GDB XLIV: The return of Gregor and the DFF

After being isolated from any live hockey for two weeks, and only one highlight, the World Junior Gold medal game, it sure will be nice to see an epic battle tonight for the chance to draft Taylor Hall.

The Blue Jackets have three wins in their last 24 games, and they have given up six or more goals eight times this season. Steve Mason has struggled mightily, with a 3.31 GAA and an ugly .890 SV%, while Jeff Deslauriers’ numbers are going in the wrong direction as well, 2.95 GAA and a .903 SV%, so he will rest tonight and Devan Dubnyk will get his second career start.

Dubynk can only improve on his first start, when he surrendered seven goals, and he is excited about getting back in. He played two games in Sprinfield this past weekend and he felt good about his game. He told me he wants to focus on not playing as deep in his net as he did in his last start. Henrik Lundquist is the only goalie who plays well deep in his net, and Dubynk knows he has to be more aggressive tonight.

The Oilers are comfortably in the bottom five, but now the fans want more than just the bottom five; they want to be the worst. It doesn’t sound like the cavalry is coming so that dream is very much alive, but it might take a hit tonight.

The Blue Jackets have been horrendous for two months and Mason is playing like he has mono again. The Oilers will really need to stink it up tonight to stay 29th.

Ken Hitchcock prides himself on coaching solid team defense, but the Jackets have given up the second most goals, 150, in the league and he isn’t happy about it. I doubt Scott Howson wants to get rid of his coach, but if the Jackets continue to struggle Hitchcock will be in trouble.

Lubomir Visnovsky skated today, but he was put through the paces after practice, so he won’t go tonight. The pairings will be Souray/Gilbert, Smid/Staios and Grebeshkov/Strudwick.

Potulny making the most of his opportunity

While many forwards have struggled this year, Ryan Potulny has made the most of his opportunity. He is playing on both special teams and lately he has been in the top four forwards in ice time. Potulny has five goals and three assists in his last seventeen games, and he has scored some “goal scorers” goals.

I was one who thought Potulny would be a regular on this team, nevermind a guy who plays 16-20 minutes a night. While the DFF or the Fall for Hall is on, a player like Potulny is playing to make a name for himself.

He is a prime example of why the DFF is so difficult to achieve because there will always be some players who are playing for a roster spot, and in some cases their career. Potulny has earned the trust of Quinn and if he continues to play well and improve, he could go into training camp next season as a guy whose name the coaches have written in pen rather than pencil or a with a question mark.

Trip tips

If any of you are planning on taking a holiday anytime soon, I highly recommend Costa Rica, and specifically Tamarindo. The weather is outstanding, the beaches are white, brown and in some cases black. Surfing is awesome and the scenery on the beach and in the countryside is breath taking.

I’d recommend you take the tour at Rincon de la Vieja. The white water tubing and zip line were top-notch. If you go around Christmas or New Years make sure you go to one of the Fiestas in the small town. Watching the bull-riding; seeing average guys stay in the ring to play bullfighter is great entertainment. I spent an hour in the ring and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Luckily I never came close to getting trampled, but I did see a few guys get the horns/stomped.

It is a beautiful country and the people were very proud and hospitable. Tamarindo is a  five-star holiday destination in my books.

  • Ilya Byakin

    Nice to see you survived CR, Gregor! Rincon de la Vieja is amazing. I worked/volunteered there for board in 2001 for a couple of weeks.

    The zip lines are fantastic, and the hiking is gorgeous.

    I really hope DD gets his first win tonight…

    DFF aside, I need to see a victory and some hope from the cage…

    Go Oilers!

  • Bob Loblaw

    Seguin is more of a playmaker and Hall is more of a sniper. Since we've already got a playmaking center in Gagner, I think Hall might be the better fit for the OIL. Hemsky and Hall, Gagner and Eberle????

      • I still believe we need room for Eberle, MPS and even Omark. Add them to Penner, Brule, Gags and Hemmer (if he doesn't get traded, :-p ) and there's not a lot of room for forwards.

        My vote goes to Fowler, as neither of the existing D prospects (except maybe Plante if injury fixed fine) look too hot right now.

        And I like how T. Myers and Hedman look in their rookie year…

          • Jason Gregor

            I've never once said anything about Omark, I've never once said every Oiler prospect is pretty much ready for the show…again you like to put words to people that have never said what you are stating….I believe Eberle is ready but I've also stated on more than one occasion that if he shows to not be ready then he should be sent down until he is ready….many are suggesting to send him down regardless of whether he's ready or not thinking that the AHL is where all prospects should go to develop…. in actual fact those NHL prospects that are ready are being kept up with the big clubs on most NHL teams.

  • Dan the Man

    I can confirm that Tamarindo is a very cool spot. Did you get a chance to go to Samara, Gregor? that was my favourite spot in Costa Rica. No strip club or Casino though, which kind of blew.

  • Jmask5

    DFF in therory if the Oil finish last should end up with the 1st pick over all. However the NHL in its great wisdom created the so called lottery where by those in the bottom 5 have a chance to move up to potentially claim #1. Lets look at history and uncover why the Oil not matter what will NOT get the 1st pick overall.
    Do we recall when the Great Mario and the pens were facing financial troubles and the threat to relocate was there, but wait they end up with Sid the kid and how ironically the same would hold true for the Capitals with them getting the Russian Rocket.
    Something smells real funny here…..you can bet the ranch, dear Carolina will have without a doubt will have the 1st pick in the 2010 entry draft.

    Thanks Commish !!

  • Jmask5

    I better see some abysmal Hockey tonight. I already have Taylor Hall penciled in for next year. Hall, Ebs, MPS, Hemmer throw in new and improved Penner and that is a core I can get behind. Also Omark has 17 goals in 40 games over in the KHL. Looking pretty good as well and hopefully he can take someone's spot next year.

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    How many teams that finish dead last actually end up with the 1st overall pick? Isn't the odds still less than 50%? It'd be a shame to suffer through the last 40 games of this season and not end up with first choice.

  • RoundEdge

    Gregor, long time reader first time poster.

    As a staunch supporter of the DFF I was appalled to hear that Dreger is apparently reporting that the Oilers are the front runners for Biron… any truth to this?

    • Jason Gregor

      The OIlers have been looking at trying to get a veteran goalie, but the Islanders are asking for way too much right now from what I hear. A first round pick which no one with any common sense would give up.

      I'm with you that is makes no sense for the Oilers to get Biron at this point because he will make them a bit better but also take starts from JDD. It doesn't make sense, but some players would like a veteran goalie right now.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Tonight is a battle between the very well managed Blue Jackets and the incompetently managed Oilers.

    With all this talk about over hyping a prospect: I remember in the summer their was talk of Steve Mason being on the Olympic team this year after what? 30 stellar games.

    As you said, Potulny has had some great goal scorers goals, his AHL numbers have really translated. Props to Kevin Lowe on the aquisition.

    • Jamie B.

      I cannot in good conscience call them well-managed unless Brassard bounces back and shows he's worth that contract. Imagine if Kevin Lowe had given that to Gagner after the good ending to his rookie season. Lowe would (rightfully) NEVER hear the end of it and right now I think Howson deserves more criticism for that one and the Nash contract.

      • SquidRx

        Oh, heaven's no Mr. Fuel. I didn't mean to imply that at all. I think your GDBs were kick a$$ and a bag of chips. I was just meaning that we missed him in general and all the Gregorlishisness that he brings here and to the Team 1260.
        So as not to also offend those that filled in for JG on JAG, you also did a shagadellic job. It was toight, toight like a toiger. Meg is a superstar.

        *hopes that was enough CYA and sheepishly hangs head in shame for unintentionally hurting the feelings of all of JG's hard working cohorts*