GDB 71.0: THE BEST TEAM WON

Jason Gregor
March 20 2014 11:52AM

defeat

Sometimes you just need to accept that your competition is better. Twenty days ago the Buffalo Sabres had 44 points and the Oilers had 48. The Sabres had two games in hand and some wondered if the Oilers could grab 30th spot once again.

In a short span of 20 days, the Sabres have shown they are much more deserving of a 30th place finish. It was a close race less than three weeks ago, but the Sabres desire, commitment and determination to finish 30th was too much for the Oilers to overcome. The Sabres have lost seven straight and now have a 13-point cushion on the Oilers in the "Be Bad of Ekblad" sweepstakes.

Give them credit, when the race for 30th heated up the Sabres ran away with it. They've earned their position, and on April 15th they will have the best chance, 25%, of winning the draft lottery.

No team has won four Stanley Cups in five years since the Oilers in 1984-1988. It is extremely difficult to achieve, and no one should have expected the Oilers to pick first overall for the 4th time in the last five years either. It was unrealistic, and while they will still have a chance to pick first via the lottery, 18.8% if they finish 29th, 14.2% if they finish 28th and a 10.7% shot if they end up 27th, their odds are diminishing by the day.

The Sabres commitment to winning the lottery has been solid. By trading Ryan Miller, Matt Moulson and Steve Ott they've taken a stranglehold on 30th and they won't relinquish it. They are so committed to having the best odds in the lottery that they could have the lowest point total in the NHL since the Islanders finished with 52 in 2001. The Sabres need 7 points in their final 13 games to pass the Islanders, but 9 of those games are on the road and they've only won 7 road games all season.

Meanwhile, the Oilers are 10-4-3 over their past 17 games and are now in a fight with Florida, New York and Calgary for 29th to 26th.

Despite a banged up offensive unit, tonight is a must-win game for the Oilers. A loss to Buffalo would make the past 10 victories meaningless in my opinion. They can't afford to take steps back against bad teams.

LINEUP

Hall-Gagner-Perron
Lander-RNH-Pitlick
Hendricks-Gordon-Smyth
Gazdic-MacIntyre-Jones

Ference-Schultz
Marincin-Petry
Fraser-Klefbom

Scrivens

Eakins suggested he will keep rotating his goalies, but he will switch things up so Fasth can face the Ducks and Scrivens can battle the Kings.

Eberle and Yakupov weren't on the ice this morning and both are out for tonight. Eberle did not have an MRI, and the team feels he doesn't need one. He is day-to-day. I doubt we will see the aforementioned 4th line with MacIntyre at centre, but you might see Smyth in the middle with the two massive bookends for a shift or two.

Eakins suggested he might play dress 7 D-men, so we won't know until game time who is in.

Many wondered why the Oilers recalled MacIntryre instead of Arcobello or Horak. The Oilers desperately want the OKC Barons to make the playoffs, and they need those two down there more than up here, although Arcobello tweaked something last game and is day-to-day and might not play vs. Texas. The Barons are 3 points back of 8th place and 4 back of 6th. It makes sense to keep their two leading scorers down there for the weekend.

MacIntyre knows his role and his limitations as a player, but I've never encountered a guy who truly appreciates his time in the NHL like MacIntyre. He is living a dream, and he'll cherish every moment that he is with the big club. It is easy to cheer for a guy like that. It is a refreshing change from some of the players who seemingly take the NHL lifestyle for granted.

QUICK HITS...

  • It is amazing how one goal can change the psyche of a player. Schultz took three slapshots last game, and I don't think he'd taken three in the previous 69 games. He ripped one off the crossbar and two others led to scoring chances. I asked him why he suddenly decided to use his slapshot. "I don't know. I couldn't tell ya. It was one of those things, I scored last game from shooting the puck and it gives me more confidence. I think I'm finally starting to realize that is the way we are going to score goals and get chances for our team."

    Schultz is a pass-first type of player, and shooting quickly or often doesn't come natural to him. He'll need to fight the urge to pass and keep shooting. If the does, the PP should have more success in the future.

  • The CHL regular season is over and now the playoffs begin. Here is a quick look at how the Oilers prospects did ranked by total points.

    Greg Chase: 7th rounder in 2013. 70-35-50-85. Calgary finished 3rd in east division of WHL. Tied Edmonton for most points in east. Chase had the 9th most points of any player in his draft class. That doesn't include the 7 picks who are in the NHL, but for a 7th rounder he had a fantastic season.
    Mitch Moroz: 2nd rounder in 2012. 70-35-28-63. Edmonton finished 1st in WHL east divsion. A very strong season for Moroz, who likely will go to AHL next season.
    Jackson Houck: 4th rounder in 2013. 69-34-27-61. Vancouver finished 7th in west division in WHL.
    Darnell Nurse: 1st round 2013. 64-13-37-50. Sault Ste. Marie had 4th most points in OHL. 2nd seed in western conference.
    Jujhar Khaira: 3rd rounder in 2012. 59-16-27-43. Everett finished 5th in WHL west division.
    Kyle Platzer: 4th rounder in 2013. 66-22-14-36. Was traded from London to Owen Sound and will face Nurse in the first round of the playoffs.
    Marc-Oliver Roy: 2nd rounder in 2013. 39-14-21-35. Blainville-Broisbriand Armada finished 5th best in QMJHL.
    Ben Betker: 6th rounder in 2013. 68-7-14-21. D-man helped Everett finish 5th in WHL west division.

    The Oilers have other prospects in Europe and the NCAA, but I'll feature them in another article. Chase, Moroz and Nurse had the best seasons. Roy was good when healthy.

  • Day two of the Gregor MS Bike Tour WSOP poker event is already 60% sold out in less than 24 hours. If you want to enter call 780.643.4060. Details on buy in and winnings is here.

TONIGHT....

bar-refaeli-photoshoot

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers keep rolling with a 5-2 win.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall picks up three points. Hall needs 16 points in his final 12 games to reach 80. He'll need a few three point nights to have a chance, and with Buffalo using their 4th string goalie tonight is one of those games

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Luke Gazdic scores. With all they talk surrounding MacIntyre, Gazdic, who has done very well in fights this year, shows the organization he has some offence.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR:

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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 #ThereGoesTheOilers
March 20 2014, 12:22PM
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Here's hoping big Mac is still here on the 12th when we play the Canucks.

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#2 majin_oil
March 20 2014, 12:52PM
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#ThereGoesTheOilers wrote:

Here's hoping big Mac is still here on the 12th when we play the Canucks.

That p*ssy Kassian wanted no part of Gazdic let alone MacIntyre.

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#3 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 01:17PM
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I really hope Gazdic grabs Kassian and forces him to drop the gloves. It's probably best to let it go, but the way he mocked the team and they stood around doing nothing really got to me.

Gazzy, take the extra two, or a major even. Hell, take a suspension. Just show the league that the Oilers play for each other and if you mess with one, you mess with them all.

EDIT: this pertains to the Canucks game coming up, obviously.

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#4 oilfanincalgary
March 20 2014, 01:47PM
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Have to agree about Kassian. So sick of being pushed around and openly mocked by other teams.Do not give him an option , just drop the mitts and have at it. game ejection ,10 game suspension. I don't care, just send the message.

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#5 Rama Lama
March 20 2014, 12:46PM
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Good to see Pitlick getting a chance finally after a good showing early in the season.

I hope that Dallas has a reason for bringing up Big Mac over others......maybe he has plans for playing him on the first unit PP standing in front of the net?

Either way it will be good to see Big Mac.......the guy is truly happy just to get a chance, very refreshing!

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#6 Craig1981
March 20 2014, 01:24PM
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If John Scott dresses, this will be the super heavy weight of all super heavy weight fights.

John Scott 6'8" 270lbs 6 points in 225 games Steve Mac 6'6" 265lbs 4 points in 90 games

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#7 oilerjed
March 20 2014, 01:20PM
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I think its great that Smack gets the call. He deserves a few NHL paycheques for what he does. Keep him here for the rest of the year and let him smack some fools around before they cut him loose this summer.

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#8 colourmeimpressed
March 20 2014, 12:13PM
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Last win of the season. Enjoy it boys because the schedule is murder.

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#9 Spydyr
March 20 2014, 02:57PM
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majin_oil wrote:

That p*ssy Kassian wanted no part of Gazdic let alone MacIntyre.

Why give him a choice ? Did he give Gagner a choice when he broke his jaw? Who cares if MacIntyre gets suspended.Send a message the whole NHL will hear.

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#10 hockey fan 1976
March 20 2014, 10:25PM
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Maybe Eakins should coach the cheerleaders instead and put them on a non-doughnut diet and strictly carrot one...good lord!

Then again, after losing to the 30th team and getting outworked he might not be here long enough to make an impact on the ladies either LOL

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#11 #ThereGoesTheOilers
March 20 2014, 08:43PM
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Off topic, but that goal Hemsky scored tonight was classic. I miss him.

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#12 Jordan1126
March 20 2014, 01:54PM
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why is everyone so concerned about bic mac playing 4 minutes tonight??? the 4th line isnt going to win you games and im sure that line wont hurt us any either.

im more interested to watch lander and pitlick play with the nuge as their minutes are going to be increased significantly tonight.

watch nuge will have another fantastic game as he will be playing with a few wingers that will open up some room with their size and speed.

hopefully the opposition the next week or so is just as concerned about why mac is playing, and their focus gets all F'D up too.

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#13 A-Mc
March 20 2014, 02:41PM
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colourmeimpressed wrote:

Last win of the season. Enjoy it boys because the schedule is murder.

The last win will be vs Vancouver on April 12th, where the mighty Oil steal the 2pts that Vancouver needs to make the playoffs.

Utlimate. Spoiler.

SUCK IT 'NUCKS!

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#14 vetinari
March 20 2014, 09:49PM
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We're slump busters!

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#15 Ivan Drago
March 20 2014, 10:07PM
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Gagners defensive zone coverage as a center makes me wanna puke. I'm sick and tired of it. 6 yrs and he still doesn't get it. Trading him will be addition by subtraction. He needs to spend less time chewing his mouthguard and more time learning how to read the play in his end. Utterly useless.

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#16 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
March 20 2014, 10:30PM
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C'mon ON, we have 9 more home games to get that "Fire Eakins!" chant going!

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#17 Bishai in the Benches
March 20 2014, 02:25PM
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Where the hell is Wonger??? I feel like this is the type of game he lives for.

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#18 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 02:46PM
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I'm not that big on staged fights, but Mac v Scott is one that I would love to see.

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#19 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 08:46PM
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@#ThereGoesTheOilers

Just saw the highlight, what a move.

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#20 majin_oil
March 20 2014, 09:47PM
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And you guys were worried about draft position... That's never a worry in Oil Country

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#21 Quicksilver ballet
March 20 2014, 02:24PM
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Something wicked this way comes.

Steve MacIntyre takes a 10 gamer on Zac Kassian next time these teams cross paths.

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#22 Max
March 20 2014, 03:19PM
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I'm not one who likes to see guys injured, but I did see Steve Smack put a Flames' players lights out a few years back at Rexall - it was awesome! So, please, please, please have Big Mac play against Kassian, and with any luck knock him into next season, rather than the next week. If anyone has earned his come uppance, it's Kassian. Come to that, have SM stick around for all the upcoming games, 2 toughies would round off the season quite nicely, thank you!

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Bishai in the Benches wrote:

Where the hell is Wonger??? I feel like this is the type of game he lives for.

Probably in the basement, putting on the foil.

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#24 Ari Gold
March 20 2014, 10:11PM
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Dear god!!! Those Oiler cheerleaders are LOW quality. Hahahahah!

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#25 SlaveLake
March 20 2014, 10:20PM
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Now that we lost to the Sabres ... can I say "fire Eakins" again without being trashed ?

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#26 Oiler Al
March 20 2014, 10:53PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

Man, you guys must really hate those cheerleaders. Dallas Cowboys quality they are not, but they're also not decrepit hags, you know.

Same scouts that pick the Oiler players, pick the Octane Girls.

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#27 Quicksilver ballet
March 20 2014, 11:07PM
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Wildcard wrote:

When you say stuff like this, you deserve a loser team. It suits you well.

If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck.........then, it's probably a duck, no?

The last place team in the league just came in our own barn and outworked and outwanted it more than the Oilers. Mr.Balloon, meet Mr. Pin.

2 games above .500 for the last 18 games might have you celebrating in the streets. But, there's no denying this team needs Ekblad or Bennett more than a few meaningless wins on this 5th annual death march.

You know the Oilers will get outworked again on Saturday, don't you, eh, nudge nudge wink wink, i'll say na more...

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#28 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 07:50PM
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Is it bad that I wish my Eberle jersey said "Gazdic" on the back?

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#29 Johnnydapunk
March 20 2014, 08:13PM
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If that was Scrivens having a go at Conacher for the hit on The Nuge, that is a very good sign as I've never seen the Oil have that kind of mentality before.

I don't know what changed with the Oil, but is good to see.

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#30 Trevor
March 20 2014, 02:13PM
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Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy! wrote:

You're assuming they're gonna win tonight.

But I do agree with the last part. The boys are gonna have vacations and golf on their minds towards the end of the season.

If you think they've mailed in some games this year... you haven't seen nothing yet!

First e time commenter here but I have to say why is there so much hate of anythingea oiler related.If you really dont lie the team or players dont watch them find another team or just quit bic*ting lie a bunch of school kids. The teams not doing great but they are still my team.

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#31 Spydyr
March 20 2014, 03:14PM
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Craig1981 wrote:

I think MacIntyre cares about a suspension. If its for the rest of the season that's about $80,000. He has made a little less than $100,000 so far this year in the AHL. That is a big chunk.

Make it up too him next contract.Give him a sweet one way deal for being a good solider.Think outside the box.

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#32 The Last Big Bear
March 20 2014, 09:55PM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

This...

This could get ugly.

This... has been pretty ugly since about 2008...

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#33 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
March 20 2014, 09:55PM
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shifty203 wrote:

Wow. TSN just said Gagner is over 17 minutes of ice time after the first two periods. Hall is 5 seconds behind him in ice time, but hall was in the penalty box for 2 minutes.

Perron, Hall, and Gagner all have more minutes than any D-man.

The 3rd period collapse may just because the players are starting to burn out. RNH has the most shift but most of them are short. This is typical Eakins plan on shorten bench: burn whoever on top lines to nothing left into 3rd period. This is just like the first game of the season against Jets...well, 70 games later that Eakins is still running the same **** as the first game. Someone is just never going to learn.

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#34 majin_oil
March 20 2014, 10:28PM
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hockey fan 1976 wrote:

Maybe Eakins should coach the cheerleaders instead and put them on a non-doughnut diet and strictly carrot one...good lord!

Then again, after losing to the 30th team and getting outworked he might not be here long enough to make an impact on the ladies either LOL

LMAO

Like seriously, did they hold auditions at Bonanza or what?

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#35 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 02:38PM
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If Buffalo dresses Scott and he and Mac scrap, we'll never hear from Wonger again. He'll have an aneurysm cheering at the TV.

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#36 Wildcard
March 20 2014, 04:26PM
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@Quicksilver ballet

When you say stuff like this, you deserve a loser team. It suits you well.

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#37 kale
March 20 2014, 10:15PM
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Does anyone for a second believe Gagner is on a roll with his 9 points in 8 games...what I see is someone else does all the work and he just happens to be there to pick up a point

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#38 Reg Dunlop
March 20 2014, 10:15PM
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I don't know what is more embarrassing, the thick cheerleaders or the sabres outworking us. The first problem can be solved with cocaine, the second with less cocaine.

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#39 SlaveLake
March 20 2014, 10:22PM
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I think you're projecting. I would sleep with every single one of those Octane girls. I hate the Dallas chearleaders, don't have a chance in hell with any of them.

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#40 Anton (still waiting for playoffs)
March 20 2014, 10:22PM
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kale wrote:

Does anyone for a second believe Gagner is on a roll with his 9 points in 8 games...what I see is someone else does all the work and he just happens to be there to pick up a point

That was much the same as Eberle. Those are called Kovalchuk strategy: park yourself in neutral zone and wait for puck to roll your way.

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#41 GoCanadaGo
March 20 2014, 12:24PM
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MacIntyre was recalled because Arcobello is banged up at the moment. (as per Ryan Rishaug) You're welcome.

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#42 The Sultan
March 20 2014, 01:48PM
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At least one of these two teams will be walking out with two points tonight.

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#43 Craig1981
March 20 2014, 03:12PM
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Spydyr wrote:

Why give him a choice ? Did he give Gagner a choice when he broke his jaw? Who cares if MacIntyre gets suspended.Send a message the whole NHL will hear.

I think MacIntyre cares about a suspension. If its for the rest of the season that's about $80,000. He has made a little less than $100,000 so far this year in the AHL. That is a big chunk.

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#44 Spydyr
March 20 2014, 05:34PM
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majin_oil wrote:

Totally agree! Here's hoping this new found "toughness" this team is showing can last till the next canucks game

IMO new found "toughness" this team is showing has a lot to do with standing up for one another.It does not hurt to have a few guys who can bring it on the team.

For far to long the team has been the softest in th NHL.

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#45 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 09:56PM
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@kale

I kinda meant the rest of the season. This is literally the easiest game they play the rest of the year.

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#46 SRELIOFAN
March 20 2014, 10:24PM
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I hate everything...

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#47 The Real Scuba Steve
March 20 2014, 12:41PM
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I'II say this again it maybe be better for the team to be able to draft Ekblad, But this can be a good test to see just how incompetent our management brain trust really is. Do we really need another 18 year old at training camp next year? lets see what will happen when The Old Boys Club put their heads together and start rubbing to see if any of these clowns can come with any ideas for drafting or trading for proven talent that will help next season. I don't know about anybody else but I don't want to go through another long pathetic losing season next year.

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#48 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 07:52PM
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Mac was in the warmup but isn't in the lineup for the game. I can feel Wonger's rage from here.

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#49 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
March 20 2014, 10:39PM
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Man, you guys must really hate those cheerleaders. Dallas Cowboys quality they are not, but they're also not decrepit hags, you know.

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#50 Steve
March 20 2014, 12:40PM
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@GoCanadaGo

Why not Horak then? As written in article Arcobello is day to day, but recalling MacIntyre over Horak makes no sense, unless as Gregor said they are more worried about OKC being making playoffs. I watch quite a few games on line, and Texas is in 1st place and OKC will be hard pressed to win. MacIntyre would be of no use against them so keeping Horak and Arco, even banged up, makes more sense.

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