GDB 52.0: MATCHING INTENSITY

Jason Gregor
January 21 2014 12:04PM

 

John Tortorella is on third day of his 15 day suspension, but tonight is the first game he'll miss as head coach of the Canucks. It is too early to tell how the Canucks will react to 15 days without their fiery coach.

You have to believe the Canucks will bring a lot energy and emotion into Rexall tonight, and it would be nice to see the Oilers match their desire. The Oilers don't have enough guys to brawl with them, but they need to learn to match the intensity of their opponents.

Tonight will be a good test.

Recently the Canucks have tried to ignite their passion with fighting. Their recent games vs. Calgary and LA have the Canucks tied with the Flyers for most fights in the league, and you can expect they will try to intimidate the Oilers tonight.

After Saturday's loss I wrote about the Oilers losing too many one-on-one battles, and yesterday I asked Eakins about those battles and specifically Jeff Petry.

Gregor: Petry was in the right position to make a play twice against the Jets, but both times he lost his man. How can you instill an increased competitive level amongst the players, because too often your team is losing too many important one-on-one battles?

Eakins: It is interesting we were talking about it after the game and then this morning. Early in the season we had some guys who didn't understand where they were supposed to be and we were teaching that. Now it has come down to we have people in the right spot, but we need them to finish off the execution. There are a number of things that go into it...

I'm guessing I know the plays you are referring to. Every player wants to do it, they are going to dig their heels in and do the best they can. Sometimes it is not being so aggressive, or overplaying the guy, sometimes it is not being aggressive enough. And what we try to do with that is we may show instances to the whole team with a video session, but a lot of times it is one-on-one stuff.

I think we have been doing a good job of instilling winning those one-on-one battles in practice, whether it is full ice one-on-one, down low two-on-twos or three-on-threes and the importance of not getting beat one-on-one...cause in the end that is what it comes down to. You can run whatever system you want, offensively or defensively, but the winning of the one-on-one battle is huge and the creating of a two-on-one battle is huge when you have the puck.

For some players it is small adjustments and for some it is experience."

Gregor: Being a former player, I'm sure you played with guys who found ways to win more battles than they lost. Is that something you gauge, and if you are going to improve do you need more guys who are winning instead of losing those battles?

Eakins: Exactly. A lot of times it is the personality test. There are some guys, that are just so...it doesn't matter what they are doing, they are competitive and they have just that slight uncertainty....listen they are polite guys in public... your wife walks in, they will hold the door open, but if you look sideways at you they might smack ya...there has to be a little meanness in them.

That is part of the evaluation going forward for, not only are coaching staff, but for Craig and managment. We've got some good, good players and we've got to see if they fit...especially playing in this conference; this conference is nasty. The game is being played by strong men who enjoy doing hard things. Not only do we have to look at our skill set, we have to look at the makeup of the guy's DNA when it comes to the level of battle that comes naturally to him.

THOUGHTS...

I don't expect, or need, every player to be aggressive or a banger, but you need a team filled with players that when they find themselves in a one-on-one situation have the internal drive to make it difficult for their opponent.

Randy Gregg is a perfect example. To be clear I'm not saying Petry is as good as Gregg, I'm just comparing styles.

Gregg was a valuable member of the Cup winning teams, but he wasn't nasty or a banger. They had Craig Muni, Jeff Beukeboom, Kevin Lowe and Steve Smith who played gritty, but Gregg was a guy his teammates could rely on when he engaged in a battle. He was a very cerebral player, and usually used his positioning and smarts to make good plays, but whether it was battling for positioning in front of the net, in the corner or fighting for a loose puck he always held his own.

The Oilers don't need Petry to suddenly become nasty, that isn't his persona, but he has to show more effort than he did in those two one-on-one situations in Winnipeg. I'm a firm believer that when the Oilers acquire more guys with a fierce desire to win battles it will rub off on other players.

It can be contagious, and if every player becomes even 5% grittier for lose pucks or battles, then the team's chance of success will improve. 

Eakins alluded to the fact the Pacific division is filled with strong men who enjoy doing hard things, and while the Oilers try to improve their blueline and forward group, it sounds like they will also be looking for players who, not only fill those holes, but also possess a strong desire to compete.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Perron-Gagner-Jones
Smyth-Gordon-Hendricks
Joenssu-Arcobello-Gazdic

Ference-J.Schultz
Marincin-Petry
N.Schultz-Belov

Scrivens

Two changes. Belov comes out and Potter takes his place in the 3rd pairing, and Ben Scrivens gets his first home start as an Oiler. 

QUICK HITS...

  • After watching Dubnyk and the other goalies in the Oilers organization, I sense there will be a new goaltending coach next season. Which goalies have continually developed during Chabot's time? Maybe the goalies simply weren't good enough, but with little progress look for a new goalie coach next year.
     
  • Ales Hemsky skated after practice with no equipment yesterday, while Nail Yakupov was on the ice with him in full equipment. Hemsky has a deep bone bruise, but no broken bones. They Oilers need him healthy for the Olympics and up until March 5th so he has trade value.

    I've always liked Hemsky as a player, there are very few players who can skate as fast with the puck as without it, and won't be surprised if he produces elsewhere, but I believe he has less than 10 games remaining as an Oiler. If he plays nine more games before being dealt he will be 12th all-time in GP as an Oiler and he'll finish 8th all-time in points. The only way I see him staying past the deadline is if he is injured. I don't see him re-signing in the summer, so there is no point letting him leave without getting some sort of asset in return.
     
  • The Oilers could keep half of his remaining salary in a trade, just over $600,000, and that would make him even more attractive to potential trading partners. If the Oilers keep part of his salary, the return will likely be more.
     
  • I wonder if a team will inquire about Nick Schultz or Ryan Smyth?

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I have no idea about tonight. Gut says Oilers lose, likely because that is the smart bet, but I'll pick the Oilers to win, 4-2, which is still smarter than the actions of the above Canucks fan. What is your best guess why the guy behind him is carrying a pillow? Never change Canucks fans, never change.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gazdic ends his 12-game fighting drought with a first period tilt against Tom Sestito. Sestito is first in the NHL in fights, 15 while Gazdic is second with 10.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: One day after writing his letter to the fans, or at least signing the bottom of the letter, D. Katz makes an appearance at Rexall. During the 2nd intermission he hangs out on the concourse chatting with fans and thanking them for their support. **I know this will never happen, but it should happen a few times a year.**

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 @Oilanderp
January 21 2014, 08:45PM
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*crink*

AWWWWWW POST by Hall... that PP looked better!

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#152 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 08:46PM
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I remember the first game against Van when Will Acton fought Kesler. Torts was yelling at Keith Acton, and the camera panned to Eakins, who glanced sideways and looked mildly confused.

Disregarding systems and lines, I really don't see the fire and charisma I see in virtually any other NHL head coach.

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#153 kale
January 21 2014, 08:46PM
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worst possible person to score a goal-kassian

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#154 Zarny
January 21 2014, 08:47PM
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RexHolez wrote:

So just sit down, shut up or just stop watching??? I don't get people like you. You're last post you were calling for kassians head, wanting someone to intent to injure "specifically the head". Yet we as fans can't do anything but accept the garbage we are being force fed??

You are free to do what you want. Free will.

I simply stated the truth. Tossing a jersey will accomplish nothing. Especially if you don't stop watching.

If you say I'm done, quit buying tickets and merchandise you will make a statement. They will have lost a fan.

If you come back for more it's a temper tantrum to fulfill some immature need to be "heard".

And yes, if you are so privileged and well off that you can throw away a $100 jersey in "symbolic" protest you're a spoiled brat. I gave a jersey to a kid in a group home last Christmas and he bawled his eyes out. File your "symbolic gesture" under First World Problems.

I simply didn't expect the Oilers to be good this year. They don't have a top pairing D. That's 20-25 min X 2 where the blueline is playing above their head. No chance. Sure it's disappointing. I'll live. I've seen this show before. I'm a 49ers fan.

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#155 @Oilanderp
January 21 2014, 08:47PM
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Damn. 0-2.

*folds up tent*

C'mon kids, everyone gtf in the car!

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#156 Alsker
January 21 2014, 08:52PM
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Man did that goal ever suck everything out of us..boo birds will be out soon

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#157 @Oilanderp
January 21 2014, 08:53PM
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We could use a bounce. EH HOCKEY GODS?!?!?!?

*stares at the sky*

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#158 Reg Dunlop
January 21 2014, 08:54PM
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How great is it that Marincin is becoming an actual NHL defenceman this year? How sad is it that a rookie is our best defenceman?

It is good to see the oil embrace fair play and haven't attempted to get revenge on Kassian. Only a bunch of goons like the flames would do something so uncouth. Participation ribbons for all in a shutout loss/ moral victory!

I can't believe Katz isn't in attendance to watch his home town caucks play. He could short-stroke all over Lowe's autographed picture at the same time.

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#159 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 08:55PM
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@Zarny

Do you even know what the word 'spoiled' means? Here, let me use monosyllabic words for you.

HE. EARN. THE. CASH.

He went to work, earned the money, bought the jersey. He can do whatever the hell he wants with it. While you're up there on your soapbox, why don't you get a hold of Oilers head office and suggest they donate any thrown jerseys to the Stollery?

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#160 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 08:55PM
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@Zarny

Double post. Get that jersey ready, Jay. I hope you hockey taped 'LOWE' on the back.

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#161 RexHolez
January 21 2014, 08:56PM
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Zarny wrote:

You are free to do what you want. Free will.

I simply stated the truth. Tossing a jersey will accomplish nothing. Especially if you don't stop watching.

If you say I'm done, quit buying tickets and merchandise you will make a statement. They will have lost a fan.

If you come back for more it's a temper tantrum to fulfill some immature need to be "heard".

And yes, if you are so privileged and well off that you can throw away a $100 jersey in "symbolic" protest you're a spoiled brat. I gave a jersey to a kid in a group home last Christmas and he bawled his eyes out. File your "symbolic gesture" under First World Problems.

I simply didn't expect the Oilers to be good this year. They don't have a top pairing D. That's 20-25 min X 2 where the blueline is playing above their head. No chance. Sure it's disappointing. I'll live. I've seen this show before. I'm a 49ers fan.

It's not me throwing the jersey, but I fully support him! I don't think throwing a jersey on the ice makes him a spoiled brat, I think it makes him a working man that's earned his right to do whatever he wants. What's makes more a statement? The oilers loosing 1 measley tier 2 fan or having his jersey plastered all over the media?? Are you always this pretentious?

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#162 @Oilanderp
January 21 2014, 08:56PM
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@Reg Dunlop

Sorry, but Jeff Petry is our best d-man right now. Marincin showing well though!

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#163 Johnnydapunk
January 21 2014, 09:03PM
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Do the Oil practise, like together?? They are playing like it's their first game as a team.

This is a tragicomedy...

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#164 PapaMike
January 21 2014, 09:03PM
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Reg Dunlop wrote:

How great is it that Marincin is becoming an actual NHL defenceman this year? How sad is it that a rookie is our best defenceman?

It is good to see the oil embrace fair play and haven't attempted to get revenge on Kassian. Only a bunch of goons like the flames would do something so uncouth. Participation ribbons for all in a shutout loss/ moral victory!

I can't believe Katz isn't in attendance to watch his home town caucks play. He could short-stroke all over Lowe's autographed picture at the same time.

I think it is time to stop questioning the rookies and asking the hard questions about the "vets"...where is Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Perron, Gags. They are no where to be found

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#165 Reg Dunlop
January 21 2014, 09:05PM
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Now I know how disappointed fans around the league were when nobody gained retribution on Oiler players like Muni and Marchment when they ran around. I know that no Oiler will do anything to clowns like Bieksa.

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#166 Hockey mom
January 21 2014, 09:05PM
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I can't tell is that Canuck fans saying "lLou" or oilers fans saying "boo"? Lol

Come on Gadzic just throw Kassian a fist,

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#167 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 09:05PM
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GET HIM, GAZZY. Seriously, grab him and MAKE him drop his mitts. Ference style.

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#168 PapaMike
January 21 2014, 09:11PM
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Hockey mom wrote:

I can't tell is that Canuck fans saying "lLou" or oilers fans saying "boo"? Lol

Come on Gadzic just throw Kassian a fist,

I hate that the Canucks fans are screaming Loouuu. On the other hand, I am wondering if Katz is listening...

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#169 Reg Dunlop
January 21 2014, 09:15PM
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@Oilanderp wrote:

Sorry, but Jeff Petry is our best d-man right now. Marincin showing well though!

How sad is it that Jeff Petry is our best Dman when he would be, at best, the 7th defenceman on contending teams?

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#170 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 09:46PM
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Good stick work on the PK there from Nuge. Almost sprung Jones with that poke, then recovered position to give Jones time to get back.

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#171 steveb12344
January 21 2014, 09:48PM
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So, What's the line on whether or not Jay goes through with it?

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#172 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 21 2014, 09:50PM
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Louie looks immortal tonight......so a Gazzy vs anyone that looks like the mashed up dude in the Intensity picture would be a great win for the Oilers watching him pound the crap out of either Kassian or anyone in a Nuck jersey!

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#173 BingBong
January 21 2014, 09:51PM
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I can't remember a game so devoid of chances 5 on 5. Has Scrivens made a save this period? Has Luongo?

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#174 outdoorzguy
January 21 2014, 09:53PM
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Pretty bad when the loudest chant all night is Louuuuuu!

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#175 PapaMike
January 21 2014, 09:53PM
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After the Nucks PP, time to pull the goalie?

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#176 dan
January 21 2014, 09:56PM
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So gagner can't win a faceoff and stands at least 10 feet away from the front of the net but still gets to be on the pp instead of Gordon. Why is Eakins still the coach.

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#177 outdoorzguy
January 21 2014, 09:57PM
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I stayed sober to watch the game tonight. We still suck.

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#178 outdoorzguy
January 21 2014, 09:58PM
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Can we put a pass onto a stick or hit someone in stride?

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#179 BingBong
January 21 2014, 10:02PM
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Hate to point out a positive, but our defense has played well tonight as a unit. J. Schultz and Petry have both played well by my eye.

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#180 dan
January 21 2014, 10:02PM
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I know they are showcasing gagner for a trade but when he's too scared to stand in front of the ne and can't win a faceof he's not going to return much. Might as well buy him out. Thanks macT foe another over valued player

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#181 outdoorzguy
January 21 2014, 10:04PM
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Jersey time!!!

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#182 Dan
January 21 2014, 10:05PM
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The jersey is the only thing that makes a statement anymore

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#183 Alsker
January 21 2014, 10:05PM
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Hey was Eakins actually talking to the guys during the time out? First time for everything.

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#184 Dan
January 21 2014, 10:06PM
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Can shultz hold the blueline ever

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#185 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 10:08PM
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So. Did the jersey make it?

Don't be that guy, Jay. Be THAT guy!

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#186 Dan
January 21 2014, 10:09PM
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We know Justin shultz was struggling all game yet we still throw him out at the most important time. Great move Eakins. Again coached well. ...

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#187 outdoorzguy
January 21 2014, 10:12PM
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Did everyone notice Buchburger and Smith soaking up what Eakins was saying during the timeout. This will serve them we'll when they get head coaching jobs. Hopefully not in Edmonton!!

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#188 Alsker
January 21 2014, 10:15PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Did everyone notice Buchburger and Smith soaking up what Eakins was saying during the timeout. This will serve them we'll when they get head coaching jobs. Hopefully not in Edmonton!!

About as much as the players did, unless Eakins drew up a play to exit the offensive zone. Honestly, would you have listened?

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#189 outdoorzguy
January 21 2014, 10:16PM
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No jersey? No Lowe must go chant? No booing? We deserve this nightmare!!

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#190 Rick Stroppel
January 21 2014, 10:19PM
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Jay wrote:

Been waiting for this GDB all day!!

Going to the game tonight

Like - and my jersey's on the ice Trash - and I'll reluctantly take it home with me

What say you oilersnation??

IF YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO SOMETHING, YOU SHOULD DO IT

The vote was clear. Your post said nothing about the result in the game.

Jay, I am afraid that you are just another BS artist, like Craig "bold moves, impatient" MacTavish

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#191 Zarny
January 21 2014, 10:23PM
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Jersey? Nope lol.

Close call. 4 or 5 posts, good pressure and Hall reminding Kesler and Danny what's it's like to be young. They almost pulled a silly and won.

Eakins that crafty devil. Having the D miss the puck so they have to clear the offensive zone in the last minute leaving the Canucks vulnerable to the dump and chase scramble for a last minute shot.

Yep...all coaching.

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#192 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
January 21 2014, 10:24PM
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Jay probably ran up to do the toss, then was tackled by Katz' private security.

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#193 Zamboni Driver
January 21 2014, 10:25PM
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PapaMike wrote:

I think it is time to stop questioning the rookies and asking the hard questions about the "vets"...where is Hall, Nuge, Ebs, Perron, Gags. They are no where to be found

I love the discussion I heard on Gregor's show the other day,

"What happens when Hall, Eberle and Nuge get sick of losing?"

Because, you know, it CAN'T be their fault. They're 'elite' talents and all that. I can see why they'd get sick of it.

Related:

Did Nugent-Hopkins play tonight?

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#194 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 21 2014, 10:27PM
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@Jordan Nugent-Hallkins

Probably was tea bagged while trying to perform the toss.......

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#195 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 21 2014, 10:34PM
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Jay called. Says he read Zarnys post during the second intermission and was over come with emotion. He's headed straight over to the Stollery.....something about he's gonna make some kid cry or something.......Jay! Jay! Jay!

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#196 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 21 2014, 10:43PM
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For the record, Zarnys act of kindness is impressive. Mega props in the real world Zarny.

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#197 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
January 21 2014, 10:45PM
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Poor Jay.......pushed all in then folded on the river.....I didn't even know you could do that!

I'll bet throwing your jersey on the ice is harder than it looks. I'd be interested to hear what Jay has to say about it. Could learn something.

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#198 @Oilanderp
January 21 2014, 10:45PM
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Close.

Nice try boys. Luongo stole one.

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#199 Zamboni Driver
January 21 2014, 11:04PM
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Also related...

No doubt that Sportsnet is not only a joke, but appears to be getting WORSE, not better...

But good lord.

SCRIVENS gets a star??!!

Did they see either of those two goals?

I don't know or care how many saves he made, those goals were absolutely horrific.

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#200 Mikey
January 21 2014, 11:14PM
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Zamboni Driver wrote:

I love the discussion I heard on Gregor's show the other day,

"What happens when Hall, Eberle and Nuge get sick of losing?"

Because, you know, it CAN'T be their fault. They're 'elite' talents and all that. I can see why they'd get sick of it.

Related:

Did Nugent-Hopkins play tonight?

Not sure if you're joking but Nuge did play, and he played a good game tonight. In all three ends of the rink.

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