GDB 70.0: THE HOME STRETCH

Jason Gregor
March 18 2014 01:42PM

20130220-112235

Ten of the Oilers final 13 games are at home. If the Oilers were in the playoff hunt this would be a great schedule, but sadly that isn't the case. The Oilers are playing for pride, contracts and a roster spot in the NHL next season. The play the Predators, Sabres and Flames this week, but then they get a steady stream of the playoff teams in the Sharks, Ducks, Rangers, Ducks, Avalanche and Kings. They need to pick up some wins this week.

The Predators are sandwiched between four non-playoff western Canadian teams. The Preds are 12th in the west with 68 points, 7 and 11 points ahead of the Flames and Oilers and 3 and 4 points back of the Jets and Canucks.

The Preds have two games in hand on the Jets and three on the Canucks. If they win two of three we could see western Canada dominating the basement of the west division. I'm sure I'm not the only one who longs for the Smythe division when three Canadian teams had 100+ points.

LINEUP

Hall-Gagner-Perron

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle

Hendricks-Gordon-Lander

Gazdic-Smyth-Jones

Ference-Schultz

Marincin-Petry

Fraser-Klefbom

Fasth

Jesse Joensuu is done for the season. Eakins said he is out for about four weeks with a high ankle sprain. Joensuu has one year left on his contract, but I don't see him as anything more than a 13th or 14th forward next year.

If you are going to be a #6/7 veteran D-man I think you have to be comfortable playing both sides. Fraser is the veteran, but the rookie Klefbom is the one who has to play the right side. That is a concern for me.

Hall has worked hard at creating more back pressure the past ten games. He has forced more turnovers by using his speed, and then transitioning the play back up ice. He has also spent more time working on his one-timer in practice lately. "That is something you can never practice too much on. You have to be comfortable getting pucks in awkward spots, but still be able to one-time it. Also you work on different angles and release points. They are a huge part of the game and they can get you an extra three or four goals a year," said Hall.

Hall is the heart and soul of this team. He will be the guy who leads them out of the losing streak in the future, and will likely be the guy who challenges his teammates to improve, mainly by how hard he works on every aspect of his game. He isn't perfect, but he's the best player they have by a large margin.

QUICK HITS

  • I've went back and compared many parts of last year's PP to this year and I see four major differences.

    1. Eakins switches his PP combinations up too much. Last year they had two units and stuck with them the majority of the time, except for injuries.
    2. The 2nd unit was very productive. Nail Yakupov and Ales Hemsky led the team with 5 PP goals, while Gagner had 15 PP points. The 2nd unit will often face the 2nd PK unit, and you need to take advantage of that match up.
    3. Justin Schultz was shooting the puck way more. His refusal to take a slap shot hurts a lot, but at least last year he was shooting wrist and snap shots. In 48 games he had 29 shots, but this year he only has 24 shots in 61 games. He had 15 points last year, but he only has 9 this year. He needs to shoot the puck, and his teammates have been encouraging him to shoot more.
    4. They miss Horcoff's puck retrieval ability. They haven't been great at getting rebounds or winning battles for loose pucks in the corners. Hall agreed. "For a lot of this year we haven't been very good at getting pucks back, whether when it is dumped in or after a shot. When you have the man advantage you have to out number their players every where on the ice."
  • Hall added, "We aren't getting a lot of goals on the PP, but if you watch we are getting more set up time and now it's about making the right decision when we get the puck." We'll see if the PP improves in the final 13 games.

  • The Oilers PP has been great at home, 22%, but awful on the road, 10.3%. Some will suggest it shouldn't matter where the game is played, but it seems to matter in the NHL. Last season, 26 of the 30 teams had a better PP% at home than they did on the road. In 2012, 18 teams were better at home, in 2011 and 2010 21 teams were better at home. 

  • The better question is why are the Oilers so bad on the road this year. Last year ,the Oilers were 21.2% at home and 19% on the road. So they've basically been the same at home this year, slight improvement, but they are 8.7% worse on the road. You could look at two great games in Calgary and Chicago, combining 6-for-9, as changing their stats last year, but there has to be more than that. The Oilers PP needs to improve, and if they can get a consistent point shot that would help. It would also be nice if Eakins stuck with two units for an extended period of time.

  • If we see a 4-on-4 situation tonight there is a good chance we'll see a goal. The Oilers lead the NHL with 12 goals scored, but they've also given up the most, 10. Last year they didn't score once at 4-on-4 and gave up five. I have no idea why they scoring more at 4-on-4, but with all the PP struggles, the Oilers might be better off taking a penalty and playing 4-on-4.

  • I've noticed many people comparing the Avs young forwards to the Oilers young forwards. I'm sorry but the Colorado has the advantage today. The Avs centres are Duchene, Stastny and MacKinnon. They also have Ryan O'Reilly who is an excellent two-way forward. The Avs have massive advantage down the middle and they have some very good two-way players. They also have five 20-goal scorers. They have a better mixture of skill, size, experience and two-way forwards than the Oilers do. Not to mention their blueline is better and their goaltending was much better in the first 50 games.

  • I am very proud to announce we have started The Gregor Foundation. Our first project is to gather suits for graduating students who can't afford them or young men looking to get back into the workplace. Read here for more info, and thanks in advance to those who donate suits.

TONIGHT...

Dancers_Tandra_2010Bio

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win their 13th home game of the season. It's true they've only won 12 home games thus far. They send the fans home happy with a 5-3 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers go 1-5 on the PP and continue to baffle everyone with their successful home PP , but woeful on the road.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In the second period, Seth Jones gets whistled for a tripping penalty. After the whistle Matt Hendricks skates over and slashed him. Both go to the box. The Oilers score on the ensuing 4-on-4 situation. The Predators take a penalty four minutes later, and when no Oilers takes a penalty the fans boo. They'd rather watch 4-on-4 hockey.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR:

Ddf3e2ba09069c465299f3c416e43eae
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 Realist
March 18 2014, 01:47PM
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Yup, another pathetic season from the oilers almost done. Can't wait til we don't have to watch this junk anymore for a couple months. Lets all try to build up our faith again so we have somthing to loose next year

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#2 Matt
March 18 2014, 01:49PM
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I'm more concerned that Fraser can not skate, or make a pass, at the NHL level, but if we can run him out of town for only playing the left side, that works too.

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#3 Wonger
March 18 2014, 01:53PM
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Matt wrote:

I'm more concerned that Fraser can not skate, or make a pass, at the NHL level, but if we can run him out of town for only playing the left side, that works too.

Yeah GENIOUS we don't need his TOUGHNESS!!!!! You MORON - we better sign and keep hi as a 6-7 D next year! He is way beter than you think!!! You should be run out of town!!!!

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#4 Jason
March 18 2014, 01:53PM
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@Realist

If you were to look at the 2013/ 2014 season in thirds (27, 27, 28 game sections), this is how the Oilers have performed this season: First 27: 8-17-2 (18 points) Middle 27: 8-15-4 (20 points) Final 28: 8-4-3 (19 points with 13 games left) You can debate the "why", but the "what" is apparent ... the Oilers are clearly playing their best hockey of the season and their final 3rd of the season looks to be their best by a significant margin!

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#5 A-Mc
March 18 2014, 01:59PM
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4 on 4! DO IT

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#6 Will
March 18 2014, 02:06PM
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Jason wrote:

If you were to look at the 2013/ 2014 season in thirds (27, 27, 28 game sections), this is how the Oilers have performed this season: First 27: 8-17-2 (18 points) Middle 27: 8-15-4 (20 points) Final 28: 8-4-3 (19 points with 13 games left) You can debate the "why", but the "what" is apparent ... the Oilers are clearly playing their best hockey of the season and their final 3rd of the season looks to be their best by a significant margin!

It will end up being the best as well. Incredible what the team can accomplish with poor d, no two way play from the forwards, and average to great goal tending.

However, this team is going to get eaten alive when their schedule turns back to the pacific division against teams all jockeying for pole position.

I hope we get some wins against teams the Oilers should be able to beat, against teams that at the beginning of the season, everyone said we should have no problem with. However, the true measuring stick of how much work this team will need to do in the off season will be against the big pacific teams coming down the pipe.

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#7 **
March 18 2014, 02:06PM
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The Oilers are actually 12th in total pp chances. In other words, they are getting a smaller piece of a larger pie than they were last season. Last season they were 9th in pp chances and 8th in efficiency.

The season before they were 3rd overall in efficiency while being 19th in pp chances. Kind of the opposite of what it is now. This season they are getting roughly the same chances both on the road and at home.

The pp this year is decidedly far less effective this year than it was the previous 2.

I have the Oilers winning 4-6 of their last 13 games, this one they can win. Go Oilers!

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#8 **
March 18 2014, 02:08PM
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Eakins seems to have a liking to playing people on their off side. I'm not a fan of that.

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#9 Realist
March 18 2014, 02:10PM
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Jason wrote:

If you were to look at the 2013/ 2014 season in thirds (27, 27, 28 game sections), this is how the Oilers have performed this season: First 27: 8-17-2 (18 points) Middle 27: 8-15-4 (20 points) Final 28: 8-4-3 (19 points with 13 games left) You can debate the "why", but the "what" is apparent ... the Oilers are clearly playing their best hockey of the season and their final 3rd of the season looks to be their best by a significant margin!

Can you do the numbers for the last 4 years and see if this is a trend? Cuz it sure feels like it. Every year the oilers seem to play better at the end of the year and everyone pronounces that there turning the corner!! Same old crap if you ask

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#10 vetinari
March 18 2014, 02:11PM
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Tandra would like to meet Hugh Hefner? Really?

As for this game and the rest of the week, we really need some points because the month of April means almost all playoff teams.

GDP: Oilers 3 Preds 2

OGDP: Someone will post a ridiculous "our [insert forward name] plus [random draft pick] should get us one of Nashville's top defencemen" comment within 50 posts from now...

NSOGDP: After the Preds rough up a few Oilers around their net in the third, Eakins sends out the heavies for the next shift to raise some h3ll... Gazdic, Hendricks and Yakupov... creating, the "Hen and Yak" line...

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#11 Ghosts of Northlands
March 18 2014, 02:19PM
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I think the reason we aren't seeing Shultz take as many shots from the point is that playing the 1-3-1 there is too much of an oportunity for it to go the other way if it gets blocked. Every time he does take a shot I hold my breath because I am scared they are going to give up another shorty.

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#12 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 18 2014, 02:20PM
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I'm excited to see what Nurse can do next year. The horrors of this season keep making me forget that he showed pretty well in his first few NHL games.

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#13 dude
March 18 2014, 02:29PM
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Props for Tandra. Excellent job Gregor

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#14 The New Improved G bear
March 18 2014, 02:30PM
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** wrote:

The Oilers are actually 12th in total pp chances. In other words, they are getting a smaller piece of a larger pie than they were last season. Last season they were 9th in pp chances and 8th in efficiency.

The season before they were 3rd overall in efficiency while being 19th in pp chances. Kind of the opposite of what it is now. This season they are getting roughly the same chances both on the road and at home.

The pp this year is decidedly far less effective this year than it was the previous 2.

I have the Oilers winning 4-6 of their last 13 games, this one they can win. Go Oilers!

You are feared by no one - certainly not by me! Oilers will be lucky to win 2 of their last 13 games! Book it!

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#15 Dog Train
March 18 2014, 02:44PM
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The fans deserve a good stretch of home performances to end the season. It gets decidedly tougher after this week so hopefully we can string together a winning streak. I've been considering Fraser as a 7th D next year but I have to question it a bit if Klefbom is being forced to his off-side in only his 5th NHL game.

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#16 majin_oil
March 18 2014, 02:45PM
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@vetinari

"Tandra would like to meet Hugh Hefner? Really?"

One can hope :)

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#17 Oldtimer
March 18 2014, 02:48PM
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Gregor everytime you post one of the "cheesy" girl shots I think less of you.

Are you twelve years old and have never seen a woman before? Before too many of you stand up in arms against this post, think about it... really, why this fluff on a hockey website?

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#18 Matt
March 18 2014, 02:50PM
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@Wonger

My mistake, genious.

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#19 Dave
March 18 2014, 02:52PM
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Oldtimer wrote:

Gregor everytime you post one of the "cheesy" girl shots I think less of you.

Are you twelve years old and have never seen a woman before? Before too many of you stand up in arms against this post, think about it... really, why this fluff on a hockey website?

Because we don't have a hockey team to talk about here so he needs somthing to keep this site getting traffic

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#20 Mike Krushelnyski
March 18 2014, 02:53PM
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Oldtimer wrote:

Gregor everytime you post one of the "cheesy" girl shots I think less of you.

Are you twelve years old and have never seen a woman before? Before too many of you stand up in arms against this post, think about it... really, why this fluff on a hockey website?

I agree, I'd like her to fluff me too

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#21 Benny Botts
March 18 2014, 03:02PM
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Oldtimer wrote:

Gregor everytime you post one of the "cheesy" girl shots I think less of you.

Are you twelve years old and have never seen a woman before? Before too many of you stand up in arms against this post, think about it... really, why this fluff on a hockey website?

MORE FLUFF!

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#22 Benny Botts
March 18 2014, 03:06PM
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Wonger wrote:

Yeah GENIOUS we don't need his TOUGHNESS!!!!! You MORON - we better sign and keep hi as a 6-7 D next year! He is way beter than you think!!! You should be run out of town!!!!

Get this kind of $H!T out of here. You want to argue hockey...perfect, argue till you're blue in the face. But stop trying to be an internet tough guy, it is embarrassing.

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#23 David S
March 18 2014, 03:10PM
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5. The g*d d*mn 1-3-1 is NOT "almost impossible to defend".

Also...Tandra. Whoa.

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#24 bwar
March 18 2014, 03:11PM
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Everything will be better next season right?

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#25 David S
March 18 2014, 03:14PM
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Wonger wrote:

Yeah GENIOUS we don't need his TOUGHNESS!!!!! You MORON - we better sign and keep hi as a 6-7 D next year! He is way beter than you think!!! You should be run out of town!!!!

I trashed this comment but would have propped it too on the merit of "genious" level spelling that provoked tears of laughter in my office.

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#26 Stompinstoms
March 18 2014, 03:15PM
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Eakins' stubbornness of sticking with the highly ineffective 1-3-1 system is troubling, for sure.

Perhaps not quite as troubling as the fact that one of Tandra's favourite movies is Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, though. Yikes. Good thing she's pretty!

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#27 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 03:19PM
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** wrote:

Eakins seems to have a liking to playing people on their off side. I'm not a fan of that.

Babcock insisted on having a right and left shooting defenceman on all his pairs on Team Canada.Wonder who is the better coach Eakins or Babcock.Exactly.

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#28 **
March 18 2014, 03:20PM
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The New Improved G bear wrote:

You are feared by no one - certainly not by me! Oilers will be lucky to win 2 of their last 13 games! Book it!

Oh staph it!, they say imitation is the highest form of flattery, I'm so touched you want to take on my former nickname. Good for you young buck, good for you.

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#30 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 03:21PM
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Oldtimer wrote:

Gregor everytime you post one of the "cheesy" girl shots I think less of you.

Are you twelve years old and have never seen a woman before? Before too many of you stand up in arms against this post, think about it... really, why this fluff on a hockey website?

If you don't like the girls feel free to scroll past her or you could always ask for a refund.

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#31 **
March 18 2014, 03:22PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Babcock insisted on having a right and left shooting defenceman on all his pairs on Team Canada.Wonder who is the better coach Eakins or Babcock.Exactly.

He went so far as to leave Brent Seabrook out of the team and not playing Subban, all to keep his guys are their natural (or most comfortable) sides. Another mark against Eakins.

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#32 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 03:24PM
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** wrote:

He went so far as to leave Brent Seabrook out of the team and not playing Subban, all to keep his guys are their natural (or most comfortable) sides. Another mark against Eakins.

Cone on now "the braintrust" are the smartest guys in every room.Just ask them.

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#33 **
March 18 2014, 03:25PM
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Benny Botts wrote:

Get this kind of $H!T out of here. You want to argue hockey...perfect, argue till you're blue in the face. But stop trying to be an internet tough guy, it is embarrassing.

Everyone is tough behind the keyboard.

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#34 Soccer Steve
March 18 2014, 03:33PM
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"They need to pick up some wins this week."

Why? Honestly, what is the point? It only jeopardizes our draft ranking.

If you argue that wins will boost morale then I'll pre-counter by saying that being out of the 2014 playoffs in November of 2013 destroyed any and all morale.

Who cares about anything this team does at this point in the season?

The ONLY thing that will give me hope for next year is if Kevin Lowe, Steve Smith, and Kelly Buchberger are collecting EI. Otherwise it will be same old, same old.

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#35 Cody anderson
March 18 2014, 03:36PM
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Everyone wants a stud Dman for next year. I am wondering where they are going to put him.

With the added weight and experience Nurse is likely on the team next year. Marcinin and Klefbom have both shown well. That means unless they are trading one of our D our depth is going to look like this next year without adding anyone new.

Nurse - Schultz Marcinin - Petry Klefbom - Ference

I cannot see them keeping any of the young guys up as a 7th Dman and stunting their development

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#36 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 03:37PM
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Soccer Steve wrote:

"They need to pick up some wins this week."

Why? Honestly, what is the point? It only jeopardizes our draft ranking.

If you argue that wins will boost morale then I'll pre-counter by saying that being out of the 2014 playoffs in November of 2013 destroyed any and all morale.

Who cares about anything this team does at this point in the season?

The ONLY thing that will give me hope for next year is if Kevin Lowe, Steve Smith, and Kelly Buchberger are collecting EI. Otherwise it will be same old, same old.

I agree they suck all season then win a few meaningless games at he end bumping them up a spot or two.The higher the pick the better at this point.At least do the one thing they are good at right ,Losing.

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#37 Czar
March 18 2014, 03:38PM
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"I'm sure I'm not the only one who longs for the Smythe division"

Death Valley doesn't mean what it use to here in Alberta.

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#38 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 03:39PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

Everyone wants a stud Dman for next year. I am wondering where they are going to put him.

With the added weight and experience Nurse is likely on the team next year. Marcinin and Klefbom have both shown well. That means unless they are trading one of our D our depth is going to look like this next year without adding anyone new.

Nurse - Schultz Marcinin - Petry Klefbom - Ference

I cannot see them keeping any of the young guys up as a 7th Dman and stunting their development

If they go with half the defence being rookies .The team will be right back in this spot again next year.Sad face.

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#39 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 03:41PM
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Czar wrote:

"I'm sure I'm not the only one who longs for the Smythe division"

Death Valley doesn't mean what it use to here in Alberta.

Great memories for us old guys at least. Those were the days, my friend We thought they'd never end

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#40 Smokey
March 18 2014, 03:48PM
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Jason wrote:

If you were to look at the 2013/ 2014 season in thirds (27, 27, 28 game sections), this is how the Oilers have performed this season: First 27: 8-17-2 (18 points) Middle 27: 8-15-4 (20 points) Final 28: 8-4-3 (19 points with 13 games left) You can debate the "why", but the "what" is apparent ... the Oilers are clearly playing their best hockey of the season and their final 3rd of the season looks to be their best by a significant margin!

Goaltending... They stink, and its a ridiculous sample size. Eventually it evens out.

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#41 Benny Botts
March 18 2014, 03:51PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

Everyone wants a stud Dman for next year. I am wondering where they are going to put him.

With the added weight and experience Nurse is likely on the team next year. Marcinin and Klefbom have both shown well. That means unless they are trading one of our D our depth is going to look like this next year without adding anyone new.

Nurse - Schultz Marcinin - Petry Klefbom - Ference

I cannot see them keeping any of the young guys up as a 7th Dman and stunting their development

As much as I want to see Nurse, Marincin, and Klefbom all dressed in Oil silks at some point together, I don't think it happens. That D core you listed would get murdered next year.

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#42 Cody anderson
March 18 2014, 03:53PM
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Spydyr wrote:

If they go with half the defence being rookies .The team will be right back in this spot again next year.Sad face.

I agree, but I have heard so many people saying we need a true number 1 like Weber. Then in their next sentence they are excited to see Nurse on the team, and complimenting how Klefbom and Marcinin are playing so far.

That is your 3 rookies which leaves you Schultz, Petry, and Ference. Something has to give if we are going to try to be competitive next year.

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#43 Rama Lama
March 18 2014, 03:57PM
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Hey Jason.......I noticed you did not respond to one comment on your article defending Dallas Eakins?

Was that by design, or are you still beating that dead horse?

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#44 Wonger
March 18 2014, 04:00PM
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Benny Botts wrote:

Get this kind of $H!T out of here. You want to argue hockey...perfect, argue till you're blue in the face. But stop trying to be an internet tough guy, it is embarrassing.

Quit whining you little baby! I am as enTITled to m opinion like you! Take your tantrum somewhere else child!

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#45 Cody anderson
March 18 2014, 04:02PM
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@**

I don't think Subban didn't play because of the side he plays. He is a risk reward player, and that D was strong enough without having to take a risk player.

It would have been like adding Hall to the team. Sure offensively he belongs there, he is fast, fearless, and would have been fun to watch on the big ice. The problem, and the reason Hall did not belong on that team, is they had enough strong 2 way players there, that what they lost in the extra offense both would have added to the team they gained back by the reduced turnovers and risk management of having safer 2 way players.

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#46 John
March 18 2014, 04:02PM
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Any Oilers likely to be on a squad for the World Championships in Belarus? If healthy, it would seem to somewhat productively fill a void for young Oilers who have yet to see a playoff game.

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#47 Lochenzo
March 18 2014, 04:06PM
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Weird year. Normally, I am filled with optimism for the first part of the year but watching this team implode right from the word go knocked the wind out of me within the first few games and it's been a long haul ever since. Maybe the kids on this team felt that way too.

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#48 Shredder
March 18 2014, 04:09PM
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Nurse goes back to junior next year...Klefbom goes up and down, but ultimately sticks the team by end of year. Nurse joins the following year. That's the only way you can realistically bring rookies along, and it's the only way that they can learn properly. I'd love Nurse to come in and be a dominant NHL'er, but he won't be that guy off the bat next year. Let him go back, work on himself a bit more so when he comes to the NHL, he's ready and properly groomed. That'll also give him a chance to compete at WJC.

And if we get Eckblad this year, I'd say put him back in the OHL next year too. Same reason. Nurse/Eckblad to play top pairing for team Canada at this coming WJC. Gold baby, gold.

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#49 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 04:16PM
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John wrote:

Any Oilers likely to be on a squad for the World Championships in Belarus? If healthy, it would seem to somewhat productively fill a void for young Oilers who have yet to see a playoff game.

Anyone invited should go play for any nation it should only help the team in the long run.

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#50 **
March 18 2014, 04:17PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

I don't think Subban didn't play because of the side he plays. He is a risk reward player, and that D was strong enough without having to take a risk player.

It would have been like adding Hall to the team. Sure offensively he belongs there, he is fast, fearless, and would have been fun to watch on the big ice. The problem, and the reason Hall did not belong on that team, is they had enough strong 2 way players there, that what they lost in the extra offense both would have added to the team they gained back by the reduced turnovers and risk management of having safer 2 way players.

I don't think Subban and Hall are in the same category, not now anyways. Subban was the best d man in the league just last season. Subban could have played ahead of Hamhius, but that would put him in his off side. Babcok decided against that. Not that that was the only reason, you're right, Subban is a chaos player like Karlsson in Ottawa, but it was definitively factored into the decision to play him.

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