GDB 47.0: Spoiler?

Jonathan Willis
April 26 2013 05:21PM

The Oilers are in something of an interesting position tonight. If they win, they can put a serious crimp in the Minnesota Wild’s playoff ambitions, playing the role of late-season spoiler. However, they can only do so by damaging their draft position.

The Stakes

The three-team playoff race in the West is most likely to end with the Blue Jackets falling just short. With a win tonight, the Wild could guarantee themselves a playoff berth. However, should the Oilers win in regulation, the Wild’s playoff chances drop from 90.4 percent down to 71.3 percent, while the Blue Jackets’ chances jump from 30.8 percent to 44.3 percent.

Yesterday, we considered the Oilers’ draft position needs; four of the teams the Oilers are in competition with for the second overall spot were in action. Unfortunately for the Oilers, all four lost; only Carolina (overtime loss to the New York Rangers) picked up a point. The relevant standings are as follow:

A win would slide the Oilers from fifth down to seventh in the pre-lottery draft rankings, which would undo part of the one and only benefit from all of their recent losing.

Memory Lane

It isn’t exactly the same situation, but the dilemma reminds me a little of the one the Oilers faced in 2006-07. The team had spectacularly collapsed following the trade deadline move of Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders; in the 20 games leading up to the final contest of the year they failed to managed even one regulation win – they had two shootout victories and 18 regulation losses over that span.

But they managed to overcome a 2-0 deficit at the midway point of the game, scoring the next three goals and winning the contest on Patrick Thoresen’s third period tip-in. The win gave the Oilers 71 points, tying them with Chicago. The Oilers had the tie-breaker, though, so entering the draft lottery they held the sixth overall pick while Chicago had the fifth selection and the final one with a chance at first overall.

Chicago won the draft lottery, and ended up picking Patrick Kane first overall. The Oilers still ended up with a pretty good player – Sam Gagner – in the sixth overall spot, but it was a pivotal moment in the history of both franchises.

The Lineup

Via the Oilers’ official Twitter feed, here are the lines for tonight’s game:

  • Taylor Hall – Shawn Horcoff – Nail Yakupov
  • Magnus Paajarvi – Sam Gagner – Jordan Eberle
  • Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Anton Lander
  • Ryan Smyth – Jerred Smithson – Mike Brown
  • Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry
  • Nick Schultz – Corey Potter
  • Mark Fistric – Justin Schultz
  • Nikolai Khabibulin

Quick Hits

  • Jason Gregor was supposed to write this piece. Apparently, he’s “too busy” with “raising money to fight Alzheimers” to fulfill his blog-writing responsibilities. I'll let the readers decide where that rates on the jerk scale.

  • Jason was nice enough to pass along this encouraging statistic: “Backstrom is a perfect 17-0 at home vs. Oilers with a 1.34 GAA, a .948 save pct., and four shutouts. Wow.” He didn’t finish that comment with ‘have fun explaining why anybody should expect anything other than another humiliating Oilers loss’ but I think that was implied.
  • Taylor Hall would seem to have some chance at an extra $2 million in bonus money if he has a strong finish to the season.
  • The Justin Schultz/Nick Schultz pairing has gone minus-6 against the Wild this season; no other player on the team is worse than minus-3. Maybe it’s a good thing Krueger is splitting them up.
  • This might be the last game Nikolai Khabibulin ever plays for the Oilers, with Devan Dubnyk set to start tomorrow and Khabibulin’s contract expiring this summer.

Predictions

Game day prediction: The Oilers will lose a dull and one-sided game, falling by a 3-1 score.

Obvious game day prediction: The Oilers goal will be scored by Nail Yakupov, and after the game he’ll disappointedly say, “I don’t care about the goal, I just want to win.”

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: The Oilers’ second pairing will have a surprisingly good night, as Corey Potter plays well and Nick Schultz is much-improved when separated from Justin Schultz. Potter will pick up an assist on the Yakupov goal.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, 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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#1 james_dean
April 26 2013, 12:52PM
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nsogdp

down 3 0 heading into third the oil have a massive comeback led by horcoff 2 gagner 2 and magnum1 5_3 win

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#2 Time Travelling Sean
April 26 2013, 12:54PM
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If there ever was a game to win this one is it. We'll lose though, 4-1.

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#3 Racki
April 26 2013, 01:02PM
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I think there is a better chance we draft first overall 10 years in a row than beating the Wild tonight. Book a loss.

I also have been "monitoring" things, and I think there is a decent chance the Oilers drop to 3rd last. A loss tonight and vs. Vancouver would help that. Nash has to get 1 point vs. Columbus (kind of unlikely, and Tampa has to be Florida (very likely).

I would say it's extremely likely we finish 4th last, and still fairly likely to finish 3rd last. Now the lotto might bump us back down, however... but hellloooo Barkov!

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#4 Ducey
April 26 2013, 01:11PM
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•Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Anton Lander

As a third line? Ouch. And Bulin in net? And Horcoff #1 C??

That should secure the loss. Nice work RK.

Go Wild!

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#5 Ducey
April 26 2013, 01:15PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

If there ever was a game to win this one is it. We'll lose though, 4-1.

Huh? The time to win is in game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Not some meaningless game where a win will do more bad than good.

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#6 freeze
April 26 2013, 01:19PM
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We can all hope this is Khabibulin's last gasp.

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#7 Jetfan
April 26 2013, 01:31PM
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Remember back in the day when the Oil selected Yakupov, everyone was saying how he must be so relieved that he didn't have to go to Columbus? Those were the days indeed.

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#8 Truth
April 26 2013, 01:32PM
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I hope this game cements Khabi's retirement plans. I hate to watch the Oilers lose (so I won't) but they have to lose this one and the next. There is a legitimate shot at obtaining an excellent center for free.

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#9 Pucker - B class
April 26 2013, 01:52PM
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I'd like to see jSchultz and Petry switched.

Justin/Smid Fister/Petry

I find the listed Justin/Fister kind of scary . . . unless the intent is to tank.

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#10 Jasmine
April 26 2013, 01:53PM
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And Oilers fans prove why players won't sign in Edmonton by cheering for losses prior to game 1 of the season. Some Oilers fans are the worst in NHL history.

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#11 Dulock
April 26 2013, 01:57PM
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Had the Oilers lost that game to Calgary (in regulation) they would have been 4th with Washington 5th and Chicago 6th. If the lottery went to 5th in that situation we would've picked 5th and taken Gagner or Alzner, Washington would've picked first

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#12 Dallylamma
April 26 2013, 01:57PM
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With Zach Parise being the big money forward with the Wild now is there a possibility the they might listen to offers for Mikko Koivu?

And if they did, what would the Oilers need to offer?

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#13 Where's Your Towel
April 26 2013, 01:59PM
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Forget (more) tanking. There's a slim chance we finish ahead of Calgary.

Making the playoffs this year was pretty unlikely all along. I just wanted to beat Calgary for a change.

Please.

I REFUSE TO "CHEER" FOR MORE LOSING.

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#14 Harlie
April 26 2013, 02:06PM
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Jasmine wrote:

And Oilers fans prove why players won't sign in Edmonton by cheering for losses prior to game 1 of the season. Some Oilers fans are the worst in NHL history.

Boo hoo...the poor poor hockey players and their hurt feelings. How can I look myself in the mirror for calling these guys out and their pathetic efforts?

Your right, I guess it's the fans fault why the Oilers suck. Not the players or Lowe's fault. Not their fault at all. It's all on us fans.

Seriously, are these guys your heros or something?

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#15 bumboclate
April 26 2013, 02:08PM
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Plz oil do the right thing and get us Barkov!

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#16 Ducey
April 26 2013, 02:13PM
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Where's Your Towel wrote:

Forget (more) tanking. There's a slim chance we finish ahead of Calgary.

Making the playoffs this year was pretty unlikely all along. I just wanted to beat Calgary for a change.

Please.

I REFUSE TO "CHEER" FOR MORE LOSING.

Well, if we get to pick 4th and they pick 7th or something it increases our odds of beating them for the next decade.

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#17 TrentonL
April 26 2013, 02:33PM
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That is the second Thoresen reference here on ON in 2 days (Lowetide 4th line article). I'm going to take that as a sign he returns to the Oilers for next season....

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#18 Dog Train
April 26 2013, 02:35PM
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I'm in the let's win to spite Minnesota camp. We have the high-end pieces so I am not too worried about where we pick in the draft. Barkov would be nice but I would be fine with a Ristolainen or Monahan.

Hoping to win and expecting to win are two different things though. This team hasn't shown the courage to expect anything less than another lacklustre, boring hockey game tonight. 4-1 Wild.

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#19 Sall
April 26 2013, 02:41PM
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By winning this game we could end up with the 8th pick.

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#20 **
April 26 2013, 02:50PM
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The not so obvious game prediction is not nearly outrageous enough.

one has to feel bad for Columbus having their playoff hopes pinned on the losing Oilers.

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#21 Butters
April 26 2013, 02:56PM
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Sorry Columbus, we would like to help but we are unable to do so. RK will have the Oilers in a defensive shell during the warmup. We will be lucky to get one tonght.

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#22 Oiler Al
April 26 2013, 03:03PM
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Can't think of one sorry ass'ed reason the Oilers would want to start winning now... they havnt in the last 10 games.

Have no fear.. look at the track record between these two teams in MInny... not pretty!

MacT get your draft shoes on or is it a tie. [ Tambelini might lend you his lucky one, he's worn over the past three years. ]

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#23 HugThePost
April 26 2013, 03:40PM
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If they win the last 2, nobody involved on the team will sit around this summer and savour it. The only memory from this season will be the totality of all of the suck that happened. From all of Tambo's inept moves (and lack thereof), Lowe's buffoonery at the MacT coronation, and of course the Disaster on Ice that was the 2013 Oilers.

Does anyone think winning that last game in Calgary was any great feat when it bumped us out of lottery land and allowed Chicago to finish 5th, win the lottery and draft Kane? That meaningless win changed the course of the recent history of both teams. We got the defensive sieve named Gagner that year.

Great move to have Khabby in net tonight and inserting Jones and Belanger.

Just lose 2 more, give MacT the high draft pick, and let's start all over again this summer, and hopefully us oiler fans can be let off of this awful ride of gloomy misery soon.

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#24 madjam
April 26 2013, 03:41PM
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Did Oilers do the right thing by making the young stars first line to begin with ? Seems to me that's putting them in over their heads , as results appear to bear out . I guess that's how thin rest of squad is in their eyes . 5 on 5 , offensively and especially defencesively the youngsters are low in comparison to other teams first lines. It'll get better no doubt , but this year the experiment just never bared the fruit expected. ,

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#25 Time Travelling Sean
April 26 2013, 04:22PM
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Ducey wrote:

Huh? The time to win is in game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Not some meaningless game where a win will do more bad than good.

It'll screw up Minny's season though, what if they missed the playoffs cause of us?

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#26 Ducey
April 26 2013, 04:46PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

It'll screw up Minny's season though, what if they missed the playoffs cause of us?

Who cares about Minny?

Will that small feeling of being a spoiler still make you feel warm and fuzzy in 3 years when you see Barkov skating around for Calgary?

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#27 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
April 26 2013, 05:12PM
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Time Travelling Sean wrote:

It'll screw up Minny's season though, what if they missed the playoffs cause of us?

i hope it happens just so DSF disappears for a few weeks in hopes we all forget his "the wild are conference champion contenders" rant at the start of the season.....

alas, i think the wild win and get 7th... ~7th is the same as conference champion contenders right~????

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#28 Rama Lama
April 26 2013, 05:42PM
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Harlie wrote:

Boo hoo...the poor poor hockey players and their hurt feelings. How can I look myself in the mirror for calling these guys out and their pathetic efforts?

Your right, I guess it's the fans fault why the Oilers suck. Not the players or Lowe's fault. Not their fault at all. It's all on us fans.

Seriously, are these guys your heros or something?

Please be advised that Jasmine is really Kevin Lowe..........wasting time pretending to do something for the Oilers.

Kevin.......I mean Jasmine has ruined this once proud franchise.

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#29 Alsker
April 26 2013, 06:48PM
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Just got home..WTF...im excited but not sure if Im happy, damn draft positioning.

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#30 striatic
April 26 2013, 06:54PM
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Alsker wrote:

Just got home..WTF...im excited but not sure if Im happy, damn draft positioning.

a win puts Edmonton ahead of Calgary going into the last game of the season.

draft positioning is important, but finishing ahead of Calgary is more important.

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#31 Alsker
April 26 2013, 06:57PM
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@striatic

Well, yes, been a long time since we have looked down at them, youre right, well worth it.

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#32 keilan
April 26 2013, 07:09PM
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Should have sat Brown in the press-box. Bunch of heartless stiffs decided to show up tonight. Still 40 minutes to fold like a cheap suit.

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#33 Kinger_Oil
April 26 2013, 07:15PM
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Fellow OIL Fans: This team is half a season away from being done for a generation. Hall, Ebs, Shultz, Nuge et al if the team sucks next year(and a big part of it is on them to be better), after game 40: the "core" will have checked out, and there is no turning back: bye-bye rebuild and return to glory, hello 10 year perma-build

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#34 keilan
April 26 2013, 07:18PM
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4 zip -- I'm really starting to hate this group. Laughing stock of the NHL, Rather play for their jobs now instead of showing up most nights.

Listen to the comments following the game if they go on to win! How they never quit yada yada.....

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#35 michael
April 26 2013, 07:20PM
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4-0 Oiler haters.Minny is getting rolled.Love to see them out of the playoffs. 129 million dollars of see ya next year.

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#36 Serious Gord
April 26 2013, 07:22PM
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If you had a choice between dubnyk or khabi - if you were guaranteed that khabi would be healthly - who would you play?

I'd go with khabi.

That is not to say that we should have kept khabi nor that we should keep him but that health aside I - and I suspect you - would take a forty year old geezer over dubnyk.

We need to be looking for a better netminder.

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#37 keilan
April 26 2013, 07:23PM
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michael wrote:

4-0 Oiler haters.Minny is getting rolled.Love to see them out of the playoffs. 129 million dollars of see ya next year.

Having them out of the playoffs doesn't help us draft day but you keep cheering

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#38 SLAM
April 26 2013, 07:24PM
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michael wrote:

4-0 Oiler haters.Minny is getting rolled.Love to see them out of the playoffs. 129 million dollars of see ya next year.

But... Minnesota was supposed to be NW division champs...

Brodin -4 lol

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#39 Alsker
April 26 2013, 07:26PM
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5 goals on 10 shots in Minny, no, way to much solvent today. Out shot 2.5:1, rofl, poor DSF probably cant find a stat to make us look bad when you remind him of the scoreboard!!!

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#40 keilan
April 26 2013, 07:27PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

If you had a choice between dubnyk or khabi - if you were guaranteed that khabi would be healthly - who would you play?

I'd go with khabi.

That is not to say that we should have kept khabi nor that we should keep him but that health aside I - and I suspect you - would take a forty year old geezer over dubnyk.

We need to be looking for a better netminder.

one game hypothetical - take the Russian.

Our needs hardly begin in goal - the list is long

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#41 Alsker
April 26 2013, 07:31PM
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The way the pucks going in, should we dare to dream and Belanger actually nets one. When you wish upon a star...

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#42 Romanus
April 26 2013, 07:33PM
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Jasmine wrote:

And Oilers fans prove why players won't sign in Edmonton by cheering for losses prior to game 1 of the season. Some Oilers fans are the worst in NHL history.

Do you just cut and paste every day?

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#43 jonny94
April 26 2013, 07:34PM
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Give Yakupov the Calder!

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#44 dougtheslug
April 26 2013, 07:34PM
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I can't resist. Hey DSF, Yak has now tied Huberdeau for rookie goal scoring and rookie points. Have a nice day.

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#45 DSF
April 26 2013, 07:52PM
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Dead Cat Bounce

Happens all the time.

The Cleveland Browns win the odd football game.

Here's an excerpt from their beat writer.

Does it sound familiar?

"Browns fans have endured 14 years of disappointing football. But each year our hopes are raised by even the smallest positive sign because we want it. We need it. We love Browns football. If we haven't turned our backs yet, we aren't going to.

Last year the Browns won only five games but five of the games we lost were by a touchdown or less. I know it's a stretch, but if we'd taken those games, we'd have been division champs.

With the 2013 draft right here in front of us, all Cleveland fans need to get high on hope is for a few key positions to be filled. Give us a solid pass rusher and a shut-down cornerback and we'll be happy."

And the beat goes on.

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#46 John Chambers
April 26 2013, 07:53PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

I can't resist. Hey DSF, Yak has now tied Huberdeau for rookie goal scoring and rookie points. Have a nice day.

Guess what? Jonas Brodin is -4 after two periods. Just saying'.

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#47 DSF
April 26 2013, 07:53PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

I can't resist. Hey DSF, Yak has now tied Huberdeau for rookie goal scoring and rookie points. Have a nice day.

Wow!

Based on tonight's game, I'd offer Khabibulin and Potter 5 year contract extensions too.

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#48 Walter Sobchak
April 26 2013, 07:55PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

I can't resist. Hey DSF, Yak has now tied Huberdeau for rookie goal scoring and rookie points. Have a nice day.

He should be leading rookie scoring, they robbed him of a point on Hall's first goal!

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#49 Darrell
April 26 2013, 07:55PM
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Where is DSF? this is the best thing that could happen!

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#50 DSF
April 26 2013, 07:55PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Guess what? Jonas Brodin is -4 after two periods. Just saying'.

Guess what?

In a larger sample size, Justin Schultz is -19 and Brodin is +2.

But you should never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

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