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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#1 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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#2 Randaman
January 02 2014, 11:01PM
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I just heard that the Sharks practice tomorrow has been cancelled as it was held tonight instead. Aw come on, that's funny

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#3 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:40PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

Are you complaining that this bothers you?

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#4 Rick Stroppel
January 02 2014, 10:58PM
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LET'S LOOK ON THE POSITIVE SIDE!

I am listening to the game on the radio and what they are saying is making me feel much better about the situation. For example:

1. Michaels has said REPEATEDLY that the Oilers are on a "four game unbeaten streak". Strange. I thought those last two games were LOSSES.

2. Stauffer keeps talking about Dubnyk having to break in new pads tonight. Poor guy! I bet his pads last a long time, because the puck hardly ever hits them.

3. They both keep talking about how the Sharks got creamed by the Ducks last game, so the coach yelled at them, and they are all mad, and they are taking it out on the Oilers. Weird. I bet stuff like that doesn't happen to other teams!

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

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#6 6 ring circus
January 02 2014, 11:08PM
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Katz don't give a sh*t,Mactavish is in over his head,Eakins is in over his head ,the players are in over their heads,the pro and amateur scouting staffs are in over their heads,Lowe and Stauffer are giving Katz head.

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#7 OILERS SUCK
January 02 2014, 10:43PM
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This Oilers franchise is a complete JOKE.

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#8 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 11:04PM
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What a shi$ team, led by shi$ management, owned by an absent shi$ owner and coached by shi$ coaches with shi$ goaltending and a shi$$y DJ to boot. They should change the name of Rexall Place to the Depend Dome to handle all this shi$,

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#10 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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#11 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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#12 Oasis
January 02 2014, 11:25PM
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Its time to trade Eberle. Rape me on this if you want. The guy is my favourite player, but I am sick and tired of watching him mail it in game after game. I mean, would it kill you to actually even pretend you will throw a hit or be physical?

This team has lots of skill, too much skill. We need heart. Hall has heart, Nuge has some and we all know Perron has some. Eberle has no drive whatsoever. He is one guy who can get us a return.

Rip on me if you want. I am not saying he isn't talented or skilled. Eberle is a great player, but not what this team needs right now.

You want a Bold move MacT. There you go.

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#14 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:43PM
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These guys aren't standing up for each other. I don't know why. Ference and Eakins need to figure out who is willing to go to war and who's just there to collect a paycheck. Then they need to recommend to MacT to trade their useless asses. I don't care who they are, but they need to be identified and removed, ASAP.

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#15 Walter Sobchak
January 03 2014, 02:09AM
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Is there anybody who still thinks Eakins isn't in way over his head?

If I was Nelson I'd feel cheated!!!

Arguable the worst Oilers team in 8 years.

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#16 A-Mc
January 02 2014, 01:27PM
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Stack Pad Save wrote:

Your favorite player is the guy who calls out his teamates and yells at them on the ice? Has tantrums and throws his stick? The guy who won't paint his helmut because he is using the organization to audition for other teams for next season?

yep

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#17 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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#18 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 10:40PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

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

Sad thing is that I'd rather have Burke in charge than Lowe...

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#19 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 11:03PM
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Fun with stats eh Jason?:

Your spin:

"...Edmonton is 6-6-1 in San Jose during the past seven seasons..."

The reality:

Tonight's loss is the sixth straight against the sharks.

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#20 Downton Crabby
January 02 2014, 12:21PM
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Who is the hottie on the pic? Nicely done Gregor... Nicely done.

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#21 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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#22 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 11:54PM
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cubsfan wrote:

no, just when I pay $15,000 for a product and its defective....then i complain......

FYI

$15000 is about what Sam gagner gets for three shifts...

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#23 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
January 02 2014, 01:35PM
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@Stack Pad Save

Painting his "mask" has nothing to do with it. I see passion and a dislike of losing every night. If everybody played with his effort and focus we might win a couple more games

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#24 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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#25 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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#26 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 11:45PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Are you complaining that this bothers you?

no, just when I pay $15,000 for a product and its defective....then i complain......

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#27 Kevin
January 02 2014, 04:30PM
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Anyone awake at Oiler front office ?? how the hell does Pittsburgh claim 6'-4" Taylor Payatt off the waiver wire ?? apparently not good enough for this smurf toilet bowl team. What a JOKE ! Fire six rings already ! anybody up for a mash-mellow roast at hawerlack park ? Thinking OILER Jerseys to ignite and stoke the fire. Katz would have prime view through his living room window.

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#28 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:54PM
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I think there should be a new rule. No player shall be allowed to be on a commercial until their team has a winning record. Jordan Eberle commercials are getting stale now.

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#29 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 12:23PM
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Canada has players that can win hockey games rather than just put up points. If Hall was drafted by the bruins and won the cup and doing what he's doing on a winning team then he'd be a lock for team Canads. Unfortunately Hall was drafted by a pathetic perennial bottom feeder and won't even get consideration due to the fact that the goal of the tournament is to win! Edmonton Oilers.... Ruining careers since '06.

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#30 **
January 02 2014, 05:11PM
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Excellent coaching by Eakins, to put the 3 most defensively challenged forwards together, whom also are all under 6 ft, against a fast, heavy team. That's a winning strategy right there.

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#31 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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#32 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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#33 HOFFFF
January 02 2014, 11:05PM
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3 tripping penalties and 2 hooking penalties in a 5-1 beat down. It's embarassing how soft we are. Nicest team to play against ever. Oh yeah, there was one boarding penalty, but the Sharks did it.

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#34 Oasis
January 02 2014, 11:08PM
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@Loweblows

Was anybody else hoping for an Oiler jersey to be thrown on the ice again tonight? That would be epic.

Anyways, tomorrow I am off to Indianapolis for a couple of NFL games. I have been an NFL fan for many years but over the last few years have been heading south to catch a few games. I am strongly considering giving up my seasons seats and instead using that money to go down south 3 or 4 times a year to watch a few games.

Getting tired of this crap!

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#35 nunyour
January 02 2014, 02:45PM
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If you are going to point the finger at Belov,don't forget to include Eberle,he should have shot the puck into the corner or held it along the boards,then there is Petry, that should have just taken the body like you learn in peewee.

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

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#37 @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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#38 DevoKnows
January 02 2014, 11:36PM
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I'll also be attending sporting events from around NA instead of renewing my Executive Terrace Tickets!!! 8K should get me 3, possibly 4 excursions!! Thanks for "stringing me along" for 4 years!!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!

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#39 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 11:44PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

Only when I pull into Mr.Lube for an oil change and 6hours later they ask me if I want a new filter

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#40 Ed in PV
January 02 2014, 01:39PM
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Having Gags and Yak on the same line, Eakins is rolling the dice. I think the dice are loaded against him.

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#41 The Soup Fascist
January 02 2014, 02:13PM
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Two words:

Shark / nado.

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#42 Rick Stroppel
January 02 2014, 04:48PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

You are either being sarcastic or are delusional.

Neither gretz or mess are EVER moving back to EDM. They both have much deeper ties with other nhl teams - gretz with LA and mess with NYR. While mess has taken some nebulous position in the oiler organization (I am reluctAnt to say he is part of management) has he even visited EDM since he was "hired"?

These two guys are used to being in big media market ponds and the big city lifestyle - no way the swim back up to a backwater like EDM.

Serious Gord: Apparently nobody has ever introduced you to the concept of "satire". That is when a person uses irony or exaggeration to try and make a point in a humorous way. The reference to Gretzky and Messier playing table hockey with Katz' kid should have been a good clue.

The serious point I was trying to make is this: Katz places totally inappropriate reliance on Oilers alumni who have done little or nothing to deserve their current positions. I don't WANT this to happen, but it would not surprise me at all if Gretzky or Messier pop into the Oilers picture in the near future. It would be par for the course.

P.S. If the Oilers weren't providing so much total CRAP hockey, maybe I could amuse myself by enjoying the product on the ice, rather than posting on this site. Cheers!

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#43 Brian
January 02 2014, 10:55PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Has anyone seen an oiler scrum or face wash a shark tonight? How about giving Niemi an ice shower?

Were I Eakins I would promise any forward who did one of the above twenty minutes of ice time in the next game. Savagery can be taught/learned.

Had anyone seen an Oiler? I just see big guys in black jerseys.

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#44 dobiezeke
January 02 2014, 11:11PM
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Thank you Eakins for benching the first line. They looked like steaming dog poop.

Eberle - please get us a decent return.

Belov - good luck in the KHL.

Hemsky - thank you for only signing for two years...can you take Gagner with you?

Dubnyk - our 8A team is looking for a solid back up - we will suffer and take your sorry ass.

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#45 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:46PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

No, I'm asking. Don't answer a question with a question either marty

Are you complaining that I answered a question with a question?

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#46 Cameron
January 02 2014, 12:19PM
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A Shakespearean quote came to mind that seemed fitting for the Oiler's owner, management and Serious Gord:

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not with our stars, but in ourselves"

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#47 Randaman
January 02 2014, 02:02PM
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Gregor, I think it is time for you to take off those rose colored glasses and see this team for what it really is. GONG SHOW!! Their leader ( if you can actually refer to Lowe as a leader) is more worried about team Canada than his own team because Daryl said don't worry, the dollars keep rolling in. Lack of action on Management's part proves this.

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#48 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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#49 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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#50 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 12:34AM
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Screw this! I'm going to go back to Russia and fight bears in the woods...

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