GDB 53.0: HOME COOKING...BAD

Jason Gregor
January 24 2014 12:48PM

The Oilers have played 23 home games. They have only won eight of them.

Last year they won 9 of 24 home games.  The last season the Oilers and their fans left Rexall place in a good mood more often than a bad one was in 2007/2008 when the Oilers won 23 of 41 home games.

Since October 2008, the Oilers have played 213 home games and they've won 86.

The Oilers have 18 home games remaining this season, and hopefully for their sakes and the fans, they can find a way to start winning on home ice.

When the Oilers finished dead last in 2010  they were at least competitive at home winning18 and losing 23 (OT loss is still a loss for me), so there is no reason this team shouldn't be able to match 18 wins or better it.

It won't be easy with 14 of the 18 games against western opponents.

They play the Kings, Ducks, Sharks and Flames twice and the Coyotes, Avalanche, Wild and Canucks once. The Senators, Rangers, Islanders and Sabres will visit from the East. Ten of those games will be against teams currently in the playoffs, but if the Oilers are going to start improving eventually they need to be a few playoff caliber teams, especially at home.

The Oilers won't make the playoffs, but they need to start building a foundation for the future, and one of those bricks needs to be molded into a good home team.

Of the current 16 playoff teams, only the Rangers have a losing record at home winning 12 of 28. Of the 14 teams not in the playoffs only three, Washington, Phoenix and Dallas have won than half of their home games. Winning at home doesn't guarantee you a playoff spot, but it increases your chances significantly, especially if you can be a dominant team at home.

The Oilers need to start creating winning habits at home, and since I highly, highly doubt Dallas Eakins gets fired at the end of the season, it is up to him and his team to start finding a winning formula on home ice.

HITS...

After Tuesday's loss to Vancouver Dallas Eakins made reference to "the perfect game."

Do you know what the perfect game is? The perfect game is no hits. Do you know why that is? It’s because you have the puck. You don’t have to hit anybody; you have the puck. 

That statement got some people excited. Many believe hitting doesn't help you win games, mainly due to the reason Eakins outlined above. In theory that makes sense, however, practicality and reality often offer up different outcomes.

There is no such thing as the perfect game, no hits, and many successful teams use their physical play to help them win. Here is a hit chart for this season. Playoff teams are in bold.

Hits Team Hits/game
1768 Toronto 33.3
1662 Los Angeles 31.9
1569 Ottawa 30.7
1519 Columbus 30.3
1397 Winnipeg 26.8
1323 Phoenix 26.4
1263 Buffalo 25.7
1263 Colorado 25.7
1300 Pittsburgh 25.4
1313 Philly 25.2
1232 Boston 25.1
1307 NYR 24.6
1298 NYI 24.5
1264 Anaheim 23.8
1181 Washington 23.6
1153 Carolina 23
1178 Edmonton 22.6
1093 Florida 21.8
1076 Calgary 21.1
1048 St.Louis 20.9
1047 Montreal 20.9
1049 New Jersey 20.5
1030 Dallas 20.1
1029 Tampa Bay 20.1
1030 Nashville 19.8
1015 Vancouver 19.5
963 San Jose 18.8
1001 Detroit 18.5
898 Minnesota 16.9
888 Chicago 16.7

I think we all agree that hit charts from building to building can be subjective. The Leafs have 1099 hits in 28 home games, but only 669 in 25 road games. Are they magically that much more physical at home or do the statisticians in Toronto consider every rub out a hit?

That being a team like Columbus has virtually the same amount of hits on the road as they do at home. I'd say it gives us a general idea of which teams are more physical than others.

The chart proves that some teams win by being more physical, while others don't need to.
Nine of the top-14 teams in hits are in the playoffs, while seven of the 11 teams with the fewest hits are currently in the postseason.

My issue with Eakins comment is that he tried to deflect the issue of contact and brought up the unattainable "perfect game" scenario. No team is perfect, but the suggestion that being physical will automatically decrease your chances of winning is somewhat misleading.

Of course you want your team to have the puck, but both teams want it, and I find many of the successful teams are not only good at controlling the puck, they are excellent at getting it back.

Many consider Pittsburgh to be a puck possession team, and they are, but they also are top-ten in hits/game. Delivering a hit hasn't hurt them, and clearly they win despite not playing a "perfect game."

A major benefit from being physical is that your aggressive play will force teams to move the puck quicker than they want, which often leads to turnovers. Having players who can separate opponents from the puck through body contact is also valuable and a significant part of the game.

The problem with the Oilers is that their overall skill isn't good enough to be a puck possession team, and right now they aren't very good at retrieving the puck once the opposition has it.

I'm sure Eakins will strive to build his team to become more of a puck possession team, but I'd hope he realizes that until they become great at protecting the puck and not turning it over, they will need to improve their puck retrieval skills at the same time, and often pressuring the puck carrier, hitting and being physical is the best way to create turnovers.

I respect that he wants his team to have the puck, but I felt bringing up the notion of the "perfect game" was an attempt to deflect attention away from an area of their game, physicality and aggression, that has been lacking for years.

LINEUP...

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

Ference-J.Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Belov-Potter

Bryzgalov

Hemsky is still nursing a deep bone bruise, but Nail Yakupov returns to the lineup.

The optics don't look great having Yak on the fourth line and Smyth on the second, but I doubt they stay that way very long. They were hoping Hemsky was ready and he'd be playing there.

Gazdic hasn't had a fight in 13 games and while Eakins stressed being a healthy scratch wasn't performance-related, I wonder if his lack of aggressiveness recently is the reason he is in the pressbox? If your job is to play physical and get the opposition's attention, then you have to find a way to do it. However, Eakins defended him in the post-game presser on Tuesday saying he tried to do his job.

So either he isn't doing it well enough or he is sitting because Phoenix rarely dresses a tough guy. What do you think?

QUICK HITS...

  • I would have liked to see Eakins put Gazdic on the ice more often against Kassian. I never expected him to jump him, but had he been on the ice more often the chances of a "heat of the moment" altercation would have been higher.
     
  • I don't buy the Bertuzzi/Moore argument as a reason why Gazdic couldn't have done something to Kassian. That happened a decade ago, and since then many teams and players have found ways to send a message to the opposition without being suspended.

    Andrew Ference didn't ask Lee Stempniuk to fight earlier this year. He dropped his gloves and Stempniuk had no choice but to eat a few rights or defend himself. In the past week I've seen Milan Lucic and Tom Sestito go after Jordan Nolan instead of waiting for him to politely oblige their request to fight.

    Sestito and Lucic went after Nolan after he hit one of their teammates earlier in the game. Had Gazdic been on the ice for more than one and a half shifts against Kassian, he would have had a much better chance of engaging him.
     
  • I wouldn't have worried about Gazdic taking an instigator or even worse a 7-minute penalty like Sestito did in LA last week. Was getting the win that important in the overall picture? The Oilers are in 29th, had the won they'd still be in 29th and out of the playoffs in late January.

    Whether they like it or not, the perception from players around the league is that teams can take liberties with the Oilers skilled players without fear of retribution. If Gazdic had got a hold of Kassian and landed a few shots that wouldn't have stopped every team from trying to hit the Oilers in the future, but at least it would show that if you do there will be some consequences to your actions.

    If the Oilers were in a battle for a playoff spot, I could understand being worried about giving up an extended powerplay, but that wasn't the case on Tuesday and it won't be the rest of the season. I'd hope the next time someone cheap shots one of the Oilers skilled players, Eakins will at least give his physical players an opportunity to try and even the score; in a manner that won't lead to a suspension like Lucic or Sestito managed to do. 
     
  • It is smart not to rush Hemsky back. You want him healthy for the deadline.

TONIGHT...

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I'm taking a night off. The first person to tweet @jasongregor their GDP I will add it to this post. Look deep into your crystal ball.

Update...Courtesy of @JaredGorbahn GDP: Oilers 4-1. Bryz forced to stand on his head and Hall adds 2 assists.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Yakupov and Arcobello combine to score and many will suggest they should be playing with Perron.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Eberle ties a career-high with goals in four consecutive games, but it is his game celebration that surprises many. After the game he sends Wanye a tweet, "I know yesterday was difficult for you with the Biebs' arrest. Don't worry I won't let you down. I'm not getting traded." Wanye promptly retires from twitter saying his life can't possibly get any better. 

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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#51 RexHolez
January 24 2014, 08:13PM
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Is the first period too soon to throw your jersey??? Lets see em boys! The only reason I watch these oiler games is to watch the jerseys rain down but I'm always disappointed, like every other oilers game this decade

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#52 Zamboni Driver
January 24 2014, 08:47PM
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As horrible as this is to watch.

Just think about the poor Tier One S.O.Bs.

They're paying hundreds of dollars every night to watch this collection of pussies, losers and quitters.

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#53 RexHolez
January 24 2014, 09:12PM
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Rick Stroppel wrote:

HEY BRYZGALOV FANS!

About a month ago I posted my opinion that by the end of the year, Bryzgalov's numbers would be as bad as Dubnyk's. Did I get trashed! "Bryzgalov is MUCH better than Dubnyk" they said. "Bryzgalov gives us a chance to win".

If he loses tonight, that gives Bryzgalov THREE WINS IN SIXTEEN STARTS. That's quite a chance to win!

Another EPIC FAIL for MacTavish.

BTW: Dubnyk playing in Calgary tonight, Nashville up 3-1.

HAPPY TRAILS, BRYZ! GOOD LUCK IN THE KHL (or the Swiss League)! SO LONG, SPACEMAN!

how is this an epic fail? were we gonna make the playoffs with Dubnyk in net?

we got Hendricks for Dubnyk you knucklehead. we're a better team with Hendricks and without Dubnyk in the long run than we were if we kept Dubnyk and got nothing for him when we let him walk at the end of the year as a free agent. Think a little bit before you blab nonsense.

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#54 outdoorzguy
January 24 2014, 09:24PM
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Hendricks thinks Phoenix is a Fragile team?? They're beating us by 3. Good god what are the Oilers then?

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#55 outdoorzguy
January 24 2014, 09:40PM
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Joey' s taken over as coach. Thank god!!

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#56 papler
January 24 2014, 01:52PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Pretty simple to see.

The Oilers lost. Is losing 3-1 worse in the standings than losing 2-1. At some point I would say it is time to send a message.

The Oilers still lost the game, and the message to rest of league is that it is still okay to cheap shot their stars. So tell me what did they gain from not putting Gazdic out against Kassian? Rather than resort to immature comparisons to a little girl, maybe try to focus that losing 3-1 is no worse than 2-1 in the standings.

Except that during the game no one knew what the score will be at the end.

if they are down 3 goals then fine, let Gazdic run amok on Kassian. But in a close game? It should always be about winning and not retaliation.

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#58 Mason Storm
January 24 2014, 03:25PM
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Quintana wrote:

Hayley Wickenheiser for Sam Snowpants and 3rd.

Wickenheiser wouldn't lift her no trade clause too come here.

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#59 Dog Train
January 24 2014, 05:14PM
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Hits can be a misleading stat but anybody who watches the Oilers knows that they don't battle hard enough. They don't finish enough of their checks and they lose too many puck battles. The proof is in our record, we are downright awful.

I like that Smyth is on the first unit PP. It's pretty obvious why our PP sucks. No shooting threat and no screen in front. How the hell do we expect to score? Say what you want about Yakupov's overall game but his one-timer needs to be featured on the PP.

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#60 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 24 2014, 07:13PM
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@MessyEH

I respect Trotz for speaking his mind. Enough said.

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#61 Quick-E
January 24 2014, 07:36PM
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If I won the lottery 3 times and still walked around broke, I'd be looking for new guys to handle my money

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#62 Rob F
January 24 2014, 08:47PM
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Oilers blow!!!!

And I know a thing or two about Blo

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#63 Johnnydapunk
January 24 2014, 09:30PM
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Rick Stroppel wrote:

HEY BRYZGALOV FANS!

About a month ago I posted my opinion that by the end of the year, Bryzgalov's numbers would be as bad as Dubnyk's. Did I get trashed! "Bryzgalov is MUCH better than Dubnyk" they said. "Bryzgalov gives us a chance to win".

If he loses tonight, that gives Bryzgalov THREE WINS IN SIXTEEN STARTS. That's quite a chance to win!

Another EPIC FAIL for MacTavish.

BTW: Dubnyk playing in Calgary tonight, Nashville up 3-1.

HAPPY TRAILS, BRYZ! GOOD LUCK IN THE KHL (or the Swiss League)! SO LONG, SPACEMAN!

When Dubnyk is in net the game is never over until the final whistle. It's 4-4 now and the goals he let in weren't so pretty...

I don't have any issues with Hendricks at all, he has a bit of bite that the Oil were seriously lacking.

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#64 outdoorzguy
January 24 2014, 10:13PM
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In the end, our coaching staff leads us to another loss. Screw Corsi, SOG, PP attempts, all that stat crap. Another loss is another loss. Plain and simple!!

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#65 James
January 24 2014, 10:29PM
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Jones sounds really pissed in his post game interview. He made some interesting comments about players have to start being accountable and stop passing the blame around to coaching, and other people. He was asked about his recent fights and just said that was what the game called for and that he's just "trying to survive", another interesting comment.

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#66 Anton
January 25 2014, 01:07AM
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I was saving money for Oilers playoff games, but at this rate that I may save enough to be a millionaire.

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#67 GriffCity
January 24 2014, 01:27PM
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Completely agree with you points on how the Kassian thing should have been handled. The reference to Ference pummeling Stempniak is right on the money. I'm not buying Eakins excuse,"Well he asked him to fight and one player wasn't interested". No kidding he wasn't interested, his team was winning the game and him fighting would do nothing for his club. Well i guess that means he;s free to skate around untouched then. Might as well toss him the GWG while you're at it. Can't believe he scored the winner and left without a finger laid on him. Absolute joke. Say Gazdic would have actually dont something instead of just talk, say he would have taken a 3-5 game suspension for it as well. Would that really have been so bad? Is Gazdic's presence in the line-up really that important that we could not affored to lose him to suspension? One thing is for certain, the pummeling of Kassian would have endeared whoever it was doing the pummeling to not only the fans but also to every member of that Oilers locker room. Instead, we are left wondering why nothing happened. I also agree that other teams are taking notice about the lack of on-ice accountability players who take liberties on our team have to face. Not going after Kassian is inexcusable in my eyes, no matter how you cut it.

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#68 GriffCity
January 24 2014, 01:31PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Gregor I don't get you. On your show yesterday you were pretty much little girl hysterical for wanting Gazdic on the ice in a one goal game just to scare or shadow Kassian? It would then become a two goal then a three goal game. I just don't get it. Do you want to attempt to win or do you just want to see Kassian get pummelled and we lose the game?

See Kassian get pummeled and lose the game obviously. Does it really matter if we won that game vs Vancouver when we have been out of playoff contention since October?

Lose 2-1 or 5-1 it really doesn't matter at this point. What could have and should have mattered would have been someone drawing a line in the sand and taking a stand sending a message that says " You cannot run around doing whatever you want without being held accountable". That would have been the moral victory fans and players so desperately need. Who cares about 2 pts in an already abysmal season?

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#69 Captain Obvious
January 24 2014, 02:19PM
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Bottom line is that Eakins humiliated Spector. No one who watched that could conclude anything other that Spector was completely out of his intellectual depth.

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#70 GoOilGo
January 24 2014, 02:32PM
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@Jason Gregor

I kind of agree with a few other comments on here in saying that the comment was basically just Eakins flipping the bird to Spector. Spector was just looking for an answer that he could use and spin for whatever his agenda was that night.

Why is it that media members like you that have a platform like this to interact with fans, dont criticize other members of the media (Spector...) for being ridiculous sometimes, especially when a lot of other fans want to bring it up?

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#71 Sketchy
January 24 2014, 04:45PM
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This team sucks balls

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#72 RexHolez
January 24 2014, 08:04PM
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Sketchy wrote:

Can't the NHL come up with a mercy rule and just cancel the rest of the oilers season?

I like this idea. Make these boys work a rig for the rest of the winter and turn them into men.

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#73 vetinari
January 24 2014, 08:19PM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

I wonder if any NHL teams still want to swap rosters with us.

... and coaches... and management... and scouting... and ownership... and... and... and...

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#74 Quick-E
January 24 2014, 08:29PM
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I was just wondering... What NHL team does edmonton have that they're building a new arena for? Or is it like a Quebec thing and they're just building one and hoping a team will come?

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#75 Zamboni Driver
January 24 2014, 08:50PM
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I can't wait until Taylor Hall really starts imposing his will. Taking over games.

Because he can do that, you know! Lots of 'experts' have said that.

he's just....tired. Or sad about things, and stuff.

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#76 jbogus
January 24 2014, 08:50PM
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Oilers scoring chance: nightclub 1115pm

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#77 Something
January 24 2014, 10:17PM
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It's something to build on, says Louie D ... sarcasm font ...

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#78 Alsker
January 24 2014, 10:25PM
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outdoorzguy wrote:

Joey' s taken over as coach. Thank god!!

Sweet, 2 seasons away from being GM and 4 from POHO. Hopefully he can fast track and takeover next season. All hail Joey!!!!!

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#79 Oasis
January 24 2014, 10:27PM
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@Tier 2

I have a business so at least my tickets are a write off and I can give them away to employees/customers so it's not a huge loss.

Honestly, I really feel bad for people who pay out of pocket to watch this sh!t. I can't imagine shelling out thousands of after tax dollars to watch this crap and being eliminated from the playoffs 2.5 months into the season. I guess i am fortunate that I was only a Tier 1A fan.

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#80 Ricky
January 24 2014, 02:54PM
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I'll tell you what is the perfect game.

The perfect game is not seeing your smug face Dallas at the game.

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#81 Serious Gord
January 24 2014, 08:32PM
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Jason:

"The Oilers have played 23 home games. They have only won eight of them"

It's worse than that. They have only won five in regulation.

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#82 fasteddy
January 24 2014, 08:43PM
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Eakins has to be canned tomm

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#83 Yaz
January 24 2014, 09:24PM
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Hmmnn, according to Mr Fitness he worked on some good stuff with the team this week, ok Dallas still looking for it ?? Lets hope some Jerseys hit the ice tonite and this clown is gone..Hopeless !!

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#84 RexHolez
January 24 2014, 09:44PM
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Trade Eberle! Value is high! Decent return!

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#85 Belieber
January 24 2014, 10:22PM
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Hey guys,

Do you guys think the Oilers can win the cup? I sure do! maybe even this year. They have awesome frikkin potential.

YakCity will lead us there along with Ebsy and Hallsy and Schultzie. Eakins and the eastern media hate Yakcity and try to keep him down, but it wont work. As a matter of fact, Yak would probably win the scoring title this year if not for the lousy assistant coaches.

High five guys. Go Oilers.

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#87 MessyEH
January 24 2014, 02:54PM
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@Rick Stroppel

So when do you expect Eberle to have higher value? He's a redundantly butter soft winger, on a buttery soft team. Now is the time to trade him.

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#88 Mason Storm
January 24 2014, 03:23PM
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I'd much rather have Gazdic take 27 minutes in penalties and beat the snot out of Kassian, then have Kassian feel there are no repercussions to playing the Oilers. 29 other teams bully this team around. When are they going too stand up for themselves?

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#89 Sketchy
January 24 2014, 05:17PM
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Dog Train wrote:

Hits can be a misleading stat but anybody who watches the Oilers knows that they don't battle hard enough. They don't finish enough of their checks and they lose too many puck battles. The proof is in our record, we are downright awful.

I like that Smyth is on the first unit PP. It's pretty obvious why our PP sucks. No shooting threat and no screen in front. How the hell do we expect to score? Say what you want about Yakupov's overall game but his one-timer needs to be featured on the PP.

Why would you use a 20 year old 1st overall pick to his strengths?? That makes no sense!! Bench him and destroy his coincidence and passion for the game!! That's how you win hockey games!!!

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#90 wergy
January 24 2014, 05:27PM
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Sketchy wrote:

Why would you use a 20 year old 1st overall pick to his strengths?? That makes no sense!! Bench him and destroy his coincidence and passion for the game!! That's how you win hockey games!!!

Why would you destroy his coincidence? I don't get that at all.

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#91 Freewheeling Freddie
January 24 2014, 05:59PM
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The bad the Oilers are out of the playoff race. The good only 8 months till the false promises begin again. It pains me to think we are worse than Calgary Ny Islanders Florida and so on. How did these buffoons let this happen? Before the Oilers make the first pick Katz should come on stage with a paperbag over his head. On the other hand the letter made feel so much better for the future of this team LOL. Mr Katz we don't want a 30th place hockey team christening your shiny new palace do we? No pressure Mac.

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#92 Larry
January 24 2014, 06:11PM
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Does it really matter when a 175lb player is hitting a 210lb player?

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#93 Fresh Mess
January 24 2014, 10:29PM
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Rick Stroppel wrote:

WHY YOU HEFF TO BE MAD?

PS. Dubnyk coughed it up in Calgary. Too bad.

PPS. Edmonton should have signed Wade Dubieliewicz. Then they could have called their goalies "the Doobie Brothers ".

The Oilers already have doobie brothers. Hall and Eberle, if you hear me.

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#94 Pucker
January 25 2014, 01:02AM
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I am an Oiler's fan.

When I go to a game and they lose, I'm down. Ruins the evening. Apparently this happens quite often. I thought it was me just bringing them bad luck whenever I showed up. I don't think I've seen them win in two years.

I don't know if these win/lose stats make me feel better, or worse but I'm no longer thinking it's me and my presence bringing them bad luck.

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#95 Hall the time
January 25 2014, 10:04AM
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@Spaz

Time to go on the road with the jersey tossing, first stop Carolina, I can handle having a life time ban from there.

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#96 outdoorzguy
January 24 2014, 01:25PM
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Gregor I don't get you. On your show yesterday you were pretty much little girl hysterical for wanting Gazdic on the ice in a one goal game just to scare or shadow Kassian? It would then become a two goal then a three goal game. I just don't get it. Do you want to attempt to win or do you just want to see Kassian get pummelled and we lose the game?

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#97 #ThereGoesTheOilers
January 24 2014, 01:25PM
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Jason, I thought the comment about the perfect game wasn't so much to deflect the criticism of our lack of physicality, but rather that Eakins was becoming frustrated with the vein of questioning he was being subjected to and wanted to end it.

It's true, the question was framed as a 'aren't you concerned we're being pushed around' line, but this was an aside to the Kassian-running-your-show bit. Perhaps the question should have been phrased 'yeah, but why didn't someone wipe that stupid grin off of Kassian's face?'

He's not wrong to point out that we out-hit the opposition by a wide margin. Until we become a more defensivly responsible team, we'll continue to lose more games than we win regardless of our physical engagement.

That's my opinion anyways.

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#99 sleighbells
January 24 2014, 02:47PM
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@Curcro

"Yes, you guys have a story to write about that sells your brand of journalism"-bang on bud. nail on the head!

If this was any other hockey market not in canada, where the city had a population over 1 million, this wouldnt even be news! The media here is probly a huge reason that makes it difficult to play here (Canada). Just look at the whole twitter fiasco with Scrivens' wife when he got traded here. The media (tsn/sportsnet/cbc/bloggers...) have way too much airtime that they are forced to drum up stories for the sake of viewers and a lot of it is just plain silly.

Avatar
#100 Robert (AKA Hockey Fan)
January 24 2014, 07:06PM
Trash it!
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@J.R.

Eakins blows deer balls......

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