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 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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#152 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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#153 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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#154 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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What in the F@&K!!?!?!

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#155 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:49PM
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Anyway. This train wreck is over.

Whoever mentioned the NCAA game was totally right. Flipping back and forth that game was WAY more entertaining than watching this collection of losers.

Keep drinking the koolaid though, blind-faithers. Six Cups and Batman are counting on you.

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#156 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 11:18PM
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OILERS SUCK wrote:

Hey Randaman these guys are all similar players... one way players with no heart. Kruger was a much better coach than Eakins but the Oilers brass wanted Toronto's golden boy. they need to clean house from Lowe to Yakupov but Katz won't make this happen until he sees some serious amounts of empty seats. Unfortunately no matter how poor the product as long as the foolish lovestruck fans keep attending games he will do nothing other than count his $$$.

I think that if there are no bold moves to improve this team the sell outs will be over and probably for a long time, it has been too poor for too long and almost every season ticket holder I know feel the same.

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#157 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 11:26PM
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Oasis wrote:

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!

I was thinking same

you can buy San Diego season tickets, or Arizona Cardinal tickets, even Chicago bears (direct flights now).....

Only 8 home games......

You can pay for a flight for 2, watch NFL game, and hotel.....all for the price of GOLD Seats ......LITERALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the idea

or

I can save my 15k, go to a masters, fly to the UK and catch EPL game, go to the final four, go to Kentucky derby, go to Vegas and watch some UFC live....... and have life experiences.......

Seriously considering

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#158 dobiezeke
January 02 2014, 11:28PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Lol....what the fcuk are they gonna say?!!?.......they are thanking their lucky stars they are in Sweden scouting Ekblad.....and will stay there till it's time to head to Sochi!

.....so....getting back to the Hall in the Olympics conversation......

Yes, the Olympic team needs a guy who throws the puck to no one in the slot and watches a player floating into our end have a clean shot for a goal...yikes.

Hall has no responsibility with the puck and is clueless in his own end.

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#159 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 11:38PM
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Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

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#160 cubsfan
January 03 2014, 12:05AM
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RexHolez wrote:

For $15,000 you could probably buy enough pitch forks and hand them out to everybody for the next home game

and paper bags...

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#161 RexHolez
January 03 2014, 10:32AM
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Didn't stauffer say somthing like you could see 6 new forwards and 4 new D next year? What exactly have we been rebuilding in the last 4 years??? If you gotta replace half your team 4 years after you start rebuilding someone f'ed up. Where's the accountability?

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#162 wintoon
January 02 2014, 12:29PM
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Your analysis makes me wonder if the powers that be are creating their team "not to lose" rather than creating their team "to win it all". There is a huge psychological difference between these two approaches. That same approach seems to creep in when teams try to protect a lead. Often times it backfires.

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#163 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 04:09PM
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@Newj

Breezy might not be a very good NHL level goalie, but he's still on upgrade on Dubnyk!

Bishop, Bernier, Schneider.... All could of been had

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#164 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 04:54PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I predict a big win for Edmonton tonight. 7-3 BIG. Yakupov gets a hat trick, and Gagner gets four points.

If I'm wrong I can just blame it on a delerium caused by a horrible head cold combined with cold medication. If I'm right I look like a GENIUS. Or something like that...

Go OIL.

I recommend a double hot toddy - piping hot tea with whiskey or brandy; some lemon and honey to taste - drink one a period or until you pass out. You will be right as rain tomorrow morning and the agony of another oilers mastication will be but a hazy recollection.

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#165 EternalPessimist
January 02 2014, 05:19PM
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Did we lose yet? How bout those systems tho?

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#166 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 08:15PM
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bwar wrote:

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.

Yeah.....it won't end well.....but it might be a motivational strategy to play three players together who all need to learn to play a two way game. They need to learn to play some D for each other, and none of them can complain that they are not playing with talent. This way they have only themselves to credit or to blame.

But I'm with you that Eakins shouldn't make Yak the goat.....he should rotate the goat horns until they learn to play for each other.

These guys are by definition proud professionals....and SHAME can be a powerful motivator.

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#167 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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#168 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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#169 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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#170 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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#171 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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#172 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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#173 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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#174 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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#175 HOFFFF
January 02 2014, 10:40PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

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!

I've always said that Dubnyk probably needs glasses? He'd probably look like Bubbles....

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#176 kale
January 02 2014, 11:10PM
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Kr55 wrote:

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.

That kid has already been born...he is coaching

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#177 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:21PM
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dobiezeke wrote:

Isn't ironic that nothing has been said by lowe and mact recently...

Lol....what the fcuk are they gonna say?!!?.......they are thanking their lucky stars they are in Sweden scouting Ekblad.....and will stay there till it's time to head to Sochi!

.....so....getting back to the Hall in the Olympics conversation......

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#178 A-Mc
January 02 2014, 01:42PM
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BorjeSalming-IanTurnbull wrote:

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.

The only currency a coach has to teach, is ice time. To reward poor play with more ice time is to basically throw the teaching card out the window.

Last year the Oilers let Yak prove he could play with the big boys offensively, and he can. Now the mandate should be to reduce his defensive liabilities to the point that in a pinch, yak can tighten his sphincter and get through a shift vs a #1 line with out getting out played.

I'm not sure if you have children or not, but as a parent i somewhat relate Eakins' problem with Yak, with parenting. There are certain things that are unacceptable as a parent to let happen with relation to my kid; but the flip side is that once in a while you need to ask yourself "Is this the hill I'm willing to die on?"

Defensive Liability may just be THAT hill for Eakins and the Oilers

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#179 Harlie
January 02 2014, 02:37PM
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Gregor, just a short note to thank you for shaking my hand a couple weeks ago (Month of Giving charity check drop off).

My wife surprised me on December 23rd saying that we were going to have a baby again!

She showed me a test saying that she was already 2 - 3 weeks in. And I remember the timing of shaking your hand well, as your wife and you were only days away from having Beckett. I traced back the time and I shook your hand on the Friday and pretty sure we conceived on the Sunday a couple days later.

It's a big shock for the wife and I as we have 2 boys, ages 4 and 6 and were thinking we were done. I'm pushing the big 40 next year too.

So thanks again Gregor! haha

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#180 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 03:49PM
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He got raped pretty good in the Smid deal

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#181 Bucknuck
January 02 2014, 04:45PM
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I predict a big win for Edmonton tonight. 7-3 BIG. Yakupov gets a hat trick, and Gagner gets four points.

If I'm wrong I can just blame it on a delerium caused by a horrible head cold combined with cold medication. If I'm right I look like a GENIUS. Or something like that...

Go OIL.

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#182 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 05:06PM
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@Serious Gord

Seguin also has more competition down the centre ice than Hall does on the left side

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#183 Quintana
January 02 2014, 09:09PM
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Old Dubbie...........Man against boys.......Fire kLowe!!!!!

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#184 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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#185 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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#186 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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#187 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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#188 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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#189 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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#190 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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#191 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:47PM
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HOFFFF wrote:

I've always said that Dubnyk probably needs glasses? He'd probably look like Bubbles....

Heard Gregor talking about Dubnyk one day saying scouts in the NHL don't think Dubnyk is nearly athletic enough to be a starter in the NHL.

I was thinking that very thing yesterday watching the Canadian kid goalie stop the breakaway (or was it the US game?..whatever...) - I thought "No way in the world Dubnyk makes that save. Can't bend, stretch...that's a goal on him."

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#192 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 11:41PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

Are you complaining that this bothers you?

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

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#193 Serious Gord
January 03 2014, 12:38AM
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Bryzarro World wrote:

Screw this! I'm going to go back to Russia and fight bears in the woods...

Watch out where those huskies go...

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#194 Spydyr
January 02 2014, 12:21PM
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Marshmallows float. Do Sharks eat marshmallows?

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#195 A-Mc
January 02 2014, 12:45PM
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It could be all the booze over the holidays.. but i am predicting an Oilers win tonight!

Oilers win 4-1.

It ends up being one of those nights where things just go in... Yak, Hall, Petry and Perron score tonight.

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#196 Dan the Man
January 02 2014, 01:25PM
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Horcsky wrote:

Hmm, I disagree with some of the guys you listed as being more productive than Hall, Gregor.

Perry, Kunitz, Sharp, and Toews are all at a lower points per game pace than Hall.

http://www.sportingcharts.com/nhl/stats/player-points-per-game-leaders/2013/

I was about to point out the same thing but I see that you beat me to it so I will just add that only 6 Canadian forwards have more PPG than Hall and of those 6 only 1 is a winger. Obviously Canada will be using centres on the wing but wouldn't it be nice to have a natural LW with Hall's wheels? Also one of the 6 is Stamkos who may not be healthy enough to play.

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#197 Stack Pad Save
January 02 2014, 01:57PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

A soft play on Yandle goal? Yandle is on a breakaway and it just slips through pads. He faced 45 shots, many of them very good quality shots and you blame the goalie. Good grief.

I guess Bryzgalov should stop every puck in your eyes. Okay. I guess Belov and Petry's plays on 3rd and 4th goals were Bryz's fault.

They were both weak goals. You don't have to agree with me. But I think you are wrong. He should have stopped both of those goals. You yourself consistently complained about how Dubnyk was not an NHL goalie because he let in a weak goal on a consistent basis and this caused the team to struggle. I see Bryzgalov doing the same thing. Plus I also see Bryzgalov having tantrums on the ice.

I am sick of this organization telling fans that they are going to do things, like "bold moves" and create a culture of accountability and than fail to follow through on those promises. I also pointed out that Belov's play was in error as well. But you want to run and defend Bryzgalov go ahead. Bryz your new man crush?

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#198 MessyEH!
January 02 2014, 03:08PM
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Someone should tell that young lady to put on a helmet.

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#199 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 04:28PM
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Cameron wrote:

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"

Thanks for the shout out. More Shakespeare is just what this site needs more of.

(And I'm sure many would like to see a little (or a lot) less of me)

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#200 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 06:33PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Hall would have barely gotten more minutes than Seguin did - permanently on the second line behind lucic. Maybe even less given halls defensive weaknesses compared to seguins.

And would he get on the Olympic team ahead of the bruins first line left winger? Awkward.

that would be nuts to see Hall and Lucic battle for ice time, and scary for any team playing against them

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