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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#51 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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#52 @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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#53 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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#54 Drowning in Oil
January 02 2014, 11:45PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

No, in my everyday life, I find I usually get value for what I pay for. It only seems to be when I go to an Oiler game or support this team that I am disappointed........... So to answer your question, no!!

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#55 Freewheeling Freddie
January 03 2014, 02:12AM
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Eakins will blame Yak for this loss. Dubnyk is so bad goalie 911 said this number is out of order. Can we somehow forfeit this season? This is so painful. Hey Kevin are you still alive you have been awfully quiet. Wow can you imagine when the new arena opens and we have just finished breaking the all time record for missing the playoffs. I should be quiet I am a tier 2 or maybe a tier 3 fan.

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#56 oil2017!
January 02 2014, 04:16PM
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RexHolez wrote:

He got raped pretty good in the Smid deal

how? cause smid isnt replaceable and is currently a game changer that you build your defense around? or was it the fact that dumping a replaceable player with an above average salary to make room for future decisions because this is a lost season?

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#57 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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#58 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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#59 Oasis
January 02 2014, 11:01PM
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Loweblows wrote:

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.

The only product that an Edmonton Oiler deserves to represent right now is a Tampon. This team plays like a bunch of _______

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#60 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:53PM
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cubsfan wrote:

...I'll feel like such a sucker in 10 years......$150k is a lot when you think about it.....im having a bit of an epiphany......i may not be the only one

But seriously.....please don't leave.....I'm a tier two fan and I count on you to subsidize me.......and you're not a sucker...you're a fan......and you do deserve better.

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#61 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 01:42PM
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GDP

Oilers outshot 20 to 4 in the 1st period, but only down 2-0

Gene Pricipe interview The Nuge...he says they have to try harder and they are better than this, and have to start taking body, let the puck do the work for them.....blah blah

Gene cracks a bad Pun that the 2 guys in the booth are obligated to laugh at... and I quickly change the channel and watch Oklahoma v Alabama game

....in this way i dont throw the remote at the TV when the Oilers lose again with a half-arse effort

This team has turned me into a glass half empty guy

I guess its better the glass totally empty guy like serious gord....but im getting there

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#62 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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#63 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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#64 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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#65 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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#66 camdog
January 02 2014, 10:46PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

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.

The "team" hasn't stood up for each other since Pronger left...

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#67 I Remember the Orange Jerseys
January 02 2014, 11:03PM
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Loweblows wrote:

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.

Well, it is your only opportunity to see him throw a body check.

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#68 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 11:05PM
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Eakins should bathe in his players piss.

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#69 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 11:08PM
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Loweblows wrote:

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$,

You forgot "Fire Kevin Lowe" Fire Kevin Lowe!

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#70 Hoozinphirst
January 02 2014, 11:45PM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

You live in Valleyview and have to ask that question? I'd like to complain about the price of fuel in your ahem...town.

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#71 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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#72 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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#73 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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#74 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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#75 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 10:51PM
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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.

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#76 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:52PM
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On almost all the goals tonight I don't think I saw Flubnik move until the pucks were well out of the net.

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#77 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 11:10PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

You forgot "Fire Kevin Lowe" Fire Kevin Lowe!

And fire Kevin Lowe!

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#78 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 01:45PM
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The following has to be a joke: Yakupov with Gagner and Eberle, right? No?

Is Eakins, or anyone when it comes to the Oilers, serious?

Kevin Lowe is the Godfather, live with it. MSM and everyone who is allowed to write about the Oilers to make a $ off them has to answer to him. What he tells his people to tell the media-is all that the media is allowed to talk about, and they must stay in those lines.

When MacT said that Gagner was a great charachter guy and blah blah blah, MSM took that and ran with it, their opinion has not been allowed to change since. Oilers wanted the teams that dont see guy play much to believe that and they told the MSM to help them sell him as such.

They told the MSM that Yakupov is the bad guy and they can go and write and speculate on that. They are however not allowed to write about or question Eakins in any negative way, that is why those microphones studder most of the time when they have to ask Eakins a question: they dont want to upset the big cheese.

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#79 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 01:52PM
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A-Mc wrote:

In some twisted round about way, it's almost genius to stick those 3 together. They are being thrown to the wolves and there are no defensive saviors to be had between the 3 of them.

If ever a weakness was needing to be exposed to the players so that they finally understand what they need to do, this is the way to do it.

Are you in good health?

If that line gets eaten by those wolves, no matter what, Yakupov will be the scapegoat. While goofboy 1 and goofboy 2 will remain in the top 6 and in the coachs good book. #@$% Eakins.!..

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#80 BIGDAWG
January 02 2014, 04:39PM
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Bryz has been awesome the last 2 games. Standing on his head awesome! I like the emotion he shows on the ice. atleast someone has it..

I haven't seen the line up for tonight but if belov and petry are in I want Eakins gone.. cant just pick on yak when other players including ebs and gags are making the same or worse mistakes. I hear the word accountability... now lets see some.. I am also getting fed up of hearing Eakins talking about how hard this team works.. we are clearly seeing two different teams out there. Call a spade a spade already.

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#81 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 04:42PM
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BIGDAWG wrote:

Bryz has been awesome the last 2 games. Standing on his head awesome! I like the emotion he shows on the ice. atleast someone has it..

I haven't seen the line up for tonight but if belov and petry are in I want Eakins gone.. cant just pick on yak when other players including ebs and gags are making the same or worse mistakes. I hear the word accountability... now lets see some.. I am also getting fed up of hearing Eakins talking about how hard this team works.. we are clearly seeing two different teams out there. Call a spade a spade already.

Seems to me that there are at least a couple of players every game who play bad enough to sit out a game or two - how come only yak gets that treatment?

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#82 -30-
January 02 2014, 06:00PM
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@ Serious Gord

Why does Yak get sat out while others don't?

How about there is a long term plan to KEEP Yakupov and let's break the bad habits before they become permanent or impossible to break?

Gagner and others will be traded or gone in a few. Yak will be around for the next dozen plus years.

Some of the posters here are hilarious. Two game win streak and the world is great. Two losses and fire the whole effing group and start from scratch.

Same goes for Yak. For gawds sake, the guy is just a kid. Are we judging his career and his treatment the past few weeks as long term?

Common sense seems to be lost on most when it comes to the Oilers.

-30-

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#83 bwar
January 02 2014, 06:00PM
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I feel bad for Yak. Not only will he be blamed for any defensive lapses he has but he will also be forced to take the blame for all of Gagner's lapses as well.

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#84 JJ
January 02 2014, 07:51PM
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Nichushkin with another goal tonight. Nurse better be the real deal. Otherwise missing out on the next Malkin will be the greatest Oil mistake of the decade. We shall see.

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#85 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:11PM
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Debrusk is a walking, barely talking embarassment.

"No chance for Dubnyk on that one."

A shot from 60 feet.

Nah. Zero chance.

Hey Lou, 'Doobie' is paid to stop the thing. Sometimes they're even called "saves"...as in "save the day". Sportsnet keeps this guy when they rule the world, they've lost their minds. Can you imagine? We don't get to hear Ferraro anymore, but get 82 nights of this.

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#86 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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#87 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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#88 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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#89 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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#90 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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#91 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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#92 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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#93 FauxRumors
January 02 2014, 11:52PM
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Another stellar night by TH and RNH...both -3 on the night!

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#94 Drowning in Oil
January 03 2014, 12:03AM
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WE REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT THE POSITIVES...... EVEN IF THE SABRES WIN BOTH THEIR GAMES AT HAND, WE'LL STILL BE AHEAD OF THEM. YAHOO!!

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#95 BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull
January 02 2014, 01:29PM
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I don't understand how the Oilers are handling Yakapov. The team is out of the playoff race and this is the best chance for teaching and giving a first overall draft the minutes and line mates to succeed. Playing on the four line then sitting him out is a real head shaker. MacT has to tell Dallas to play him come hell or high water. If we where in a playoff race I could see some shuffling but look at the standings and get real.

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#96 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 04:26PM
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@oil2017!

I was thinking more like how he traded a serviceable NHL calibre defenseman for 2 middle tier prospects considering defense was already a weak spot and considering the value around the league for defenseman of smid's calibre. You don't think Smid could've fetched more come deadline day??

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#97 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 08:42PM
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Smyth is trying to score one goal with that muffin of a slapper off the wing, then he'll retire.

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#98 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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#99 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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#100 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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