GDB 38.0: They’re all big games

Jonathan Willis
April 06 2013 10:30AM

The out-of-town scoreboard wasn’t particularly kind to the Oilers yesterday. St. Louis, Detroit, and San Jose all won. Dallas won too (though they’re far enough back that it’s a secondary concern), while Columbus lost in regulation – though given that they lost to the Blues, that’s not really great news.

The Oilers aren’t particularly likely to catch Los Angeles, but they need the win today to keep pace with Detroit and St. Louis, the two most catchable teams.

Playoff chances

Via sportsclubstats.com, here are the playoff odds for teams still in the hunt in the West entering action today:

  • 3. Los Angeles: 98.2%
  • 4. Vancouver: 97.1%
  • 5. San Jose: 95.4%
  • 6. Minnesota: 90.8%
  • 7. St. Louis: 88.6%
  • 8. Detroit: 71.3%
  • 9. Edmonton: 24.6%
  • 10. Phoenix: 14.3%
  • 11. Columbus: 8.4%
  • 12. Dallas: 5.7%
  • 13. Nashville: 5.5%

None of the other games going on today are particularly critical for the Oilers. Nashville hosts Chicago, Phoenix hosts Colorado, and Calgary is in Vancouver – all the teams involved are around the periphery of that list above. A Phoenix win, coupled with an Oilers loss, would move them past Edmonton on the chart above, so that’s probably the most important of the games being played today outside of the one the Oilers are playing.

Lineups

No information is available as of yet regarding tonight’s Oilers’ lineup, though it’s a decent bet there will be some changes due to the acquisition of Smithson and the loss to Vancouver. My guess – Mark Fistric draws in on the third pairing, Smithson draws in on the fourth line, and Ryan Smyth moves into the top-nine, replacing Ryan Jones. It also seems likely that Devan Dubnyk will start in net.

This will be updated as soon as the lines become available.

Update: Jerred Smithson will draw in, though exact forward lines remain unknown. The defence will stay the same as against the Canucks, meaning Petry-Smid, Schultz-Schultz, and Whitney-Potter.

Update II: Via the Oilers' official Twitter feed, we have the forward lines:

  • Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle
  • Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky
  • Paajarvi - Gagner - Yakupov
  • Petrell - Smithson - Brown

Predictions

Game day prediction: Both games between the Oilers and the Kings have been nail-biters this season, with the Oilers winning one in overtime and the Kings scoring the winner with less than a minute in regulation last time. This one will be, too, but the Kings will win 3-2 in overtime.

Obvious game day prediction: With the Oilers down by a goal with two minutes left in the third, Ralph Krueger will pull his goaltender – and Nail Yakupov will tie the game to force the extra frame.

Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Jerred Smithson hasn’t had a fight in more than three years, but eager to make an impression with his new team he’ll square off against Colin Fraser. The fight itself will be a non-descript affair, but Smithson will be applauded by his new teammates, with nobody happier to see it than Mike Brown.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#2 Shane
April 06 2013, 11:17AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Too many bodies on the roster of questionable valu. Can't sign any college players. Massive sellers' market at the deadline and an opportunity to shed some dead weight. Oilers management employs their usual strategy of doing nothing. Unreal.

Woah dude, don't be such a downer. It's April and we're in 9th! Hooray!

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#5 NewAgeSys
April 06 2013, 03:31PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

"we" and "lets"? lol. are you part Oilers staff? If so, why the hell are you posting here during a game?

also, "let us" is contracted to "let's"

Come on already, talk hockey, whats your problem?

I think you are on the wrong site if you are here to simply flame other posters and be a general pain in the arse.

Shut up with the spelling and vocabulary BS, ok, we are here for hockey, all of us, not to score cheezy little brownie points.

Anything hockey related to say or were you just making sure you used up your thirty seconds of fame?

We need two quick ones here men, lets get on it, time is a wasteing.

Hopefully we can see some nice n-zone pressure and some odd-man rushes in our favor.

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#6 Eddie Shore
April 06 2013, 03:37PM
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MPS scores and DSF sinks into his chair. The kid is starting to look like a player again.

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#7 oilman3
April 06 2013, 04:20PM
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DSF wrote:

He's got all of 11 points and is -4.

Not much to get excited about.

big surprise that our local wannabe statistician throws out the numbers for us. do you seriously think most of us aren't aware of the numbers? personally i love what i'm seeing from paajarvi. he's still very young and has made a huge adjustment not only to the nhl but coming from europe which has a lot challenges in itself. he continues to evolve into the player they're asking him to be. he will probably never be a big points guy, but he's been all around the net, has been playing more physically and his chances have been coming. if he is willing to forecheck hard, and battle in the blue paint he is filling a need on this team. i know it's been said before but if all you're doing is coming on here throwing out numbers and bashing the team. what exactly are you hoping to accomplish? my prediction is you will continue to bash on the team until they become successful and then you'll disappear. why don't you set up your own little website where you can bash the oilers with people who actually value your "insights?"

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#8 Alsker
April 06 2013, 04:26PM
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Is NAS = Howie Meeker, took him a few seasons to figure out how to get his point across in the time frame allowed, once he did he was entertaining and informative(sort of)

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#9 NewAgeSys
April 06 2013, 04:57PM
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Mac962 wrote:

I will say it for everyone. Shut The F--k Up. You know Jack S--t about Hockey and are just the Cliche King.

I am sorry you weasel but you speak for yourself first, just like you would in real life in the parking lot or anyplace else with the exception of here in cyberspace.

So YOU STFU you spineless sack of fluid. You cant even open that crack in your head wide enough to post hockey related data, you knob.

Keep your cheap arse opinions to youself.

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#10 Justin
April 06 2013, 05:13PM
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STL is not catchable. Detroit is the only team Edmonton could catch.

Problem for Edmonton teams are taking then seriously now, they bring their A game. With the standings so close every team is bringing it.

Oilers cannot compete with teams that take away space and ice. They have no power players in their top 6.

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#11 Mac962
April 06 2013, 05:16PM
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NewAgeSys wrote:

I am sorry you weasel but you speak for yourself first, just like you would in real life in the parking lot or anyplace else with the exception of here in cyberspace.

So YOU STFU you spineless sack of fluid. You cant even open that crack in your head wide enough to post hockey related data, you knob.

Keep your cheap arse opinions to youself.

zzzzzzzz is right. How little you know , tsk tsk. If you only knew.

Go away little Boy. Or better yet come and shine my shoes You probably need the cash don't you ?

Enough of you.

Mom still doing ok ? lol.....

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#12 sofarsogood
April 06 2013, 05:47PM
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Have not read the GDB, or any of the posts. MEN against boys. We need size and strength and grit. WoW. Tambi last chance with me is this summer. One should not feel this frustrated on a saturday afternoon.

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#13 Lowetide
April 06 2013, 10:36AM
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Jon, I saw your lines on twitter yesterday and agree completely. Here's hoping!

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#14 Romulus' Apotheosis
April 06 2013, 11:01AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Said lines were:

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle

Paajarvi - Gagner - Yakupov

Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky

Brown - Smithson - Jones

Smid - Petry

Schultz - Schultz

Fistric - Potter

Aside from the kids, the Oilers' top-nine has been pretty quiet lately. That Paajarvi, Gagner, Yakupov trio killed it when they were together and I'd love to see them reunited; Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky just feels like a nice fit and brings back the 2006 run.

fax that over to RK stat.

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#15 Oilersman
April 06 2013, 11:02AM
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Totally agree on the above mentioned lines. It would be amazing if just somehow the Oil could figure a way to get Nail some wicked onetimer blasts up in the slot. I can totally see him pounding some "Hull like" goals from there.

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#16 Oiler_in_Mexico
April 06 2013, 11:05AM
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@Jonathan Willis

This lineup is exactly what I would pick as well. I'm predicting a 3-2 win in the shootout with the shootout winner off the stick of Yakupov.

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#17 Fresh Mess
April 06 2013, 11:11AM
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Too many bodies on the roster of questionable valu. Can't sign any college players. Massive sellers' market at the deadline and an opportunity to shed some dead weight. Oilers management employs their usual strategy of doing nothing. Unreal.

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#18 Shane
April 06 2013, 11:16AM
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@Jonathan Willis

Great lines JW.

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#19 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
April 06 2013, 11:19AM
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Something wicked this way comes.

Have a bad feeling bout these next two games, the slow death of the Oilers playoff hopes. It'll be all over with back to back regulation losses. On the other hand, the farther we fall, the greater the odds of landing that first overall selection again. It's all or nothing.....hope this doesn't comes across as greedy.

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#20 Dog Train
April 06 2013, 11:22AM
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We can't afford to lose back to back games at this point in the season. I think some of the pack is starting to fall off and we need to hang around the pack. Detroit looks catchable to me. They lost to an apparently flu-ridden Phoenix team on Thursday and were lucky to beat the Avalanche last night. The bottom line is that we need to take care of our own business and the rest will take care of itself. I hate to say it but I am predicting 3-2 Kings. I can't wait to be wrong. GO OILERS GO!!

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#21 Puritania
April 06 2013, 11:34AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Said lines were:

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle

Paajarvi - Gagner - Yakupov

Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky

Brown - Smithson - Jones

Smid - Petry

Schultz - Schultz

Fistric - Potter

Aside from the kids, the Oilers' top-nine has been pretty quiet lately. That Paajarvi, Gagner, Yakupov trio killed it when they were together and I'd love to see them reunited; Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky just feels like a nice fit and brings back the 2006 run.

At this point I'd rather have Petrell in the lineup over Smyth. I'd go with...

Hall - Nuge - Ebs/ Paajarvi - Gagner - Yakupov/ Jones - Horcoff - Hemsky/ Petrell - Smithson - Brown

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#22 Ryan2
April 06 2013, 11:45AM
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Putting Yak in the same line as Gagner for the game will be worse than having Hemmer on it. As we saw last game, Sam cannot contain larger forwards down low in the d-zone - he tries hard but is still too small. Yak is getting better, but he is still more of a d-zone liability than Hemsky. That being said, the line is not clicking right now offensively so they might need to shake things up. In either case, Kruger will need to make sure that the Gags line is not paired up with Whitney- Potter/Fistric/Peckham tonight as that combo will be a disaster in the d-zone.

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#23 michael
April 06 2013, 11:50AM
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Whoever plays today will need to keep their eyes on Carter and Kopitar. Unlike the other night in Vancity where the Sedins ran their show. The Oilers will need no clamp down on those 2. And hopefully rk will not line match JS and NS against Kopitar's line defensively. Early and often.Get pucks on the net and crash.Chip and chase. This is a not going to be a ballet its going to a knock em down drag em out kinda game if the Oilers hope to win. Get physical in all components of the game and they should prevail. Stay to the outside and La bigmen will run their show on the down low cycle.The Oil will need DD to stand tall. Really tall.

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#24 The Beaker
April 06 2013, 11:58AM
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Ryan2 wrote:

Putting Yak in the same line as Gagner for the game will be worse than having Hemmer on it. As we saw last game, Sam cannot contain larger forwards down low in the d-zone - he tries hard but is still too small. Yak is getting better, but he is still more of a d-zone liability than Hemsky. That being said, the line is not clicking right now offensively so they might need to shake things up. In either case, Kruger will need to make sure that the Gags line is not paired up with Whitney- Potter/Fistric/Peckham tonight as that combo will be a disaster in the d-zone.

Except recent history showed that Gagner-Yak-MPS works just fine. Sheltered minutes for sure though.

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#25 David S
April 06 2013, 11:58AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Said lines were:

Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Eberle

Paajarvi - Gagner - Yakupov

Smyth - Horcoff - Hemsky

Brown - Smithson - Jones

Smid - Petry

Schultz - Schultz

Fistric - Potter

Aside from the kids, the Oilers' top-nine has been pretty quiet lately. That Paajarvi, Gagner, Yakupov trio killed it when they were together and I'd love to see them reunited; Smyth, Horcoff, Hemsky just feels like a nice fit and brings back the 2006 run.

I know Yak is chaotic, but he can clearly keep up and generate chances. Hemsky has one good game and a half dozen crappy ones. He's the one sewering that line. For the life of me I don't understand why we're not going all-in and re-inserting Yak.

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#26 Skeptic
April 06 2013, 12:20PM
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I've been saying yakupov needed to be leaned on more by this team. His one timer is flipping nutso. Fast. And his name is nail. Honest to god NAIL. So much love for this kid.

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#27 Alsker
April 06 2013, 12:21PM
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Like your lines JW but agree that Smyth/Petrell swapout maybe even game by game, looking forward to PRV and Yak back together, especially since its been a while since sam-wise has had a dominant type game,he's due. Oil in SO 4-3.

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#28 Alsker
April 06 2013, 12:26PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Petrell's awful 5-on-5, and shouldn't play unless somebody gets hurt. Oilers have been out-shot 396-272 just at even-strength with Petrell on the ice over his 90 games in Edmonton.

Perhaps but Smyttys been looking tired and Id rather he plays every other game than being burnt out and possibly not available for the stretch run, besides how many of those 90 games was he(Petrell) ensnared in the Belanger triangle?

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#29 Craig1981
April 06 2013, 12:40PM
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Alsker wrote:

Perhaps but Smyttys been looking tired and Id rather he plays every other game than being burnt out and possibly not available for the stretch run, besides how many of those 90 games was he(Petrell) ensnared in the Belanger triangle?

I think its been tough on him laying center more so than being tired. Keeping him on the 4th line and limiting his minutes on the 4th and letting him play a roll he knows should help. I can't see Petrell on a Stanley cup team other than a deep reserve.

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#30 G Money
April 06 2013, 12:45PM
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- Would love to see those lines, though tough to imagine them taking Whitney out

- It's arguable that it's not the Belanger triangle, it is actually the Petrell-Belanger triangle. By eye or by stat, they have been brutal this year (except weirdly on the PK)

- I think the Gags-Yak combo, despite the defensive shortcomings, seems to work because Gags is the one guy that is able to regularly find Yak for that absolute laser cannon of a shot (not just a laser or a cannon, but laser cannon - that shot is as accurate and fast as a laser, with the devastating impact of a cannon!). Maybe adding in MPS provides some additional speed-based intimidation to the other D, and some defensive conscience, and so it works

- Nostalgia in full flight with Smyth-Horc-Hemsky, and maybe even a chance for another line besides #1 to keep heads above water

- Interesting to see how line #4 would do. Jones is a better fit on 4 than on 3. Lots of hate for Smithson, but Staples has an interesting analysis on the fact that he's not been on the ice for any major mistakes this year, so despite the Corsi's, he might be a substantial upgrade on Belanger

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#31 David S
April 06 2013, 12:53PM
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LAZAR-CANNON!

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#32 gaz
April 06 2013, 01:05PM
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@Jonathan Willis

I get that you rise and fall on the stats (real stats freaks don't use excel, BTW) but in no universe would I have Smyth playing ahead of Petrell; mullet be damned!

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#33 ginganinja
April 06 2013, 01:11PM
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I love this team to death but I have a terrible feeling that this game will be a lot like the last. Boring and in the oppositions favour. 3-1 Kings. Shots 21-15 for the Kings

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#34 DrunkGuyTy
April 06 2013, 01:45PM
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Totally stoked for a Saturday game in April with playoff implications still on the line. Gotta get out there 'n get it.

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#35 Smokey
April 06 2013, 02:03PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Petrell's awful 5-on-5, and shouldn't play unless somebody gets hurt. Oilers have been out-shot 396-272 just at even-strength with Petrell on the ice over his 90 games in Edmonton.

How much to zone starts contribute to that and having to play with Smyth and Belanger as your centers who are at the end of their rope.

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#36 DrDave
April 06 2013, 02:07PM
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Love the lines JW! GOILERS!!! Let's rebound from that stinker on thursday with 2 quick ones in the first 10 minutes! 4-1 Oilers!! Hall with 3 assists, Nuge with a goal, Eberle with 2 goals and an assist then PRV scores the 4th assisted by Nail!

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#37 Sloppy Joe
April 06 2013, 02:08PM
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gaz wrote:

I get that you rise and fall on the stats (real stats freaks don't use excel, BTW) but in no universe would I have Smyth playing ahead of Petrell; mullet be damned!

That's crazy talk. Petrell is terrible by eye and by stats. Smyth is getting long in the tooth, but he's still a solid 3rd or 4th liner.

Honestly, Petrell is not an NHL player. He brings zero offence. He somehow has a reputation as a good defensive player - and I just don't get that. He's an ok shot blocker on the PK, but otherwise he gets consistently dominated, even by other teams' bottom lines

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#39 Clay (The Butcher) Butchart
April 06 2013, 02:14PM
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Lets not be so optimistic Jon, if the Oilers play with as much energy as they did against Vancouver, they are going to lose by more than just 1 goal. I'd predict more of a 5-2 score...

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#40 BeeKayDub
April 06 2013, 02:19PM
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With 5 on 5 scoring improving somewhat, I'm leaning toward Fistric on the third pairing for his physical presence and defensive abilities. Isn't that what a third pairing should be for? Our dependence on Whitney for PP offense may not be as critical as it once was. If that's Whitney's only value, are his def zone gafs still worth the risk? I dunno...maybe the numbers say his spot on the PP is still worth the risk.

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#41 Mac962
April 06 2013, 02:21PM
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Give this team some credit and a chance for crying out loud. Look at the record in the last 10-11. They will come out hard. Have any of you ever played a high level of Hockey and 3 in 4 nights, its brutal. Granted in was Juniors but i dont care what kind of shape you are in, its harsh. The Oilers will be ready and i am glad this one is on the road actually.

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#42 oilman3
April 06 2013, 02:42PM
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well that didn't take long. unbelievable that the gagner line is paired with the potter/whitney combo. i really don't know what to think about krueger. i want to like him but some of his decisions are questionable at best.

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#43 NewAgeSys
April 06 2013, 02:44PM
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We cant leave men untouched in the slot and in prime shooting areas, we need to hit people, last game it was Sedin all alone with no contact, now a goal with a man right there but not useing his sphere of influence, just useing his stick, you need to switch from stick to body ASAP in those areas.

We need contact in our d-zone in those areas, and we need to get the hell moving.

We cannot afford to be passengers, in the games we do well in we are driving not riding, screw the penaltys we need to take the initiative.

Pressure them on the PK, look for offense.

That goal hppened because of lazy coverage, tell the men to wake up, and if they score against us in the next 5 mins again use the TO early.

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#44 Alsker
April 06 2013, 02:46PM
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oilman3 wrote:

well that didn't take long. unbelievable that the gagner line is paired with the potter/whitney combo. i really don't know what to think about krueger. i want to like him but some of his decisions are questionable at best.

You beat me to it, good PK to follow it up

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#45 Oilersfan4
April 06 2013, 02:52PM
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Dubnyk looks shaky

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#46 Oilfred
April 06 2013, 02:53PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Interesting to see Jones scratched while Petrell/Brown stay on the fourth line.

I would consider running three lines and keeping Petrell for Pk. Smithson for RH face offs and adding Whitney for the PP only.

Brown getting scratched.

More mins for the kids.

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#47 Walter Sobchak
April 06 2013, 03:00PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Interesting to see Jones scratched while Petrell/Brown stay on the fourth line.

It's actually very stunning! No need to down play it! Same with not playing Fistric over Whitney.

Brutal.

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#48 NewAgeSys
April 06 2013, 03:04PM
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They are carrying the puck through the n-zone, they want to reduce the number of passes they make especially through the n-zone , they are prepared for us,so lets force them to pass sooner and more often and lets deny them the n-zone skates, lets hit them hard and recover first and fastest.

We need to deny them the easy n-zone traverses.

No more slappers form our d-men, hard wristers or half-slappers, no big windups.

On the PP, we need more than one man cutting through the slot and through the prime scoring arras causing the defense troubles, we need one more man forceing them to adjust.

Its important to realise they are not attacking the n-zone the same way they usually do when we play them, they are doing what Vancouver did last game, they are adjusting to our system pre-game, so we need to adjust mack now.

Two man forecheck, stacked or gapped about ten feet, first man hitting hard and fast and second going right to the puck, we need our coverage to come from behind their assignments and attack the puck carrier from those spots, instead of staying on the outside we need to blast through that coverage and converge on the puck carrier.

Its important to do this soon so we can see what their pressure relief outlet play is so we can plan offensive attacks.

They are keeping it simple so we dont have to overthink it but we do need to force them to pass the puck when they dont want to pass it, we need the possesion changes, our system relies on them. Tonight the forecheckers will be working overtime because they will need to backcheck extra hard, we need stacked al least two man, fast and deep penetration and immediate pressure on the puck carrier before he hits the n-zone, no letting them skate through the n-zone untouched.

Lets pressure them on the PK, lets go for offense, we need to show LA we are hungrier,right now we dont look it , we arent old or mature or experienced enough to play the patience game, so lets get the lead out of our asses and start winning this game right now.

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#49 Alsker
April 06 2013, 03:08PM
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Not sure whats worse, 2 kings alone infront of Dubby or another half page post by NAS

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#50 NewAgeSys
April 06 2013, 03:12PM
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We really need to step up the physicality of this game, we are way to passive, its about time we crashed the net.

But lets focus on their new habit of carrying the puck through the n-zone, lets target them there and force some mistakes from them.

We are cycling nicely tonight in their zone, so lets remember to use the BACKHAND more, we need to be shooting mid-cycle when they are transitioning, not doing all the dam work just to work it to the point where they can read the shots, shoot from everywhere , all the time, and focus on the backhand.

We have been puonding the shots in from the far perimeter long enough to imprint them so lets send some guys right in on foot now.

We really better work on the PK offense tonight,pressure them early on the half-wall because that is how they are stopping us from going after them high on the blueline early, so pinch off the half-wall on them and then pull everyone up high and force the puck out and go on offense.

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