GDB 61.0: WELCOME BACK

Jason Gregor
February 27 2014 12:38PM

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"Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about.

Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around."

I loved Welcome Back Kotter. Epstein was my favourite, although all the Sweathogs were beauties. I miss that show, and despite sitting in 29th place again most of the diehard Oilers fans miss watching their team.

Edmonton hasn't played a home game since Ben Scrivens set an NHL record for most saves in a shutout with 59. It was a memorable night, and even though it has only been 28 days since the Sharks peppered Scrivens it seems like forever that you were watching the Oilers with equal amounts of anger (for the skaters) and awe (for Scrivens).

Welcome back Oil fans, I'm sure the final 22 games will provide you with a wide array of emotions.
The Oilers went into the Olympic break on a high, going 5-1-1 and outscoring the opposition 18-12. The Oilers were outshot 266-195 in those games, but Scrivens and Ilya Bryzgalov only allowed 12 goals for a spectacular .954 SV%.

Great goaltending can cover up a lot of weaknesses, and while the Oilers played well in victories over Nashville, Vancouver and New York, it is clear they still have significant room to improve. Winning does give you confidence and the Oilers are feeling much better about their overall game today than at any other point this season.

Clearly they need to cut down on shots against, but at this point they will take a win regardless of how ugly or pretty it is.

The Oilers have had the luxury of having almost the entire team practicing for a week, and they have been able to have a mini training camp and work on improving their system play. The Wild have not had one practice with their entire team, and we'll see if that is a factor tonight.

The Oilers have played the fewest home games of any team thus far, 26, and one of their goals is to try and become a competitive team on home ice during their final 15 games at Rexall Place.

Tonight presents a good opportunity to start their modest two-game home winning streak when they face the Wild, who are one of the worst road teams in the NHL. The Wild are tied with the Flames, Oilers, Capitals and Coyotes for 2nd fewest road wins in the league, but only Buffalo has scored fewer goals on the road than the Wild's 59.

The Wild are outstanding at home 21-7-2, but they are a measly 10-14-5 on the road. The Oilers need to take advantage of a team that can't score when they don't have last change. The Wild have scored more than 2 goals only 8 times in 29 road games.

The Oilers haven't been world beaters at home, however, with only 10 wins in 26 games, but if they want to eventually become competitive they have to make Rexall Place less inviting. They play 15 of their final 22 games at home, so they will have ample opportunity to get comfortable at home.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Yakupov
Hemsky-Gagner-Eberle
Hendricks-Gordon-Perron
Gazdic-Smyth-Jones

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

Scrivens

Hemsky has been moved up to the 2nd line and he'll play the left wing. He hasn't spent much time on the left side, but he is excited to be in more of an offensive role. I see this as a final week showcase for Hemsky and Craig MacTavish must be hoping Hemsky can get a boost from his Olympic production. I doubt three or four good games will change things that much, but you never know. Right now I bet there are 10-12 GMs who firmly believe their team could win the Cup, and another 8 or so who think with a lucky bounce and a smart addition they too could be in the hunt.

Nick Schultz is also in showcase mode playing alongside they younger Schultz. I suspect the elder Schultz will be moved before Wednesday and when he is gone, I'd put Belov with J.Schultz for 5-10 games and see how he does. Belov needs to play better, but he skates well and is strong enough to defend big, top-six forwards. He needs to be more consistent, but I think it would be wise to play him top-four minutes and see how he does.

QUICK HITS...

grab-bag
  • Hemsky would fit nicely in Ottawa. They need another top-six winger and some speed. The Oilers would probably love to get forward Matt Puempel, but that won't happen. D-man Fredrik Claesson is a nice prospect, but he shoots left. Nurse, Klefbom, Gernat, Simpson and Musil all shoot left. Ideally if the Oilers acquire a D-man prospect he should be a right-handed shot.

  • If the Oilers are able to acquire a prospect instead of draft picks, I think it should be a forward. Right now the Oilers have more quality defence prospects than forwards. A centre would be ideal, but if MacTavish can somehow get a 20-22 year old prospect I'd try for a forward, and not a small, skilled one.

  • Most fans and media felt the Islanders overpaid to get Tomas Vanek, but it looks even worse now. He gave up Moulson AND a 2014 or 2015 first rounder and a 2015 2nd rounder. Vanek won't re-sign so he'll be traded before Wednesday. If Snow gets a first rounder back, it isn't going to be a top-five pick this year and likely not even a top-ten next year. Snow either gives up a top-five, likely a top-three pick this year, or he rolls the dice and hopes that somehow his team will improve next season.

    The Islanders will be without Moulson or Vanek and they are on the verge of trading away the D-man who plays the most minutes, Andy MacDonald. It will be a massive task to avoid giving up a top-ten pick next year. If the Islanders struggle next year, they could give up two top-35 picks for a player who played 45 games for them. Ouch.

  • Ryan Kesler's agent, Kurt Overhardt, told Adrian Dater the report from TVA Sports that Kesler asked for a trade "is B.S." If Kesler did want out there would be a long list of teams interested in acquiring him. He is a very good player. The Oilers desperately need a guy like Kesler. He is a high-end #2 centre, who is a good defensively, can produce offence and plays with an edge. However, there is no way the Canucks trade him within the division. None.

  • The Oilers will be a seller, but if I was them I'd look at trying to find a gem like the Ducks did last year with Ben Lovejoy. The Ducks gave up a measly 5th rounder for him and now he's playing 20 minutes a night for them. The Oilers desperately need some 25-30 year old players. Guys with experience, but not a lot of miles. It will be difficult to pull off, because teams want depth, especially on the blueline, but their pro scouting has to be better and find steals like Lovejoy.

    The Rangers want to make a splash and could be looking to get extra cap space. Maybe Justin Falk.
    The Coyotes have a lot of D-men -- Could David Rundblad be had, altheven though he is 23 and not that experienced? It is difficult to find a Lovejoy, but I can't recall the last time the Oilers traded away nothing for a player who blossomed in Edmonton.

    Spacek, I guess, but that was short term. Ryan Jones on waivers for nothing had two solid 17 and 18 goal seasons, but their overall lack of finding quality veteran NHL players the past eight years is extremely alarming. It is the biggest off-ice issue in the organization in my opinion.

TONIGHT....

image4

**Anna Sidorova... Russia's curling skip at the Olympics. She is very good, and I suspect she is likely to become one of the most popular curlers in the world. Gotta love the Olympics.**

GAME DAY PREDICTION: If you can't beat the pop gun offence of the Wild at home, then who can the Oilers beat? The Oilers start the final quarter of the season much better than they did the first quarter with a ~riveting~ 3-1 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kyle Brodziak scores. Brodziak has 5 goals in his last 8 games in Edmonton and he has 47 career goals on the road compared to 38 on home ice.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hemsky scores two goals. It will be only the 11th multiple goal game of his career. He hasn't scored a pair of goals in a game since February 16th, 2013. His two goals adds fuel to the trade rumours and sets up the inevitable, "the Oilers didn't get enough for him," talk for next week.

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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#1 ThatButthurtOilersFan
February 27 2014, 01:12PM
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Maestro Fresh Mess: Respected NHL Insider wrote:

My sources in Nashville tell me Shea Weber has requested a trade. He would like to live in western Canada. Apparently Edmonton is near the top of his list.

Indications are Poile is targeting a package that includes Gagner, Pitlick and Anton Lander.

Thanks for the laugh, bud.

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#2 Maestro Fresh Mess: Respected NHL Insider
February 27 2014, 01:10PM
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My sources in Nashville tell me Shea Weber has requested a trade. He would like to live in western Canada. Apparently Edmonton is near the top of his list.

Indications are Poile is targeting a package that includes Gagner, Pitlick and Anton Lander.

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#3 vetinari
February 27 2014, 01:31PM
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Curling has never looked so... interesting...

As for the game, please let the Oilers show up tonight with effort, structure, confidence and control, and send the Wild out of town with a loss...

GDP: Oilers 2 Wild 1 (SO)

OGDP: The pre-game will be all about the Olympics but after that, it will be all about the trade deadline next week.

NSOGDP: On a scrambled line change, Hemsky collides with Gagner who is coming off the bench, with both going down in a heap. The trainers carry them off the ice, dazed and confused, and from somewhere up in the rafters, you can hear MacT scream "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

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#4 Jacques Strap
February 27 2014, 02:04PM
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Maestro Fresh Mess: Respected NHL Insider wrote:

My sources in Nashville tell me Shea Weber has requested a trade. He would like to live in western Canada. Apparently Edmonton is near the top of his list.

Indications are Poile is targeting a package that includes Gagner, Pitlick and Anton Lander.

You forgot the Unicorn.

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#6 Belieber
February 27 2014, 01:30PM
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Maestro Fresh Mess: Respected NHL Insider wrote:

My sources in Nashville tell me Shea Weber has requested a trade. He would like to live in western Canada. Apparently Edmonton is near the top of his list.

Indications are Poile is targeting a package that includes Gagner, Pitlick and Anton Lander.

IS THIS TRUE? That would be a huge price to pay, even though Weber would be awesome in Etown.

Lander and Pitlick will be NHL superstars if the Oilers get decent assistant coaches! Gags practically is a legend already after that 8 point night.

I dunno...I'm torn on this.

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#7 Benny Botts
February 27 2014, 02:02PM
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Maestro Fresh Mess: Respected NHL Insider wrote:

My sources in Nashville tell me Shea Weber has requested a trade. He would like to live in western Canada. Apparently Edmonton is near the top of his list.

Indications are Poile is targeting a package that includes Gagner, Pitlick and Anton Lander.

ON, this is the problem with letting anyone sign a name and comment...

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#8 dobiezeke
February 27 2014, 10:02PM
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Eberle doing everything he can to drive down his trade value...

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#9 shaun
February 27 2014, 10:06PM
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reality sets in after the olympic break...well hopefully we wont have to listen to the media pumping MacT's and Eakins tires for awhile

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#10 Randaman
February 27 2014, 08:40PM
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I usually take issue with Spector but he called it right on Petry in the first intermission. Standing there while Nuge & Hall are in altercations is unacceptable!! P:;ssy!!

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#11 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
February 27 2014, 10:01PM
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Muwahaaahahaha...

Ekblad is virtually all ours. Hard to get motivated when the games mean zip. Players sure looked disinterested. Have to think more than half the players would welcome a ticket out of town.

With MacTavish more than satisfied with Eakins 29th place effort this season, look for Yakupov to asked to be moved now. Can't see Nail putting up with Eakins ship for another season.

Scrivens and N.Schultz to Minnesota next week for Charlie Coyle. Pay half of Nicks salary if you have to.

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#12 Hall the time
February 27 2014, 10:11PM
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Nice to see nothing has changed, SOOOOOOOOOOOO boring. At lest hemmer will be gone and we can be sure that there's no excitement at all.

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#13 bazmagoo
February 27 2014, 10:22PM
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Man the Oilers were bad tonight, really wish I could get that 2 and a half hours of my life back.

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#14 Quack
February 27 2014, 09:08PM
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This just in.... The oilers still suck

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#15 Rob F
February 27 2014, 11:05PM
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So the oilers have been shut out 8 times this year

5 of those at home. So they get shout out almost 20% of the time at home

The power play was at 21%, until they changed to the new "unstoppable" 1-3-1 Now I'm not sure they've scored a power play goal since

I want to give Eakins a chance, but evidence us starting to pile up that he's not makings things better but worse.

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#16 rubbertrout
February 27 2014, 01:17PM
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"Sweathogs" might be an apt name for the current version of my beloved Oilers.

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#17 wintoon
February 27 2014, 01:28PM
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Perron for Lazar and Puempel would be an overpayment by Ottawa. However if the trade was Perron and Hemsky for Puempel and Lazar I think it would be more balanced. Lazar is a very highly rated prospect and so is Puempel. By offering both Hemsky and Perron we give Ottawa considerable talentfor this year (which they need) and the opportunity to work a reasonable deal for Hemsky going forward.

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#18 Alsker
February 27 2014, 08:13PM
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3 shots in over 15 minutes...what the f^ck did they work on during the "mini camp"? At this pace Scrivens could have a SV% of .960 and not get the win. Epic.

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#19 Sam
February 27 2014, 07:46PM
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How do you go from watching team canada to watching the perenial bottom feeder oilers??

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#20 Randaman
February 27 2014, 10:12PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

The lack of response by Petry in the first period. Do you think that's the reaction of a player who's poorly coached/afraid to leave his team shorthanded when every goal matters? Hard to imagine the Oilers have another super sized Tommy Gilbert on their hands.

That and the fact that he is simply a p:;sy as I stated earlier. No grit whatsoever, NONE!

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#21 Randaman
February 27 2014, 07:49PM
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Wow! Awesome back check by our two best players on the first goal. Still in vacation mode?

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#22 Alsker
February 27 2014, 07:53PM
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Randaman wrote:

Wow! Awesome back check by our two best players on the first goal. Still in vacation mode?

Give them credit, it took 2 whole minutes until our first defensive brainfart. ~Moral victory~

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#23 Rob F
February 27 2014, 08:14PM
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Is this game as boring on TV as it is live? Wish I hadn't bought my 50/50. Now I'm stuck till 3rd period

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#24 Oilers4ever
February 27 2014, 09:49PM
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Hey look... the morons returned to play tonight. Wonders never cease. Knew the stuff before the olympic break was just a smoke and mirrors act. Wake me up when spring is here and I can drive my sports car again. Hockey in this city sucks donkey balls.

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#25 Walter Sobchak
February 27 2014, 10:29PM
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Well, with Hemsky on his way out of town, there goes the last player who would actually carry the puck into a zone.

I've never seen a team dump the puck in that much in my life! Dear Lord that was awful to watch.

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#26 DJ
February 27 2014, 02:01PM
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can't believe no one said this yet...Hurry Hard! Hurry Hard!!!

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#27 The Towel Boy
February 27 2014, 03:08PM
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Re: Anna Sidorova

I'd like to draw into her 4-foot, that's for sure.

AHHOOOOOOOGA!

Hubba Hubaa!

{siren noise}

*hits self on head with wooden mallet*

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#28 Rob F
February 27 2014, 08:56PM
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Gazdicks the man. The rest awful. If we r going to be perennial bottom feeders, I'd rather have a bunch of 4th liners like gazdick than premodonnas.

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#29 Randaman
February 27 2014, 10:08PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Muwahaaahahaha...

Ekblad is virtually all ours. Hard to get motivated when the games mean zip. Players sure looked disinterested. Have to think more than half the players would welcome a ticket out of town.

With MacTavish more than satisfied with Eakins 29th place effort this season, look for Yakupov to asked to be moved now. Can't see Nail putting up with Eakins ship for another season.

Scrivens and N.Schultz to Minnesota next week for Charlie Coyle. Pay half of Nicks salary if you have to.

Couldn't have said it better myself! PATHETIC... On a positive note Buffalo has won two in a row, Islanders won tonight without JT So, Ekblad or Bennett?? Hmmm

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#30 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
February 27 2014, 10:09PM
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Alsker wrote:

Turn out the lights....oh wait, they never bothered to turn them on...at least it didn't long to be reminded why the most exiting part of our season is always Draft Day!!!

The lack of response by Petry in the first period. Do you think that's the reaction of a player who's poorly coached/afraid to leave his team shorthanded when every goal matters? Hard to imagine the Oilers have another super sized Tommy Gilbert on their hands.

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#31 Lowe Expectations
February 27 2014, 11:11PM
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Came to check the comments. Glad I didn't watch.

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#32 yessir
February 27 2014, 02:08PM
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Benny Botts wrote:

ON, this is the problem with letting anyone sign a name and comment...

Kinda makes it like an open forum, eh Benny? The NERVE!!!!

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#33 Rod from Viking
February 27 2014, 10:08PM
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When Mac T said Eakins isn't going any where could he possibly mean he is going to be a scout next year.

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#34 Fish
February 27 2014, 01:36PM
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First one to make a comment about that curler playing with their "rocks" wins!!!

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#35 Randaman
February 27 2014, 08:49PM
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tabs wrote:

And you're a f*ucking tool.

Learn how to spell

Now now boys. Don't make us send you to your rooms for a timeout. We're supposed to be adults here

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#36 Simon
February 27 2014, 10:00PM
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Well atleast they made the effort to put on the pads and go thru the motions. If I sucked as bad at what I do as this team does I wouldn't show up, I'd be looking for somthing else to do.

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#37 freelancer
February 27 2014, 01:31PM
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@michael

If we're talking about moving a smaller forward for a bigger one I would move Eberle over Perron. Perron is one of the only top forwards that actually plays with some size. Personally I wouldn't call Schulz untouchable. I hope he can become the offensive PP quarterback we hope him to be but if another option came by I wouldn't lose sleep over trading him.

On a different note, what do people here think about turning J Schulz into a Brent Burns and move him to forward. He could still take point on the PP. He's a big body who plays way more offense than he does defense.

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#38 Tuningout
February 27 2014, 09:06PM
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Before this game I mentioned a final 22 games of 5-15-2. I got a lot of trashes. How about now ? My post was in Gregor's "let's keep Eakins" campaign.

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#39 gk1980
February 27 2014, 10:52PM
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I'm not freaking out here, just a theoretical thought, what if the oilers did just blow everything up? New Top six, coaches everything. How could it get any worse? In my opinion MacTavish has nothing more to lose and everything to gain. It really can't get any worse.

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#40 Dodd
February 27 2014, 12:50PM
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I've been lukewarm on our pro scouting ever since we had a run of acquiring guys with nagging injuries/ downright big problems. Souray was hurt when we got him. Whitney's foot ultimately looks to have ended his career. We were aware of these things when we signed these guys.

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#41 The Swarm
February 27 2014, 05:56PM
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Horsestack could have coached the Oilers to a better record this year.

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#42 Loweblows
February 27 2014, 09:13PM
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I am the original loweblows and i dont approve of the other loweblows boorish language-time to change my moniker since i dont want to be associated to you-

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#43 Alsker
February 27 2014, 09:57PM
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Turn out the lights....oh wait, they never bothered to turn them on...at least it didn't long to be reminded why the most exiting part of our season is always Draft Day!!!

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#44 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
February 27 2014, 10:50PM
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With The Flyers going hard after Kesler. MacTavish should get in on that, take some salary back from Holmgren if he'd part with Couturier.

Petry and Musil for Meszaros and Couturier. Would create enough room for Kesler.

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#45 Alsker
February 27 2014, 10:55PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Well, with Hemsky on his way out of town, there goes the last player who would actually carry the puck into a zone.

I've never seen a team dump the puck in that much in my life! Dear Lord that was awful to watch.

~Fortunately the coaching staff are thrilled as this has cut down neutral zone turnovers by more than 50%~ As fans though we see this as stupidly giving the puck back to the opposition and creating f*cking ZERO offensive opportunities. Good thing none of us are coaching.

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#46 dougtheslug
February 27 2014, 11:37PM
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Lots of positives to take away from tonight's game:

It wasn't the worst game the Oilers have played this year. That would have been the Detroit game. It was, unfortunately, in the top three. Or, I guess, the bottom three. You guys know what I mean. I think. What was I talking about?

I discovered that the cure to a four day old Olympic hangover is a kilometre walk into a -40 windchill gale, followed by two and a half hours of mistakes, misplays, and misfires. Who won the gold medal again?

Lots of chances generated on the Oiler power play. They were mostly Wild chances, but whatevs.

Speaking of the powerplay, that "One d-man back on the point" strategy is amazingly innovative and original. There may be a reason why no other team in organized hockey uses it, but it is innovative nonetheless.

I got back to my car with all 10 toes and 10 fingers intact and frostbite free.Only 121 days until the draft!

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#47 Dodd
February 27 2014, 12:46PM
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Um not to mention Mr. Kotter's wife. AMIRIGHT???

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#48 Redman
February 27 2014, 09:49PM
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Picking the oilers to play anything close to .500 hockey is as smart as picking Russia to win gold. They've sucked for 8 years, thats not gonna change anytime soon

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#49 slats
February 27 2014, 11:25PM
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Rob F wrote:

Gazdicks the man. The rest awful. If we r going to be perennial bottom feeders, I'd rather have a bunch of 4th liners like gazdick than premodonnas.

2 words for you replacements. . .. .

Team Latvia!

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#50 Danger Pay
February 27 2014, 01:47PM
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Hemsky - Gagner - Eberle. That's one small line of forwards, no matter how skilled. It's like using all small forwards on Nintendo's ice hockey, you need at least one medium or large forward to win battles. But hey, that only works on nintendo.

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