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, 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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#1 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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#2 Gk1980
March 13 2014, 09:16PM
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Boys are showing heart, ref had missed a ton if calls. BS Reffing. This team might actually be coming together. Maybe...

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#3 Zarny
March 13 2014, 03:43PM
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Randaman wrote:

One word; Eakins, Buchberger & Acton. Ok, three words.

I'll give you one word: Yakupov.

That's what's wrong with Yakupov this year.

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#4 Oilbaron
March 13 2014, 12:27PM
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oilers win 3-2 regulation

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#5 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 12:40PM
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Are we there yet? Draft day A.K.A. the Oilers Stanley Cup.

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#6 Harry
March 13 2014, 05:30PM
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Zarny wrote:

I'll give you one word: Yakupov.

That's what's wrong with Yakupov this year.

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

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#7 Oiltown3000
March 13 2014, 03:05PM
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RNH and Ebs are not be playing well right now. It seem like they don't want to play anymore and I wouldn't either because there is no use of playing if we're not playing in the playoffs.

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#8 majin_oil
March 13 2014, 12:38PM
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I'm going to skip this game to play South Park stick of truth. If I'm going to watch a gong show at least I can enjoy south park.

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#9 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 13 2014, 02:21PM
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A definite no doubter this evening. A 4-0 loss to the Blues will further our annual quest during this yrs death march.

If the Oil fall out of the top 4. trade the pick along with Yakupov and Petry to the Islanders for Tavares.

Gagner ++ for Myers.

Wandering in the desert...

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#10 BobbyCanuck
March 13 2014, 04:19PM
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Play Gagner to up his value? You do realize that ALL of you that are saying this will be screaming bloody murder when he gets traded for a bag of pucks? Or my worst nightmare, you all will be screaming to keep him...because well, look how good he plays!

If you all have any hope of us making the play-offs in the next couple of years we have to trade RNH, Eberle, and Gagner. There is simply no room in the West for more then one smurf on the ice at any given time. These 3 players could add serious value to a big tough team which is lacking in some natural goal scoring talent. We get the messier v.2.0 and they get someone that can score goals, sounds fair to me.

I expect Hall, our only player of any trade value, to demand one around the middle of next season.

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#11 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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#12 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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#13 J.R.
March 13 2014, 01:07PM
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Ed in Edmonton wrote:

A 19 year old playing in the NHL.

That and Eakins' WTF-style systems play can't be helping.

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#14 Fresh Mess
March 13 2014, 04:47PM
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@DisappointedFan

Two sensible and realistic comments in a row regarding Fail...how refreshing and uncharacteristic of ON.

Drafting Yak was another blunder. Just think what that draft pick would have fetched in trade.

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#15 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
March 13 2014, 02:25PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

No Yak will not get that contract right now....and shouldn't.

He has struggled mightily under Eakins system and is probably the biggest reason I think Eakins needs to go.

Quoted for truth.

MacTavish's incompetence confirmed. Will he sacrifice Yakupov only to save face on this Eakins decision.

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#16 Randaman
March 13 2014, 03:04PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

One word; Eakins, Buchberger & Acton. Ok, three words.

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#17 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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#18 Total Points
March 13 2014, 01:22PM
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Doesn't matter how the media spin things, these games mean NOTHING. Players should not be evaluated based on the final 20 or so games. They should be evaluated on their play to date when they were under pressure to make the playoffs.

Players play totally different when they are under pressure. For example in prior years, Gagner always plays better when the Oilers are eliminated from the playoffs and has no pressure. This year, his numbers improved as the year went along and the Oilers were not a playoff team. I agree this year his injury had something to do with his improved play but not other years

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#19 Schmidty66
March 13 2014, 04:10PM
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Zarny wrote:

I'll give you one word: Yakupov.

That's what's wrong with Yakupov this year.

Yak proved himself last year only to be put back on the fourth line and in the pressbox this year. Eakins didn't give him a shot this year instead Smyth took his spot. Yak got upset and if I was a betting man he would love to punch Eakins in the nose along with most Oiler fans in this city. I know a billion coaching changes in the last 6 years but the clown we have now can barely find his way home from the rink on his bike. Just because we have had all of these coaches does not mean we have the correct one right now. Admit you made a mistake and move on. Maybe Eakins and Nelson could swap positions? Saving Mac T some face??

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#20 Craig1981
March 13 2014, 04:29PM
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Al Low wrote:

What exactly is the Eakins system anyways? He seems more intent on getting Ryan Smyth that powerplay record than helping the number one overall pick from 2 years ago become a better player. If there's one thing that shouldn't be wrong with this offensively talented group, it's the Power Play but Eakins has managed to make a complete mess of that, as well. Say what you want about Ralph Krueger but he, at least, had that part of the team clicking.

What I was saying was Yakupov's season and troubles should have little to no impact on Eakin's firing.

But in response to your question. Now yes last year we did have the 7th best PP in the NHL as compared to the 21st. 21rst is midrange which is what the Oil are offensively. No quarterback on the backend, no Top 20 offensive players, no big bodies with skill in front of the net. I'm sorry I just don't see players that make a top tier PP here. The Oilers overachieved last year on a small sample size. I don't hold Eakins accountable for that

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#21 DisappointedFan
March 13 2014, 05:02PM
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@Alsker

Okay, so it was poor handling by MacT and Yakupov should have been sent to OKC 5 games into the season is what you're saying?

If Yakupov were about average on the team for +/- and give aways, I'd say "you're absolutely right" but he is pretty far down the stats sheet and consistently a liability when he's on the ice. Just watch one shift, and you'll see how much I'd never want the puck on his stick.

When he's ON HIS GAME, he plays great...but he's not on his game often. I'm sorry, but he's playing like he's still in junior and it's not the coaches fault that he can't handle the pressure. The coach isn't on the ice whispering into his ear "pass it to the other team Yak...loosen your grip on the puck Yak..."

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#22 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
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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#23 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
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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#24 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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#25 2015Playoffs?Nope!
March 13 2014, 12:30PM
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Id say, this year, all 29 other teams are hard to watch against the Oilers....

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#26 Smokey
March 13 2014, 12:48PM
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A good roster move would of been to sit Gagner and play a better player in Arco, but the mismanagement is playing Gagner when he is hurt, and called up Lander who is not a top 6 forward if he could not go.

I would not want to play a healthy Gagner against St. Louis. Its like putting a raw chunk of tenderloin in the forest and expecting it to remain unscathed for 6 hours. Not saying Arco would stand a chance either.

Hoping it will be over quick, or Benny has another outta the body experience and channels the spirit of Jacque Plante circa 1962, or Snowpants puts a 6 spot on St. Louis and I eat crow tomorrow.

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#27 bazmagoo
March 13 2014, 12:48PM
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What the heck is wrong with Yak this season? Man, he looks like a lost child out there on most nights.

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#28 DisappointedFan
March 13 2014, 04:42PM
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@Zarny

Anyone who still thinks that it's Eakins, Buchy, or Father Will that's the problem, with respect to Yakupov, needs to give their head a shake. He's doing exactly what we saw with Omark in training camp. "trying too hard to force plays...trying to hard to do it all themselves...getting too caught up and making mistakes...not doing the little things."

If we could compare what Arcobello did when he was on the ice to Yakupov, his first instinct was always to make the smart defensive move and try to take advantage of whatever happened from there. Playing hard on the puck, battling to keep it in your teams possession and being aware of where everyone else was so you could put yourself into position.

Yakupov doesn't do any of that...he tries to take on every situation with a high risk mentality that is easy to do in junior but next to impossible in the NHL.

When Yakupov starts playing like he's in the NHL and realizes he's no longer the most talented player on the ice and that he needs to work hard to get things going...he will start to succeed.

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#29 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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#30 oilerjed
March 13 2014, 01:29PM
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J.R. wrote:

That and Eakins' WTF-style systems play can't be helping.

And it seems the plan to tear him down to build him up got stuck after they tore him down. Does he really want to play for Eakins after all the smack Eakins talked this year?

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#31 bazmagoo
March 13 2014, 02:00PM
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I'm wondering - does Yak get gifted a 7 year 42 million dollar contract during the off season like the others?

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#32 Cody anderson
March 13 2014, 02:08PM
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@bazmagoo

No Yak will not get that contract right now....and shouldn't.

He has struggled mightily under Eakins system and is probably the biggest reason I think Eakins needs to go.

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#33 Craig1981
March 13 2014, 02:20PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

No Yak will not get that contract right now....and shouldn't.

He has struggled mightily under Eakins system and is probably the biggest reason I think Eakins needs to go.

So you should fire the coach since one of your 20 year old players has had trouble adopting to it?

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#34 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 13 2014, 04:43PM
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Rod from Viking wrote:

I never complained about Ralph Klein, I bet he is rolling over in his grave over his replacement.

I felt better about Alberta when Ralph was King.

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#35 DisappointedFan
March 13 2014, 04:52PM
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Schmidty66 wrote:

Yak proved himself last year only to be put back on the fourth line and in the pressbox this year. Eakins didn't give him a shot this year instead Smyth took his spot. Yak got upset and if I was a betting man he would love to punch Eakins in the nose along with most Oiler fans in this city. I know a billion coaching changes in the last 6 years but the clown we have now can barely find his way home from the rink on his bike. Just because we have had all of these coaches does not mean we have the correct one right now. Admit you made a mistake and move on. Maybe Eakins and Nelson could swap positions? Saving Mac T some face??

Yak didn't prove himself last year...Yak showed that given a new powerplay and new team system he was able to capitalize on teams.

Remember when Yak had that huge drought mid/late season last year...yah that's because every team in the NHL figured out Yak does the same thing every time and cut him off. You're seeing a continuation of that now and you're seeing what happens when teams figure out how to play off of a junior level player.

You could call him Eakins/Quinn/Renney/MacT/Torts/whoever, Yak would get benched on any team in this league with the performance he had at the beginning of this season. Heck I'd have sent him to OKC LONG AGO, but they kept him up and give him a chance to show what he's worth...and he has spurts of good play...and he has stretches of terrible play.

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#36 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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#37 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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#38 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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#39 Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!
March 13 2014, 12:25PM
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Of all the teams that run our show, there are two that are especially hard to watch the Oilers play against.

St. Louis is one of them. The other one, we played recently.

Like taking candy from a baby... an overpaid, skilled baby with a generous size sense of entitlement.

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#40 Kr55
March 13 2014, 12:31PM
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Play to up Gagner's trade value. That is all.

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#41 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 13 2014, 03:01PM
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sizedoesmatter wrote:

That's what I'm hoping for easy to pick on the team when they struggle Go oil

Fity Fist

Boys! That's the one and only beautiful thing about being an Oilers fan this year......you don't have to be conflicted.....you can cheer loudly for them in good conscience knowing that they're going to get their as**s handed to them on a platter. It's a win win.

Unless?...................the Blues get SCRIVENATED!

GDP: Oilers get outshot 61-12 and Win a 1-0 SHUTOUT! (Scrivens gets credited with an assist on the game winning goal)

BEN! BEN! BEN!

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#42 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 13 2014, 03:08PM
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Oiltown3000 wrote:

RNH and Ebs are not be playing well right now. It seem like they don't want to play anymore and I wouldn't either because there is no use of playing if we're not playing in the playoffs.

Coach Eakins called....said you can't be a fan anymore....cause you're a quitter......please turn in you're Oilers hat and jersey and change your login name to something without the word oil. That is all.

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#43 mesa
March 13 2014, 03:11PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

So you should fire the coach since one of your 20 year old players has had trouble adopting to it?

NOT for that reason only.if you get out shoot in 90% of the games and the pp is not working and refusing to do something about that is a big problem.give me 2 to 3 players had adopted to his system yet this year?

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#44 Zarny
March 13 2014, 03:41PM
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Jobs.

Personal pride.

To not be the laughing stock of the NHL.

It's easy to think of reasons to play for.

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#45 Al Low
March 13 2014, 03:44PM
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Why does Eakins have Yak on the left wing now? It's almost like he's doing everything he can to get the kid to fail under his watch.

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#46 2015Playoffs?Nope!
March 13 2014, 03:53PM
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Al Low wrote:

What exactly is the Eakins system anyways? He seems more intent on getting Ryan Smyth that powerplay record than helping the number one overall pick from 2 years ago become a better player. If there's one thing that shouldn't be wrong with this offensively talented group, it's the Power Play but Eakins has managed to make a complete mess of that, as well. Say what you want about Ralph Krueger but he, at least, had that part of the team clicking.

Alberta seems to be missing the two most important Ralph's - Klein and Kruger.

Both were complained about when we had them, then missed when they left.

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#47 Spydyr
March 13 2014, 05:03PM
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Zarny wrote:

Jobs.

Personal pride.

To not be the laughing stock of the NHL.

It's easy to think of reasons to play for.

"To not be the laughing stock of the NHL".

About four years too late for that.

See: desert---wondering.

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#48 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
March 13 2014, 09:10PM
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MapleLeafer wrote:

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

Let me know when Leafs are in Conference Semi-Finals again. I heard that fans in Toronto throw a nice parade for making it that far.

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#49 kale
March 13 2014, 09:39PM
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Where is serious gord these days, I miss his point of view

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#50 Stack Pad Save
March 13 2014, 12:35PM
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So Gagner is not injured and is a go tonight? I thought they called up Lander to take his spot.

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