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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#101 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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#102 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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#103 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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#104 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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#105 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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#106 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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#107 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 11:36PM
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cubsfan wrote:

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

Please don't go cubsfan......you'll be giving up your tier one status.....and you'll regret it $150,000.00 from now when the Oilers finally ice a contender!

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#108 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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#109 Bryzarro World
January 03 2014, 09:38AM
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ValleyviewSports wrote:

Does everyone complain this much in their everyday lives?

Let's all be moronic sheep and cheer for this pile of crap!! Same pile of crap for 15 years!

You the kind of guy that pays for a hummer but they give you a prius and you take it anyway just because you don't wanna complain or hurt a feeling?

WTF else you going to do on an oiler blog site when they play like this?

You're a frigging genius bud!!

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#110 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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#111 FatLadySang
January 02 2014, 03:41PM
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@FatLadySang

Hes got some sense as a GM cause hes not gonna get raped in a trade that any other GM **wouldn't** make just cause hes desperate.

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#112 Spydyr
January 02 2014, 04:02PM
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FatLadySang wrote:

Hes got some sense as a GM cause hes not gonna get raped in a trade that any other GM **wouldn't** make just cause hes desperate.

Most rookie GM'S do.

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#113 Sid
January 02 2014, 04:22PM
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To take a page out of Burke's book. Do the Oilers have any intense players?

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#114 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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#115 -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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#116 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 06:07PM
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-30- wrote:

@ 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-

Do things are on track, and you're happy with how it's going? Just give it a couple years? Lets tank again and get another high draft pick?

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#117 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
January 02 2014, 08:34PM
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JJ wrote:

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.

I'm with you thinking that Nichushkin is a hell of a player, but it's worth noting that Malkin is a center. Nichushkin isn't the big 2nd line center that we've been missing for years. While Nichushkin's game would bring something the Oilers desperately need, Edmonton's wings in the top 6 are getting pretty full.

I think if Nurse is given the proper time to develop as a player, he'll be more valuable to the organization in the long run.

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#118 Reg Dunlop
January 02 2014, 09:06PM
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When did this world become so unfair? The sharks are 25% bigger than the oil per man yet they are just as quick, just as fast and infinitely more experienced. The oil have NO chance and will have no chance until Thorton, Boyle et al retire.

Why is it that the oil forecheck is absolutely ineffective while opponents send a single forchecker in and he always forces our two Dmen backwards until they lose possession or ice the puck. Is it coaching or is it the fact that our D corps is ECHL calibre?

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#119 Reg Dunlop
January 02 2014, 09:07PM
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The oil are soooo bad. There is no hope. Goodnight all.

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#120 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 09:08PM
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If Petry didn't put that puck in his feet Yak would have moved it quicker.

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

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#122 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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#123 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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#124 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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#125 Sailge
January 02 2014, 09:40PM
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~Great start to the new year~

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

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

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#126 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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#127 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 09:56PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

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

hahahahahahahahaha

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

hahahahahahahahahahaha

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

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#128 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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#129 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:07PM
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Note to gag- me. Hit the effin net!

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#130 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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#131 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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#132 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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#133 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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#134 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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#135 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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#136 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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#137 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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#138 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:42PM
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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.

He will be wearing a size 15 M-11 autographed helmet to protect him, he will probably have red hair too.

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#139 @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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#140 OILERS SUCK
January 02 2014, 10:43PM
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This Oilers franchise is a complete JOKE.

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#141 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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#142 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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#143 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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#144 Randaman
January 02 2014, 10:55PM
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OILERS SUCK wrote:

This Oilers franchise is a complete JOKE.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious. Any solutions to add? I am waiting for the first home game after this road trip. They will suck and get booed off the ice. Quinn & DeBrusk will be utterly disgusted and cry foul to the fan base.

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#145 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 11:01PM
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Randaman wrote:

Thanks for pointing out the obvious. Any solutions to add? I am waiting for the first home game after this road trip. They will suck and get booed off the ice. Quinn & DeBrusk will be utterly disgusted and cry foul to the fan base.

Next at home game is against the very good TB.

But the next game is against the BLUES - that will be the denouement.

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#146 Randaman
January 02 2014, 11:03PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Next at home game is against the very good TB.

But the next game is against the BLUES - that will be the denouement.

I'm ok with that. Doesn't the message have to get through sometime or are they really that stupid?

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#147 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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#148 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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#149 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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#150 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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