GDB 37.0: DOWN TO THE DIRTY DOZEN

Jason Gregor
April 04 2013 09:19AM

The Oilers took care of business and swept the Flames, two games they had to win, and now the real games begin. Nine of the Oilers remaining 12 games are against playoff teams, and this is the scenario the Oilers desperately wanted their young team to experience.

The intensity will increase, and the youthful Oilers will need to match the consistency, smarts and veteran savvy of the Canucks, Ducks, Blackhawks, Wild and Kings.

These games matter. The players know it, management knows it and the fans know it. This should be fun.

You can sense the excitement in the city and on the Nation. Fans are jacked up. The scar tissue you've obtained from seven seasons of watching an over-matched, under-talented, uninspiring team is starting to breakdown. You actually look forward to the games, because you believe your team has a legitimate chance to win.

If you are under 30 it is likely a feeling you've never truly experienced during the regular season. The Oilers are still a few players short of being a dominant team, but their first line is the hottest line in the NHL, and when one line is that good you have a chance to win any game.

During this five-game winning streak Taylor Hall has 14 points, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 10 and Jordan Eberle has 8. They've combined for 32 points, and the scary part is that they've missed some glorious chances. Their speed, skill and smarts are a deadly combination right now, and it will be interesting to see how Alain Vigneault, Darryl Sutter and Bruce Boudreau try to slow them down on this road trip.

LINEUP

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

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

Dubnyk (Although Krueger hinted he hasn't made up his mind and Khabibulin might play. I don't see any reason not to play Dubnyk)

Magnus Paajarvi is banged up, but Krueger said this after the game last night, "It's not a serious injury, it's a manageable one. He's probable for tomorrow." Hemsky has been playing with a minor knick, and I suspect Paajarvi will dress tonight. If the injury is more about pain-tolerance than impacting his play he'll go. Players can play hurt, but it isn't wise to play injured, especially if the injury will limit your performance.

Jerred Smithson, acquired yesterday from Florida, will be in the hospital today as his fiance is scheduled to give birth. He told me yesterday that if things go as planned, he'll join the team in either Los Angeles or Anaheim. "Family comes first, once we get the baby figured out, I'll join the team as quick as I can. I can't wait to play in Edmonton," Smithson told me on my radio show yesterday.

I'd play Smithson when he gets here. He shoots right and his FO% the last four years is: 54.8% in 2013, 56.1% in 2012, 57.4% in 2011, 54.9 in 2010, 52.6% in 2009. He can win draws, and you can use him and Horcoff on different sides.

QUICK HITS

  • The Oilers nine remaining games against playoff teams are all against the top-six teams in the west. They will have to play one of them in the playoffs if they make it, so they might as well get used to it.
     
  • The Oilers are 8-2-2 since Shawn Horcoff called a player's only meeting and returned to the lineup in Chicago. I know the 4/93/14 line is carrying this team offensively, but Horcoff's message sunk in. The Oilers have cut down on their turnovers in the defensive and neutral zone. And they rarely turn it over at the offensive blueline anymore. Those plays were killing them early in the season.
     
  • The other big change is their willingness to drive the net. Guys without the puck are finally going to the net and creating havoc. 
     
  • The Oilers are 2nd in combined special teams at 108.3. They are 3rd in PP effeciency at 23.8% and 7th on the PK at 84.5%.
     
  • It is hard not to like Roberto Luongo these days. His twitter feed is hilarious, and yesterday, when the Canucks made the idiotic decision to make him hold a press conference to discuss why he wasn't traded, he was very honest and classy. When asked why he wasn't traded he replied, "Cause my contact sucks. If I could rip it up now I would."
     
  • You could tell not playing is killing him. He's handled this situation extremely well, and when the Canucks finally trade him to the eastern conference I suspect many fans will be cheering for him. Tonight of course, you hope the Oilers light up him and Corey Schneider.
     
  • Derek Roy will help the Canucks. They desperately needed a 2nd line centre, and he will give them some much-needed secondary scoring.
     
  • I liked the Columbus decision to acquire Marian Gaborik, especially because it didn't cost them any of their three first-round picks. Even if they don't make the playoffs this year, the Blue Jackets added a proven sniper. Basically, the deals between the Rangers and Blue Jackets look like this...Nash, Brassard, Dorsett, Moore and a 6th for Gaborik, Dubinsky, Erixon, Anisimov and a 1st rounder. I'd still say the Blue Jackets did well.
     
  • Very interesting move by George McPhee to trade away Filip Forsberg, 11th pick in 2012, for Martin Erat. The Capitals will win the South East this year, because they are rolling and the Jets and Hurricanes are on the skids, but how will this trade look in a few years. I've gotten very differing views from scouts. Some really like him, while others think he'll never produce more points than Erat. Time will tell. Caps win trade today, but Preds could benefit greatly in the future.
     
  • Don't look now, but the Oilers playoff chances, according to sportsclubstats, are up to 42.1% after last night's victory. Before the five-game winning streak they were at 4.1%. That is quite the jump. Detroit is at 72.7% and St. Louis 70.4%, but the Oilers have closed the gap considerably.

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL....

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Have to go with the hot team considering I've picked them to win the last four. I know how superstitious the Nation can be. Oilers win in OT, 4-3.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hall, RNH, Eberle line combine for six points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:  Ryan Smyth ends his 20-game goal scoring drought with a deflection early in the 2nd period. Smyth does a triple combination fist-pump, look-to-the-heavens, glove-slide-on-the-ice celebration afterwards. His young teammates love the "celly," especially Yakupov who says to Smyth, "Prunes is going to love that and use it during Hockey Night in Canada,"

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

***This will be a DSF comment free section today. From your quiet editor/tech producer who needs a break from it all. Any comment with mention of him will be quietly deleted. Enjoy the game and one free day...***

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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 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 10:19PM
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They are posturing their d-men high in their zone and are trying to hit a man in the n-zone with a fast short pass they arent playing catch at all, they arent allowing us to force the puck in their zone they are getting it out fast, so lets pressure them more, we also need to get our sticks on the ice and get them active, our spheres of influence are weak tonight.

Our best bet is to skate the puck at them in numbers, just stay together tight and relay it past them, they are strong laterally to break up the passes so lets punch it in through the middle before we get some bad calls again and screw this game away, we need to speed the game up on them they want to keep it slower and controlled, lets dump it in once in a while and get on it to mix it up on them. They have adjusted their own system so lets take them back to where they dont want to be, start doing long dumpins and send in our men in numbers, flood them. Make them go back to the dump and chase they just adjusted away from,ha ha ha.

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#152 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 10:28PM
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Jesus is this a non-contact league? You cant leave a Sedin alone like that.

We need to get the ball rolling, we need to charge their net and run over the goalie, we are rolling over and it is not looking very good, the refs are not going to give us any breaks, we KNOW that, so lets get to the net, lets see more dumpins and long breakout passes and more net pressure, crash and bang.

We need to get our hands dirty on this one and we need to kick it up a notch speed wise, not hit them they want that but hit their goaltender because they cannot react to that they arent tough enough, so run the tender this game is to important to us not to run their goalie, run him repeatedly.

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#153 ginganinja
April 04 2013, 10:29PM
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They look tired

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#154 Yep
April 04 2013, 10:30PM
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Whitney is terrible against a competent offence.

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#155 michael
April 04 2013, 10:40PM
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I have seen this story more than once in the past few years. Keys to the game. Take care of the puck against the Sedins. Nope. Line match against theSedins and get schooled.Check. Take multiple penalties.Check.12 Shots on goal after 2 periods.Check

2-0 at the end of 2 periods. I am going to bed this one is over. The fat lady was singing after it was 1-0. The Oilers ever hope to make the playoffs they need to check that list and make sure they understand that if they don't want to see the same story everytime they play the Nucks in van city they need to takes care of buisness first.That means those 2 guys named Sedin.

enjoy the third boys I am done.

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#156 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 10:42PM
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ginganinja wrote:

They look tired

I agree, maybe we need to spend a period trying to spring guys by greenlighting EVERYONE to sprint the puck end to end, just greenlight anyone with the puck in our zone to bust it up ice fullspeed and make sure we all fall in to support that rush every possesion, lets just pick a spot and keep hitting it for 20 mins, just absolutely rush it end to end every time with support, no passes just make them eat the rush all period. Make sure we stack the men at least two deep and very close together north/south gapped maybe five or six feet and eliminate the passing and go to the relaying of the puck and advancing it in six foot stages at full speed.Cycle it north/south by stacking players and penetrating with numbers and strength in the middle,just keep one man standing alone and back deep.

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#157 @Oilanderp
April 04 2013, 10:56PM
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Flying V!

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#158 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 11:05PM
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Time out please.

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#159 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 11:06PM
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C.R.A.S.H The N.E.T ......

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#160 Craig1981
April 04 2013, 11:07PM
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@NewAgeSys

your posts are aweful.....just aweful. less is more please

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#161 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 11:08PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Flying V!

You betcha, we should have started useing it at the beginning of the second period. Now we need to run over the tender three times ASAP.

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#162 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 11:14PM
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We really need to fight through first contact wayyy harder, we need to keep the puck on our sticks and skate it up further, they are pressureing us to pass so soon we are out of our comfort zone, we need that time back so we need to skate through the first check, we need to challenge them and go for them first and our support needs to be coming in fast as well because we need to pass right at them from the wings and at our support so we can it them down the middle, we can draw them anywhere we want because they are 100% on the puck with extended pursuit, so we need to defeat the extra long pressure, they are playing it man on man, and when we try the give and gos they are right there ,so we need to skate the puck up and in and that means stacking players and putting our heads down and picking them off one by one as we advance the puck with relays instead of lateral passes, we need to do this with support and ASAP.

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#163 magick
April 04 2013, 11:15PM
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whitney and petry are terrible against real nhl forwards. poooey

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#164 ginganinja
April 04 2013, 11:27PM
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Well! Next up L.A. Back down to earth we go I guess.

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#165 Dog Train
April 04 2013, 11:30PM
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No matter how many games in a row you win, losing always sucks. Especially getting shutout. It always seems to happen when a team puts up a crooked scoring total one night that they can't get anything going the next.

The game is lost, move on to LA.

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#166 NewAgeSys
April 04 2013, 11:31PM
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They made some basic adjustments to their system and we failed to read and react worth a crap.

All they did was stop dumping it in as a way to catalyse their blueline lateral control. They adjusted their d-zone exits and we werent able to reply to that, they mixed it up nd we couldnt keep up, we couldnt stop their d-zone exits when they cme out laterally strong. We should have forced them back into the dumpin strategy they were useing before or went for the middle hard and repeatedly using the Flying V. We let them walk into the o-zone all night long because we didnt adjust to the n-zone pressure they were bringing, this was a coaching error, we didnt have a plan B, for sure, we had a fine plan A but they came out differently, we didnt have a plan B and didnt read and react to their changes well enough to win the game on the fly, we had good pre-game preparation for plan A , we just didnt have a backup strapped to our ankles.

This one is history and we dont require a deep analysis, we didnt have a plan B and Van came out with a different gameplan. Simple, no more nitpicking is needed. Next game please, we have preparations to make, and this time remember Plan B!!

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If we ever have kids and my wife got fat, I'd totally drive my kids nuts with "yo momma so fat" jokes.

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#168 Newj
April 04 2013, 11:49PM
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I'm glad we dont have to come back to this barn again. I dont like getting pushed around, smashed in the head or hit from behind. They can have the 2 points. Lets go get some sun in LA tomorrow. Playoff races are over hyped anyways.

Check that, the scenery behind the Canucks bench is damn fine!

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#169 Geoff
April 05 2013, 12:28AM
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The highs and lows of this team are just rediculous lol.

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#170 charliedont
April 05 2013, 01:17AM
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- Hemsky will still be 38 trying to deke the blueline into submission. He has the IQ of a rock.

- Whitney can't skate. Literally, the guy has problems turning around.

- Petrell is like that guy at work that nobody talks to and stays late after work, so everyone assumes he's doing his job, when really he's just writing a screenplay about vampires.

- Every time Smyth winds-up for a slapshot, a comedian somewhere gets nervous that he might steal their job.

- The overhead cam shot of Khabibulin looked like me guessing on my Calc III exam: no clue.

- Yakupov has a magnetic field around him that only reacts to rubber and makes it impossible for a puck to lay flat or still around him. Ever. It looks like street hockey with a tennis ball when it's near him.

- John Garrett thinks everything is a penalty, except being the Johnny Miller of hockey commentary: that's ok, negativity rules and clearly both could probably still play and kick in some goals like Jagr.

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#171 The Oilers Shot Clock
April 05 2013, 02:17AM
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@NewAgeSys

I wonder if Ralph was just getting too distracted and stopped hitting refresh for all your updates. Nah...he's probably got somebody in the booth calling down your plays to him.

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#172 jason
April 05 2013, 06:57AM
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again, it's not the loss so much as the lack of effort and stupid mistakes that they never seem to learn from. we keep getting teased, we keep thinking finally the team we were promised, no not a chance. now that they've won five in a row they don't have to compete for the last 12. i hope i'm wrong, but i've got this sinking feeling that, that's what were in for. after 30 + years of being an oiler fan my faith is wearing thin.

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#173 Rod from Viking
April 05 2013, 07:18AM
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We knew this team wasn't going to win 17 in a row and making the playoffs was going to be difficult so relax everyone. With this team being tired and the Canucks rested we were physically out matched. Vancouver's got a big talented defence that really outmatched us last night.I thought they should have played Fistric so someone would hit the Sedin sisters.Hopefully in the off season we can get a physical 2/3 defenceman,a top 6 forward with some size and an edge to his game,a tough 3rd/4th line forward that can play and another capable goaltender.

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#174 Rob...
April 05 2013, 08:28AM
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I like the grit Yakupov has shown the last few games. I'll also give the ref's a bit of credit when it came to taking Yakupov's 'grit' in context for once and not automatically handing him penalties for the famous 'retaliating as a rookie' minor.

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#175 oilerjed
April 05 2013, 09:00AM
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I think my TV was brokend last night played parts of game in slow motion, but only the oil. Huh wierd.

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#176 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 05 2013, 09:34AM
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Oilers are wearing down. Plenty of missed opportunities to finish checks, Oilers just peeled away from on more than a few occasions. Vancouver looked ripe for the picking last night, but it was good enough for them to just throw their sticks out to center ice and collect two points.

Still cool to have hockey that matters in April though.

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#177 Zamboni Driver
April 05 2013, 09:51AM
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a) Lost to a better team. No harm in that.

b) Friends. When you're typing. And that little red squiggly line shows up under the word...It means you can't spell.

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#178 madjam
April 05 2013, 10:07AM
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Whenever a team plays us that physical our team has major problems with puck battles . Faceoffs we were terrible at once again . Van. played well against an Oiler team that could not muster enough adrenalin to make it to a higher level . We might very well face same scenario next game against L.A. if they play us physical and take away our space as Canucks did .

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#179 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 05 2013, 10:36AM
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Too much b*tching about officiating....they weren't that bad.....and they certainly did not make the difference....

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#180 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 05 2013, 10:37AM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Too much b*tching about officiating....they weren't that bad.....and they certainly did not make the difference....

Unless of course...you had money on the game....in which case I completely understand....money changes everything!

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#181 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 05 2013, 10:46AM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

We knew this team wasn't going to win 17 in a row and making the playoffs was going to be difficult so relax everyone. With this team being tired and the Canucks rested we were physically out matched. Vancouver's got a big talented defence that really outmatched us last night.I thought they should have played Fistric so someone would hit the Sedin sisters.Hopefully in the off season we can get a physical 2/3 defenceman,a top 6 forward with some size and an edge to his game,a tough 3rd/4th line forward that can play and another capable goaltender.

Agree with everything you said.....just wish personally that they had started to make these moves at the deadline. But, maybe the deals just weren't there. Although Hemsky + for Forsberg would have looked ok. Clowe probably wanted to be moved to a contender. Not a lot of quality D at the deadline.

Still, feel like we missed a window to move Habby, Hemmer and Whitney while their value was at a peak.

I may still be proven wrong...we may come up with a miracle run in the next two weeks!

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#182 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
April 05 2013, 10:50AM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

This board needs a 140 character limit on posts.

Even a 140 "word" limit would help.

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#183 WaySouth
April 05 2013, 10:56AM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

We knew this team wasn't going to win 17 in a row and making the playoffs was going to be difficult so relax everyone. With this team being tired and the Canucks rested we were physically out matched. Vancouver's got a big talented defence that really outmatched us last night.I thought they should have played Fistric so someone would hit the Sedin sisters.Hopefully in the off season we can get a physical 2/3 defenceman,a top 6 forward with some size and an edge to his game,a tough 3rd/4th line forward that can play and another capable goaltender.

Right on. It's amazing how much the bandwagon has changed on a day-to-day basis this season.

The Blackhawks played like sh*t when the Oilers beat them earlier this season. Doesn't mean the hawks are a bad team, but even good teams are going to play bad games.

The Oil had to play against two very physical teams back-to-back, road games no less. What was everyone expecting, a blowout?

Calm down and see how they play after a day of rest against LA. They're not out of the playoff race yet.

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#184 PapaMike
April 05 2013, 12:06PM
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The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

If we ever have kids and my wife got fat, I'd totally drive my kids nuts with "yo momma so fat" jokes.

I'll start...yo mamma is so fat when she is at the beach everyone yells FREE WILLY!

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#185 Frank
April 05 2013, 04:15PM
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Jason,

I think you will like this video

http://www.bitoffun.com/video_vault/do-not-tailgate.htm

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#186 Bucknuck
April 05 2013, 06:37PM
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Well I guess no ones head is going to explode after all.

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