DOWN THE STRETCH

Lowetide
February 20 2014 11:21PM

horse

The Edmonton Oilers will return from the Olympic break looking way up at the contenders. The stretch drive may feature trading away veterans and calling up kids, and of course there's nothing of substance to play for—there's no chance at the postseason. What is a reasonable expectation for the Oilers through to season's end? Can they win 12 of their last 22?

WHAT IN H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS HAVE YOU BEEN DRINKING?

horse1

On December 27, the Oilers had 12 wins and were butt ugly. Since then, things have been better.

  • through Dec 27: 39gp, 12-24-3
  • Since then: 21gp, 8-9-4
  • Overall: 60gp, 20-33-7
  • In their last 10: 5-3-2

The club has been near .500 since December's end, and the last 10 have seen some good things happen. Let's have a look at the goals for and against for these splits:

  • through Dec 27: 39gp, 101-134 (-33)
  • Since then: 21, 52-65 (-13)
  • Overall: 60gp, 153-199 (-46)
  • In their last 10: 24-23 (+1)

All of this from nhl.com. Edmonton did in fact seem to be improving during the period after Christmas and specifically the last 10 games. Additions in goal (Ben Scrivens) and on defense (Martin Mariincin) certainly helped, as did Sam Gagner's increased productivity as he recovers from the assault in Vancouver. Coach Dallas Eakins has also gone out of his way to mention Matt Hendricks and Mark Fraser as having contributed since their arrival.

LET'S THINK THIS OVER

bl3

The Oilers were doing better before the break, but may trade a Hemsky and replace him with a Pitlick—that's going to impact things. On the other hand, if coach Eakins can work on things like defensive coverage and the power play (one assumes that will be a big part of the next week) maybe they cut down on the GA and increase the GF.

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

BOLT

It's a guess, but the 10 games before Edmonton's Olympic break featured opponents San Jose, Boston, New York Rangers, Phoenix and Vancouver.

The players traded (Ales Hemsky, Nick Schultz) will impact the team but the improvement of Yakupov (8, 2-4-6 +2 in the Oilers last 10) may be a real indication of a step forward.

  • Prediction for the final 22 games: 10-9-3
  • Prediction for final record: 82gp, 30-42-10

I think the Oilers can catch Calgary, Islanders and Florida.We'll see. If they can win 10 of their final 22, that would mean Edmonton would have won 18 of their final 43 games. The 12-24-3 start buried them, but if they finish 18-17-7 that should be considered worthy of a fist bump and a smile.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on Team 1260.
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#1 pelhem grenville
February 21 2014, 04:53AM
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...draft the best centre (ala Monahan)and see him actually play for the NHL Oilers at the start of the season...Ekblad won't be that franchise player for two years ... if ever

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#2 2004Z06
February 21 2014, 08:45AM
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Keep fostering that losing culture folks....Tank for picks...that'll teach these kids how to be winners.

I want to see them claw, scratch, bite and fight to the bitter end. Where they land in the draft order is what it is.

This team needs to learn how to compete every shift. Tanking for another top pick just continues to promote a losing culture.

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#3 Woodguy
February 21 2014, 04:53AM
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Dallas Eakins has also gone out of his way to mention Matt Hendricks and Mark Fraser as having contributed since their arrival.

What exactly did he say Fraser contributed?

Probably just fodder for the papers, but he's not a NHL Dman.

Just not good.

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#4 Soccer Steve
February 20 2014, 11:40PM
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I just want a top 3 pick for having to put up with this terrible season.

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#5 horndog77
February 20 2014, 11:40PM
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Both Calgary and Florida have two games in hand and 4 more points than Edmonton. Its not impossible for Edmonton to catch up to those teams. I just think Edmonton might be better served by trading away some of the veterans and call up the youngsters. I think we all would rather see Edmonton pick second overall at this point than fourth or possibly fifth.

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#6 Muji
February 20 2014, 11:49PM
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Olympic hockey, especially today's Women's final, has spoiled me. So. Much. Fun.

I'm sure that my passion for the Oilers will return soon, but at this moment I could not care less about who we draft in the summer, who our #5 dman will be next year, whether or not Gagner will be traded, etc. It's so much more fun to just watch meaningful hockey! I'm so tired of spending so much of my attention towards the Oilers; their on-ice play has given so little back.

Seriously. I've invested hundreds of hours in the past few years watching Oilers games, reading Oilersnation (which is still fantastic), listening to Oilers podcasts, reading Oilers-related tweets, etc., etc. and what have the Oilers given back to me on the ice? Gagner's 8 point night was fun. Yakupov's celly was great. Everytime Hall is on the ice is pretty good. Scrivens 59 save shutout was cool. But all of those PALE in comparison to the thrill ride that the Canadian Women's Olympic Hockey Team gave me today. And I've given them exactly 0 seconds of my attention since watching them win Gold in 2010.

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#7 Walter Sobchak
February 21 2014, 01:04AM
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The Oilers were completely out played in a most of those games mentioned prior to the break.

Including the game to the last place Sabers.

Unless you think the Oilers can maintain being out shot 40 to 29 and Scriven's can maintain a ridicules 949 SV %

Taking into consideration a completely different looking roster most likely supplemented with AHL players, other teams pushing hard for the post season and Eakins wanting to bring in a new system, I'm guessing the Oilers will end up picking 2nd overall.

I can't just dismiss Hemsky, Schultz, Smyth, Belov, Potter, possible Gagner & think the Oilers will be 500.

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#8 Spydyr
February 21 2014, 09:32AM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Keep fostering that losing culture folks....Tank for picks...that'll teach these kids how to be winners.

I want to see them claw, scratch, bite and fight to the bitter end. Where they land in the draft order is what it is.

This team needs to learn how to compete every shift. Tanking for another top pick just continues to promote a losing culture.

The team has been losing for eight years.Do you really think winning a few meaningless games at the end of another disappointing season will help the team more then drafting a good player that will help the team for another decade?

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#9 Mason Storm
February 21 2014, 12:15AM
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It would be a good finish at 10-9-3, but only if they stay competitive in the games. If they are outscored 72-55 and outshot 770-500. I'd rather not catch anybody. It'd be like lipstick on a pig.

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#10 Spydyr
February 21 2014, 07:31AM
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How did the Oilers finish their last ten games last year?

Yeah,expect more of the same.

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#11 gcw_rocks
February 21 2014, 03:27PM
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We need to put what Eakins says through a lens of reality.

Hendricks and Fraser are not good hockey players. If Eakins wants to kiss his boss's butt by saying they are, so be it, but that's completely different than it being true.

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#12 anon
February 21 2014, 07:36AM
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We're so close to another #1 pick and hopefully we won't be in contention for one for the next twenty-five years.

Is it wrong to hope that we stay the course and end up with as high a pick as possible? That would be my reward for the gawd awful season that the Oilers had this time around.

Noooo! Don't be good. Play good and lose till the end of the year.

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#13 TeddyTurnbuckle
February 21 2014, 12:07AM
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I hope we finish strong but still pick 3 rd

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#14 Taylor Gang
February 21 2014, 02:19AM
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I would love to see the Oilers leapfrog up a couple of spots with a strong seasons push. But...

The other half of me wants Edmonton to cut their losses and just take Ekblad if they can. It just makes sense long term.

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#15 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 21 2014, 03:38PM
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Same old, same old. Oilers play like crap all season, don't make the right moves at the deadline, play their best players while other teams are playing their AHL call-ups, and the Oilers, or should I say Scrivens, wins 12 games and we pick 6th overall in stead of third, after our worst season in history. What a cluster fcuk!

Book it!

Edit: can you tell I'm still bitter about last year?

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#16 seanjohn667
February 21 2014, 08:46PM
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Spydyr wrote:

The team has been losing for eight years.Do you really think winning a few meaningless games at the end of another disappointing season will help the team more then drafting a good player that will help the team for another decade?

yes. We have enough shining prospects. play as hard as possible, claw up to 27th place and trade the pick for something that will help immediately. Join the here and now.

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#17 DisappointedFan
February 21 2014, 09:43AM
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Spydyr wrote:

The team has been losing for eight years.Do you really think winning a few meaningless games at the end of another disappointing season will help the team more then drafting a good player that will help the team for another decade?

If you aren't going to win in the first 60 games, I don't think the wins in the last 20 are going to change the club mentality that much.

If you're going to finish at the bottom, do it right and get something out of it.

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#18 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
February 21 2014, 03:49PM
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LT WRITES "I think the Oilers can catch Calgary, Islanders and Florida.We'll see. If they can win 10 of their final 22, that would mean Edmonton would have won 18 of their final 43 games. The 12-24-3 start buried them, but if they finish 18-17-7 that should be considered worthy of a fist bump and a smile"

More like a fist bump TO THE smile. (That is, a fist to the face!)

If the Oilers don't pick in the top three I'll be disappointed.

Ekblad, Reinhart, Bennett, in whatever order......

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#19 Bonvie
February 21 2014, 04:47PM
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Dipstick wrote:

Trade for picks now, when their value is low and cash them in for players at the draft when their value is much higher. Even retain salary on expiring contracts to improve the return.

Listen to this man! This is how it's done veterans have high value at trade deadline and there are only about 5 or 6 teams that can afford to be selllers( having no chance to make playoffs). At the draft however this is one depth veterans are worth very little and picks and prospects have great value.

Successful playoff teams are forced to move veterans for futures(drafts and prospects) during the summer and at the draft.

I just hope for once we have a GM in place that is smart enough to recognize this, as the last GM sat on his hands while Buffalo and Calgary loaded up.

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#20 michael
February 22 2014, 08:39AM
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Zetterberg is done. Datsuyk is playing on one leg.The Wings are on the cusp of being out of the playoffs. They need an infusion of talent.

The Nucks are on deaths door knocking so hard that even old Belzebub does not want to listen to them bitch and moan.The Nucks are done.

The Isles are done. No Tavares.No Vanek as of March 5 or sooner. The Isles will lose 80% of their post Olympic games.

The Canadians have a motivated Carey Price. But little in terms of a consistent scorer. Rene Bourque is a bust. Soft and well soft. They need what the Oilers have. This could be a match in terms of trade partners.

The Leafs have everything except a tender who they can count on.

The Jets. Have a coach.

The Senators. Have a coach too.

Its going to be hell of a finish.

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#21 Cain
February 21 2014, 07:13AM
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Right now the Oilers are like a bad fast-food habit for me.

I know going down this path leads to much indigestion and disappointment.Ultimately I will feel bad after indulging.

I know it's not going to get better without some substantial outside help,from real professionals.

I can only take it one day at a time and not look too far ahead because it becomes overwhelming to see all the work that needs to be done.

I have an obvious need to attend this site daily,to get the support I need to stay hopeful for just today.

And worst of all,I absolutely,undeniably, love this habit and really don't want to give it up.

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#22 Spydyr
February 21 2014, 09:49AM
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DisappointedFan wrote:

If you aren't going to win in the first 60 games, I don't think the wins in the last 20 are going to change the club mentality that much.

If you're going to finish at the bottom, do it right and get something out of it.

Could not agree more if your going to lose at least lose right.Don't $hit the bed all year then win a few meaningless games at the end and drop a couple of draft spots.

That makes me really sad but unfortunately they have made their bed all year.

Hopefully they will have a legit number one goalie to start the next year along with a couple top four defencemen and some size and grit in the top six.

One of the kids cough, cough Eberle will have to go to do that.

Mac-T make it so.

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#23 Max
February 21 2014, 09:58AM
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MacT said it months ago - WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER 18 YEAR OLD KID. We want MEN, tough, top men.

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#24 **
February 21 2014, 01:33PM
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If the goaltending holds they can easily go .500 on the last stretch.

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#25 TayLordBalls
February 21 2014, 04:14PM
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the Oilers need someone that refuses to lose!

aka: someone in the dressing room to knock heads against the wall.

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#26 Yardbird
February 21 2014, 07:17PM
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Bonvie wrote:

Listen to this man! This is how it's done veterans have high value at trade deadline and there are only about 5 or 6 teams that can afford to be selllers( having no chance to make playoffs). At the draft however this is one depth veterans are worth very little and picks and prospects have great value.

Successful playoff teams are forced to move veterans for futures(drafts and prospects) during the summer and at the draft.

I just hope for once we have a GM in place that is smart enough to recognize this, as the last GM sat on his hands while Buffalo and Calgary loaded up.

Loaded up ?? Have you checked the standings lately to see just where " loading up" gets you?m

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#27 admiralmark
February 21 2014, 08:33PM
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Holy Cow Lowetide?! It almost sounds like you want them to catch 3 more teams?! Don't you know its your inherent right at this point in the season to hope they finish lower for the better draft position?

At any rate I cant believe im saying this again but I really hope they dont finish out of the top 3 picks? Any one of Ekblad, Reinhart or Bennet is just what the doctor ordered here.

As for Eakins saying Fraser has contributed? Only thing i can think is that he's contributing to the higher draft pick plan.

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#28 Woogie63
February 21 2014, 10:55PM
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I think it is important to understand which of our FA will contribute to this team, next year and the year after. If they will contribute and compete to make the team better we should sign them, if they would we should move on. Here is how I see our UFA,

Sign, 30

Maybe if the price is right, 83, 77

Move on 28, 15, 44, 5, 80, 37, 55

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#29 DisappointedFan
February 21 2014, 11:02AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Could not agree more if your going to lose at least lose right.Don't $hit the bed all year then win a few meaningless games at the end and drop a couple of draft spots.

That makes me really sad but unfortunately they have made their bed all year.

Hopefully they will have a legit number one goalie to start the next year along with a couple top four defencemen and some size and grit in the top six.

One of the kids cough, cough Eberle will have to go to do that.

Mac-T make it so.

If MacT can get a starter and one top 2 defensemen then they are lightyears ahead of this seasons start.

As much as we don't want to play this game of Russian Roulette with our top 6, at least one of them has to go.

The next 6 months will be interesting in depicting the future of the franchise, as to whether we are near the end of a losing era...or still in the thick of things for a few more painful seasons.

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#30 Dipstick
February 21 2014, 12:53PM
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Trade for picks now, when their value is low and cash them in for players at the draft when their value is much higher. Even retain salary on expiring contracts to improve the return.

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#31 Oiler Al
February 21 2014, 01:18PM
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Now that they are all back from Mexico, wearing nice tans, make these guys sit and watch 100 hours of Olympic hockey, and learn how to play on both sides of the puck.

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#32 Rod from Viking
February 21 2014, 02:25PM
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** wrote:

If the goaltending holds they can easily go .500 on the last stretch.

If this happens I hope Scrivins is playing with an extension already signed.

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#33 Walter Sobchak
February 21 2014, 04:16PM
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Max wrote:

MacT said it months ago - WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER 18 YEAR OLD KID. We want MEN, tough, top men.

You don't think MacTavish should have moved that pick last year for men?

If your being offered 50 cents on the dollar would you take that or would you take the pick?

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#34 Sevenseven
February 21 2014, 09:59PM
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I just want to see some wins. Ive seen enough top Draft pics. Lets see some wins. The okc Barons have only been around for 4 years. We were not just rebuilding the team, but our whole system.it looks like okc will make the playoffs this year. Id rather see plus .500 hockey down the stretch. Id rather see the top line start to tear up other goalies and gain confidence and momentum. Id rather see a team playing with hustle and pride. One that maybe a top player might want to waive his no trade clause or for a top ufa to want to sign here. I want to see a team that doesnt have to push its prospects too fast because the guys in the big league are playing good, strong hockey. Hell, a 6th overall pic could be better than a first.

I think it would be counterproductive as an organization to throw the rest of the games. I wish the oilers the best of luck down the stretch. I hope they start playing the hockey we expected at the start of the year, and finally have a playoff contender next year.

A man can dream, right?!

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#35 Randaman
February 21 2014, 10:59PM
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Yardbird wrote:

Loaded up ?? Have you checked the standings lately to see just where " loading up" gets you?m

By loading up, I believe he is referring to draft picks. I believe Buffalo has three picks in the first round? Mmm

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#36 Randaman
February 21 2014, 11:09PM
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Woogie63 wrote:

I think it is important to understand which of our FA will contribute to this team, next year and the year after. If they will contribute and compete to make the team better we should sign them, if they would we should move on. Here is how I see our UFA,

Sign, 30

Maybe if the price is right, 83, 77

Move on 28, 15, 44, 5, 80, 37, 55

83 is not going to stay for a third line role and salary! Plain and simple. Time to move forward. 77 at the right price I am Ok with. 5 has some protection value at least for the balance of the season. At least for the tougher games. Signing 30 may prove to be more difficult depending on his play down the stretch. He's a smart guy so he may want to test the open market. I like our chances though. As for the rest, see ya and take 89 with you. 14 may get us that #2 we so badly need. Oh oh, cue the trash button for that one. Face it people, same old isn't getting us anywhere near the play-offs

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#37 S cottV
February 22 2014, 11:37AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

The Oilers were completely out played in a most of those games mentioned prior to the break.

Including the game to the last place Sabers.

Unless you think the Oilers can maintain being out shot 40 to 29 and Scriven's can maintain a ridicules 949 SV %

Taking into consideration a completely different looking roster most likely supplemented with AHL players, other teams pushing hard for the post season and Eakins wanting to bring in a new system, I'm guessing the Oilers will end up picking 2nd overall.

I can't just dismiss Hemsky, Schultz, Smyth, Belov, Potter, possible Gagner & think the Oilers will be 500.

Agreed Walter, the positive recent trend has everything to do with unreal goaltending and no way Scrivens can maintain that percentage, with the way the team plays in front of him.

I am pretty sure Scrivens and Bryz will play well, but .949 is a big stretch taking on 35 to 40 shots per game.

It will however be interesting to see how much Srivens is able to hang in there.

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#38 Zamboni Driver
February 23 2014, 06:31PM
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This is the most ridiculous in a long line of nonsense written by Mr. Mitchell.

Congrats.

You go ahead and fist bump this mess all you like. The rest of us will expect better from your superheroes.

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