GDB -1: FINAL IMPRESSIONS

Jason Gregor
September 27 2013 12:58PM

The Oilers wrap up the preseason with a tilt against the Dallas/Texas Stars tonight in Oklahoma City. The Oilers currently have 27 players remaining in camp, 23 of them are healthy while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov will start the season on either the IR or LTIR.

It is the final opportunity to impress head coach Dallas Eakins, and tonight's lineup will be very close to what we see next Tuesday when the Oilers open their 34th NHL season against the Winnipeg Jets.

Unfortunately, the Oilers will once again face a lineup with half a roster of AHL-destined players. The Stars still have 20 forwards and 10 D-men in camp, and last night vs. the Avalanche the Stars dressed about 95% of their opening-night roster, so tonight the Oilers will faceoff against Luke Gazdic, Lane MacDermid, Travis Morin, Chris Mueller, Brett Ritchie, Colton Sceviour and others. The Stars will dress two forward lines of NHL players, but it likely won't be their best lines.

Usually the final preseason games involve more NHL-ready lineups, thus allowing the players to fine-tune their skills as well as giving the coaches a better sense of where their team is at. Eakins won't have that luxury this year.

Eakins mentioned he only worries about how his team plays and I respect that, but if your opponents aren't NHL caliber, is it possible to get an accurate gauge on your team's play? It is easier to defend the aforementioned Stars than it would be trying to shut down Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, Valerie Nichuskin and Shawn Horcoff.

The Oilers will see a few of those players tonight, but not all of them.

LINEUPS

Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
Perron-Gordon-Yakupov
Joensuu-Arcobello-Eberle
MacIntyre-Acton-Brown

Belov-J.Schultz
Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-Larsen

Dubnyk

Perron and Joensuu switched spots in practice yesterday and they'll stay that way tonight. That is interesting considering Perron and Eberle have played very well together. Jordan Eberle leads the NHL in preseason points with 8, while Perron leads the league with 5 preseason goals.

I suspect Eakins is just experimenting. Before leaving Edmonton he said he wanted three balanced scoring lines, and putting Eberle with two guys who played a combined eight NHL games last season seems to contradict that. I'm going to guess he's just looking at different combinations.

The Oilers know what they have in Andrew Ference so he'll get the night off.  Belov playing with Justin Schultz tells me he'll be on the opening night roster, likely in a pairing with Nick Schultz. .

PP UNITS...

The Oilers haven't spent much time practicing their powerplay, but yesterday they did.

The first unit consisted of Hall,Hemsky and Smyth up front with J.Schultz and Yakupov on the points. Yakupov on the right point was a focal point in the previous games, and I'm sure we'll see him unleash his one-timer frequently. Smyth replaces Horcoff in front of the net. I understand wanting to use Yakupov's one-timer, but they should also focus on getting Hall in a good shooting lane. He's got an excellent snap/wrist shot.

The 2nd unit will be Eberle, Arcobello and Joensuu as forwards with Perron and Belov on the point. Belov has a bomb of a shot, while most of the puck movement should go between Eberle and Perron.

When Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner return, the Oilers PP should get even better.

Texas Dallas lineup:

MacDermid-Eakin-Nichushkin
Garbutt-Fiddler-Ritchie
Roussel-Mueller-Sceviour
Gazdic-Morin-Smith

Connauton-Oleksiak
Dillon-Fortunus
Nemeth-Jokipakka

Ellis
Nilstorp

QUICK HITS

  • The Stars new green jerseys look fantastic. I rarely like a new jersey more than the old one, but these ones look great, especially on TV.
     
  • Nichuskin has looked great in the preseason, and he'll start the season in Dallas. If he has a good season, I'm sure some will rip the Oilers for taking Darnell Nurse instead of him. Like most draft years, I think you have to wait at least five years to gauge players, and sometimes even longer, especially when comparing a D-man to a forward. It will be a good debate.
     
  • Remind you to watch my fellow Nation writer, Jason Strudwick, this Sunday evening on Battle of the Blades. Struds informed me that his first outfit is, umm, outside his comfort zone. Can't wait, it will be fun. Break a blade Struds.
     
  • Please do me a favour and sign up for Streakcred. I'm getting sick of Wanye texting me every ten minutes reminding me to add a link in my story. The early bird special is on right now for only $15 a team, and it's addicting. The best part is that in addition to winning some cool prizes, you will also be helping out The Inner City Children's Program. Show the world how smart you are, and help kids eat a healthy meat. It's a win-win. You should sign up here.  

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 Czar
September 27 2013, 01:51PM
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I wonder if Whitney will trash the Blues now that he's looking for employment?

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#2 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 08:04PM
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Team Omark wrote:

What kind of fools bring a huge canada flag and wave it around at an NHL pre-season game in OKC? These people are an embarrassment.

Probably a Canadian.The Canadian flag at a hockey game will never be an embarrassment to me anywhere, anytime.

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#3 Cold Hard Truth
September 27 2013, 01:16PM
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Good to see Yakupov's Brett Hull-esque one-timer being put to use.

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#4 Johe
September 27 2013, 07:49PM
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I knew the Oilers would lose tonight. One team full of future hopefuls or guys fighting for jobs versus a team that just wants the season to start. It's almost exactly like Edmonton beating the snot out of Vancouver at the end of the season last year. One team wants to prove something, one team is just waiting for the games that mean something to get under way.

Mind you, playoff games don't really mean anything for Vancouver, do they? Ba dum bum chh!

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#5 916oiler
September 27 2013, 02:19PM
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The Stars' lineup SUCKS. We had better kick the SHHHHHHHH out them tonight!

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#6 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 08:27PM
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Oilers have 4 third period shots.Brutal effort.Hope Eakins bag skates them tomorrow.

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#7 WONGER
September 27 2013, 01:33PM
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Two top AHL Super Heavies BIG STEVE MACINTYRE and LUKE GAZDIC (24 years old) set to collide in OKC tonight! Wonger rated them 1-2 last year - never fought each other before! MacIntyre absolutely destroyed-dropped JOEL(THE RECKER) RECHLICZ (Washinton at the moment)in 1 of his only 4 fights in the last 2 years in the AHL MAC also destroyed-dropped tough MATT CLACKSON last year!!! Nobody wants to fight him in the AHL either!!! WONGER RATED RECKER #3! Gadzic rarely loses but will have his hands full with BIG MAC!!!

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#8 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 27 2013, 03:29PM
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I see this thread getting derailed in a hurry if that big Russian kid has a good game. I've already picked my side and I'm digging my trench now to beat the traffic. Nichuskin can go ahead and be player of the game tonight, but Nurse was still a great pick. Even with a preseasons worth of hindsight,I think MacT chose wisely. Would have been really interesting in here tonight if he was playing.

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#9 Time Travelling Sean
September 27 2013, 04:18PM
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I don't really care about the Nischuskin vs Nurse side of things. Nurse is going to be a better defenseman than Nischuskin and we need a Defenseman.

I'm more interested in Horvat vs Nischuskin. If Horvat becomes a good player I'd love for Nischuskin to become an amazing player, simply to gain a selfish sense of schadenfreude at the Canucks touching the cyclical side of prolonged success. (If you call no SC's a success)

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#10 Rob...
September 27 2013, 10:14PM
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There are times I pity trolls. Their lives must be so empty to think that what they do is a rewarding pastime.

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#11 Ducey
September 27 2013, 02:01PM
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Gregor,

I take your point about the NHL lineups, but Erik Cole is a bad example. He stinks. 13pts in 47 games for two teams last year - for $4.5 million a season.

We get mad at Hemsky - he had 20 pts in 37 games. BTW how do you get mad at a guy whose first name is another term for "beers"?

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#12 dman
September 27 2013, 08:10PM
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@Spydyr

An Oilers flag I can understand but why a Canadian flag? It's not the Olympics. It is as out of place as an American flag at Rexall

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#13 brian_d
September 27 2013, 01:32PM
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I know balanced lines are the approach, but I don't like the idea of the Smyth-Hall-Hemsky line. Smyth is just too old to keep up with those guys for a sustained period. On the other hand, I suppose with Hall at LW, our LW depth is compromised to the point where Smyth is pushed into the top 6.

Everything is a stop-gap until we get Nuge and Gags back. Even if Hall does do well at center.

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#14 EHH Team
September 27 2013, 02:51PM
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Staples wrote on the Cult of Hockey site that Paajarvi is on the bubble in St Louis & might be waived. Can the Oilers pick him up after having traded him? If so, he would clearly be an upgrade on the third or fourth line.

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#15 Ducey
September 27 2013, 02:55PM
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EHH Team wrote:

Staples wrote on the Cult of Hockey site that Paajarvi is on the bubble in St Louis & might be waived. Can the Oilers pick him up after having traded him? If so, he would clearly be an upgrade on the third or fourth line.

They would have to trade for him. There is no way teams below the Oilers (particularly the Flames) wouldn't grab him first.

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#16 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 08:05PM
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Team Omark wrote:

What kind of fools bring a huge canada flag and wave it around at an NHL pre-season game in OKC? These people are an embarrassment.

*Tucks flag under jacket, flails arms, and runs weeping hysterically to the mens room*

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#17 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 08:07PM
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More boo birds 3-0 Dallas.Seems the OKC fans don't like the Oilers effort either.

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#18 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 08:14PM
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dman wrote:

An Oilers flag I can understand but why a Canadian flag? It's not the Olympics. It is as out of place as an American flag at Rexall

Because Canada rules.

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#19 Mikey
September 27 2013, 01:14PM
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I was wondering when N Schultz would get to play.

Maybe this is a good thing for Oilers. Seeing how they react to a "goon" team.

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#20 marty62
September 27 2013, 05:33PM
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I was a big fan of Nischuskin, or however the hell you spell his name, at the draft, but as tempting as it was to grab him, Nurse gives Edm something we havent had since the Pronger incident. Watching that kid play you can see the big, talented nasty Dman he is gonna be. give him a year or two and we wont care how damn good that Russian is. Anyway, we have Yak City and that kid is a damn fine player.

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#21 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 06:25PM
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Nice goal Dubbie.See your are in mid season form already.

1-0 Dallas

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#22 StHenriOilBomb
September 27 2013, 08:13PM
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8 minutes of empty net? woah. that worked well...

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#23 @Oilanderp
September 27 2013, 08:42PM
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And now the post-game show:

"Oilers still suck. Thanks and good night!"

[fin]

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#24 Danger Pay
September 27 2013, 02:06PM
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It just goes to show the different approaches and evaluation of talent. Kruger had Yakupov relegated to the third line playing with plugs for most of the year and it cost him the Calder B/C of it. Then he had Smyth on the 4th line playing a limited role, yet Eakins has him on the top line with Hemsky and Hall. I know injuries play a part, but man Smyth can still create a lot of havoc in front of net and Eakins has said Smyth is the Oilers best guy down low and along the boards. I have to say Mac T hit the nail on the head by replacing Kruger. I am now embarrassed for supporting Kruger for as long as I did. Learning from losing...what kind of message is that? Watching the Oilers compete to play and not letting up is going to be fun to watch this year!

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#25 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 07:46PM
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Mikey wrote:

Meh. Just like every other game so far, it's pre season.

Looks a lot like the last seven seasons.

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#26 Team Omark
September 27 2013, 08:00PM
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What kind of fools bring a huge canada flag and wave it around at an NHL pre-season game in OKC? These people are an embarrassment.

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#27 Quicksilver ballet
September 27 2013, 08:25PM
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Not a big deal, nothing game. Once all the alsorans are gone, give these guys 3 or 4 weeks and they'll be a better hockey club than they are now.

It's unfortunate the traditional training camp circus had them wasting the last 3 1/2 weeks. Now they'll have to use the next 15-30 games that count to try and grow together as a 25 man group.

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#28 Poolanov
September 27 2013, 08:37PM
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Surprised Eakins didn't factor in the "harem of hotties" waiting for the boys to return to OKC. No wonder they're spent. "Hey lets practice there all week". Bad Idea...

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#29 Team Omark
September 27 2013, 02:44PM
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I was tempted to signup for StreakCred.. But they only accept visa and mastercard. What year are we in? You blew it Wanye. Ya dun goofed.

I'll put the $15 towards an official, signed Linus Omark Baron jersey instead.

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#30 Quicksilver ballet
September 27 2013, 04:19PM
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@brian_d

That would be the popular opinion amongst most fans. Smytty fans/Dallas Eakins might see it a little differently. Ryan's finally got a set of forwards to play with and succeed. There aren't many more capable of coming off the boards with the puck and getting to the front of the net with your stick on the ice. Ryan Smyth can do all this in spades. Feeding the beast that is Taylor Hall may be all that's required for Ryan to further succeed even beyond this season. I hope it lasts long beyond what most expect it will.

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#31 TeddyTurnbuckle
September 27 2013, 09:05PM
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See that Ryan Whitney was released, no surprise there. He will never play another NHL game again mostly because he can't skate and he took unnecessary shots at the oilers staff and players on his way out of town. Guess what Whitney? You suck! How many times did this guy fall on his butt by himself last season. Maybe don't worry about blaming other guys on the team and take care of your own game. In other news the Oilers looked terrible tonight. What happened to big Mac? It's not looking good for opening night.

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#32 David S
September 27 2013, 09:19PM
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Spydyr wrote:

As he should.It looks like there was some kind of "team activity" last night.

If you follow the Oilers Twitter feed, you'd know what happened. They dragged the players all over OKC today doing public relations appearances to pump the Barons. Probably obliterated their game day routines.

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#33 brian_d
September 27 2013, 02:10PM
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Racki wrote:

Smyth is great there right now. Ironically, the Oilers could use a top line lwer right now. Smyth can fake it a while for now (I think he has fit in quite well so far, to my surprise). When Gagner is back, he can slot in at LW if the Oilers want Hall at C still. Joensuu may be able to fill in. Perron can too, but I'd keep him separated from Hall for depth reasons

Fair enough. I think I should have made it clearer that I meant it for the long term, into October and November. Smyth may be looking good right now (and I agree that he is--should have noted that) but I hope that he can keep it up.

Hoping he proves me wrong!

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#34 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 07:21PM
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Boo birds in OKC 2-0 Dallas .Hall turnover at Dallas blue line leading to a 2-1 the other way.That is why Hall will have a hard time making the Olympic team.

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#35 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 08:07PM
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HAHAHA. Getting owned by an AHL team. Brutal.

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#36 madjam
September 27 2013, 08:55PM
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After tonites performance have to be scared how regular season might go ? Not sure Perron and Ference can make enough difference to make us look respectable . I blame it on Tams and Kreuger for leaving team .

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#37 Mikey
September 27 2013, 09:09PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Looks a lot like the last seven seasons.

I notice you don't come around while the oilers are winning. Seems strange, no?

Who cares what team had what roster, the oilers went 5-2-1 in the PRE season. So the oilers dominated other teams ahl roster and now they lost to a ahl roster.

Like I said, meh.

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#38 Andy
September 27 2013, 10:10PM
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I can't see how even the most blinded, myopic Kool-Aid sucking fan can a see anything even remotely positive about the display in OKC tonight.

When does McDavid enter the draft? Does Tambellini have a Craig MacTavish mask? I wonder.

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#39 Jesse
September 27 2013, 01:31PM
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Great article, Jason. Interesting insight on the lineups.

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#40 Racki
September 27 2013, 02:57PM
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EHH Team wrote:

Staples wrote on the Cult of Hockey site that Paajarvi is on the bubble in St Louis & might be waived. Can the Oilers pick him up after having traded him? If so, he would clearly be an upgrade on the third or fourth line.

Extremely unlikely to be waived. If he was, of course the Oil should out claim in. But I did not get anywhere near the vibe that hitch thinks Paajarvi is a disaster that the EJ article portrayed. If anything, they just wish he was more ready for their system. I think they thought he'd fit in easily with no work and we're surprised he isn't what they'd been watching.. Yet. But I think they feel he is very teachable.

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#41 Danger Pay
September 27 2013, 04:04PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

It's pre-season. Let's not anoint anyone emperor yet.

You can't see the night and day difference? I can. Eakins is doing to Kruger what Mac T has done to Tambo. Which is making them look like lazy, outdated wind bags that hockey has left behind.

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#42 @Oilanderp
September 27 2013, 06:02PM
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Danger Pay wrote:

You can't see the night and day difference? I can. Eakins is doing to Kruger what Mac T has done to Tambo. Which is making them look like lazy, outdated wind bags that hockey has left behind.

Krueger didn't even have a pre-season. Furthermore, the only team that iced anything close to an NHL lineup against us was WPG, which we lost.

Keep drinking the Kool Aid man, but.... well.... you know our top 2 centers are out right?

This is not the time for a parade.

P.S. I don't think "getting left behind by hockey" means what you think it means. Krueger has a job with Team Canada.

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#43 @Oilanderp
September 27 2013, 06:37PM
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For out of towners

http://firstrownow.eu/watch/210546/1/watch-edmonton-oilers-vs-dallas-stars.html

EDIT: and yes it does have sound once the play starts

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#44 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 07:10PM
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@Spydyr

agreed. It may de the choppy feed, tiny pixels or the low def but why are the farm team cheer ladies appear to be prettier than the octane....That's depressing!

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#45 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 07:35PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Oilers NHL roster looks ECHL quality. I bet Eakins is making the air blue in the dressing room.

As he should.It looks like there was some kind of "team activity" last night.

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#46 @Oilanderp
September 27 2013, 07:42PM
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If I was Eakins, I wouldn't even go into the dressing room. If I was ME, I'd go in there and scream my face off until I lost my voice lol.

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#47 Mikey
September 27 2013, 07:45PM
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Meh. Just like every other game so far, it's pre season.

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#48 Jeff
September 27 2013, 07:53PM
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Nice effort Dubie. What the heck are Oilers management thinking running with this turd of a keeper?

Lots of empty seats. Katz' new arena may have the same look. Maybe they should cover the new seats with pictures of en-raptured fans so the 3 paying customers who do show up don't feel lonely.

Just saying...

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#49 Team Omark
September 27 2013, 08:10PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Probably a Canadian.The Canadian flag at a hockey game will never be an embarrassment to me anywhere, anytime.

I repeat.. NHL PRE SEASON GAME. Nationalism has no place in pro sports. Especially obnoxious nationalist clowns who run around after cheerleaders trying to get on camera.

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#50 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 08:26PM
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Nice zinger by Stauffer towards the Oil for waiving Whitney....

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