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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#201 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:50PM
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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.

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#202 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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#203 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 09:51PM
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This is not Dubynk's fault but on the last goal he left the whole glove side of the net open and Couture was coming down the middle of the ice.

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#204 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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#205 Harlie
January 02 2014, 09:52PM
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Whens are heads gonna roll??

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

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#207 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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#208 I tried it at home
January 02 2014, 09:53PM
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The commercial advertising the "Oilers skill competition" is a nice touch. Sarcasm intended.

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#209 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 09:53PM
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@Serious Gord

Mercy rule: the opposing team will play with only 4 skaters in the 2nd and 3rd period. The opposing team will also play there AHL backup netminder

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#210 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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#211 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 09:55PM
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This is one of those times where we really could use an OLYMPIAN!

You know, to take charge the game. Really lead by example.

Be sick of losing....

and all that crap that we get all weak in the knees about when we think about *sigh* Taylor.

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#212 Harlie
January 02 2014, 09:56PM
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Eberle is 3 feet away from the goal, and then decides to button hook and pass it to the defence? C'mon man!

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#213 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 09:58PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Mercy rule: the opposing team will play with only 4 skaters in the 2nd and 3rd period. The opposing team will also play there AHL backup netminder

Another alternative is that the other team be given the win once it is 4-0 and the first line gets to head to the showers. The remainder of the team players the oilers for an additional point.

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#214 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:00PM
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I tried it at home wrote:

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

I expect Ryan Smyth to win the fastest skater and the hardest shot competition.

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#215 sizedoesmatter
January 02 2014, 10:00PM
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Just heard Debrusk say unkind words directed towards the Oilers

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#216 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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#217 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:03PM
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Tonight's game is further evidence that this team is not just one bold move away from being a contender. This team is sick on many levels. Any thoughts that next year or the next for that matter will improve is a pipe dream. With an inverted rebuild ie. forwards maturing before defence, we are a long ways from being competitive. And fire KLowe.

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#218 Harlie
January 02 2014, 10:04PM
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Haha...in terms of the group that messed things up indeed.

"Lowe also lost his temper at the news conference when asked why the Oilers didn’t search out new blood to replace Tambellini.

“How are fans going to be reassured that the group that left the mess that Tambellini couldn’t quite clean up is now going to be cleaned up by the guys who left the mess to begin with?” asked one reporter.

“In terms of the group that messed things up, you’re talking about the group that had a team one period away from winning the Stanley Cup (in 2006)?” Lowe shot back.

“Seven years ago,” said the reporter.

“There’s one other guy I believe in hockey today that is still working in the game that has won more Stanley Cups than me. So I think I know a little bit about winning, if there’s ever a concern.”

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#219 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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#220 Brian
January 02 2014, 10:07PM
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I try very hard to tune out the Sportsnet Bobbleheads and now I got to read about them here? DeBrusk has been sniffing too much blue paint lately. And Quinn knows nothing about broadcasting if there was ever any concern.

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#221 Deep Oil
January 02 2014, 10:11PM
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Brian wrote:

I try very hard to tune out the Sportsnet Bobbleheads and now I got to read about them here? DeBrusk has been sniffing too much blue paint lately. And Quinn knows nothing about broadcasting if there was ever any concern.

The internet gives you the power to choose another channel - http://www6.aoso.ru/2012/10/86.html

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#222 Deep Oil
January 02 2014, 10:12PM
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What are your thoughts about the Oilers advertising a skills competition, is there some AD Council we could complain to for fraud ?

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#223 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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#224 Loweblows
January 02 2014, 10:15PM
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My mother wears army boots. Fire Kevin Lowe!

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#225 spliff
January 02 2014, 10:18PM
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Just listening to Stauffer talk about how Gagner came back from his injury too early, but know he needs to start delivering. So he gets a pass on his weak-ass play for the past 20 games? Always an excuse with Gagner and for some reason this organization loves him. FFS this is the NHL, professional hockey, where he is getting paid huge money. Being in a score drought happens, but playing non-contact fly-by hockey is unacceptable. Its a real head scratcher as to why MacT thinks Gagner is a character guy, and when MacT said that it makes me question his intelligence.

Also, as usual, playing a good team reveals how piss poor the Oilers are, and I will be my mortgage that they will not make the playoffs for two more years. But don't worry, this long stretch of meaningless games will allow our management "braintrust" to evaluate which players they want "going forward." My question is, who evaluates the evaluators? It ain't Katz, thats for sure. Also, WTF does Howson do? Make coffee?

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#226 Brian
January 02 2014, 10:19PM
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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.

And he pines after Joffrey Lupul like a nine year old girl at a Bieber concert, or like Katz does with the Boys on the Broken Down Bus.

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#227 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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#228 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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#229 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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#230 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 10:31PM
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Just found out that Lowe's master plan is to raise a genetically modified baby, and raise him to become the saviour. Just gotta wait another 14years guys, he's already 5yrs old

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#231 HOFFFF
January 02 2014, 10:33PM
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I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick! I can't wait for this year to be over and get on with next year! At least we get a great draft pick!

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#232 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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#233 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:34PM
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RexHolez wrote:

Just found out that Lowe's master plan is to raise a genetically modified baby, and raise him to become the saviour. Just gotta wait another 14years guys, he's already 5yrs old

I hope he isn't a clone of 6 rings.

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#234 @Oilanderp
January 02 2014, 10:35PM
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God damnit man, Lander gets plowed into the boards from behind, not even a scrum. In a 5-1 game. not even a scrum.

*sigh* Oilers.

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#235 Harlie
January 02 2014, 10:35PM
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http://tmn.truman.edu/ktrm/files/2013/09/tumblr_mn1hiaFqLj1sp47dlo1_500.gif

Cotton Eyed Joe

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#236 Serious Gord
January 02 2014, 10:36PM
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5-1

So many dark analogies are running through my mind for what the collective mental state for this team must be.

A beaten Labrador is one of the meeker less politically inappropriate ones...

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#237 Kr55
January 02 2014, 10:37PM
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@Rod from Viking

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.

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#238 RexHolez
January 02 2014, 10:39PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I hope he isn't a clone of 6 rings.

I believe they crossed DNA from Lowe, MacT and Buchberger. Apparently he's already playing without a helmet and has wonderful timing on his shotblocks

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#239 cubsfan
January 02 2014, 10:40PM
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cubsfan wrote:

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

I know its not in good taste reposting my own GDP....and i'l get trashed...

but.......

All i want to know is if I got the prediction hat Gene Principe made a bad pun .....i changed the channel early and watched a great NCAA football game....and saved my TV at the same time

I'm not bragging about the 2-0 prediction and the shot differential (very close on that)..........Im not bragging...... because that prediction is like predicting the sun comes up in the morning and sets in the evening.... it is more like Obvious game prediction.....

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#240 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:45PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

5-1

So many dark analogies are running through my mind for what the collective mental state for this team must be.

A beaten Labrador is one of the meeker less politically inappropriate ones...

Well the coaches and management have been "Romancing the Canine"and no one wants the pups.

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#241 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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#242 OILERS SUCK
January 02 2014, 10:50PM
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Hey zamboni driver as JR would say "wake up, wake up!" U need to wake up and smell the coffee as this team is a JOKE. A complete and utter joke.

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#243 Zamboni Driver
January 02 2014, 10:52PM
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OILERS SUCK wrote:

Hey zamboni driver as JR would say "wake up, wake up!" U need to wake up and smell the coffee as this team is a JOKE. A complete and utter joke.

I actually just LOL'ed.

I think I've made my views on that subject fairly clear. But thanks for the pep talk.

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#244 camdog
January 02 2014, 10:53PM
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camdog wrote:

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

This team's colors used to be orange and blue, but the last 8 years you could say they have been "black and blue". That's for those looking for a bad "Principe pun" right about now.

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

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

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

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

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

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#247 Rod from Viking
January 02 2014, 10:55PM
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The team's are brutal but isn't that new ATB commercial with Ebs and Giordano awesome? "Good Grief"

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your spin:

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

The reality:

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

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#250 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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