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 

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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#151 sizedoesmatter
January 02 2014, 10:00PM
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Just heard Debrusk say unkind words directed towards the Oilers

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#152 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:01PM
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The one-trick pony does his trick.

That's nice.

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#153 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:02PM
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sizedoesmatter wrote:

Just heard Debrusk say unkind words directed towards the Oilers

The Bat phone has already started ringing.

He'll not be doing that again.

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#154 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:03PM
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Tonight's game is further evidence that this team is not just one bold move away from being a contender. This team is sick on many levels. Any thoughts that next year or the next for that matter will improve is a pipe dream. With an inverted rebuild ie. forwards maturing before defence, we are a long ways from being competitive. And fire KLowe.

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#155 Harlie
January 02 2014, 10:04PM
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Haha...in terms of the group that messed things up indeed.

"Lowe also lost his temper at the news conference when asked why the Oilers didn’t search out new blood to replace Tambellini.

“How are fans going to be reassured that the group that left the mess that Tambellini couldn’t quite clean up is now going to be cleaned up by the guys who left the mess to begin with?” asked one reporter.

“In terms of the group that messed things up, you’re talking about the group that had a team one period away from winning the Stanley Cup (in 2006)?” Lowe shot back.

“Seven years ago,” said the reporter.

“There’s one other guy I believe in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.”

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#156 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:04PM
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To counter all the "Hall might be 'snubbed' by missing the Olympic team"...Olympic Team players rarely get benched.

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#157 gk1980
January 02 2014, 10:06PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

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.

In all seriousness, is there a rule that explains what happens if a team forfeits a season? What happens? Anyone have the rule book on this?

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#158 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:07PM
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Note to gag- me. Hit the effin net!

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#159 Brian
January 02 2014, 10:07PM
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I try very hard to tune out the Sportsnet Bobbleheads and now I got to read about them here? DeBrusk has been sniffing too much blue paint lately. And Quinn knows nothing about broadcasting if there was ever any concern.

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#160 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:08PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

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

And Gagner to win most accurate shot, does he ever hit the net?

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#161 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:09PM
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One good bounce and we could have a game here! :) GOilers!

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#162 Kr55
January 02 2014, 10:09PM
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Eakins said it was a good opportunity for Yak to play with Gags. I think it's more of a good opportunity for Gags to play with Yak.

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#163 Deep Oil
January 02 2014, 10:11PM
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Brian wrote:

I try very hard to tune out the Sportsnet Bobbleheads and now I got to read about them here? DeBrusk has been sniffing too much blue paint lately. And Quinn knows nothing about broadcasting if there was ever any concern.

The internet gives you the power to choose another channel - http://www6.aoso.ru/2012/10/86.html

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#164 Deep Oil
January 02 2014, 10:12PM
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What are your thoughts about the Oilers advertising a skills competition, is there some AD Council we could complain to for fraud ?

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#165 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:12PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

One good bounce and we could have a game here! :) GOilers!

Uh. Good on ya for wearing your cheerleader skirt and all. I'm a big fan of blind-faithers.

But you know that the score is FOUR to 1, right?

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#166 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:14PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

The Bat phone has already started ringing.

He'll not be doing that again.

In fact I'm pretty sure Stauffer is beating the hell out of Debrusk right now.

He played for the Southside Athletic Club. Maybe you didn't know that.

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#167 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:14PM
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If props are important when posting on this site then make sure you end all posts with the obligatory " Fire Kevin Lowe!". Regardless of how stupid your comment is if you follow it up with " Fire Kevin Lowe! " you will garner lots of props.Fire Kevin Lowe!

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#168 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 10:15PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

One good bounce and we could have a game here! :) GOilers!

Too bad Duby let in a soft one. We could have a game here

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#169 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:15PM
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My mother wears army boots. Fire Kevin Lowe!

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#170 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 10:16PM
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gk1980 wrote:

In all seriousness, is there a rule that explains what happens if a team forfeits a season? What happens? Anyone have the rule book on this?

So if Katz shut the team down for the rest of the season and pockets the tier one fans money (they'll never ask for it back) and refused to pay the players and non-old boys management would he have more cash in his jeans than if he let this "team" play out the season?

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#171 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 10:17PM
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EP wrote:

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?

everyone who says they give up on this team/organization can seriously go pound sand. you LOSERS make me phucking sick. I get it's a dark decade but go eff yourselves ya shmucks

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#172 spliff
January 02 2014, 10:18PM
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Just listening to Stauffer talk about how Gagner came back from his injury too early, but know he needs to start delivering. So he gets a pass on his weak-ass play for the past 20 games? Always an excuse with Gagner and for some reason this organization loves him. FFS this is the NHL, professional hockey, where he is getting paid huge money. Being in a score drought happens, but playing non-contact fly-by hockey is unacceptable. Its a real head scratcher as to why MacT thinks Gagner is a character guy, and when MacT said that it makes me question his intelligence.

Also, as usual, playing a good team reveals how piss poor the Oilers are, and I will be my mortgage that they will not make the playoffs for two more years. But don't worry, this long stretch of meaningless games will allow our management "braintrust" to evaluate which players they want "going forward." My question is, who evaluates the evaluators? It ain't Katz, thats for sure. Also, WTF does Howson do? Make coffee?

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#173 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:19PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

everyone who says they give up on this team/organization can seriously go pound sand. you LOSERS make me phucking sick. I get it's a dark decade but go eff yourselves ya shmucks

See?

I love blind faithers. They're always so intelligent, reasoned in their arguments.

It's a dark decade

but the NEXT ONE is gonna be awesome!

Starting....pretty soon.

WE HAVE MESSIER AFTER ALL!

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#174 Brian
January 02 2014, 10:19PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

In fact I'm pretty sure Stauffer is beating the hell out of Debrusk right now.

He played for the Southside Athletic Club. Maybe you didn't know that.

And he pines after Joffrey Lupul like a nine year old girl at a Bieber concert, or like Katz does with the Boys on the Broken Down Bus.

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#175 Harlie
January 02 2014, 10:20PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

In fact I'm pretty sure Stauffer is beating the hell out of Debrusk right now.

He played for the Southside Athletic Club. Maybe you didn't know that.

Yes, but I also heard he lacked the toughness, vision, speed, knowledge, skill, skating, stick handling, goal scoring, offside awareness to make it to the NHL.

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#176 He Who Knowd
January 02 2014, 10:20PM
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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.

Kevin Lowe did. I'm sure Stevie Y and the guys all had a laugh for the ages. Lowe is comedy relief for the brain trust.

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#177 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:21PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Uh. Good on ya for wearing your cheerleader skirt and all. I'm a big fan of blind-faithers.

But you know that the score is FOUR to 1, right?

I'm an Oiler fan on an Oilers site. I'm cheering for my team. Is that unfashionable now? Go F$#% yourself.

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#178 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:22PM
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Brent, Kevin Lowe here, great job at WJHC, would you like to be our 4th assistant coach? "Click", Brent are you there? Must be a bad connection Craig, or he was so excited he dropped the phone.

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#179 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 10:22PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

See?

I love blind faithers. They're always so intelligent, reasoned in their arguments.

It's a dark decade

but the NEXT ONE is gonna be awesome!

Starting....pretty soon.

WE HAVE MESSIER AFTER ALL!

I'm the furthest thing from a blind faither pal. I just cannot be a fan of any other team in this world. Cause I grew up and Oiler fan, came to be a man an Oiler fan and sure as hell am not gonna quit because things haven't gone well. Be a man and stay true to the copper and blue

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#180 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:23PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

I'm an Oiler fan on an Oilers site. I'm cheering for my team. Is that unfashionable now? Go F$#% yourself.

Fill your boots friend.

I'm just helping you with the tough math.

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#181 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:24PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

I'm the furthest thing from a blind faither pal. I just cannot be a fan of any other team in this world. Cause I grew up and Oiler fan, came to be a man an Oiler fan and sure as hell am not gonna quit because things haven't gone well. Be a man and stay true to the copper and blue

Sure.

But the Edmonton Oilers wear orange and blue.

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#182 15w40
January 02 2014, 10:26PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

everyone who says they give up on this team/organization can seriously go pound sand. you LOSERS make me phucking sick. I get it's a dark decade but go eff yourselves ya shmucks

Meh......

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#183 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 10:26PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Sure.

But the Edmonton Oilers wear orange and blue.

ok buddy. you know what I mean.

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#184 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:28PM
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@Zamboni Driver

This is not notify you that you have been traded to Calgary.

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#185 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 10:31PM
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Just found out that Lowe's master plan is to raise a genetically modified baby, and raise him to become the saviour. Just gotta wait another 14years guys, he's already 5yrs old

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#186 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:33PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

This is not notify you that you have been traded to Calgary.

Clever.

Why do I get the idea that you're one of the deep thinkers that calls them the "Flamers"?

I bet you do.

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#187 HOFFFF
January 02 2014, 10:33PM
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I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick!

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#188 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 10:34PM
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@Zamboni Driver

a total zero you are. go back to your hole

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#189 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:34PM
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I wonder if there is record for the total yardage in goals per game? We gotta be a couple of football fields on 'Devonwhohadnochanceonthatone'

One of the stats nerds can help with that I bet!

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#190 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:34PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Just found out that Lowe's master plan is to raise a genetically modified baby, and raise him to become the saviour. Just gotta wait another 14years guys, he's already 5yrs old

I hope he isn't a clone of 6 rings.

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#191 outdoorzguy
January 02 2014, 10:35PM
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Time to fire the coaching staff. Clearly Eakins can't coach at the NHL level. The assistants have shown their inabilities as well, BOLD MOVES...NOW!!

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#192 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:35PM
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God damnit man, Lander gets plowed into the boards from behind, not even a scrum. In a 5-1 game. not even a scrum.

*sigh* Oilers.

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#193 Harlie
January 02 2014, 10:35PM
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http://tmn.truman.edu/ktrm/files/2013/09/tumblr_mn1hiaFqLj1sp47dlo1_500.gif

Cotton Eyed Joe

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#194 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:36PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

a total zero you are. go back to your hole

That hurts me after all we've been through together.

What will we tell the children?

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#195 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 10:36PM
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5-1

So many dark analogies are running through my mind for what the collective mental state for this team must be.

A beaten Labrador is one of the meeker less politically inappropriate ones...

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#196 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:37PM
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Perron has a glancing blow with SanJose goalie and the D man was right in his face. Lander takes a hit from behind and all the players do a flyby. That is Oiler hockey!

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#197 Kr55
January 02 2014, 10:37PM
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@Rod from Viking

Lol, it's a hybrid of MacT and 6 rings. The combination of two such massive egos unfortunately will give it such a fat head it don't be able to balance on skates.

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#198 Brian
January 02 2014, 10:38PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Clever.

Why do I get the idea that you're one of the deep thinkers that calls them the "Flamers"?

I bet you do.

Easy, Zamboni, that could be Harrison Katz yer pounding. This isn't called a fight , it's called a beating. And Louie said blue paint again. Idiot.

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#199 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:38PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

Clever.

Why do I get the idea that you're one of the deep thinkers that calls them the "Flamers"?

I bet you do.

Honest to god man, do you chirp your own teammates too? Are you seriously chirping a guy for cheering for the Oilers on an Oilers site?

Seriously, go the f#$% away. You are a cancer. GTFO. NOW.

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#200 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 10:39PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I hope he isn't a clone of 6 rings.

I believe they crossed DNA from Lowe, MacT and Buchberger. Apparently he's already playing without a helmet and has wonderful timing on his shotblocks

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