you what they are at 22-24. He's 21 right now.

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#66 DSF
April 01 2013, 03:56PM
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Butters wrote:

Make that Taylor Hall is out-producing Minnesota's 98 million dollar man.

Just like Nazem Kadri is outproducing the Oilers 42 million dollar man?

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#67 Time Travelling Sean
April 01 2013, 03:59PM
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DSF wrote:

Did Paajarvi score 30 goals in his rookie season?

I forget.

Has Hubby scored 30 goals yet either? Rookies are streaky, and besides Hubby was a 3rd overall pick and is supposed to be an All-Star player(In time), while MPS was a 10th overall pick who was never drafted or projected to score 30 goals.

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#68 DSF
April 01 2013, 04:01PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Doesn't really matter, in 25 games he has 0 goals and 4 assists and is a -17. That counts as 11 games to injury btw.

Most D-men show you what they are at 22-24. He's 21 right now.

Gudbranson has never put up big points.

He's a defensive defenseman...except on the Panthers this season.

But you're right...defensemen take a little more time.

At Gudbranson's age, Smid was 0G 4A 4P -15.

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#69 Time Travelling Sean
April 01 2013, 04:01PM
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@DSF

Kadri is going to get paid 5.5-6M this season or next... He certainly won't get 7.5M for 8 years.

I'd rather have someone outscore my 42M dollar man than my 98M dollar man btw.

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#70 DSF
April 01 2013, 04:01PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Has Hubby scored 30 goals yet either? Rookies are streaky, and besides Hubby was a 3rd overall pick and is supposed to be an All-Star player(In time), while MPS was a 10th overall pick who was never drafted or projected to score 30 goals.

Then why did YOU bring him up?

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#71 Time Travelling Sean
April 01 2013, 04:03PM
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@DSF

Smid was a 9th overall pick, not a 3rd, and when they did draft Gudbranson they were hoping for offense with a mean streak, Shea Weber comparisons were thrown out there for him.

He has room to turn it around, wouldn't be the first time, esp for a D-man.

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#72 DSF
April 01 2013, 04:05PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

Kadri is going to get paid 5.5-6M this season or next... He certainly won't get 7.5M for 8 years.

I'd rather have someone outscore my 42M dollar man than my 98M dollar man btw.

I'll bet Nonis gets Kadri for around $4M.

He'll be a huge bargain.

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#73 Eddie Shore
April 01 2013, 04:21PM
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@DSF

Do us all a favor and go away. Please.

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#74 Dog Train
April 01 2013, 04:30PM
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If we want to make the playoffs, then the rest of the BoA GDTs had better be written by Oilers Nation. It starts tonight. GO OILERS GO!!

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#75 DigDeepNBleedBlue
April 01 2013, 04:32PM
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Lots of chatter out there about Whitney staying put. Apparently he is +5 over the last three games. A good stat. And, he HAS played better recently, but I still think they should trade him at the deadline.

His return right now must be at a high.

I can't argue about Whitney's ability to move the puck and how that is an asset for a team pushing for the playoffs. He really does have a great first pass. And, don't get me wrong, I want to see some playoff hockey! But, with the kids picking up their game I for one think a lot of the uptick for Whitney is a bi-product of their resurgence and not necessarily of his own doing.

I wonder if old Harold Snepsts would be a plus player over the last 3 games with the way the boys are playing.

My take: trade him if the return is a 2nd round pick and more and hope (I, personally, think they can do it) Fistric and Peckham step right in without a problem.

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#76 messyEH!
April 01 2013, 05:14PM
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DSF wrote:

Then why did YOU bring him up?

I brought MPS up. Keep it straight jackass. So Huberdeau as a #1 centre is ok to score less than Sam Gagner, a draft bust, by your own declarations. I do not think so.

Don't you look silly with all your incorrect predictions. See Justin Schultz free agency. Sam Gagner breaking 50 pts in a season. Sam Gagner has more points than Parise and kills penalties. At 3.5 million a season.

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#77 Wax Man Riley
April 01 2013, 05:27PM
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DSF wrote:

Did Paajarvi score 30 goals in his rookie season?

I forget.

Huberdeau won't score 30 in his rookie season either.

PRV had 15g and 34pts his rookie year.

Hubs isn't there yet.

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#78 MarcusBillius
April 01 2013, 05:35PM
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Can you all just stop responding to him?

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#79 hunkybill
April 01 2013, 05:47PM
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This really all is a circular discussion. Happy April Fools all.

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#80 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 01 2013, 06:15PM
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Do you guys ever wonder why no credible hockey conversation ever involves randomly comparing various players irrespective of any meaningful context whatsoever?

think about it.

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#81 The Real Scuba Steve
April 01 2013, 06:24PM
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Will wrote:

Unlike Oiler management, as a fan, it will always be hard to let go of Glencross.

I'm not looking forward to watching these games down the stretch, and watching as the Oilers lose to the teams they need to beat, and win against the teams that should have kicked the crap out of them.

I badly, badly want the team to make it into the playoffs, but I also badly, badly want them to draft a big centre will skill and edge. So just missing the playoffs would show how much the team has improved, fill a potential hole, and allow the team to dominate in the following years after a few key off season acquisitions.

This is said every year, Sic of the all the draft talk every season, lets do what we can and push for a playoff spot and make management do some work instead acquiring 1 or 2 players a year.

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