GDB 43.0: SWIMMING WITH THE SHARKS

Jason Gregor
January 02 2014 12:11PM

During their seven, soon to be eight, year playoff drought the Edmonton Oilers have done surprisingly well against the San Jose Sharks. While the Oilers have floundered near the bottom of the standings the Sharks have circled near the top, finishing 5th, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 7th and 6th in the western conference.

Once again, the Sharks are one of the best teams in the west, sitting 4th with a 25-9-6 record, and the Sharks lead the league with a +7.3 ratio in shots for/against. Despite the Sharks consistency as an elite team and the Oilers as a bottom-feeder, Edmonton is 6-6-1 in San Jose during the past seven seasons.

Why? I have no idea, but the Oilers are hoping they continue to be competitive in the Shark Tank tonight.

The Oilers' struggles against western division playoff teams continued in Phoenix on Tuesday with a 4-3 OT loss. The score flattered the Oilers as they were outshot 45-25. In 14 games against the top-8 western teams the Oilers have been outshot by a combined 163 shots and are a paltry 1-11-2. It has been ugly vs. the best in the west, and the Oilers need to wake up to avoid another "shot kicking" tonight.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Perron
Yakupov-Gagner-Eberle
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Joensuu-Lander-Gazdic

Ference-J.Schultz
N.Schultz-Petry
Belov-Marincin

Bryzgalov/Dubnyk

Those were the lines at practice yesterday, so they likely stay the same tonight. Eakins likely won't play his goalies back-to-back and Bryzgalov has played two very strong games, so they could go with him tonight and Dubnyk tomorrow; unless Eakins wants Bryz to face another one of his former teams. Either way, goaltending hasn't been the issue the past few games.

Yakupov draws back in while Roman Horak played one game and was sent back to OKC. I'm curious to see how Yakupov responds to Eakins' "plan." The simple part of the plan is that Eakins will play Yakupov with offensive guys as long as Yakupov plays better without the puck and in the D zone.

I expect Yakupov to play hard tonight, but based on what Eakins said he'll need to do it consistently to stick in the top-six. That is fine, but it's about time Eakins starts thinking about challenging some other forwards the way he has Yakupov. Gagner and Eberle need to be better.

QUICK HITS

  • Anton Belov's play on the OT goal was the epitome of a soft play. For reasons unexplained he elected to coast for one stride at the blueline and then he made a weak stick check on Yandle. I understand that players will make mistakes, turn the puck over and not always execute, but soft plays are inexcusable and the Oilers have too many players who make soft plays fairly frequently. Until that stops this organization won't improve. If Belov plays significant minutes tonight what message is Eakins sending his team?
     
  •  The players need to be more accountable to each other, and I liked that Ilya Bryzgalov showed his displeasure after the tying and OT goals. You don't want players doing it all the time, but at certain times it is necessary. It might cause some discomfort now and then, but when Bryzgalov, who spent the past 120 minutes standing on his head keeping his team in the game, gets fired up his teammates should listen. He was playing his ass of and it is nice to see a player demand that his teammates put forth the same effort.
     
  • Scott Burnside wrote a fantastic article on how TEAM USA picked their 25-man roster. It was great to get a glimpse into the process. The thing that stood out to me, yet didn't surprise me, was how cautious they were about offensive players. That is the biggest issue in our game in my opinion. GMs and coaches would rather go with safe players than highly skilled guys who might make mistakes.

    Bobby Ryan has scored 160 goals since the start of the 2008/2009 season. Phil Kessel, 175, is the only American with more goals during that span, yet Ryan didn't make the team.

    What perplexed me the most was that the coaches felt they didn't need him on the PP, because he only had 8 PP points in Ottawa. The majority of the game is played five-on-five, and the only forward on the USA roster with more ES points than Ryan's 28 is Patrick Kane. Ryan produces at ES, and Brian Burke even admitted in the article that he is an elite finisher. Instead of downplaying his PP production, shouldn't they have been applauding his ES totals?

    My biggest beef about the state of hockey is that coaches are drawn towards safe players instead of finishers.Hockey is becoming to risk averse. I understand the need to have reliable players on the roster, but if you can't score you won't win. Is Derek Stepan going to be a difference maker more than Ryan? Ryan has been one of the top-ten most productive goal scorers in the NHL the past five years, yet the USA elected to go with guys who were "safer" and had a good first 40 games of the season. I suspect they will regret that decision.
     
  • What makes Ryan's omission even more surprising is the make up of their blueline. Only one of the eight D-men named to team USA would crack Canada's top-seven, Ryan Suter. The rest are Ryan McDonagh, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Justin Faulk, John Carlson, Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler. Orpik is the only physical defender, and only Carlson is the only other one above 6'2".

    How do they plan to defend Canada's big skilled forwards like Getzlaf, Perry and others? They can't expect to win games 2-1 just because they have Jonathan Quick in goal? Their blueline is made up of puckmovers, but they cut their 3rd most productive forward and that seems somewhat contradictory to me.

    I'm very surprised Dustin Byfuglien wasn't one of their eight defenders. He adds a different dimension. To me Carlsson, Faulk, Fowler and Shattenkirk are essentially the same player. I don't see how their blueline will be able to handle Canada's forwards when they start cycling. That is great news for Canadians. I don't see USA as a main threat in this tournament.
     
  • You can point at Taylor Hall and make an argument that he should make Team, Canada based on his offence, and that is a valid point. However, the difference between him and Ryan is that Canada has other guys with more points than Hall. Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, Perry, Sharp, Tavares, Kunitz and Thornton. Kunitz also has more points, but playing with Crosby definitely helps.

    I've said I'd have Hall on the 25-man roster, but Canada has the luxury of going with guys who are also very good offensively, but have a bit more experience in Staal, Nash and Giroux.  Even in the case of Kunitz he is showing he can produce. Pascal Dupuis also played with Crosby and he only had 20 points. If Kunitz makes the team at least they can say he is producing more than guys who didn't make it, unlike Ryan with Team USA.

    When Hockey Canada makes their announcement next week it will be interesting to see which forwards aren't on it. We could see Hall, Seguin, Benn and Duchene on the outside.

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Their struggles against top teams continue with a 4-2 loss.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall has eight points in his last four games and he continues his strong play tonight with a goal and an assist. He is making a strong push to make Team Canada, but even he admitted he doesn't think he'll crack the roster. Hall could be top-15 in scoring by the time January 7th rolls around, which will only add to the debate if he doesn't make the cut.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After scoring four goals in his first six games, Boyd Gordon only has one in his last 30. He buries his 6th of the season tonight which puts him on pace to shatter his career high of eight goals.
 

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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#101 Hoozonphirst
January 02 2014, 09:18PM
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Dave3 wrote:

Pull the goalie !

Pull the coach and about 2/3 of the team and that's just for openers.

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#102 Bleed blue
January 02 2014, 09:19PM
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San Jose sure has lots of beards. We need more beards.

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#103 Randaman
January 02 2014, 09:20PM
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Watching the game against my better judgement. I just turned it off after the first. I have never seen so many fly bys in my life. This team isn't just small, they are gutless and have no work ethic. Pay check above effort for 95% of them. Pathetic. Enjoy the koolaid that Stauffer, Gregor and the like keep feeding you! P.S. Serious Gord is gaining popularity at an alarming rate. Maybe some of you are finally waking up.

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#104 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 09:20PM
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So refreshing to hear another feed. Listening to the SJ crew makes me realize how sick I am of the sportsnet group.

The few games that I do watch I find it eases the experience if I slap on GTA during the intermission and go 6 stars with Niko.... Trust me, try it!

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#105 Randaman
January 02 2014, 09:21PM
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Bleed blue wrote:

San Jose sure has lots of beards. We need more beards.

You have to win to have beards. We don't qualify

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#106 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:23PM
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Bleed blue wrote:

San Jose sure has lots of beards. We need more beards.

Some of the oilers aren't old enough to grow one.

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#107 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 09:23PM
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Dave3 wrote:

Pull the goalie !

Pull management, 2/3 of the roster and the coaches. And fire the DJ.

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#108 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:24PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Some of the oilers aren't old enough to grow one.

Certainly aren't manly enough.

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#109 Hockey fan 1976
January 02 2014, 09:24PM
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Omg. The Coilers are brutal!! The Sharks are literally toying with these clowns. How can anyone in their right mind think this team is on track with their rebuild after watching this period. Katz, please fire everyone and earn the respect back from your Edmonton fans. Turning off this game and watching a movie.

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#110 BingBong
January 02 2014, 09:25PM
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Man, if Bobby Ryan lacks intensity then I don't want to know what the Oilers lack. Whatever happened to DSF anyway? He'd easily be the most popular poster right now.

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#111 Randaman
January 02 2014, 09:26PM
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I was offered Gold tickets 3 rows behind the bench for a game in February. I live 700 miles north and normally would have jumped at the chance but not this year. I have a fear of throwing my Hall jersey on the ice. I want to but I don't think I could do it. If it was #14 or #89 I honestly would have no problem. The longer we keep these two the longer the losing goes on

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#112 Andrew
January 02 2014, 09:26PM
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@Randaman

If i remember correctly you have to have balls to grow a good beard, unless of course you are my ex-mother-in-law.

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#113 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:28PM
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Down two zip after one - look for the sharks third and fourth lines to get lots of work. This will make the oil look competitive and maybe get one or two goals.

This will in turn, after the 5-2 loss, to be interpreted by Eakins and the media analysts as " being competitive and sticking to a game plan that wasn't done in the first and if it had been the oil might have kept of close and even won.

Meanwhile fan who have been paying attention have known the emperor hasn't been wearing clothes for a very long time now.

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#114 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 09:29PM
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Andrew wrote:

According to Debrusk a wrist shot from the blueline is unstoppable. Just another excuse making eh-hole? I think I hear a huge sucking noise coming from Cali.

Piss pathetic.

I have nothing to say.

Didn't want the comment to get lost on the bottom of page 2.

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#115 S cottV
January 02 2014, 09:31PM
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Andrew wrote:

According to Debrusk a wrist shot from the blueline is unstoppable. Just another excuse making eh-hole? I think I hear a huge sucking noise coming from Cali.

Piss pathetic.

C'mon guys - a complete dzone breakdown on the first one and Yak gives it away for Marleau to tee up and you want to blame Dubnyk?

Gagner and Yak cannot play together. It's like defensively dumb and dumber.

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#116 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:32PM
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S cottV wrote:

C'mon guys - a complete dzone breakdown on the first one and Yak gives it away for Marleau to tee up and you want to blame Dubnyk?

Gagner and Yak cannot play together. It's like defensively dumb and dumber.

What is Dubnyk's job?

I'm pretty damned sure it involves stopping wrist shots from the blue line.

No question, Gagner and Yakupov are the funniest hockey players I've ever seen in their own end, but Dubnyk also is terrible.

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#117 6 ring circus
January 02 2014, 09:34PM
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The Oilers should bring Tambellini back for the draft lottery for old times sake,that's the one and only thing he was really good at.

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#118 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:34PM
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Looking ahead at the January schedule - it will be a miracle if the oil go 4-9. More likely they will go 2-11.

If they go 7-11 between now and the all star game we should hold a victory parade.

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#119 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:38PM
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Your 2013-14 Edmonton Oilers folks.

Jordan Eberle, a hockey player, almost got hurt by bailing out prior to accidentally hitting someone.

Clap. Clap. Clap. Clap.

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#120 Andrew
January 02 2014, 09:40PM
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S cottV wrote:

C'mon guys - a complete dzone breakdown on the first one and Yak gives it away for Marleau to tee up and you want to blame Dubnyk?

Gagner and Yak cannot play together. It's like defensively dumb and dumber.

Yes that's right, a wrist shot from the point with no screen is....piss pathetic.

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#121 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:40PM
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Loweblows wrote:

Pull management, 2/3 of the roster and the coaches. And fire the DJ.

Hang the DJ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AlH2oYedfk

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#122 Sailge
January 02 2014, 09:40PM
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~Great start to the new year~

We have so far to go to be a decent team, let alone a "good one"

At this point, I'm expecting to break the record and go 11 straight seasons without making the playoffs in 3 years. What a sh*tshow.

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#123 Randaman
January 02 2014, 09:42PM
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Arius Mumin wrote:

I have nothing to say.

Didn't want the comment to get lost on the bottom of page 2.

The only thing that sucks more than the Oilers is Princepe, Quinn & DeBrusk. At least Hrudey calls a spade a spade.

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#124 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:43PM
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No chance again, right Louie?

I remember some people (I think even writers here) were suggesting Dubnyk had a 'dark horse chance' for the Olympic team.

Yeah. No.

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#125 Quintana
January 02 2014, 09:45PM
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WE WANT 10!!!! WE WANT 10!!!!!!

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#126 Newj
January 02 2014, 09:45PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

No chance again, right Louie?

I remember some people (I think even writers here) were suggesting Dubnyk had a 'dark horse chance' for the Olympic team.

Yeah. No.

The Jamaican's have a hockey team?

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#127 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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Did the Oilers just call a "players only" timeout? WTF?

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#128 Dave3
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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Hoozonphirst wrote:

Pull the coach and about 2/3 of the team and that's just for openers.

Should have pulled the goalie.

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#129 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAH.

The Oilers take a time out.

And none of the coaches say anything.

Clearly though, they're respecting the logo really well.

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#130 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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What in the F@&K!!?!?!

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#131 Hockey fan 1976
January 02 2014, 09:47PM
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Hahahahahahhahahaha!!!!! That's all! And sorry....someone please tell Debrusk to stfu!!! Please!!!!

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#132 D-Unit
January 02 2014, 09:47PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

No chance again, right Louie?

I remember some people (I think even writers here) were suggesting Dubnyk had a 'dark horse chance' for the Olympic team.

Yeah. No.

Whoever thought Dubnyk on the Olympic team had to be on heroin.

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#133 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 09:48PM
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Anyone think that if you were gonna trade Smid you could have got Bishop or Bernier instead of whoever and that goalie that might maybe be ok in 5-7 years?

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#134 steelymac
January 02 2014, 09:49PM
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1 shot in 15:00 of play means OUT COACHED.Yes the players suck but not as bad as the clowns running this circus.

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#135 I Remember the Orange Jerseys
January 02 2014, 09:49PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Looking ahead at the January schedule - it will be a miracle if the oil go 4-9. More likely they will go 2-11.

If they go 7-11 between now and the all star game we should hold a victory parade.

I think we’re going to see 29 kids selected in the first round this June holding a victory parade.

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#136 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:50PM
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In the fifties the Habs were so dominant that the league brought in new rules to make power plays less lethal - they made it legal for the penalized team to ice the puck and they ended two minute penalties if a goal was scored.

Now I suspect the nhl will consider a new rule in light of how uncompetitive the oil are:

the mercy rule.

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#137 Alsker
January 02 2014, 09:51PM
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Awesome, half way thru the period and SJ has more goals than we have shots...uuggghhhhh

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#138 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 09:51PM
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This is not Dubynk's fault but on the last goal he left the whole glove side of the net open and Couture was coming down the middle of the ice.

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#139 EP
January 02 2014, 09:51PM
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I think I just officially gave up on this organization. It's fair to say they gave up on me a while ago.

I'm going to cheer for Tampa Bay from now on.

Who's with me?

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#140 Harlie
January 02 2014, 09:52PM
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Whens are heads gonna roll??

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#141 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 09:52PM
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Oilers games should be broadcasted on the Comedy Network.

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#142 Paul Le Coffee
January 02 2014, 09:53PM
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This year's team has better players than last year's team, but this year's team is worse than last year's team. I think there is little doubt about that now.

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#143 I tried it at home
January 02 2014, 09:53PM
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The commercial advertising the "Oilers skill competition" is a nice touch. Sarcasm intended.

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#144 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 09:53PM
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@Serious Gord

Mercy rule: the opposing team will play with only 4 skaters in the 2nd and 3rd period. The opposing team will also play there AHL backup netminder

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#145 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 09:55PM
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Oilers have lost 8 of the last 10 games....

How many of the media talking heads are telling us they have been playing much better lately? This is much better? FFS....

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#146 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:55PM
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This is one of those times where we really could use an OLYMPIAN!

You know, to take charge the game. Really lead by example.

Be sick of losing....

and all that crap that we get all weak in the knees about when we think about *sigh* Taylor.

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#147 Harlie
January 02 2014, 09:56PM
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Eberle is 3 feet away from the goal, and then decides to button hook and pass it to the defence? C'mon man!

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#148 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 09:56PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

The commercial advertising the "Oilers skill competition" is a nice touch. Sarcasm intended.

hahahahahahahahaha

I stopped watching the game, but I can hear it in the background:"Gagner is down-he thought he had the puck under him.".

hahahahahahahahahahaha

Is that funny or is that funny? Or is it just funny to me 'cause I have to get high to watch the Oilers play?.

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#149 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:58PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Mercy rule: the opposing team will play with only 4 skaters in the 2nd and 3rd period. The opposing team will also play there AHL backup netminder

Another alternative is that the other team be given the win once it is 4-0 and the first line gets to head to the showers. The remainder of the team players the oilers for an additional point.

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#150 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:00PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

The commercial advertising the "Oilers skill competition" is a nice touch. Sarcasm intended.

I expect Ryan Smyth to win the fastest skater and the hardest shot competition.

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