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

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#4 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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#5 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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#6 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 18 2014, 10:09PM
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Holy crap, we've even got multiple Oilers getting involved in scrums, it's a freaking miracle.

The last stretch of the season here should be pretty telling regarding the state of the team. Is it for real this time?

Call me Mulder, because I want to believe...

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#7 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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#8 Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)
March 18 2014, 05:31PM
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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?

OldTimer. You're giving old people a bad name!

If fluff bothers you take a Reactin.

The question should be....why do we keep bringing up hockey on this Fluff website?

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#9 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 05:35PM
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@ admiralmark

No $hit, what is really sad is a 20 year old rookie has been the teams best defencman this year.

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#10 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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#11 **
March 18 2014, 10:14PM
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The Oilers were due for a game like this. There as a long sequence in the second period when Nashville pined Edmonton down for like 5 minutes, but Fasth kept them in the game. Here's to the great goal tending to continue for years to come.

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#12 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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#13 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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#14 Quinn the Eskimo
March 18 2014, 04:18PM
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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 know this site is friendly to alternative spelling, but why is it always the guy who has a grade 3 grasp of English calling the other guy a moron? And doesn't the spell check function not allow you to type 'beter' unless you are TRYING to misspell stuff for the sake of comedy? Come on, buddy, you're beter that this guy, right?

http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/images/blpic-morans.htm

Also, go Oilers!

Tandra: meh. But still beter than having to watch commercials before you get a slice of video of Gags effing up.

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

My mistake, genious.

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#16 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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#17 dougtheslug
March 18 2014, 10:40PM
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Between the second and third period, I thought I heard Mark Spector say, "With Klefbom, Schulz and Marincin, and Nurse and possibly Ekblad on the way, there is light at the end of the tunnel on the Oiler blueline.

I immediately started shaking uncontrollably and collapsed, convulsing with sobs of relief. I awoke on the floor disoriented and unsure if the last seven years weren't just a bad dream. Or did I dream what Spector said?

Someone, help!

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#18 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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#19 **
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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#20 bwar
March 18 2014, 03:11PM
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Everything will be better next season right?

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#21 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
March 18 2014, 05:10PM
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Oilerboy1112 wrote:

Patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient.

I'm not a Doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

Ergo, I have no Patients.

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#22 vetinari
March 18 2014, 08:23PM
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Looking at ice times for the forwards... surprised that Hendricks is #2 with 7:21... RNH first at 7:34... Hendricks seemed to be everywhere in the first. Dubnyk trade looks like a good deal for us at this point.

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#23 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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#24 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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#25 vetinari
March 18 2014, 07:58PM
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Gene should be sent to the pun-itentiary, to be pun-ished....

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#26 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 18 2014, 07:59PM
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Does Eakins not understand that we don't have a good enough point shot to make the 1-3-1 work? And I thought I was a stubborn ass.

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#27 Steven
March 18 2014, 08:19PM
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Goodbye Ekblad , Oilers will win tonight. Kinda reminds me of last year goodbye Monahan

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#28 vetinari
March 18 2014, 09:08PM
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Finally... hockey that is watchable. No weak goaltending or weak goals from centre ice. Defence that is pushing shooters to the outside and supporting their goalie. And forwards pushing the other team on zone entries. Finally!

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#29 admiralmark
March 18 2014, 05:31PM
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This team insists on throwing the rookies to the wolves. Marincin a rookie comes in and plays top pairing minutes. The fact he is holding his head above water is not an indication of intelligent team decisions its a credit to Marincin and blind luck. Now they take Klefbom and play him with Fraser?! We can only hope his confidence survives the rest of this season.

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#30 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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#31 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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#32 Max
March 18 2014, 07:21PM
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I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a majority of the posters here want us to tank and get a higher draft pick. We HAVE several first rounders/#1s - and look where we are with them. Maybe if we'd picked the 2nd top players over the past few years, we'd be in a better position. Go out with pride guys, show us what you are capable of achieving. Don't lose on purpose, true losers do that.

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#33 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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#34 Dan
March 18 2014, 06:54PM
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Oiler Al wrote:

Jason, apprecite pointing out the comparison to Colorado. I think this is the biggest success story in the NHL this year.

Yes, they have dept at center, but note that Mackinnon and O Reily just came on board.

Their Cap is lower than the Oilers.

The biggest point you missed mentioning is the fact that they were 29 th last year, to almost top of the league. The Oilers down from 24 to 29 and sinking.

They must know something about winning.

How did Colorado go from 29th to near the top? I thought only 1 other guy working in hockey today have more rings then our mighty leader. Last time I checked he's not working in Colorado! Makes no sense to me! I also wonder how many tiers of fans they have?

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#35 Rod from Viking
March 18 2014, 04:18PM
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Cody anderson wrote:

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.

Good point,I think they will still bring in a veteran (Markov?) if they do that would they not want Nurse to have some AHL time? Either that or trade one of the 3 rookies or Petry. Is it interesting that earlier this year it looked like the young d were a year or two away, Marincin looks like a lock and in a small sample Klefsbom looks close, it also sounds like Davidson is maybe only a year or so away as well. The coaches in OKC seem to be doing a great job.

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#36 Mo Playoffs Mo Problems
March 18 2014, 05:11PM
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BobbyCanuck wrote:

Tandra looks like the Oilers, pretty on the outside, but useless otherwise...wait, she is a nursing student...never mind

Well she is 5'2" tall, a rookie, and is getting her pilot's licence (presumably to leave town on her own as soon as possible) so her and the Oilers do have a lot in common....

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#37 Oiler Al
March 18 2014, 05:53PM
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Jason, apprecite pointing out the comparison to Colorado. I think this is the biggest success story in the NHL this year.

Yes, they have dept at center, but note that Mackinnon and O Reily just came on board.

Their Cap is lower than the Oilers.

The biggest point you missed mentioning is the fact that they were 29 th last year, to almost top of the league. The Oilers down from 24 to 29 and sinking.

They must know something about winning.

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#38 Reg Dunlop
March 18 2014, 10:08PM
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Tonight has been a perfect example of how the oil would dominate the NHL if hitting was eliminated. As long as we don't have to play Calgary, San Jose, LA or Anaheim we are gold.

The worst thing to come from this game is the success of Eberle's pp cross seam passes. It will only encourage him to keep trying them through the next 25 unsuccessful powerplays. Kind of like gambling or watching the oil, reinforcement on a variable ratio schedule support a high and steady rate of response.

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#39 Bucknuck
March 18 2014, 10:31PM
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I really enjoyed watching that one. It really could have gone either way but our goaltender was better than theirs.

Thank you MacT.

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#40 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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#42 GoCanadaGo
March 18 2014, 09:57PM
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My theory on the Oilers new solid goaltending. They have come from organizations with good goalie coaches are are still in good practice with their previous teachings. Lets hope we get a new goalie coach next year so these 2 dont get poisoned.

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#43 vetinari
March 18 2014, 10:21PM
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** wrote:

The Oilers were due for a game like this. There as a long sequence in the second period when Nashville pined Edmonton down for like 5 minutes, but Fasth kept them in the game. Here's to the great goal tending to continue for years to come.

Generally, it seemed like one of the most solid efforts of the year by the Oilers from start to finish.

Even during the segment that you are talking about, they were really pressed by Nashville but they didn't seem as panicked or disorganized as in the past. Hopefully, Hendricks will be back soon because he was everywhere in the first two periods.

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#44 Sevenseven
March 18 2014, 10:22PM
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Good to see Nuge put up some points!!

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#45 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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#46 Butters
March 18 2014, 06:52PM
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The Oilers PP has been great at home, 22%,

And people say yelling "Shooooooooot" doesn't work.

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#47 kale
March 18 2014, 10:41PM
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okay question...where does Yak play when he comes back cause Lander played great with nuge and eberle?

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#48 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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#49 Oilerboy1112
March 18 2014, 04:50PM
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Patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, patient.

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#50 Spydyr
March 18 2014, 07:27PM
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Max wrote:

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a majority of the posters here want us to tank and get a higher draft pick. We HAVE several first rounders/#1s - and look where we are with them. Maybe if we'd picked the 2nd top players over the past few years, we'd be in a better position. Go out with pride guys, show us what you are capable of achieving. Don't lose on purpose, true losers do that.

No one said lose on purpose.Maybe it might be a good time to look at some of the kids in the the AHL to see what they can bring.Play some guys in different situations to see how they handle them.

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