GDB 67.0: What Is Left To Play For?

Jonathan Willis
March 13 2014 12:17PM

57-Perron-9

It’s pretty easy to dismiss Thursday’s Oilers/Blues game as a meaningless affair, but the truth is that there’s still some point to the games being played – if not at the team level, than at least at the individual one.

Expected Lines

  • Taylor Hall – Sam Gagner – David Perron
  • Nail Yakupov – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
  • Matt Hendricks – Boyd Gordon – Jesse Joensuu
  • Luke Gazdic – Ryan Smyth – Ryan Jones
  • Martin Marincin – Jeff Petry
  • Mark Fraser – Justin Schultz
  • Oscar Klefbom – Andrew Ference
  • Ben Scrivens

Why It Should Matter

89-Gagner-5

The top line has at least two players for whom this game is important. For Sam Gagner, he’s at a crossroads in his career. He’s likely to be dealt in the off-season, and he can both increase his appeal to a contender and increase Edmonton’s likely trade return if he finishes the year strongly. He has seven points in his last five games and doubtless would like his recent run of effectiveness to continue. At right wing, there’s no question that David Perron would like to show well against his old team.

Joensuu, Jesse 2

A good game or a bad game isn’t likely to impact a bunch of the players in the middle of the lineup, but at the outer edges there are a few players who need to play well down the stretch. Jesse Joensuu is under contract for another season, but should certainly be seen as playing for a spot on next year’s team, as his contract is small enough to bury. Ryans Jones and Smyth are pending unrestricted free agents, and either could find himself outside the NHL next season.

5-Fraser-2

Defence is where things really matter. Three different players continue to fight for a spot next season. Mark Fraser is a pending unrestricted free agent and a fringe NHL’er; he has a shot at a depth job in Edmonton next year and needs to play well. Martin Marincin and Oscar Klefbom, meanwhile, need to show quickly that they belong; both guys have a bit of time but the fact is that players like Darnell Nurse and perhaps Aaron Ekblad are on the way – there are only so many jobs available for young guys and getting a leg up on the competition is massively important for both players.

30-Scrivens-3

Finally, Ben Scrivens looks likely to get first run at Edmonton’s starting job next year, but he’s hardly immoveable in that position. Every strong game is another data point in his favour, another reason for Dallas Eakins to stick with him long-term.

Predictions

GAME DAY PREDICTION: 3-0 St. Louis. These teams are at different ends of the NHL spectrum. 

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Perron plays well, yet again, but he's one of the few Oilers with jump against arguably the NHL's best team. 

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fraser continues to show fairly well on a pairing with Schultz.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Craig1981
March 13 2014, 06:14PM
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Harry wrote:

I totally agree. Drafting Yakupov was a huge mistake. Guys like him, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk ect....theyre all the same. Lazy and dont give a flying F66k

Are you using sarcasm here or are you really one of those ignorant Alberta people that are embarrass me when I get painted with the same brush as them? I would take Ovechkin, Kovalchuk on my team any day. Malkin, Datsyuk, or Markov for that matter.

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#102 @Oilanderp
March 13 2014, 06:25PM
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Man, these Oilers suffer from the same difficulty that I do when I play wing in NHL 14 Online Team Play: You want to help out defensively in your own zone, but when you do you aren't in position for the breakout pass and so you can't get out of your own zone. But then, if you don't come back down low your team can't seem to get the puck back. So you're caught being one step behind all the time.

Also, PERRON!!!!!!

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#103 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 06:25PM
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Welcome back Perron!

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#104 @Oilanderp
March 13 2014, 06:42PM
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TSN just called Klefbom "a puck-moving offensive defenceman". Tee heee!

Not quite.

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#105 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 07:00PM
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Speaking of wondering in the desert where was Klefbom on the 1-1 goal?

If Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom are on part of next years defence the playoff will not be happening for the 9th year.You just can't have half your defence as rookies and expect to compete in the NHL.

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#106 Rod from Viking
March 13 2014, 07:07PM
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Shredder wrote:

Aside from one year when we had the best defenseman in the NHL, we've been desert wondering for over 20 years. Sure we squeeked into the playoffs for a few years from 97 to 2003 (not all of them mind you) - but that was a budget team full of rookies, and they played their hearts out. But other than that magical 06 run where we caught lightning in a bottle, what have we done? Beat Dallas in a first round playoff matchup? Other than 91 and earlier, we have been known as a team that is not good. Teams have thought they can and should beat us routinely. Lately we've been seeing a whole lot of backup goaltending at the other end of the rink. Four years too late? We are a lot further than that.

The Oilers take out Colorado out the next year in the first round once as well, they were down 3-1 and Cujo shut the AV's out for 8 periods in a row to win in 7, that was 1998, they never won another playoff round until 2006.

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#107 Anton CP
March 13 2014, 07:18PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Speaking of wondering in the desert where was Klefbom on the 1-1 goal?

If Nurse, Marincin and Klefbom are on part of next years defence the playoff will not be happening for the 9th year.You just can't have half your defence as rookies and expect to compete in the NHL.

PLAYOFFS? SERIOUSLY? So if they missed for 9th year but instead of rushing the already broken progess that I would rather see some steady improvements. Look at Jackets and Islanders, those are what happened when they rush the progress and they barely made playoffs here and there but they are still a very bad team. To be a good competitive team that the learning curve is needed, everyone should stop talking about PLAYOFFS until this team is actually ready! Otherwise the team and managements will keep on making mistakes and ended up going nowhere.

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#108 bulldog12
March 13 2014, 07:28PM
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All you Yak fans should listen to TSNs Darren Dreger between the first and second periods. He explained everything that is wrong with this kid and until Yak gets it he's going to continue to struggle. Then maybe him and you guys can stop blaming someone else for his incompetence

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#109 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 07:28PM
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Anton CP wrote:

PLAYOFFS? SERIOUSLY? So if they missed for 9th year but instead of rushing the already broken progess that I would rather see some steady improvements. Look at Jackets and Islanders, those are what happened when they rush the progress and they barely made playoffs here and there but they are still a very bad team. To be a good competitive team that the learning curve is needed, everyone should stop talking about PLAYOFFS until this team is actually ready! Otherwise the team and managements will keep on making mistakes and ended up going nowhere.

Sure why not wait a decade maybe more without the playoffs.

Wow just wow.

As long as Edmonton expects failure they will not be disappointed by the Oilers. No team in the NHL should miss the playoff for eight years never mind more.

This years team should have been contending for the playoffs.

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#110 Harry
March 13 2014, 07:32PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

Are you using sarcasm here or are you really one of those ignorant Alberta people that are embarrass me when I get painted with the same brush as them? I would take Ovechkin, Kovalchuk on my team any day. Malkin, Datsyuk, or Markov for that matter.

Not one ounce of sarcasm here. And im not from Alberta so calm down tiger. Im simply stating the fact that guys like Ovechkin and Yakupov are selfish hockey players. Case in point Ovechkin is the leading goal scorer in the leagur by a mile but hes -20 or something like that.

Malkin Datsyuk are exceptions but Kovalchuk and Ovi are garbage in my opinion.

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#111 wiseguy
March 13 2014, 07:53PM
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Anton CP wrote:

PLAYOFFS? SERIOUSLY? So if they missed for 9th year but instead of rushing the already broken progess that I would rather see some steady improvements. Look at Jackets and Islanders, those are what happened when they rush the progress and they barely made playoffs here and there but they are still a very bad team. To be a good competitive team that the learning curve is needed, everyone should stop talking about PLAYOFFS until this team is actually ready! Otherwise the team and managements will keep on making mistakes and ended up going nowhere.

You point out that we could miss the playoffs for the 9th year, yet could be "rushing" the progress. There's a contradictory statement if I've ever seen one. Also, we keep referring with disdain to the Islanders and Blue Jackets as if they're terrible franchises. The Oilers are the standard bearer for a failed franchise. We only wish we could be the Islanders and Jackets. The Oilers are what fans of rebuilding teams like Calgary and Buffalo fear they will become if they screw up the rebuild by tanking and getting high draft picks.

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#112 Harry
March 13 2014, 07:54PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Sure why not wait a decade maybe more without the playoffs.

Wow just wow.

As long as Edmonton expects failure they will not be disappointed by the Oilers. No team in the NHL should miss the playoff for eight years never mind more.

This years team should have been contending for the playoffs.

I dont think Columbus can be thrown in with the islanders. CBJ have seemed to figure it out. And suprise suprise they canned their POHO and hired John Davidson the guu who turned around STL and CBJ

Fire Lowe

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#113 Craig1981
March 13 2014, 08:00PM
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@Harry

double post my bad (see below)

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#114 Anton CP
March 13 2014, 08:01PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Sure why not wait a decade maybe more without the playoffs.

Wow just wow.

As long as Edmonton expects failure they will not be disappointed by the Oilers. No team in the NHL should miss the playoff for eight years never mind more.

This years team should have been contending for the playoffs.

In the past 8 years that Oilers were on quick fix year after year, why? Right after the cup run, fans were expecting team to do the same without Pronger, Samsonov, and Peca.

Then the endless quick fix came in. Souray, Lupul, Penner, Visnovsky came and left. Hossa, Venek, Jagr, Heatley those names were just tossing around like they are the savior that we could never have.

The reality is, this team is now just simply not good enough yet. However fans are still expecting this team should be able to compete. So it has been 8 years, it meant nothing at all. So would you like to see Oilers make playoffs once then miss it for the next few years again or so? Islanders were in playoffs and won total of 3 games since lockout. Jackets were in playoffs once and won 0 games in the entire franchise histroy. Thrashers/Jets also made playoffs once and won 9 games in their entire franchise history too.

So, for those who are crying for playoffs, will you die happy if the team make it and sweep out of first round then miss more playoffs after that? Please be more realistic, this team is far from ready to compete.

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#115 Craig1981
March 13 2014, 08:01PM
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Harry wrote:

Not one ounce of sarcasm here. And im not from Alberta so calm down tiger. Im simply stating the fact that guys like Ovechkin and Yakupov are selfish hockey players. Case in point Ovechkin is the leading goal scorer in the leagur by a mile but hes -20 or something like that.

Malkin Datsyuk are exceptions but Kovalchuk and Ovi are garbage in my opinion.

Ovechkin s having a poor year +/- wise, but in 10 seasons he has Seven in the + and only 3 in the neg. He is +68 in his career! Messier had a year he was -25, Gretzky had a year he was -25 and Lemieux was -35 once early in his career and -25 later.

Ovechkin is the definition of a team player IMO and I have heard nothing that says Kovalchuk isn't either.

BTW.......GRETZKY -25 one season!

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#116 Poolanov
March 13 2014, 08:08PM
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Nice tough play behind the net there captain Ference.... pathetic!

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#117 TeddyTurnbuckle
March 13 2014, 08:09PM
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Nuge looks lost out there. Looks like he is maturing nicely into a 15 goal 45 point player that can't win a draw. Another wasted 1st overall - 3 tonight again.

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#118 2004Z06
March 13 2014, 08:10PM
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Eberle, RNH, Yakupov having a great night! For St Louis that is.

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#119 Anton CP
March 13 2014, 08:15PM
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wiseguy wrote:

You point out that we could miss the playoffs for the 9th year, yet could be "rushing" the progress. There's a contradictory statement if I've ever seen one. Also, we keep referring with disdain to the Islanders and Blue Jackets as if they're terrible franchises. The Oilers are the standard bearer for a failed franchise. We only wish we could be the Islanders and Jackets. The Oilers are what fans of rebuilding teams like Calgary and Buffalo fear they will become if they screw up the rebuild by tanking and getting high draft picks.

What's contradictory here? The team were rushing everything for the past 8 years. How many rookies in the past has actually spend time during early career down in minor? How many bad contracts were handed out for whoever that just willing to stay or come to EDM? The team were only seeing progress in the last 2 years if even and this year that they are taking another step back. The Oilers management have not prepared to build a winning team from 8 years ago so they weren't really much into "rebuild" for the most part of the last 8 years.

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#120 kale
March 13 2014, 08:17PM
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Dang, poor Scrivens..he is probably thinking what is the penalty for breach of contract

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#121 Marcus
March 13 2014, 08:18PM
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Dear Katz, Lowe, Mac-T:

Men vs Boys out there tonight. I'll let you figure out which your team was.

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#122 G-Unit
March 13 2014, 08:21PM
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I heard a comment on TSN 1260 the other day how Dubnyk had given up on a lot of goals this year and it was getting his team mates down, whereas Scrivens battles for every puck. Give him 20 games behind this mess of defensive zone coverage.

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#123 Dave
March 13 2014, 08:26PM
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How is that Gagner experiment going tonight?

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#124 Naky
March 13 2014, 08:26PM
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Brownlee called the score at 5-2 Blues on Gregor's show today. I see he has a good future as a prophet.

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#125 Shifty203
March 13 2014, 08:29PM
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@ Willis

Your title really amuses me today. Based on what I've seen in the game so far, not one player on this team seems to know the definition of the word Pride. Can't actually say that there is one player on the team that seems to be interested in playing tonight.

Suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.

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#126 SmythsMullet
March 13 2014, 08:31PM
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Team toughness is embarrassing right now. Impressed with Perron going up against old teammates but it seems like no one else (other than gazdic) is doing anything. Settle down Hall they're just your baby teeth

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#127 G-Unit
March 13 2014, 08:31PM
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Naky wrote:

Brownlee called the score at 5-2 Blues on Gregor's show today. I see he has a good future as a prophet.

Lets hope they can hold on

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#128 rectal place
March 13 2014, 08:32PM
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You know you are an oilers fan when your down 6-2 and you say 'what a great game'

Starved for entertainment

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#129 rectal place
March 13 2014, 08:33PM
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Taylor halls lips are going to be swollen, oh dear.

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#130 kale
March 13 2014, 08:37PM
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I actually thought the oilers played well the first two periods(as well as can be expected) but then St Louis decided they were not going to let this itty bitty team embarrass them

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#131 2004Z06
March 13 2014, 08:38PM
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Taylor Hall vs 3 Blues....great team toughness.

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#132 Anton
March 13 2014, 08:40PM
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I hope Hall will retire as Oilers into the future. Look all the bruises on his face, he is one of the very few on roster that still willing to battle.

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#133 Shifty203
March 13 2014, 08:40PM
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kale wrote:

I actually thought the oilers played well the first two periods(as well as can be expected) but then St Louis decided they were not going to let this itty bitty team embarrass them

Unfortunately, when crunch time comes, the Oilers are eager to bend over, grab their ankles, and let the other team have their way with them.

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#134 NsxZero
March 13 2014, 08:40PM
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TSN are hyping this as if a line brawl is going to erupt. Lets be honest the Oilers wouldn't do jack all.

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#135 Shifty203
March 13 2014, 08:42PM
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Anton wrote:

I hope Hall will retire as Oilers into the future. Look all the bruises on his face, he is one of the very few on roster that still willing to battle.

While he's pretty bruised, I don't consider turtling when someone bigger than you sneezes in your direction as "battling". It's more like "taking it like a female dog".

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#136 bazmagoo
March 13 2014, 08:43PM
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God I hate our power play, two straight 2 on 1's on the PK for the Blues. Pathetic.

37 goals this season on the PP, 11 short handed goals against. Sad.

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#137 Doug Diggler
March 13 2014, 08:43PM
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rectal place wrote:

Taylor halls lips are going to be swollen, oh dear.

nothing out of the ordinary...

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#138 kale
March 13 2014, 08:45PM
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Evey single game we give up at least 2 two on ones while on the power play, Eakins seriously?

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#139 Anton CP
March 13 2014, 08:46PM
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Shifty203 wrote:

While he's pretty bruised, I don't consider turtling when someone bigger than you sneezes in your direction as "battling". It's more like "taking it like a female dog".

Hall is actually not that small, at least he is bigger than half of Blues roster.

Time to watch another beatdown from Kings going to lay on Leafs? I wonder how the Leafs homer Dreger will feel after the game.

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#140 NsxZero
March 13 2014, 08:46PM
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When did they finally start passing back to the D on the powerplay? Klefbom had a few good chances there. No bodies in front though.

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#141 Gk1980
March 13 2014, 08:47PM
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Wow! Eberle was just knocked down no where near the puck, then blues score. Idiot ref!

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#142 Rod from Viking
March 13 2014, 08:49PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

God I hate our power play, two straight 2 on 1's on the PK for the Blues. Pathetic.

37 goals this season on the PP, 11 short handed goals against. Sad.

Yeah, its only -4 since the switch to the 1-3-1.(lol)

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#143 Gk1980
March 13 2014, 08:55PM
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Boys aren't doing to bad. Still running around in there zone but they have shown some compete. I like it. Klefbom looks good.

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#144 Anton CP
March 13 2014, 08:57PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Yeah, its only -4 since the switch to the 1-3-1.(lol)

I am actually wondering about what Eakins is thinking of using 1-3-1...I guess the best excuse for him is that Oilers lack of offensive abilities from blue line. Ok...I don't know the excuse for continuing 1-3-1 then...

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#145 Rod from Viking
March 13 2014, 08:59PM
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Darryl Sutter is going for his 500th win tonight, how quick will Eakins get to 500 losses? I guess he will have to get a 3 year extension to get it with Edmonton.

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#146 kale
March 13 2014, 08:59PM
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Eakins always complains about the team not getting the message...how long does it take him to get the message that they are not in a position to execute the 1-3-1? It is crazy

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#147 Anton CP
March 13 2014, 09:03PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

Darryl Sutter is going for his 500th win tonight, how quick will Eakins get to 500 losses? I guess he will have to get a 3 year extension to get it with Edmonton.

How about the quickest to get 100 losses first?

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#148 dougtheslug
March 13 2014, 09:04PM
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How do the Oiler apologists spin a game like this?

"Wow, played the best team in the NHL even for 2 periods, just ran out of gas in the third - we're making steady progress, rebuild right on schedule, wait 'til we take that next step....."

How do Oiler realists see an debacle like this?

"Five (or four or six, whatever) years into the "rebuild", and the gap between this team and the NHL elite is bigger, wider and deeper than at anytime in Oiler history. What an embarrassment. And how about that 1-3-1 power play. The greatest invention since the 8-track."

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#149 Quintana
March 13 2014, 09:04PM
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And that's why The Oilers have to get rid of the Gagners Eberles and any soft player.

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#150 MapleLeafer
March 13 2014, 09:08PM
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Still grinding in the gutter I see, lol. I remember trolling on here a few years back when we hired Burke and all I heard here was dynasty this and dynasty that. Hahaha. And now the Flames have Burke and you'll still be toiling in your own filth while your southern neighbors are building a real team. Oiler domination to follow..... HAHAHAHA

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