GDB -3: OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

Jason Gregor
September 23 2013 12:29PM

Marc Arcobello and Anton Lander received a wonderful opportunity yesterday morning, when it was announced Sam Gagner is out at least a month with a broken jaw. Had Gagner not been injured, neither one of them would have been playing on the top-three lines, and unless Craig MacTavish picks up a veteran off the waiver wire before next Tuesday, one of Lander or Arcobello will be in the Oilers top-nine on opening night against the Jets.

Boyd Gordon was going to be the 3rd line centre, and it looks like he'll get a chance to play with scoring wingers.

Taylor Hall has played with Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth throughout camp, and they will likely start the season together. So that leaves Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Nail Yakupov and one of Ryan Hamilton, Linus Omark, Tyler Pitlick, Jesse Joensuu and Ryan Jones to play the wings with Boyd Gordon and Arcobello/Lander.

It is not ideal to start the season with your first (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) and second (Gagner) line centres in the pressbox, but that's life in Edmonton.

In a best case scenario Gagner will only be out a month, which means he'd miss ten regular season games, and return on October 24th vs. the Capitals. Nugent-Hopkins is shooting for the final week of October, but the Oilers will not rush him, so he might be able to return on Sunday October 27th vs. the Kings, which means he'd miss 12 games. Again, that is if everything goes well for both, and maybe one of them returns a bit sooner, but that seems unlikely.

Gagner will have surgery tomorrow, and he's going to have a few plates inserted into his jaw. If is mouth needs to be wired shut his recovery will be longer, so we won't know if he'll be out a month or longer until tomorrow or Wednesday.

OPTIONS

What should Craig MacTavish do?

He can go with what he has and hope that Gordon, Arcobello/Lander can fill the void for the short term.

He can look at the waiver wire and grab a serviceable veteran, if one becomes available.

Look at a trade.

Making a trade from an obvious position of weakness isn't ideal. No team is going to trade him a legit top-six centre, unless he's willing to part with one of Eberle, Perron or Yakupov, and I doubt that happens. We rarely see trades in October, mainly because teams want to see what they have.

The waiver wire might be MacTavish's best bet if he is looking for someone with NHL experience.

Some teams have gotten very lucky with waiver wire pickups over the years, and most centres would love the opportunity to come to Edmonton and play with Eberle, Perron, Hemsky or Yakupov.

There is no guarantee someone more proven than Lander or Arcobello becomes available via waivers, so Dallas Eakins will use the next three games to figure out who deserves the best opportunity of their young career, Arcobello or Lander.

It is clear that Arcobello is ranked higher than Lander today after listening to Eakins. he'll have three games to show he's capable of filling the second or third line centre slot for the short time.

It looks like Gordon is going to get an opportunity to play with skilled forwards, and he'll centre Yakupov and Omark tonight.

LINEUP

Omark-Gordon-Yakupov
Joensuu-Arcobello-Pitlick
Jones-Lander-Hamilton
Eager-Acton-Brown

Ference-Belov
Smid-Larsen
N.Schultz-Fedun

Dubnyk
LaBarbera

RETURN OF THE SMAC....

The Oilers claimed Steve MacIntyre on waivers and he'll be back in Edmonton for the third time. There is no doubt MacIntyre can fight and intimidate, when he's on the ice, but if they only play him four minutes a game I'm not sure how impactful he can be.

I will say this; however, I had four different Oilers walk up to me with a huge smile on their face saying MacIntyre is coming back. There is no doubt the players respect his toughness, but unless the rest of the Oilers players are willing to play team tough, and that doesn't mean just fighting, then MacIntyre will have a hard time policing every player on every team. 

Those who believe having a heavyweight on the bench will stop Zack Kassian from making a dumb play, are just as off-base as those who use Chicago and Detroit as examples of not needing one. The Hawks and Wings are great teams, the Oilers aren't, and until the Oilers start winning they won't get any respect, and teams won't be fearful of their powerplay, because the majority of the game is still played 5-on-5, and the Oilers don't scare anyone at even strength; at least not yet.

The Oilers need more team toughness, not one guy who plays four minutes a night, if they want to properly protect themselves. You can't expect Mike Brown, Ben Eager or Steve MacIntyre to police the opposition, because they don't play regularly enough.

The Oilers need to be more assertive, or MacTavish has to go find some players who have an edge, but also possess the skill to play in the top-nine or top-four. Until that happens, I believe teams will continue to take liberties with the Oilers unless more players decide to show they are willing to stand up for themselves, or have more of a pack mentality. You can't look the other way when one of your teammates is being harassed. It doesn't mean all the Oilers skilled players need to become fighters; they just need to have more players willing to defend one another.

Did Phil Kessel take one punch from John Scott last night? Nope, his teammates came flying in before any serious damage occurred. We all know Scott/Kessel situations are rare, but when all four of his teammates didn't hesitate and come to his rescue, that saved Kessel from a beating, and none of them got injured.

QUICK HITS

  •  Zack Kassian will likely be suspended for at least five games, because the NHL asked, although he didn't go, for an in-person hearing and that usually means a minimum five game suspension. There is no doubt it was a careless play, but I don't buy for a second that he did it because the Oilers don't have a heavyweight. Teams that have heavyweights still suffer injuries. Kassian made a dumb decision in the heat of the moment.

    Hockey is a violent game, and when you have guys skating 30 miles an hour, with blades on their feet, sticks in their hands and body contact is allowed, bad decisions will happen. We need to stop being surprised when a player makes a dumb, split-second decision. We all do it in real life, and often in situations that don't involve competition.

    How many of us have had road rage recently? You freaked, likely over a simple thing, and then started cursing and ofter threatening the person. We all know it is against the law, but that doesn't go through our mind when we are freaking out. We know it is illegal to text and drive, yet most of us still do it.

    Hockey fans and pundits need to stop being shocked or surprised when a player makes a bad or careless decision. Usually they are split-second decisions, and even though the risk of suspension or possible retribution from a tough guy looms overhead, that doesn't go through a player's mind milliseconds before he hits a player.
     
  • The most positive news for Oiler fans coming from the MacIntyre news, and Gagner injury is that Hall is going to play even more minutes according to head coach Dallas Eakins. If Hall is on the ice 21-22 minutes a night, that means the Oilers have a much better shot of winning more games.
     
  • Despite all that I understand why the Oilers got MacIntyre, and I think it was necessary. We all know the Oilers have been pushed around for years, and if having MacIntyre on the bench makes every player even a bit more confident it will be worth it. The key is using him in certain situations to initiate physical play, rather than just respond when the opposition takes liberties on the Oilers. Reacting after the fact isn't going to change anything.
     
  • Anton Belov looked very good in his first game on Saturday. He made some excellent passes out of the zone, and looked solid defensively. It was only one game, but I thought he made a very good first impression.
     
  • Ryan Jones needs to play with more tenacity and competitiveness. Eakins has preached "compete" and Jones, Acton, Lander, Omark and Joensuu all need to show more of it, if they want to be here when the season starts. 

 

 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 Spydyr
September 23 2013, 12:45PM
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"I had four different Oilers walk up to me with a huge smile on their face saying MacIntyre is coming back."

Enough said , end of argument. Hockey players all appreciate someone having their back.

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#2 Spydyr
September 23 2013, 12:48PM
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james_dean wrote:

As what kassian said

"great, he cant even skate"

Deterrent? Good grief

He sure can punch though. Something I hope Kassian feels next time the teams meet.

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#3 VK63
September 23 2013, 01:01PM
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Kessel got punked. Scott wasn't going to rag doll him.. he was toying with him and Kessel and (incredibly) Clarkson fell for it hook, line and sinker.

As for smac. I guess I look forward to a McGratton vs Smac tilt and the 38 seconds of staged anticipation that it will generate.

Smac is locked to the code. he doesn't jump skilled guys, couldn't catch them if he tried and exists solely to square off against the other dancing bear on the ice.

However.

He is a huge beauty in the room. The young lads love him to bits... and watching Louie Debrusk and the other hunting buddies strutting around like peacocks is amusing to be sure.

Welcome back big dog! May Eakins find something in your on ice play that the many others could not.

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#4 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 12:48PM
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MacIntyre doesn't even need icetime to be effective. Send him over the boards 2 or 3 times a season to send a nucleur type message when required. Let him go Clarkson on a few occasions. Nothing wrong with having that loaded shotgun seated on the bench. 0:00 icetime per evening won't allow teams to take advantage of his Dave Andreychuk type foot speed. Since the NHL is closing the doors on violence, maybe it's time to explore other retaliatory methods. What's the difference. 40 games in the press box, or 40 games suspended during the coming season. Send a message for basically chump change for Katz.

Rather odd he may cost his hunting buddy Ryan Jones his spot on the roster. Jonesy has fallen way short of his commitment to be more physical/intense when extended for another year by MacTavish two months ago.

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#5 BURROWSHASCRABS
September 23 2013, 01:26PM
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CDean wrote:

Kassian's comment sums it up nicely, if you can't actually play the game you are a joke

Lets see who the joke is when they(Kassian) are running away from Smac like the little bitch he is.

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#6 Time Travelling Sean
September 23 2013, 01:42PM
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james_dean wrote:

As what kassian said

"great, he cant even skate"

Deterrent? Good grief

I didn't know Kassian could skate either.

Gagner can skate though and we don't have him because of some 4th liner.

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#7 **
September 23 2013, 04:28PM
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comparing road rage with a broken jaw is a bit of a douche bag move Jason Gregor.

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#8 Fluxite
September 23 2013, 05:34PM
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@Gregor

Perhaps you don't realize it but when in open chat on your radio show, you're condescending.

When speaking to a guest you're not.

Take it as helpful criticism.

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#9 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 04:39PM
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TSNBobMcKenzie: VAN's Zack Kassian gets 5 regular season games and rest of pre-season for highsticking Gagner.

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#10 DRUDS
September 23 2013, 12:41PM
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I am a bit depressed by this injury, Arcobello and Lander have been pretty near invisible this camp and Hamilton has been ok but as a third/fourth line centre not second line. I am thinking we need to get someone as we cannot afford to start the season with 10 losses in a row or something like that.

Also I was sad to see the defenceman Hunt get sent down as that guy was awesome for the two games I watched...small but showed a lot of grit and had some offence as well.

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#11 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 11:15PM
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@Smokey

Your comment on Ference. When's the last time this team had a defenseman who made others around him better? Nurse looked great when paired with him as well. Good news for his D partners this coming year.

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#12 james_dean
September 23 2013, 12:34PM
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As what kassian said

"great, he cant even skate"

Deterrent? Good grief

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#13 dobkos@shaw.ca
September 23 2013, 01:48PM
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Speaking of over-rated Kassian, Before you beak off brother- you are a thriving success wow.. You can't even contribute playing with the Sedin Sisters. Payback is going to hurt at some point , when the Oil are smacking the Nucks and the game is out of hand , SMAC is going to remember and introduce himself to you. Trust me Zac - He is not Ben Eager.

On another note - is the game on TV tonight at all ?

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#14 French Toast Mafia
September 23 2013, 01:53PM
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I was listening to Stauffer today and I like the idea of having SMac in against some of the bigger teams. It would be nice for guys like Eager or Brown to be able to take runs at everyone on the Canucks just like they do to the Oilers. I hate watching guys like Kassian and Beiska try and kill Hall every shift. I hope to see Eager, Brown, and Joensue doing the exact same thing with SMac as the insurance on the bench. Tom Sestito isn't going to be doing anything against SMac

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#15 Pucker
September 23 2013, 02:14PM
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I haven't seen any pre-season but IF Eager can consistently play like he does on his best days and IF Brown does the same and IF we can get good support/puck movement in the D-Zone with Smac on the ice, we may have some surprisingly effective players providing some good entertainment during Oiler games.

I'm not a big supporter of the nuclear enforcer but at least it's a baby step and perhaps it will bring about a more aggressive attitude throughout the line up.

I've just watched the Kassian thing. He should get 20 games.

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#16 TonyT
September 23 2013, 01:03PM
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If Big Mac plays 3 minutes a night, and someone else gets double shifted (i.e. Hall), then I'm fine with that. The last time he played didn't he go right after Clutterbuck (might be wrong), after one of the young guns took a hit. If all he does is lineup against John Scott or George Parros, then we don't need him. But, if he pulls a John Scott and goes after Phil Kessel or Kassian or Clutterbuck regardless of if they oblige him, then that is a "nuclear deterrent" for the opposition.

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#17 Tim in Kelowna
September 23 2013, 01:32PM
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Stauffer reports that Big Mac is coming in much leaner. If that means he's quicker than in the past then he could be valuable on the forecheck (somewhere I think the Oilers have struggled in the past few seasons).

I like this move because Eakins is the head coach. He will demand a lot from Mac, and if he can manage to compete at a satisfactory level and keep his game as simple as possible then this will work out nicely.

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#18 Brian Sutherby Jockstrap
September 23 2013, 01:32PM
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Oilers player need to learn/find ways to defend themselves. Not the point of being Phil Kessel and slashing the other teams, but find ways to bite back. Perron did a good job of this last game when he cheap shot Wiese with a punch to the face.

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#19 CDean
September 23 2013, 12:48PM
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Kassian's comment sums it up nicely, if you can't actually play the game you are a joke

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#20 Lochenzo
September 23 2013, 01:27PM
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I noticed that Perron took one of the draws on the PP and won. He definitely has the defensive acumen to play centre. Maybe that's bandaid #2 and ask Yak to start the year on the left side. Not ideal because you're asking so many guys to play away from their strength, but might be servicable.

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#21 HOFFFF
September 23 2013, 02:13PM
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I would love to see Big Mac make the same statement to start the season like he did against Calgary a few years ago.

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#22 StHenriOilBomb
September 23 2013, 08:55PM
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Belov looks great! It's early, but I like it.

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#23 Harlie
September 23 2013, 01:32PM
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Good pick-up and I agree on the philosophy of bringing in a deterrent.

Would it have stopped the Kassian play? Who knows, but that's not the point.

The point is that Eakins has stated over and over again that he wants more scrums and 5 on 5 gguys going in to defend each other. Yet, the make up of our team is small and skilled. So saying what to do and doing what he says is against reality.

A big team like Boston can play team tough because they have big guys sprinkled throughout the line up. The Oilers simply don't have those guys.

So if a line is undersized and getting run out of the building, well the next shift Jones, Brown and Big Mac comes out to push around the other teams skilled line up or to pound out their heavy weights.

This is a job that you can;t ask Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Perron etc to do and I don;t know why the heck you'd even want them to.

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#24 Oilcruzer
September 23 2013, 05:34PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

TSNBobMcKenzie: VAN's Zack Kassian gets 5 regular season games and rest of pre-season for highsticking Gagner.

Too light.

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#25 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 10:53PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Sounds like Eakins was impressed with Pitlick and Joensuu...

Doesn't say much for the rest of that group. Not a great performance for many players on "show me" night for Dallas Eakins. Jones is playing like there's 20 other teams that would take him in a heartbeat. Oilers could benefit by having that 1.5 buried in OKC this season .

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#26 book¡e
September 24 2013, 06:29AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

Ryan Whitney made everyone around him look great by comparison last year!

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#27 Craig1981
September 23 2013, 01:20PM
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Gregor, do you think the MacIntyre pickup, will mean the Oilers will be more likely to carry 2 reserve forwards and 1 dman instead of the opposite as people thought before?

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#28 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 01:20PM
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Glad you didn't bury the lede!

The big story today, isn't SMac... but the crippling C depth for the team.

It will be interesting to watch and see if MacT has something up his sleeve. He sounded content to stand pat with his depth. If that's the case, we're in trouble.

There are some options out there. Sub-optimal... but "any port in a storm"

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#30 Reinman
September 23 2013, 05:04PM
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Omark on the Top line tonight. Hope he realizes this is the game he needs to prove he is an NHLer.

Another 5 goal game would probably go a long way.

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#31 pelhem grenville
September 23 2013, 05:51PM
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...MacT gets Smac back...nice!

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#32 Dennis
September 23 2013, 07:35PM
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Holy sh*t, Sam's face!! Poor kid!

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BU4-w0zCAAAI75H.jpg

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#33 Alsker
September 23 2013, 10:59PM
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Belov has that Ference look to his game..calm and confident, sorry Grebs was nice reliving the past BUT...as for Joensuu another good game was missing Jones most of the night other than chasing his tail like last year. Maybe thats his job look busy while accomplishing jacksh*t

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#34 JJ
September 23 2013, 01:34PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

You know you're in trouble when....

Your head coach says you're in "Dire Straits" down the middle a week before the season starts.

http://youtu.be/kAl5jucOgro

Yea, I guess you could say Snowpants and the Nuge got their... money for nothing.

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#35 tileguy
September 23 2013, 02:36PM
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Of course the players are not afraid of a nuclear deterrent, the all have a degree of mach to play the game. You have to make the COACH afraid of the detterent, and you do that by immediately targeting one of there skill guys. You put the big fella on with a couple of skaters that can force any one of their skill guys in a corner and then he gets his face bloddied. The league knows this, the others teams knows this, everybody knows this, a suspension will follow, maybe 5 guys for our good, Kassian will probably get 5 games, big deal, we lost Gagne for 10-20 games. Going after Kasian is STUPID, going after a skill guy makes them all wary, ie the player the coach and the league.

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#37 DSF
September 23 2013, 08:00PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

Yikes

Over the careers of our top 3 centres - Hall, RNH, Gagner what is the percentage of missed games due to injury.. Need to count what Hall would have missed ladt year.

We have an URGENT need at centre. Murray solved Alfie within a day...what will MacT's Bold move be to respond?

Sign another bottom pairing defenseman?

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#38 Smokey
September 23 2013, 10:50PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Belov is clearly the best of the rest on this team. It's clear already, and he's only going to get more comfortable/better as the weeks progress. Clearly better than Larssen, Grebeshkov, N.Schultz, Fedun and Potter. Heck, i'd even put him ahead of Smid. Only thing Belov needs is a better number, the ghost of Tom Gilbert is still too fresh.

Way too many AHL'ers in both lineups this evening. Not even close to the pace we'll see next week.

Ahead of Smid? Maybe eventually. He definitely is seems sound and makes smart effective plays. I'd like to know how he just became so good in a period of a year. However, he was playing with a very effective and experienced partner in Ference and that can't be under estimated. I'd like to see him with another partner to see if he can carry a pairing. I am very impressed after tonight..

Larson looked good. Guy sure can skate well. Watching him in Dallas he did not play like this when I watched him. Defensive zone needs improvement, but he should make the club.

Grebeskov should get one more game, then a plane ticket to OKC.

Fedun was ok. Doesn't hurt you and makes simple plays.

Smid looked like a guy who was out for a skate tonight. Looks like he knows he doesn't need to try hard.

Defence ain't the problem, but boy am I scared about two AHL centers.

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#39 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 01:24PM
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You know you're in trouble when....

Your head coach says you're in "Dire Straits" down the middle a week before the season starts.

http://youtu.be/kAl5jucOgro

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#40 madjam
September 23 2013, 05:33PM
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Pre season suspension for Weise and same with 5 game for Kassian . Small price to pay for taking star players out - atta go Shanny this should guarantee more star players getting run out of the game again this year . I'm sure all fans want to see their types over any star players . Now it should be worth trading for J.Scott as well , to send a clear message back to Canucks and others . Shanny's message received and it was well worth it ?

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#41 TonyT
September 23 2013, 05:45PM
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@Rotten Ron

I know he wasn't here for the Hall-Clutterbuck incident last year, Staubitz does sound familiar though. I know the other player turtled and Mac just let him have it anyway. If the Oilers can't obtain a fridge who can skate (Clarkson), then a guaranteed ass kicking will just have to do. I agree with Brin McGratton earlier when he suggested there no longer was a code. If Ott, Clutterbuck, Kaleta, etc. take runs at your players whether or not they oblige, a heavyweight can be effective if he sets them straight anyways. I think teams will gladly kill of on instigator in that scenario.

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#42 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 10:19PM
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Belov is clearly the best of the rest on this team. It's clear already, and he's only going to get more comfortable/better as the weeks progress. Clearly better than Larssen, Grebeshkov, N.Schultz, Fedun and Potter. Heck, i'd even put him ahead of Smid. Only thing Belov needs is a better number, the ghost of Tom Gilbert is still too fresh.

Way too many AHL'ers in both lineups this evening. Not even close to the pace we'll see next week.

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#43 OILERSORDEATH
September 23 2013, 10:25PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Jonesu makes the opening day roster, as does Acton?

Ryan Jones on the bubble?

I 100% agree, Jones looked a bit out of sync. I don't think Omark makes it either, he was a non-factor for most of the game. Thoughts?

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#44 StHenriOilBomb
September 24 2013, 02:02AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Your comment on Ference. When's the last time this team had a defenseman who made others around him better? Nurse looked great when paired with him as well. Good news for his D partners this coming year.

It's been a while. Definitely looks more and more like a solid pickup.

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#45 Dallas
September 24 2013, 08:15AM
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Fluxite wrote:

@Gregor

Perhaps you don't realize it but when in open chat on your radio show, you're condescending.

When speaking to a guest you're not.

Take it as helpful criticism.

Gregor don't listen to this guy. I love it when you question stupid callers/texters. When guys like Al call in and spew incorrect or false points, I like that you challenge them.

And Fluxite why do you think a media guy would listen to your "helpful criticism". Nothing is factual about it, it is just your opinion. Yours, like mine, is uniformed criticism, so why would he listen to your opinion over mine?

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#46 Steve
September 23 2013, 01:15PM
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Deterrent players don't need to skate well. They go over the board for maybe 3-5 minutes a game, and it sure as hell isn't score.

As far as Centre goes, I say you keep Gordon on the #3 line like you planned. I know it's a different level of league, but Arcobello had good chemistry with Eberle when they played together in OKC last year. See if they can do it again at the NHL level and adjust as needed from there.

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#47 madjam
September 23 2013, 01:44PM
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We need more decent help/depth at center even with Gagner back . Hopfully MacT. acquires one or more on waivers . Have to blame our lineup for last game for getting us run so badly . A little better forsight might have prevented some of it . Functional toughness is expensive and not easily obtainable as Mact. sadly found out .

History has taught us our farmboys have done little to get us positive results over the last several years - we need more and better than that if we hope to get results required to be a contender . Maybe they'll show us more this time , but I have yet to see it from any of them so far . I think Smithson was probably better than the ones presently trying to fill in , and he wasn't much either but could handle the physical and defensive side of things . Unfortunate we let Horcoff get away in retrospect .

Avatar
#48 lostdog82
September 23 2013, 02:48PM
Trash it!
24
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

MacT should make a bold move and trade Eberle. Only one of the kids I would be fine too see go. Only way you get a quality centre man or a top 6 forward with grit. Have to give up something good to get something good.

Avatar
#50 OilFanInVan
September 23 2013, 05:30PM
Trash it!
10
trashes
Cheers
5
cheers

Here's hoping SMac can do both the Oilers and Team Canada a favour and take out the Sedins on October 5th. Not only will the Canucks be mad, but so will all of Sweden! If he can successfully accomplish that on October 5th, I could care less if he gets suspended for the rest of the year. Guys like SMac are a dime a dozen!

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