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 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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#2 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 01:53PM
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@dobkos@shaw.ca

Yes, "the" game is on.

6:30 on TSN, Broncos by 24.

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#3 lostdog82
September 23 2013, 02:48PM
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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.

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#4 GVBlackhawk
September 23 2013, 04:22PM
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Spydyr wrote:

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

And what if Kassian manages to KO MacIntyre?

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#5 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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#6 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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#7 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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#8 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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#10 **
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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#11 OilFanInVan
September 23 2013, 05:30PM
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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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#12 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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#13 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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#14 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 02:06PM
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Spydyr wrote:

My Raiders are still bad and the Broncos are good but 24?

It's not so much your Raiders are that bad as it is the Broncos are that good.

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#15 hockeycrazed
September 23 2013, 04:35PM
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I hope MacT will not rush and get himself a prized centre! He should give Arcobello a shot. As for toughness on the line-up maybe he could see if Hartikainen's willing to come back. More toughness on every line is more important than just go out and get yourself a designated 'heavyweight' in the long run!

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#16 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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#17 Quicksilver ballet
September 23 2013, 02:12PM
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@Spydyr

Zac should have plenty of time now to go to Denver and tape that Sports Select commercial.

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#18 Smokey
September 23 2013, 04:04PM
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I'm not sure what signing SMAC does other then it gives the media types a great interview and someone to entertain the kiddies in the dressing room. Love the guy, he's funny, but honestly, why?

Kassian still makes the cheep hit if SMAC is keeping the bench warm. Zach's got bricks in his head and even if SMAC manages to get on the ice at the same time as Kassian in one of his three 40 second skate abouts, Kassian is strong enough to tie him up.

The Oilers need functional toughness. A Prust, a Neil, a Kenopka who you know can play a regular shift and not get destroyed.

The only way SMAC is useful is if you negotiate to pay him 800000, and you you tell him he's going to loose 200000 to suspensions for jumping the boards.

Who is going he going to fight. Paros? If his presence did not work the first two times why is this different. Pointless move, waste of a roster spot.

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#19 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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#20 JJ
September 23 2013, 12:54PM
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I wonder who these four different Oilers are. Any guesses?

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#21 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 .

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#22 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 02:54PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

It's like Hartikianen last year Rom, if he's not going to bring some tenacity, be hard on the puck and actually start hitting guys.....ya, then I think he's replaceable.

While I agree with you on S-Mac the team has to get tougher to play against, Jones looks like he's floating out there.

Harti is off to the races already this season in the KHL.

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/09/23/hartikainen-and-yakimov-leading-the-way-for-overseas-oiles/

I think he would have been an upgrade on all of Jones, Eager, Brown, SMac, Hamilton, Acton and a draw with Omark and Joensuu.

The problem with Jones is that he isn't good enough to play top 6 minutes, but his style of play was never enough for those looking for meat in the bottom of the line up. He just doesn't play that way.

His job is the same as Omark's. They are there to create offence in the bottom of the lineup and fill in as needed for injury up roster. Right now, both aren't doing that very well.

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#23 brian_d
September 23 2013, 02:59PM
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At this point, are we desperate to make a pitch to Connolly/Malhotra?

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#24 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 23 2013, 04:25PM
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Smokey wrote:

I don't think Hartski is anywhere close to an upgrade on Jones. I'm not a fan of Jones and hated the signing. No point having Omark in the conversation. Joensuu is world better in terms of skating and seems in this small sample a better scorer and has a physical dimension that Hartski never showed. Hartski showed no ability at the NHL to score, and in the KHL with a handful of stars, NHL neverwillbe's, and long past their best before date former NHL'er his numbers are fairly impressive so far. He is better then tweeners you mentioned.

I think with all these bubble players there is going to be debate. They aren't that far apart from one another.

I think if Harti were here, he'd be in the mix and showing pretty well.

He was brutal in the NHL last year on the score sheet. But he showed well in the AHL and has continued to show well in the K. Those are the world's two best leagues after the NHL.

One problem with Harti, Omark, Hamilton, Joensuu, etc. is the small and uneven sample sizes. Makes evaluation difficult.

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#25 Sidney Frosby
September 23 2013, 04:57PM
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How come Mac-T is not looking to deal Omark for Konopka????

Seems like Minnesota would love the cheap kick at offense and help on their PP and the Oilers really would love Konopka's toughness and faceoff ability.

Plus Minny saves $325k against their cap....

Plus Minny has Mike Rupp.......

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#26 Sidney Frosby
September 23 2013, 05:33PM
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@Jason Gregor

How come Mac-T is not looking to deal Omark for Konopka????

Seems like Minnesota would love the cheap kick at offense and help on their PP and the Oilers really would love Konopka's toughness and faceoff ability.

Plus Minny saves $325k against their cap....

Plus Minny has Mike Rupp.......

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#27 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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#28 pelhem grenville
September 23 2013, 05:51PM
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...MacT gets Smac back...nice!

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#29 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
September 23 2013, 08:57PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Thanks for listening...

LOL....SWEET!

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#30 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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#31 Spydyr
September 23 2013, 02:01PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Yes, "the" game is on.

6:30 on TSN, Broncos by 24.

My Raiders are still bad and the Broncos are good but 24?

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#32 nunyour
September 23 2013, 04:15PM
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Big Mac doesn't need to skate at home when the oilers get last change,send him out for the face off and take the two minute instigator penalty.Let Brown and Eager keep the middle weights honest,if they have to hit the other teams stars they have the speed to do it.I would rather see a fight than see a guy swinging his stick around.The top two lines are to small to have team toughness.

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#34 Smokey
September 23 2013, 04:26PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Good question. Initial reaction is yes, but if they planned on playing one or both of Eager and Brown and having a C as the 13th forward, maybe they just slot MacIntyre ahead of one of 13 or 55 and expose that guy to waivers.

The issue is Belov to me. He has a two-way deal, so could go down and they keep 7 D, but if he plays well and they want to play him, are the willing to only keep seven and expose Grebeshkov or Larsen to waivers?

I see them going 14 and 7...and putting Belov in minors or one of Grebs or Larsen on **cough***IR***cough***

I think Belov is a player and will make the team as a six or seven. If they exposed Grebby or Larson to waivers, Grebby is a sure thing to pass. No one wants that trainwreck for 1.5. Larson I think would get picked up.

However the one variable you haven't mentioned in Nurse. One game he was outstanding, the second he was mediocre but was tested physically and the third game should tell us if he earns 9 more games.

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#35 madjam
September 23 2013, 10:44PM
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Snoozer of a game tonite with very few hi lights . Acton looks like he just went ahead of Landers and Arcobello . Arcobello got pushed around to easily . Jones did little to impress making club . Smid is struggling . Belov still looks like he will make it . Omark probably played himself onto farm club . Dubbie was only highlight this nite , as both squads had very limited NHL talent on ice . Joensuu played well enough against the limited talent Winnipeg played with .

It was more a game of who played themselves off the parent clubs , than who played well enough to be on either squad . Nothing thrilling , and the best one could say of any was they were marginally okay .

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#36 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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#37 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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#38 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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#39 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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#40 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 23 2013, 01:37PM
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Maybe one of the stats guys can help me with this one.

Do you think SMac's shooting percentage will ever return to his 2008-2009 numbers (33.3%) or do you think his career average (14.3%) is more indicative of his level of ability? Admittedly, we're talking about a very small sample size (91 NHL games), so maybe we shouldn't be drawing any conclusions.

On a serious note, 74 of those were with the Oilers. This post made me very sad very quickly.

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#41 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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#42 Spydyr
September 23 2013, 02:08PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

It's not so much your Raiders are that bad as it is the Broncos are that good.

Maybe Kassian will high stick Manning

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#43 Jay Bird
September 23 2013, 03:07PM
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Selling hope to this market will be a difficult job for the team, 1 actual NHL centre until November 1 (Gordon). Based on previous history of the team, look for another top draft pic. I don't care how much selling the team tries to do on the Hope front, 1 actual NHL centre for the 1st month will be hard to recover from. MacT got caught with his pants down on this one, a centre going down for a long period of time in training camp.

Gordon - Only NHL Centre on the team.

Hall will try his best.

When we start looking at the team, and the first word out of your mouth is "But"? I think we know how the year is gonna go!

I hope for the best of course, but have seen this movie before....

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#44 madjam
September 23 2013, 04:08PM
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Colorado is overloaded with centermen . Can MacT. pry one loose for us ? Stay posted .

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#47 MessyEH!
September 23 2013, 04:25PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

MacT said exact quote... "He is what he is."..No one in the organization is expecting him to suddenly be a much better player than he's been in the past. He is here for one reason, and MacT and Eakins are okay with that.

Can't wait to hear this played SMacK'$ first game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1D9wWxd2w&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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#48 michael
September 23 2013, 04:38PM
Trash it!
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Good question. Initial reaction is yes, but if they planned on playing one or both of Eager and Brown and having a C as the 13th forward, maybe they just slot MacIntyre ahead of one of 13 or 55 and expose that guy to waivers.

The issue is Belov to me. He has a two-way deal, so could go down and they keep 7 D, but if he plays well and they want to play him, are the willing to only keep seven and expose Grebeshkov or Larsen to waivers?

I see them going 14 and 7...and putting Belov in minors or one of Grebs or Larsen on **cough***IR***cough***

I think the Oilers send Larsen on waivers.

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#49 Smokey
September 23 2013, 05:10PM
Trash it!
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nunyour wrote:

Tks.To bad because we need more toughness from the bottom guys and he adds none ,and I think he has been out played by a couple young guys.

Jones made the team. There not doing waivers. Hopefully him and Grebeshkov get a whole lot better.

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#50 madjam
September 23 2013, 05:33PM
Trash it!
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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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