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 

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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 OILERS SUCK
January 02 2014, 11:13PM
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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 $$$.

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#152 OILERS SUCK
January 02 2014, 11:17PM
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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 $$$.

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#153 dobiezeke
January 02 2014, 11:17PM
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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 $$$.

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

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#154 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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#155 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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#156 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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#157 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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#158 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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#159 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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#160 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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#161 Serious Gord
January 03 2014, 07:14AM
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nWo4life wrote:

Assuming you are in the top tax bracket, you would need to earn $246k to pay for those tickets. That's a lot of cash to spend on what exactly?

A cool quarter mill.

That's a lot of hookers and blow...

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#162 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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#163 6 ring circus
January 02 2014, 07:32PM
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The Oiler's should hire the blond in the picture as a motivational coach.All she would have to do, is show up at the rink dressed like that.

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#164 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 07:49PM
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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-

MacT must have had a complete change of heart regarding gagner if he's now planning to unload him in the next couple of years...

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#165 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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#166 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 02 2014, 08:41PM
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GDP: Sharks are Big ...Oilers are Small.....Sharks Win!

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#167 @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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#168 Newj
January 02 2014, 08:54PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Smyth is trying to score one goal with that muffin of a slapper off the wing, then he'll retire.

I pulled out a relic piece of lumber out of the garage the other day..I was thinking maybe Smitty might want it?

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#169 ValleyviewSports
January 02 2014, 08:54PM
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It's strange to me that Eakins thinks it is best to play two rookie d-men together in Belov and Marincin. Just waiting for the dashes

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#170 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:07PM
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Listening to the game on ched. Man after that goal the crowd sounded real loud.

Ditto the second.

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#171 Dave3
January 02 2014, 09:10PM
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Pull the goalie !

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#172 Andrew
January 02 2014, 09:15PM
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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.

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#173 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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#174 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 09:20PM
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So refreshing to hear another feed. Listening to the SJ crew makes me realize how sick I am of the sportsnet group.

The few games that I do watch I find it eases the experience if I slap on GTA during the intermission and go 6 stars with Niko.... Trust me, try it!

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#175 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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#176 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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#177 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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#178 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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#179 Hockey fan 1976
January 02 2014, 09:24PM
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Omg. The Coilers are brutal!! The Sharks are literally toying with these clowns. How can anyone in their right mind think this team is on track with their rebuild after watching this period. Katz, please fire everyone and earn the respect back from your Edmonton fans. Turning off this game and watching a movie.

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#180 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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#181 Randaman
January 02 2014, 09:26PM
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I was offered Gold tickets 3 rows behind the bench for a game in February. I live 700 miles north and normally would have jumped at the chance but not this year. I have a fear of throwing my Hall jersey on the ice. I want to but I don't think I could do it. If it was #14 or #89 I honestly would have no problem. The longer we keep these two the longer the losing goes on

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#182 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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#183 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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#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 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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#186 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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#187 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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#188 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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#189 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:40PM
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Loweblows wrote:

Pull management, 2/3 of the roster and the coaches. And fire the DJ.

Hang the DJ.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AlH2oYedfk

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#190 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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#191 Quintana
January 02 2014, 09:45PM
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WE WANT 10!!!! WE WANT 10!!!!!!

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#192 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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#193 Arius Mumin
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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Did the Oilers just call a "players only" timeout? WTF?

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#194 Dave3
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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Hoozonphirst wrote:

Pull the coach and about 2/3 of the team and that's just for openers.

Should have pulled the goalie.

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#195 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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#196 Bryzarro World
January 02 2014, 09:46PM
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What in the F@&K!!?!?!

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#197 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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#198 D-Unit
January 02 2014, 09:47PM
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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.

Whoever thought Dubnyk on the Olympic team had to be on heroin.

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#199 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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#200 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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