Well Done Yak, Well Done

Jason Strudwick
March 16 2014 10:18PM

Nail Yakupov

Since March 13th’s game against the Blues, as a group the Oilers have been much more engaged. Twice the Blues surrounded Taylor Hall and there were none of his Oiler teammates to be found. In my last entry I detailed the reasons this is unacceptable on any closely knit team.

The night after the Blues, the Oilers went into Detroit. Detroit is not a team close to the Blues physically but there was one chance for the Oilers to prove they had learned a lesson the night before.

Again Hall was involved in the play. He was skating up the ice and got involved with Justin Abdelkader. The two were going at it and Hall took a good run at Adelkader. Not surprisingly it was Oilers’ team captain, Andrew Ference, who quickly skated in to his young teammate’s aid. He is a veteran and understands the importance of supporting his teammates between (and after) the whistles.

23-Hendricks-2

Sunday it was Matt Hendricks who stirred the emotional pot on the ice. He had a huge hit behind the net on ‘Canes dman Brett Bellemore. Clean hit but a hard one. The type of hit D hate. It doesn’t hurt but it looks big.

Bellemore’s partner Ron Hainsey came back to Hendricks to support his team mate. Their gloves came off quickly. Bellemore also got involved with his hitter and it was two Canes versus Hendricks.

The play was moving away from that area. It took a moment for the players on the ice to notice what was going on. Yakupov was visibly looking in another direction. Once his head rotated in that direction of the two vs. one he DID NOT HESITATE. He went flying in there like Jimmy SuperFly Snuka and took down a Cane.

I LOVED IT.

He did not think, he simply reacted. ‘One of my teammates is in trouble and I am going to go in there to help out.’ Perfect. That is the response you expect from a team that is playing hard for each other. A team that supports one another.

This issue is not a small detail for a hockey team. Show me a team that does not stand up for each other and I will show you an unsuccessful team.

So the question is what happened since the Blues game to bring on this very clear reaction?

Dallas Eakins 12

I have no doubt there was a discussion. It may have been head coach Eakins, one of the assistants or the older players. I suggest it would have been some combination of the three.

They would have said that you never want a teammate to feel he is on an island, on or off the ice. If he doesn’t feel like he is getting support within the dressing room or on the ice why is he going to help you when you need it? They would have said it is very dangerous to team unity. What Yak did sunday was not overlooked by me. Well done.

The Hendricks Jolt

23-Hendricks-1

Matt Hendricks has been exactly what I had hoped he could be for the Edmonton Oilers. He has brought life to this team both on and off the ice, something that has been lacking.

He has proven to be a player that is connected emotionally to the games. His style of play drags his teammates into the game. They get charged up by his hits and chirping. It is contagious.

Then you have a situation described above against the Canes. The players realize that it is OK to get a little dirty. Everyone will live.

Since his arrival the Oilers’ record is nine wins, seven losses and four overtime losses. There is no doubt that Scrivens has had a bigger impact but that doesn’t minimize the Hendricks contribution.

He plays all-out every night. He finishes every hit. Some may be a little late or in the grey area of the rule book. His teammates don’t mind but I know the opponents do. Great. The opposing team needs to feel uncomfortable.

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He and Gordon have a nice little chemistry going. They are similar players that play the game in straight lines. They are good at cycling in the offensive zone. The two of them and whoever is with them have had many good games working the puck low and generating momentum for the next line. Something that makes life easier for the top two lines of the Oilers. After a good shift in the offensive zone the ice feels like it is tilted in the Oilers favour.

I liked it when Perron was the other winger on the line. He adds scoring ability to the line. He can also play an aggressive, solid defensively style of game that compliments the line. In my opinion that line could play against any line and hold their own.

A third line of Gordon, Hendricks and whoever is a line that a team making the playoffs is happy with. A fourth line of the same is ultimately how Stanley Cup winners look. That is the challenge for MacT.

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Al Low
March 16 2014, 10:27PM
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Darren Dreger can suck it. Yak's had a tough year but I don't think anybody should question his desire to win and be a team player. And he showed that today. There's a reason Oiler fans love Yak and he's going to prove his worth despite Coach Eakins. He's a part of the solution here in Edmonton. I just hope MacT and 6Rings see that. Also, props to Matt Hendricks. He reminds me of some of the hard nosed players we had when in the lineup in 2006. I know I'm not alone when I say it's refreshing to have him in our lineup.

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#2 Mason Storm
March 16 2014, 10:32PM
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@Al Low

Dreger has been annoying me more and more lately. I used to listen to what he had to say because it seemed like he knew what he was talking about. Now it seems like he just gives his personal opinion on a player or trade rumors more then using any actual insider knowledge.

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#3 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 16 2014, 10:43PM
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Yak's got that edge that Ebs and Nuge seem to lack. Hall has a similar edge, but both players need to bring it all together now.

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#4 HardBoiledOil
March 16 2014, 11:00PM
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it's refreshing to read this about a guy like Hendricks, who, along with Joensuu and Gazdic, has been mercilessly dumped on since he's gotten here on sites like Copper n Poo.

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#5 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 16 2014, 11:00PM
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Also, I think Yak needs to switch to 10. I know he said he wouldn't out of respect for Horcs, but 64 hasn't been getting it done.

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#6 Craig1981
March 16 2014, 11:11PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Yak's got that edge that Ebs and Nuge seem to lack. Hall has a similar edge, but both players need to bring it all together now.

Agreed. After this game I looked at the roster and thought RNH and Ebs won't ever bring an edge. That's OK since there are lots of players don't (Datsyuk). But they do need some that do.

Think they need a blue line with more than just Ference or Frazer with some edge.

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#7 toprightcorner
March 16 2014, 11:26PM
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If Yak is Jimmy Superfly Snuka, does that make Hendricks Ricky Steamboat??

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#8 toprightcorner
March 16 2014, 11:30PM
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Can't wait for the day that Gordon and Hendricks are tje pillars of the fourth line, that would be a team that all of us patient fans deserve to see!

Good on Yak, I find the more he is engaged physically the better his all around game is. If more of the team played that way, Yak would do that much more consistently.

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#9 Cold Hard Truth
March 16 2014, 11:34PM
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It's good to see they made Hendricks an assistant captain.

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#10 Cold Hard Truth
March 16 2014, 11:36PM
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Trade Eberle, #1 pick and a D prospect for a #1 dman and a 2nd line centreman.

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#11 Harlie
March 16 2014, 11:49PM
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Loved this line " they would have said you never want a played feel like he is on an island, on or off the ice" . That line applies to every aspect of life , every single day. Nice work J!

And who doesn't live Ysk showing the heat and Hensricks leading with his nose? One for all and all for..

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#12 spliff
March 17 2014, 12:19AM
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Looks like the Oilers finally have some good veterans to show the young-ins the way. It's about time, because its something that Tambo for some reason could never do well.

Good job MacT.

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#13 mesa
March 17 2014, 12:43AM
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i like it when the media(sounds funny with struds) start to look at the positive side on the player when he is struggling specially to a high end rookie like yak.They are kids given the keys to the team and were not ready. i hope the beatdown in st.lious was a good lesson.

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#14 mesa
March 17 2014, 12:43AM
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i like it when the media(sounds funny with struds) start to look at the positive side on the player when he is struggling specially to a high end rookie like yak.They are kids given the keys to the team and were not ready. i hope the beatdown in st.lious was a good lesson.

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#15 admiralmark
March 17 2014, 12:57AM
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Struds you will never Blog at Copper n Blue. Far to positive a perspective. And that a good thing. Could use a little more of that around here.

I also have noticed a slightly different team. To my eye they are playing with a bit more emotion for the most part. There is a near full team effort. Their shortcomings are still prevalent in terms of personnel but that can't be helped right now. Its during these times that the GM is able to get a true read on the players he has and what the team needs are.

In terms of Yak I can't help thinking how different this season would of been if MacT had picked up Grabovski to play with him? I wonder if having a fellow Ruskie on his line might of helped him just a little bit?

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#16 Andrew
March 17 2014, 01:06AM
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Part of Yak's problems this year have been on him for sure. The main issue is Eakins. Yak couldn't have run into a worse coach to work with him to develop his talent and team game to NHL expectations. Eakins is a total bone-head and my biggest fear is Mact is afraid to change him out for fear of criticism and keeps him hear to save face. I can see the Oil start moving the talented creative players out for Eakin clones. Yak has cimply not had the right coaching. Eakins turned Yak into his own personal speed-bag and a lightning rod for the media to feed on.

Eakins is the wrong coach. He reminds me of Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle in style. Oh wait where did Eakins get his coaching style?

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#17 Oilers Coffey
March 17 2014, 03:37AM
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I literally spit my mouthful of water out after reading this:

Yakupov was visibly looking in another direction. Once his head rotated in that direction of the two vs. one he DID NOT HESITATE. He went flying in there like Jimmy SuperFly Snuka and took down a Cane.

I LOVED IT.

Great read Jason!

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#18 @Oilanderp
March 17 2014, 04:54AM
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The EDM NHL team has been so long without real hockey that they react like this to a guy who plays the game the way any average journeyman does (Hendricks).

Yak gets it. Wake up you cat-synonyms! Stop playing like you have a carton of eggs to take home to mom! Play like your family is on the line! This IS your family! You are NOT special! You are nothing without your family! Your skill alone will not suffice! This IS your family!

This is your family.

*starts to punch some hanging meat in a freezer*

This is your family.

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#19 sizedoesmatter
March 17 2014, 05:41AM
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like i said before more windshield less bug. a lot of complaints about Eakins he is not ruining Yak he is trying to turn him into a all around player.this team needed a complete turn around to compete with the rest of the league. It takes time. more Struds !

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#20 wintoon
March 17 2014, 06:12AM
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In watching the Oilers play and seeing their results over the last 10-15 games, would it be fair to say we have seen an uptick in their level of game? By eye, they seem to be playing better and more consistently. Is it possible they may have turned a corner. Not the corner but a corner.

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#21 bwar
March 17 2014, 06:19AM
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I just want to props this entire post. Its refreshing to hear from a guy who's actually been there and has a much better understanding of what a team is and the little things players can do to make a big difference. Superfly!

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#22 Oiler Al
March 17 2014, 06:29AM
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Good write up on a well deserved player. This guy brought more jam to the team then Gadzic, Joensus,Fraser combined.

People complain about his contract..nonsense, worth every penny of it. You want to talk about a bad contract, lets talk Gagner.

Guys like Hendricks and Gordon, are real NHL players. They are not the elite, but they bring it every every shift, something that guys like Eberle, RHN, Gagner and Hemsky dont have.

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#23 -30-
March 17 2014, 06:54AM
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Dreger is doing what "Shauger" (smirk) does on occassion, ie, stir the pot. His voice was so full of emotion. Great acting Darren.

Mainstream media have deviated from reporting the news over the past few years. It's more about stirring the pot and being sensational to get hits or views.

I know that because I've sat in on many, many editorial meetings and have seen the decline of reporting.

Yak is showing the kind of heart that Hall has and that supposed keepers like Eberle don't have.

Give the guy a few years to develop and you're going to have a mean, talented and smart buzz saw with an unbelievable shot.

-30-

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#24 ONTARIO OILERS FAN
March 17 2014, 07:12AM
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If Yaks can develop into the 70 pts guy he should become and some nice character as a bonus would be great! Four things are needed going forward: a legit 1/2 D pairing, new assistant coaches, a big physical power fwd (a kid could be traded?) and more character on the roster. This will inevitably produce a few positives: less goals against (we lose too many by one goal), more goals for and the 20 pts extra that will result that can get us in the playoffs

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#25 The Beaker
March 17 2014, 07:15AM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Good write up on a well deserved player. This guy brought more jam to the team then Gadzic, Joensus,Fraser combined.

People complain about his contract..nonsense, worth every penny of it. You want to talk about a bad contract, lets talk Gagner.

Guys like Hendricks and Gordon, are real NHL players. They are not the elite, but they bring it every every shift, something that guys like Eberle, RHN, Gagner and Hemsky dont have.

they generally arent complaining about his contract today so much as by the end of it. That being said i cant see that guy being worse that a 4th liner anyways. Couldnt do worse than what we're doing there today.

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#28 Rdubb
March 17 2014, 08:28AM
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I've been saying since his first game that what Hendricks brings to the Oilers game is exactly what they needed. Perron brings a little bit of the same, but not nearly to the same degree, but Perron brings much more offense than Hendricks. To me, these two seem like a perfect tandem on the wings, and if the C just happens to be Gorden, then so be it, as he too brings so much of the same quality's as the other two, not to mention that his % in the dot is something else that the Oilers needed... 3 excellent moves right there by MacT, now you add Scrivens, and this all adds up to wins instead of losses which killed the momentum & passion of this team in Sept & Oct, and from there, we were a lottery team... Now next year, the team will be much different with the above additions, and Fasth (our goalie tandem looks as good as it has ever been in the past 20yrs), and MM and this team looks that much better than @ the start, & I guess the Oiler record in the past 15 goes to show that... MacT has some work to do this summer, but if his moves continue to be as good as these, the Oil should be fighting for a playoff spot sooner rather than later...

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#29 Al Low
March 17 2014, 08:44AM
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Struds, you mentioned Perron on the wing with Gordon and Hendricks. What do you think about somebody like Pitlick taking that spot next year. I'm surprised nobody talks about him but I was impressed with him in his games with the Oil this year. As a rookie. I think he'd be put in a position to succeed playing with these two guys next year.

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#30 oilfanincalgary
March 17 2014, 08:44AM
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Who lost the "A" to Hendricks?

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#31 pelhem grenville
March 17 2014, 08:49AM
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oilfanincalgary wrote:

Who lost the "A" to Hendricks?

83

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#32 bwar
March 17 2014, 08:51AM
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oilfanincalgary wrote:

Who lost the "A" to Hendricks?

Someone with a lot less heart.

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#33 freelancer
March 17 2014, 08:59AM
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It's interesting to look at the standings right now. We're four points out of being in 25th. Considering the bit of the resurgence that we've come across lately, is it impossible to think we can't push past the Panthers, Flames, and Islanders?

In the last couple years I may have leaned towards the better draft pick at this point. Now it's all about pride. Give the fans something to cheer about, put on a good show. And for God's sake BEAT THE FLAMES!

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#34 pelhem grenville
March 17 2014, 09:01AM
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...Mr Strudwick... yes the young man went to the rescue of Hendricks but your lead up to how you LOVED IT!!! was that not until he rotated his head was he hell bent on going in!!!! That's my point with this gifted player ...I watch him and only him almost every time he's on the ice and he constantly turns his back on the play...that's on Eakins or Bucky or someone because it shows he's still playing with a junior mentality where he knew he was head and shoulders better than almost every player on the ice when he was a junior...he has NOT matured as an NHL player (again coaching) and playing without the puck is his downfall ... he stands still too too much IMO and that only leads to getting the puck every so often when he is standing still and that's when he turns it over ...jus sayin'

is it fair to say he needs to stop playing with the helter skelter skitter scatter way he played as a junior and develop a more mindful smoother game?

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#35 pelhem grenville
March 17 2014, 09:04AM
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bwar wrote:

Someone with a lot less heart.

...oh man is that fair?

less heart? how 'bout just different player!

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#36 The Real Scuba Steve
March 17 2014, 09:13AM
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Funny this always happens we start getting good at a tail end of a losing season.

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#37 Boys on the Short Bus
March 17 2014, 09:21AM
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@-30-

-30-? Your spurious attempt to pass yourself as a hot shot journalist?Means end of copy, worried about some amatuer hack compromising the integrity of your column?Oh that's right this is a blog site not a newsroom. Feel free to regale us with the heroic saga of your days at the Daily Bugle. Off to find a data cable for my typewriter so I can post this. If I can talk my boy Dally into bringing back the donuts will you knock it off. Almost as annoying as Oiler Domination to Follow......almost.

-Pretentious Ass-

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#38 HardBoiledOil
March 17 2014, 09:27AM
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freelancer wrote:

It's interesting to look at the standings right now. We're four points out of being in 25th. Considering the bit of the resurgence that we've come across lately, is it impossible to think we can't push past the Panthers, Flames, and Islanders?

In the last couple years I may have leaned towards the better draft pick at this point. Now it's all about pride. Give the fans something to cheer about, put on a good show. And for God's sake BEAT THE FLAMES!

and that's fine by me! if we don't trade our 1st rounder, and i hope we don't, it'll be a top 5 pick and could be the last one if this team ever goes on a permanent upswing. with Ekblad, Draisaitl, Bennett, Reinhart and Dal Colle all available and the top of the line talent wise, one of these guys would fit the bill for our future.

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#39 HardBoiledOil
March 17 2014, 09:32AM
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Rdubb wrote:

I've been saying since his first game that what Hendricks brings to the Oilers game is exactly what they needed. Perron brings a little bit of the same, but not nearly to the same degree, but Perron brings much more offense than Hendricks. To me, these two seem like a perfect tandem on the wings, and if the C just happens to be Gorden, then so be it, as he too brings so much of the same quality's as the other two, not to mention that his % in the dot is something else that the Oilers needed... 3 excellent moves right there by MacT, now you add Scrivens, and this all adds up to wins instead of losses which killed the momentum & passion of this team in Sept & Oct, and from there, we were a lottery team... Now next year, the team will be much different with the above additions, and Fasth (our goalie tandem looks as good as it has ever been in the past 20yrs), and MM and this team looks that much better than @ the start, & I guess the Oiler record in the past 15 goes to show that... MacT has some work to do this summer, but if his moves continue to be as good as these, the Oil should be fighting for a playoff spot sooner rather than later...

and i don't know why some are still against having some sandpaper on this team, after watching this team be physically shoved around and not giving it back and backing down for years now.

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#40 Dan
March 17 2014, 09:41AM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

Funny this always happens we start getting good at a tail end of a losing season.

Then In the off season guys like stauffer start saying how much better we'll be, predicting our coach to win Jack Adams award, proclaiming competing for a playoff spot and we all get excited again. I think Rome was built in less time then this team is getting back to respectability. If that ever happens

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#41 Greasy Goal
March 17 2014, 09:43AM
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Andrew wrote:

Part of Yak's problems this year have been on him for sure. The main issue is Eakins. Yak couldn't have run into a worse coach to work with him to develop his talent and team game to NHL expectations. Eakins is a total bone-head and my biggest fear is Mact is afraid to change him out for fear of criticism and keeps him hear to save face. I can see the Oil start moving the talented creative players out for Eakin clones. Yak has cimply not had the right coaching. Eakins turned Yak into his own personal speed-bag and a lightning rod for the media to feed on.

Eakins is the wrong coach. He reminds me of Ron Wilson and Randy Carlyle in style. Oh wait where did Eakins get his coaching style?

Mac T is not that petty. If there is a change that he thinks will benefit the organization he will pull the trigger and make it so. Yes, Eakins isn't the best coach in the NHL but firing the coach after allowing 1 year for him to set up his system is NOT answer.(cite last 4 years) As for Yakupov, he's learning to be a functional NHL player and play the parts of the game that don't involve sniping corners.

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#42 Dan
March 17 2014, 09:44AM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

and that's fine by me! if we don't trade our 1st rounder, and i hope we don't, it'll be a top 5 pick and could be the last one if this team ever goes on a permanent upswing. with Ekblad, Draisaitl, Bennett, Reinhart and Dal Colle all available and the top of the line talent wise, one of these guys would fit the bill for our future.

Haha, yup. This team is just 1 18 year old kid away from taking that giant leap ahead and winning cups year after year!

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#43 The Real Scuba Steve
March 17 2014, 09:45AM
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HardBoiledOil wrote:

and that's fine by me! if we don't trade our 1st rounder, and i hope we don't, it'll be a top 5 pick and could be the last one if this team ever goes on a permanent upswing. with Ekblad, Draisaitl, Bennett, Reinhart and Dal Colle all available and the top of the line talent wise, one of these guys would fit the bill for our future.

I think we need to trade a first rounder so we can start an permanent up swing. Trade it for some proven talent.

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#44 Doctor Smashy
March 17 2014, 09:45AM
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Al Low wrote:

Darren Dreger can suck it. Yak's had a tough year but I don't think anybody should question his desire to win and be a team player. And he showed that today. There's a reason Oiler fans love Yak and he's going to prove his worth despite Coach Eakins. He's a part of the solution here in Edmonton. I just hope MacT and 6Rings see that. Also, props to Matt Hendricks. He reminds me of some of the hard nosed players we had when in the lineup in 2006. I know I'm not alone when I say it's refreshing to have him in our lineup.

You had me at "Darren Dreger can suck it...". He can suck it indeed.....

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#45 Oilbaron
March 17 2014, 09:48AM
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The Real Scuba Steve wrote:

Funny this always happens we start getting good at a tail end of a losing season.

Thank god this year they're keeping the coach

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#46 Will
March 17 2014, 09:55AM
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Good to see our third line doing what third lines do, except score at a decent clip. Eakins is making that line do all the heavy lifting. I would really like to see the second line be more two way responsible to give Eakin two lines to put out in tough situations.

But for the third line, I do like the idea of bringing Pitlick in. Yes he's a rookie and that's not what this team needs right now, but he'll also get the chance to be mentored by some hard working vets, and not a lot of the kids coming in have that chance.

If not him, then I hope we pick up Steve Downie in free agency. That line would just be hell to play against.

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#47 Jay87
March 17 2014, 09:57AM
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admiralmark wrote:

Struds you will never Blog at Copper n Blue. Far to positive a perspective. And that a good thing. Could use a little more of that around here.

I also have noticed a slightly different team. To my eye they are playing with a bit more emotion for the most part. There is a near full team effort. Their shortcomings are still prevalent in terms of personnel but that can't be helped right now. Its during these times that the GM is able to get a true read on the players he has and what the team needs are.

In terms of Yak I can't help thinking how different this season would of been if MacT had picked up Grabovski to play with him? I wonder if having a fellow Ruskie on his line might of helped him just a little bit?

Not even far too positive, also far too analyzing. Those guys just crap on the team non stop without any real game analysis. I don't care if it's loss #1029182901, progress is progress and you should give credit where it's due.

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#48 pkam
March 17 2014, 09:59AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

83

83 wasn't wearing the 'A' this season. I believe that 'A' is from N. Schultz or Eberle.

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#49 Oiler Al
March 17 2014, 10:01AM
Trash it!
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trashes
Cheers
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cheers
The Beaker wrote:

they generally arent complaining about his contract today so much as by the end of it. That being said i cant see that guy being worse that a 4th liner anyways. Couldnt do worse than what we're doing there today.

Good point. I also agree that really he is a true four liner, and a good one. Shows you how bad the current 4 th line is when Hendricks is playing up on the third line.

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#50 Oiler Al
March 17 2014, 10:09AM
Trash it!
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...Mr Strudwick... yes the young man went to the rescue of Hendricks but your lead up to how you LOVED IT!!! was that not until he rotated his head was he hell bent on going in!!!! That's my point with this gifted player ...I watch him and only him almost every time he's on the ice and he constantly turns his back on the play...that's on Eakins or Bucky or someone because it shows he's still playing with a junior mentality where he knew he was head and shoulders better than almost every player on the ice when he was a junior...he has NOT matured as an NHL player (again coaching) and playing without the puck is his downfall ... he stands still too too much IMO and that only leads to getting the puck every so often when he is standing still and that's when he turns it over ...jus sayin'

is it fair to say he needs to stop playing with the helter skelter skitter scatter way he played as a junior and develop a more mindful smoother game?

Well stated. I making a comment because I dont agree with the Trashes you got.

He definitely spends way to much time sort of standing around...needs to move his feet more.

I question the herky jerky style as well. Something he developed and might be difficult to drop. I think it also affects him receiving passes...sort of wanting to do the herky jerky before the puck is on his stick.Maybe in his mind he hasnt slowed the game down enough.

Decent assistant coaches would help.

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