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  

 

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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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#51 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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#52 Johe
September 27 2013, 08:30PM
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Thank goodness the preseason is over. Too long. Now let the real games begin!!!

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#53 Taylor Gang
September 28 2013, 12:28AM
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Oh no the sky is falling!

Everyone needs to calm the f___ down. So they lost, big deal. Eakins will have something to say about their effort level but hey, they clearly are just waiting for the season to start. The Oilers aren't invincible yet; they'll lose a couple this year. No need to panic already...

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#54 Ari Gold
September 28 2013, 01:14AM
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I didn't get worked up about the wins, I won't either about the losses. Big deal.

Small sample size.

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#55 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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#56 Jesse
September 27 2013, 01:31PM
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Great article, Jason. Interesting insight on the lineups.

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#57 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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#58 Racki
September 27 2013, 02:05PM
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brian_d wrote:

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.

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

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#59 toprightcorner
September 27 2013, 02:10PM
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I love how you included Horcoff as a threat to shut down!!

I would still prefer Yak to shoot from the circle, he gets his onetimers up pretty fast and he will be head hunting like Niinima used too. Also makes us vulnerable if the other team gets a break out.

I like the down low approach that they seemed to do more often last year but as long as the produce, I don't care what they do.

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#60 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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#61 Racki
September 27 2013, 02:43PM
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@brian_d

Oh I knew that's what you meant. What I'm getting at is they should ride that high while they can, then when he inevitably drops off swap in someone else. With any luck a C will be back.. And maybe you are forced to put Hall back at LW.. Or maybe Joensuu can hack it out a while. Who knows. But let it ride while you can

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#62 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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#63 @Oilanderp
September 27 2013, 03:11PM
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@Danger Pay

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

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#64 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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#65 gr8one
September 27 2013, 04:46PM
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Ducey wrote:

I'd like to see the Oilers upgrade on Acton but Brule doesn't seem like one.

He has more offensive potential than Acton to be sure, but he doesn't play physical and if I recall he was poor on faceoffs. He was a mess on the defensive end of things.

Brule might be a good guy to try and put on the Barons and see if he really has sorted himself out.

IIRC Brule was actually pretty decent at face-off's AND played with an edge. That was actually a knock against him in some quarters saying that since he was relatively small it put him at risk of injury too often.

I always liked his game when he was on, and man he had a nice shot. I would love to see him get another chance here, if it doesn't work out, no harm no foul.

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#66 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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#67 Naky
September 27 2013, 06:20PM
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Dallas fielded an AHL roster tonight because they're playing in an AHL barn. The Oilers might feel obligated to ice some stars for their affiliate, but Dallas sure as hell doesn't have to help out. How many NHL players do you really think want to play in that building? How many of our own are cringing internally?

I don't blame the Oilers for doing this for the Barons, but they should have done in much earlier in the pre-season. It was a mistake to do it this late IMO.

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#68 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 07:21PM
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@Fresh Mess

whats the other stream? I got the same flickr on big oilers web site screen

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#69 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 07:23PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

whats the other stream? I got the same flickr on big oilers web site screen

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

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#70 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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#71 StHenriOilBomb
September 27 2013, 07:48PM
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Petry has looked as bad as any d-man so far. THANKS WAYNE!

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#72 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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#73 StHenriOilBomb
September 27 2013, 08:13PM
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8 minutes of empty net? woah. that worked well...

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#74 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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#75 konst16
September 27 2013, 08:58PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

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.

NHL teams play more than one season, and thus they want to develop and measure those not yet on the team.

It would be shortsighted for a team to focus 100% of their coaching/training staff to only those virtually assured games in NHL in the current season . Ensuring you have players you know, and can perform when brought into the lineup is key to having a successful organization.

I really can't see how having an extra ~15 days with few games (no way nhlpa agrees to having to play 8-10 preseason games with 25 man rosters), will end up affecting the standings in any predicable way. Especially not enough to shaft the guys in the system, and blow a huge hole in your ability to recruit.

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#76 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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#77 @Oilanderp
September 27 2013, 09:23PM
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http://www.boysonthebus.com/2013/09/27/yes-the-preseason-matters/

To summarize the math heavy article, the Oilers got 68.75% of the possible preseason points.

Historically teams that did this well (got over 65% of the pre-season points) in pre-season were in the playoffs or within a point of them about 74% of the time.

Take it for what it is.

I am going to buy streamers!

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#78 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 09:26PM
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@CDean

The best play was a oiler player getting injured!?

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#79 Manfly
September 27 2013, 11:20PM
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oildawg99 wrote:

So the Oilers win a bunch of pre-season games and some "fans" howl how its only pre-season and no one should give it much attention.

But then they put in a stinker in the pre-season and the sky is falling? get a grip. Let see how these guys perform when the actual season starts before passing judgement. And even then its going to take a few weeks to get a real gauge on how good this team actually is.

I am curious of all the oilers hate I have been seeing on TSN and other sights, has anyone else noticed this and is it more than normal? if it is that sure is a good sign. hahaha

Go OIL!

TSN is troll central ! complete garbage post it site, I wouldn't waste my time over there!

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#80 Andropod
September 27 2013, 11:22PM
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The oil stank the place up tonight. Disgraceful lack of effort for a team supposed to always give it 100%. They let themselves down, they let the Oklahoma fans down. Preseason or not, they made the Coach look the foo tonight.

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#81 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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#82 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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#83 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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#84 Mantastic
September 27 2013, 02:50PM
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On the PP they have Hall playing high slot, which i think he will excel at. Hemmer will play half wall and has many different options to distribute the puck as well has Schultz.

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#85 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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#86 RadWab
September 27 2013, 03:10PM
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ghostofberanek wrote:

Sooo any television tonight?

Also, Oilers win 4-1, 2 goals for Yak, 2 apples for Arco.

Although it's not readily apparent on their website.

TV: edmontonoilers.com

Cheers!

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#87 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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#89 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 06:00PM
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Brule was not bad on face offs. But what next, bring back Comrie? Like Gregor said, you sign Brule to a PTO at Barons camp.

The Oilers look brutal due to horrid centre depth. Belov is looking great.

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#90 @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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#91 Samson Loveblast
September 27 2013, 06:49PM
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@@Oilanderp

Thanks homes.

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#92 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 06:58PM
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does anyone know why the picture flickers when I try to go full screen on the Oilers web feed?

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#93 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 07:02PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Nice goal Dubbie.See your are in mid season form already.

1-0 Dallas

well that just about makes up for it

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#94 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 07:04PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

well that just about makes up for it

Not bad but it is tough watching the Oilers starting roster short just Ference getting schooled by Dallas's AHL team.

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#95 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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#96 Spydyr
September 27 2013, 07:12PM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

does anyone know why the picture flickers when I try to go full screen on the Oilers web feed?

Sounds like your computer is lagging change the settings and get a lower video resolution.

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#97 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 07:16PM
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@Spydyr

Thanks. I tried the lower settings and same thing. I just gave up on the oilers site and found another stream. Problem gone.

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#98 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 07:18PM
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Smac blew a wheel.

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#99 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 07:31PM
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@Fresh Mess

thanks

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#100 Fresh Mess
September 27 2013, 07:31PM
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Oilers NHL roster looks ECHL quality. I bet Eakins is making the air blue in the dressing room.

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