CAMPSERVATIONS

Jason Gregor
September 13 2013 07:33AM

The Oilers first day of training camp started with the RHIET (Repeated High Intensity Endurance Test) and finished with a solid focus on defensive zone coverage. The RHIET six lengths of the ice, back and forth, had pretty much every player skating straight-legged for the final two sets.

After the players finished their RHIET they had some time to recuperate, before heading to the adjacent sheet of ice for the rest of practice, where much of the practice revolved around D-zone coverage. The Oilers have been a train wreck in their own zone the past few years, and none of them seemed surprised that day one had a strong focus on the defensive zone.

They also mixed in some line rushes and other drills, but the practice wasn't that long as Eakins didn't want to push them too hard after starting the day with the RHIET.

Yesterday afternoon I had many fans wondering how David Perron or Ryan Smyth or others "looked." No players looked out of shape, but due to the type of practice, and it being only one day, it is virtually impossible to get a read on any player. However, I did observe a few things.

WHAT I NOTICED....

  • Justin Schultz changed his stride slightly. He is lower to the ice and that allows him to generate more power. He wasn't instructed to change his stride. He mentioned that during the summer he remembered back to some of his skating camps and how all the instructors focused on being low to the ice, so he put a bit more emphasis on it, and he liked it. He said he feels much stronger, and he also looks thicker now than he did last January.
     
  • You likely noticed Sam Gagner tweeted a picture on Tuesday that his roommates, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and J. Schultz, bought guitars and are learning to play. The first song Schultz wants to learn will be Carolina by Eric Church. Schultz is huge fan of country music.
     
  • Nugent-Hopkins is the most effortless skater on the Oilers. During the RHIET, his stride looked perfect. He never moves his head, and his shoulders barely move. Even when he fatigued during the final two sets, his posture and positioning was excellent. He doesn't waste any energy in his stride and that helps him in games, because he'll be more rested. 
     
  • RNH is doing "controlled" contact with the trainers, but only off the ice. They don't want him taking contact on the ice, or be in a position where he isn't expecting a blow. The Oilers are being cautious, and smart, about not rushing his return date, so don't expect him back until late October or early November.
     
  • Oscar Klefbom didn't skate. He took a shot from Golden Bear Levko Koper on Tuesday and is day-to-day.
     
  • Anton Belov still hasn't arrived due to Visa issues. The Oilers are hoping he arrives on the weekend or early next week.
     
  • Mike Brown's stache looks pretty sweet. He waxes the tips to make it look even tighter. Nice.


     
  • Andrew Ference had the best VO2 max, 67.3, the highest score Dallas Eakins had ever seen. Anton Lander and Nugent-Hopkins were the only other players in the 60s. Ference hadn't done a VO2 test in years; he said Boston and Pittsburgh don't do it.
     
  • I don't put much stock into line combinations on the first day of training camp, because rarely do they stay intact when the regular season starts. Yesterdays combos had people talking, and you can tell hockey is back because before the Oilers have had their first scrimmage some fans were already ripping Eakins for his combos.

    On Wednesday I asked Eakins about line combinations and he, like most NHL coaches, prefers to find duos. He'd love to have solid trios, but due to injuries, slumps and matchups, don't expect to see lines stay together for extended periods of time.
     
  • He had Hall between Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth. Eakins mentioned he wanted veterans beside Hall for the first few preseason games. If I'm looking at combos, I think Hall/Hemsky makes sense.
     
  • Free agent signee, Ryan Hamilton was elated to be skating beside Sam Gagner and Jordan Eberle. Hamilton did snip a few nice goals during line rushes. Eakins is high on Hamilton, so he'll get at least one game with 89 and 14, but I think it is fair to say that if we are looking at a duo on that line it will be the former first rounders. Hamilton could be the wildcard of camp. He has size and he's averaged 27 goals the past two years in the AHL.
     
  • Boyd Gordon was in the middle of David Perron and Nail Yakupov. Yakupov and Perron are the fiestiest of the skilled Oilers, so maybe they will work well as a combination.
     
  • Jesse Joensuu, Will Acton and Mike Brown skated together. If Acton and Brown are on the opening night roster it will be on the fourth line.
     
  • Anton Lander skated with Ryan Jones and Greg Chase, while Ben Eager skated with Matt Ford and Derek Nesbitt. I didn't watch Linus Omark's group practice, but I think he was with Marc Arcobello.
     
  • Some might be furious that Hemsky and Smyth are with Hall and not Perron and Yakupov, but it is day one of camp, so save your fury until the regular season.
     
  • I've said for months I don't expect Eakins to use Hall, Eberle, Gagner, Perron, Yakupov and Nugent-Hopkins (when he's ready) as the top-six regularly. I think he'll mix them into three lines, and I like that idea. Whoever plays with Hall is likely going to face the opposing #1 D pairing, which is fine since Hall played against them, and produced nicely last season, but Eakins wants balanced scoring and if Hall can succeed vs. the #1 pair, that means that two of the other skilled forwards will face the 3rd pairing. Whoever gets that matchup has to take advantage of it.

DAY THREE...

The Oilers will be on the ice longer today, no RHIET, and they will have some scrimmage time before their preseason openers against the Flames tomorrow in Calgary (7 p.m.) and in Edmonton (8 p.m.).

Eakins hasn't released the lineups for those two games yet, but I suspect you'll see them mixed up fairly evenly, although the team playing in Edmonton will have a more veteran team. In the preseason, teams usually give their home fans a more attractive lineup.

The first practice starts at 9 a.m. at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park and it is open to the public.

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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#1 yawto
September 13 2013, 07:43AM
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Can't wait for the fist edition of the boa even if it is a pre season split squad. Squeeeee

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#2 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
September 13 2013, 07:50AM
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What happened to not calling players young of old or vet or non-vet?

I honestly don't care what lines are in training camp, but the mixed signals are already starting.

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#4 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
September 13 2013, 08:04AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

I'd suggest you might be reading into things a bit too much. No mixed signals that I see. Letting Hall learn a new position flanked by guys with 20+ NHL seasons combined seems smart, compared to putting him beside a guy with 48 NHL games. It is preseason.

I get exactly what you are saying and I really have no issue. It's just the whole vet/non-vet that was suppose to be gone.

With that being said I'm not a fan of Smyth playing with Hall. Although I think in training camp them spending time together is going to pay dividends. Sounds like Smyth is already giving Hall pointers and helping build his confidence by letting him know that Hall will have support in his own end.

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#5 Dano
September 13 2013, 08:06AM
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Hey Jason,

Do you know if the pre-season games are going to be broadcasted at all?

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#6 VK63
September 13 2013, 08:14AM
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I realize Andy ference is a fitness phenom.... but... that number is mind boggling.

November Project..... rise up.

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#7 Archaeologuy
September 13 2013, 08:18AM
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Do organizations like the Pre season games on same days? Seems like it puts the new coach in a much more difficult position to evaluate his players.

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#8 j
September 13 2013, 08:20AM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

I get exactly what you are saying and I really have no issue. It's just the whole vet/non-vet that was suppose to be gone.

With that being said I'm not a fan of Smyth playing with Hall. Although I think in training camp them spending time together is going to pay dividends. Sounds like Smyth is already giving Hall pointers and helping build his confidence by letting him know that Hall will have support in his own end.

Eakin's comments regarding 'old guy' and 'young guy' were regarding preferential treatment. In the past, the old guys were given more latitude when it came to effort and determination. He comments had nothing to do with who plays with who. As Jason notes, putting Hall with two veterans during training camp makes an incredible amount of sense in terms of 'teachable moments'.

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#11 wheelz
September 13 2013, 08:26AM
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Anyone see how Grebeshkov's been doing?

Also, someone should take the mic away from Tom Gazzola. He just asked Denis if Nail was going to be his 'sidekick'. What a dumb question, the guy's like 10 years older than him. Someone should tell Tom just because people are from the same nation of over 200 million people, does not mean they'll be best of friends or 'mentor' eachother.

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#12 freeze
September 13 2013, 08:29AM
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Dano wrote:

Hey Jason,

Do you know if the pre-season games are going to be broadcasted at all?

I'm pretty sure Saturday's home game will be streamed from the Oilers' site. Not sure on the Calgary side.

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#13 RyanCoke
September 13 2013, 08:35AM
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Getting me excited for the start of the season. Only 2 1/2 weeks left

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#14 Numenius
September 13 2013, 08:39AM
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wheelz wrote:

Anyone see how Grebeshkov's been doing?

Also, someone should take the mic away from Tom Gazzola. He just asked Denis if Nail was going to be his 'sidekick'. What a dumb question, the guy's like 10 years older than him. Someone should tell Tom just because people are from the same nation of over 200 million people, does not mean they'll be best of friends or 'mentor' eachother.

I agree. Gazzola's question are often terrible. They should get someone else for that job.

The cute girl over at Jets TV is far better at interviewing, despite being young and fairly new to the job.

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#15 Leef O'Golin
September 13 2013, 08:45AM
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Finally: hockey! We are talking about hockey...in the present tense!!

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#16 2004Z06
September 13 2013, 08:46AM
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wheelz wrote:

Anyone see how Grebeshkov's been doing?

Also, someone should take the mic away from Tom Gazzola. He just asked Denis if Nail was going to be his 'sidekick'. What a dumb question, the guy's like 10 years older than him. Someone should tell Tom just because people are from the same nation of over 200 million people, does not mean they'll be best of friends or 'mentor' eachother.

I saw that too. The look on Grebs face was priceless!

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#17 Lochenzo
September 13 2013, 08:51AM
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Mike Brown gets my vote for the opening night lineup if only so that we can see that mug on the big screen.

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#18 Hayek
September 13 2013, 08:58AM
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Mike Brown better do whatever he can do get attention or entertain fans, because he is not a good hockey player.

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#19 Wonger
September 13 2013, 09:03AM
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Lochenzo wrote:

Mike Brown gets my vote for the opening night lineup if only so that we can see that mug on the big screen.

He will be looking at his feet all night like the rest of the Oilers so you won't see that mug on the screen. THEY WILL ALL BE TRYING TO AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH BIG BAD "NHL HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMP" BRIAN MCGRATTAN!!!!!!!!!!

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#20 justDOit
September 13 2013, 09:12AM
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@wheelz

I read someone's comments from yesterday, where they reported that Grebs almost got Steve Smith in the nards with a backhand shot. So yeah, he's still trippin.

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#21 Will
September 13 2013, 09:37AM
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I don't actually mind the Yakupov, Perron, Gordon combo. The problem with putting them in between Gagner is his face off percentage is abysmal. But if Gordon can win the draw and then have the puck be distributed up the wings to one of them, then gaining the zone and creating a scoring chance might be a little more successful.

Putting Smyth with Hall also isn't a terrible idea. Smyth likely will run out of gas half way through so you might as well give him all his choice minutes up front when he still has the fuel.

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#22 Hayek
September 13 2013, 09:39AM
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I may be in the minority here, but I generally care less about line combinations.

All I really care about is that the most talented players are getting the most ice time, and the least talented get less. How they are combined is a minor detail as compared to their ice time distribution.

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#23 Wax Man Riley
September 13 2013, 09:44AM
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Wonger wrote:

He will be looking at his feet all night like the rest of the Oilers so you won't see that mug on the screen. THEY WILL ALL BE TRYING TO AVOID EYE CONTACT WITH BIG BAD "NHL HEAVY WEIGHT CHAMP" BRIAN MCGRATTAN!!!!!!!!!!

I've seen you posting this a few times. Do you actually think McGrattan will affect the outcome of the game?

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#24 Silver Streak
September 13 2013, 09:48AM
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Is Klefbom skating today ( Friday ) ? Any concussion rumblings after the cheap shot Golden Bear elbow ?

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#25 Wonger
September 13 2013, 09:48AM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I've seen you posting this a few times. Do you actually think McGrattan will affect the outcome of the game?

I hope not! I am an Oiler fan and season ticket holder who wants to see our young stars protected! I was at the game when Sarich steamrolled Hall and nobody responded because the oilers are simply not tough enough. L love Mike Brown and Ben Eager - both better hockey players than people give them credit for but the OIL really need a SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT to protect their skill- and we have tons of skill!

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#26 Oilcruzer
September 13 2013, 09:53AM
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I WANT to see experiments in preseason rather than in meaningful games.

Heck, try Schultz at center even if he is stellar on the draw. (hypothetical example)

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#27 Reg Dunlop
September 13 2013, 09:55AM
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@Wonger

Honestly man, do you really think hockey needs designated fighters who can't play the game? I like to throw the same garbage around, that the oil need a brawler to protect the kids, but I do so without any real conviction because I know it won't for one second dissuade Kessler or Clutterbuck or whoever from trying to intimidate young oilers. Real hockey is back in town and the time for joking around about wrestling on skates is over.

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#28 Hayek
September 13 2013, 10:20AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Honestly man, do you really think hockey needs designated fighters who can't play the game? I like to throw the same garbage around, that the oil need a brawler to protect the kids, but I do so without any real conviction because I know it won't for one second dissuade Kessler or Clutterbuck or whoever from trying to intimidate young oilers. Real hockey is back in town and the time for joking around about wrestling on skates is over.

Oilers had a lineup that included McIntyre, Stortini, and Peckham, and guys like Hemsky were still getting run. Quite simply, enforcers aren't a deterrent, they are revenge. The thing is, the other guy simply refuses to fight, and you can't even get that. That's why enforcers are useless.

When Perry, the Sedins, Iginla, whoever comes to play against us, and Smid or whatever other defenceman sees them, he is going to crush them given the opportunity. Having a goon in the other lineup does not change this. Why do we expect if we have a goon, other teams will change their behaviour? It is such a weak argument.

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#29 Fresh Mess
September 13 2013, 10:22AM
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They should try out Brown as 4th line C

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#30 Wonger
September 13 2013, 10:24AM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

Honestly man, do you really think hockey needs designated fighters who can't play the game? I like to throw the same garbage around, that the oil need a brawler to protect the kids, but I do so without any real conviction because I know it won't for one second dissuade Kessler or Clutterbuck or whoever from trying to intimidate young oilers. Real hockey is back in town and the time for joking around about wrestling on skates is over.

Then why are many of the teams that employ ENFORCERS more successful than the Oilers when the OILERS arguably have the most skill in the NHL?

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#31 **
September 13 2013, 10:32AM
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Will wrote:

I don't actually mind the Yakupov, Perron, Gordon combo. The problem with putting them in between Gagner is his face off percentage is abysmal. But if Gordon can win the draw and then have the puck be distributed up the wings to one of them, then gaining the zone and creating a scoring chance might be a little more successful.

Putting Smyth with Hall also isn't a terrible idea. Smyth likely will run out of gas half way through so you might as well give him all his choice minutes up front when he still has the fuel.

Perron and Gordon are excellent two way players. Yakupov needs a lot of work in his own zone, although he did improve by season's end. IF these 3 play together yakupov would me more comfortable to go on adventures towards the opposing net knowing he has a lot of support in the back end if the play is broken.

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#32 916oiler
September 13 2013, 10:36AM
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Open to the public? I wanna go soooooo bad!!!! Screw work, who needs money anyway right!?!?!?

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#33 Wonger
September 13 2013, 10:37AM
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Hayek wrote:

Oilers had a lineup that included McIntyre, Stortini, and Peckham, and guys like Hemsky were still getting run. Quite simply, enforcers aren't a deterrent, they are revenge. The thing is, the other guy simply refuses to fight, and you can't even get that. That's why enforcers are useless.

When Perry, the Sedins, Iginla, whoever comes to play against us, and Smid or whatever other defenceman sees them, he is going to crush them given the opportunity. Having a goon in the other lineup does not change this. Why do we expect if we have a goon, other teams will change their behaviour? It is such a weak argument.

Why does almost every team in our division and most teams in the NHL have a DESIGNATED SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT or TWO (LEAFS)!? Why did most of these teams finish higher in the standings tha the Oilers? Do they have more skill? heart? luck?

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#34 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 13 2013, 10:37AM
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Wonger wrote:

Then why are many of the teams that employ ENFORCERS more successful than the Oilers when the OILERS arguably have the most skill in the NHL?

When you finish 30th in the NHL, all of the teams that

- Use white hockey tape
- Employ players over 40
- Have a forward with beard

are also more successful.

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#35 **
September 13 2013, 10:39AM
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@Wonger

LA, San Jose, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburg don't have fighters. In Boston's case they just have big players who happen to also be nasty, but not typical goons. The way the penalty system is now, all the opposing team has to do is let the goon be the instigator and make that team pay on the pp. I can assure you the opposing coach will staple the goon to the bench if his team is on the wrong end of the score sheet.

The Oilers problem has not been a lack of tough goons, but a lack of tough on the boards and on the net players.

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#36 The Beaker
September 13 2013, 10:39AM
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Wonger wrote:

Then why are many of the teams that employ ENFORCERS more successful than the Oilers when the OILERS arguably have the most skill in the NHL?

ummm you realize the problem with that statement?over the last 4 years EVERYONE'S been better than the Oilers. EVERYONE. They havent had arguably the most skill in the NHL, they might (hopefully) be in that convo soon. If you think adding players who cannot play hockey will help this lineup you're out of your mind.

The Oilers are going to be awesome. It wont be because a guy like Macintyre is in the lineup though.

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#37 book¡e
September 13 2013, 10:40AM
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Wonger wrote:

Then why are many of the teams that employ ENFORCERS more successful than the Oilers when the OILERS arguably have the most skill in the NHL?

because arguably

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#38 book¡e
September 13 2013, 10:43AM
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Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

When you finish 30th in the NHL, all of the teams that

- Use white hockey tape
- Employ players over 40
- Have a forward with beard

are also more successful.

Are you referring to this guy?

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#39 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 13 2013, 10:46AM
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@book¡e

- Use white hockey tape ?
- Employ players over 40 ✔
- Have a forward with a beard ✔

Maybe.

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#40 Ducey
September 13 2013, 10:48AM
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Wonger wrote:

Then why are many of the teams that employ ENFORCERS more successful than the Oilers when the OILERS arguably have the most skill in the NHL?

Many teams that are worse than the Oilers (although that is a limited group) employ enforcers too.

There is no correlation between enforcers and winning.

The Oilers have sucked because they have had a lack of depth (on D and at C), poor systems play and a young team.

You think if they added a heavyweight to the teams from the last few years they would have made the playoffs??

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#41 vetinari
September 13 2013, 10:51AM
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Preseason line combos mean almost nothing -- at least until you get to the week before the regular season.

Take a look at CapGeek and you pretty much know who most of the opening night roster will be-- in reality, there is maybe 3 or 4 jobs on the 23 man roster that are up for grabs but the rest are all spoken for.

With Carolina losing Pitkanen and Philly & Boston being over the cap, are there any trade possibilities there? Would we be able to unload a couple of defencemen for help at centre or a heavyweight or some prospects/picks?

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#42 bdiddy18
September 13 2013, 10:59AM
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The best thing Eakins has at is disposable is skill in his top 9.

If the Oilers are slumping in a game or need a pick me up ...for this first time ever the MacBlender makes sense.

Hallsy not getting checked to tightly flip him down all the way to line 3 even to get away from the dman markings.

Same goes for shutting it down for the final 5 of game... Gagner not performing on the faceoffs ..send him down bring up Gordon or Acton to finish of the game and the 2 points.

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#43 oilerjed
September 13 2013, 11:00AM
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vetinari wrote:

Preseason line combos mean almost nothing -- at least until you get to the week before the regular season.

Take a look at CapGeek and you pretty much know who most of the opening night roster will be-- in reality, there is maybe 3 or 4 jobs on the 23 man roster that are up for grabs but the rest are all spoken for.

With Carolina losing Pitkanen and Philly & Boston being over the cap, are there any trade possibilities there? Would we be able to unload a couple of defencemen for help at centre or a heavyweight or some prospects/picks?

Carolina picked up Ron Hainsey yesterday. Not that he is a pitkanen.

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#44 DSF
September 13 2013, 11:03AM
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vetinari wrote:

Preseason line combos mean almost nothing -- at least until you get to the week before the regular season.

Take a look at CapGeek and you pretty much know who most of the opening night roster will be-- in reality, there is maybe 3 or 4 jobs on the 23 man roster that are up for grabs but the rest are all spoken for.

With Carolina losing Pitkanen and Philly & Boston being over the cap, are there any trade possibilities there? Would we be able to unload a couple of defencemen for help at centre or a heavyweight or some prospects/picks?

Philly isn't over the cap when the season starts.

Pronger goes on LTIR.

Boston isn't over the cap either as Marc Savard's $4M cap hit won't count as soon as the season gets underway.

Carolina signed Ron Hainsey yesterday to replace Pitkanen.

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#45 Hayek
September 13 2013, 11:12AM
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Wonger wrote:

Why does almost every team in our division and most teams in the NHL have a DESIGNATED SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT or TWO (LEAFS)!? Why did most of these teams finish higher in the standings tha the Oilers? Do they have more skill? heart? luck?

Could you name them please? I don't see many other superheavyweights in the NHL, and even those who do don't dress them on a regular basis.

Other teams finish higher in the standings because they have more skill. We dress a young lineup that is not above average NHL calibre. We have potential, but other teams have proven NHLers. We'll probably get there in a couple years.

But having some "superheavyweight" in the lineup who can only fight another team's "superheavyweight" does not affect the outcome of games. That's why having McIntyre, Stortini, and Peckham in the lineup did not make us a winning team.

Stop living in the 1980s, time has passed you by.

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#46 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 13 2013, 11:26AM
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DSF wrote:

Philly isn't over the cap when the season starts.

Pronger goes on LTIR.

Boston isn't over the cap either as Marc Savard's $4M cap hit won't count as soon as the season gets underway.

Carolina signed Ron Hainsey yesterday to replace Pitkanen.

It is my understanding that you can't put a player on the LTIR until the season starts AND that you can't be over the cap when the season starts.

They either shuffle something, pay a penalty or I've been misled.

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#47 rickithebear
September 13 2013, 11:31AM
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Wonger; Here is a lesson for everyone. Last year Devon dubnyk faced 32.33 shots per game. He had a .920 Save% and a 2.57 goals aginst average.

Carey price faced 27.16 shots per game he had a .905 Save% and a 2.59 Goals against.

DD facing 27.16 shot would be 2.17 Goals against.

Carey price facing 32.33 shots would be 3.07 goals against.

Could it be that we need to be tougher in front of net and along boards preventing quality pocession and reducing the shot count to a top 10 count (27.16 shots/gm)or at least league average 28.9 shots/gm.

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#48 bazmagoo
September 13 2013, 11:32AM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

"It is my understanding that you can't put a player on the LTIR until the season starts AND that you can't be over the cap when the season starts.

They either shuffle something, pay a penalty or I've been misled."

That's my understanding of the rule as well. I would imagine Holmgren has some sort of plan in place though.

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#49 Craig1981
September 13 2013, 11:51AM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

It is my understanding that you can't put a player on the LTIR until the season starts AND that you can't be over the cap when the season starts.

They either shuffle something, pay a penalty or I've been misled.

You have missed. DSF is actually very correct on all this. He was informed and made rational comments about Carolina. Maybe there is hope.

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#50 Craig1981
September 13 2013, 12:03PM
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@Wonger

If you need a super heavyweight to win then why did Pittsburgh only dress Steve MacIntyre for 1 game last yeat and 12 they year before that. And Ivanans play only one game they yeat he was healthy for the Flames. Who were the Super heaveywieghts that dressed in the playoffs for the Hawks this year BTW? OR for the Ducks or Pits?

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