GDB 25.0: A TOUGHER TEST...

Jason Gregor
November 25 2013 12:27PM

Fresh off a three-day break, the Oilers will try to extend their three-game winning streak vs. the defending Stanley Cup champions. Since the start of the 2010/2011 season the Oilers are 6-5-1 against the Hawks. The Oilers are 2-3-0 at home at 4-2-1 on the road.

The games in Edmonton have been blowouts. The Oilers have won by scores of 9-2 and 8-4, while the Hawks won 4-1, 5-0 and 4-1. The Oilers have outscored their opponents 15-3 during this short winning streak, but beating Chicago should be more difficult than beating Calgary, Columbus and Florida.

The Oilers' are playing their best hockey of the season, but so are the Hawks. Chicago is 10-2-1 in their last 13 games and they've scored 4+ goals in nine of those games. Patrick Kane is on a ten-game scoring streak and has 16 points in 13 games, while Jonathan Toews has 15 points in that same span, and they are on different lines.   

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Gordon-Perron
Jonesuu-Acton-Gazdic

Belov-J.Schultz
Ference-Petry
N. Schultz-Potter

Dubnyk

No reason to change anything when you are winning, although at some point you'd like to see more from Jesse Joensuu. He hasn't done much, and once they lose I could see Ryan Jones and Marc Arcobello re-inserted into the lineup.

Marian Hossa is in Chicago taking care of a personal matter, so look for Brandon Saad to play with Toews and Patrick Sharp. Kane has Brandon Pirri as his centreman, and recently acquired Kris Versteeg will play the other wing.

QUICK HITS

  •  This is the healthiest we've seen the Oilers in years, and if they can stay healthy we will get a much more accurate assessment of who they are as a team. The Blackhawks have 12 skaters who have played every game. Their top-five D-men; Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Oduya and Leddy, and forwards Toews, Sharp, Kane, Shaw, Saad, Kruger and Bollig. Hossa had missed four games and Bickell has missed two. Being healthy, especially when it is yoru best players, gives you a much better chance to win.
     
  • Look for the Oilers to attack Kane when he has the puck and not give him time to set up. If Kane has time to set up in the offensive zone he will embarrass you. Eakins said he'd rather see the puck on Kane's linemates' sticks.
     
  • Ken Hitchcock moving close to Hall of Fame, a goalie the Oilers have to look at in free agency, and a major blunder by the CFL. Read here.
     
  • Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team's MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn't watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don't overestimate his contributions.
     
  • After reading Willis' solid piece on Perron's spike in shots on net, I asked the winger about his increased totals. "I've always liked to shoot, and right now I'm getting a lot of chances to shoot. I'm not sure if the system allows me more chances, or if I'm just getting more right now. It is early, but it seems every game I'm in a good spot to shoot. I really like playing with Gordo (Boyd Gordon) and Smitty (Ryan Smyth). We work well together and they get me the puck in good areas. I don't think I'm doing anything really different than I have in the past, but I noticed I have almost as many shots this year than I had all of last season, so hopefully I can keep it up," Perron said.

    He said he wanted to shoot more the past few years, but this year he said he has tried to shoot the puck quicker, and felt that he had more shots blocked last year. Interesting.
     
  • The Oilers PP is now 9th in the league at 21.5%. After going 6 for 49 (12.2%) in their first 15 games, they are a sizzling 11 for 30 (36.7%) in their last nine games. The Oilers are 18th in PP chances, but if you went by games played, they'd be closer to 23rd.
     
  • The Oilers PK has moved up to 15th overall at 83%. In their first 15 games they allowed 13 goals in 55 attempts (76.4%), but in their last nine games they've only allowed 2 goals in 33 kills (93.9%).
     
  • The Oilers still take too many penalties. They've been shorthanded 88 times thus far, tied for 7th most in the NHL. Eakins has no problem with aggressive penalties, but he feels his team still takes too many stick infractions. They've been one of the most penalized teams for the past four seasons, and eventually that needs to change if they want to start winning.
     
  • A big thank you to everyone who came out to DJ Suitcase party on Friday. It was a great night and we raised over $15,000 for the Inner City Children's Program. Nice work.

LOOKING AHEAD....  

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Fans will be entertained with nine goals, but this won't be a blowout...The Hawks pick up their second 5-4 victory over the Oilers this season.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Hall picks up two more points. Hall has 7-10-17 in 11 career games vs. the Hawks.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Sam Gagner scores the first goal of the game, and a few people suggest he's on his way to another 8-point night. That won't happen, but Gagner picks up an assist to finish with two points. Gagner gets rocked by Andrew Shaw early in the 2nd period, and can't drop the mitts because his jaw isn't 100%, so Andrew Ference rushes in and he and Shaw have a spirited tilt.  

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 John Chambers
November 25 2013, 03:05PM
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Q - would anyone be open to trading Ales Hemsky straight up for Martin Erat?

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#2 oilers2k10
November 25 2013, 03:50PM
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Arcobello should be in Hemsky out simple as that.

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#3 Richard
November 25 2013, 12:52PM
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Edmonton wins a few games in a row against non playoff injured teams and they think they have turned a corner.

Goaltending can steal games Chicago not showing up.

Those are the only way Edmonton wins

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#4 Richard
November 25 2013, 12:59PM
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@Spoils

Funny how I get trashed for the truth.

Hall can play well against most teams in the NHL, but once you have the best in the world competing Hall's dominance fades and he gets exposed for his lack of a 200ft game. He can hide it in the NHL but not the Olympics.

If he was as good as you think then he would be in the conversation.

Hall does have potential to become an All Star in the NHL but not yet.

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#5 Richard
November 25 2013, 12:44PM
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Really does not matter what Edmonton does. If Chicago brings it's A game, it is over.

Hard to get motivated playing Edmonton but we will see.

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#6 Greg
November 25 2013, 12:37PM
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Not changing the winning formula? So stupid. Keeping Arcobello out, because we've found some sort of magic in these lines? What the hell? Ice the best team you can!

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#7 Spoils
November 25 2013, 12:35PM
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Hall is not even in the conversation right now for the Olympics. I think he'll crush it on the big ice, but the book is - he doesn't play Canadian style hockey because he falls down too easily, and the bad giveaways really hurt him.

Chicago sent a bunch of players to 2010.

I wonder how much it hurts us that players like RNH, Ebs, Hall aren't going to get that early career experience in the big show.

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#8 MessyEH!
November 25 2013, 03:10PM
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OilClog wrote:

Early in the season when Arco was playing 2nd line pivot.. It's not ridiculous at all to suggest he was our MVP or in the top 3. He was!

Agree completely.

Lead the team in pts.

Faceoff%.

+/-.

And hits. Yup what a bum. Lets play Sammy snowpants at Center and boot Acrobello to the curd. Eakins is such a fraud. Preach accountability, then reward mediocrity.

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#9 Richard
November 25 2013, 12:47PM
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Spoils wrote:

Hall is not even in the conversation right now for the Olympics. I think he'll crush it on the big ice, but the book is - he doesn't play Canadian style hockey because he falls down too easily, and the bad giveaways really hurt him.

Chicago sent a bunch of players to 2010.

I wonder how much it hurts us that players like RNH, Ebs, Hall aren't going to get that early career experience in the big show.

Hall is not in the conversation because he does not play a 200 ft game.

Lindsy Ruff found that out last year.

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#10 Richard
November 25 2013, 01:07PM
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If someone like Dave Tippett had Taylor Hall as a rookie I think he would be in the conversation for the Olympic team and perhaps a lock to make it.

Oilers philosophy has always been run and gun, we will outscore you. Obviously that has not worked for the Oilers and it hurts the development of players.

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#12 Dog Train
November 25 2013, 01:31PM
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Eberle will be inspired by the Roughriders' Grey Cup win and scores a hat trick tonight.

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS, GREY CUP CHAMPS BABY!!!

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#13 Spydyr
November 25 2013, 01:38PM
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OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gagner fails to score eight points........ since mid March. Ends up minus something.

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#14 Jeff
November 25 2013, 01:30PM
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DarkLinkCosplay wrote:

Actually, I would argue the opposite. Blowout games like the ones against the Blackhawks, the Jackets, and so forth suggest that if the Oilers are on their A game, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that could stop them. Consistency is a big problem for us. I would also argue confidence, since the kids have been immersed in a losing culture for so long.

Oilers have Worst record in the NHL since the 2005 lockout and your excuse is if they brought their A game. Wow

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#15 DSF
November 25 2013, 02:36PM
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David S wrote:

HOLY ICE GIRLS!!!

Could someone send that pic over to the Octane office because they DO have some hotties and if they dressed like that at our games...*cough*... hey is it just me or is it getting hot in here?

You are old enough to be their grandfather you creep!

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#16 $3M
November 25 2013, 04:23PM
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Lowe Expectations wrote:

Chicago Ice Girls. High maintenance doing ice maintenance.

The sexism Gregor adds to his articles is totally unneccessary!Put in some pictures of house plants instead so MAC iq 6.29 can be happy!

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#17 Fresh Mess
November 25 2013, 04:44PM
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DSF wrote:

You are old enough to be their grandfather you creep!

And I hope when I am old enough to be their grandpa I am still interested and have the opportunity to get it on with young beauties.

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#18 Rama Lama
November 25 2013, 12:49PM
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If the fourth line was tearing it up............then I would buy having Arcobello sit over Acton.

I think most people would agree that Arco, Jones, Gazdic would be a good fourth line?

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#19 Truth
November 25 2013, 12:49PM
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The Oilers should trade the entire Octane roster + the current ice cleaning squad + Omark to Chicago for those Ice Girls. I'd consider a mid-level pick too.

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#20 DarkLinkCosplay
November 25 2013, 01:04PM
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Richard wrote:

Really does not matter what Edmonton does. If Chicago brings it's A game, it is over.

Hard to get motivated playing Edmonton but we will see.

Actually, I would argue the opposite. Blowout games like the ones against the Blackhawks, the Jackets, and so forth suggest that if the Oilers are on their A game, you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that could stop them. Consistency is a big problem for us. I would also argue confidence, since the kids have been immersed in a losing culture for so long.

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#21 Craig1981
November 25 2013, 12:56PM
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Spoils wrote:

Hall is not even in the conversation right now for the Olympics. I think he'll crush it on the big ice, but the book is - he doesn't play Canadian style hockey because he falls down too easily, and the bad giveaways really hurt him.

Chicago sent a bunch of players to 2010.

I wonder how much it hurts us that players like RNH, Ebs, Hall aren't going to get that early career experience in the big show.

Very little. The Canadian Olympic team is most likely the hardest hockey team in the world to make. It will be the next 2 0r 3 years those players will be in the age category to make the team

I believe Hall, if asked to play a supporting role, would tweak his game to cut down on giveaways. He plays hard and tough, which is the type of style anyone would want.

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#22 Johnnydapunk
November 25 2013, 10:04PM
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Maybe I am just apathetic with the Oil losing but in this game, Chicago just plain were the better team. No real shame in that. I think the Oil put an effort in but just weren't good enough.

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#23 Citizen David
November 25 2013, 12:46PM
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Hall is the key to this game. During our three game winning streak everyone was on fire except Hall. He still played well. But he has another level. If he reaches it tonight and we play how we did the past seven periods, we'll win.

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#24 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 25 2013, 12:49PM
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"Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team's MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn't watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don't overestimate his contributions."

I don't know about MVP, but I'm not sure that is the relevant question.

The relevant question isn't "is he the MVP on this team", but rather "is he good enough to be playing on this team," i.e., one of 12 forwards.

I think the answer to that is pretty definitive and it would be hard to overstate it when the question is put in its proper light.

Boxcars: 20 2 10 12 -3 (6th on the team; missing 4 games)

CorsiOn: -0.90 (3rd of Fs on the team)

Faceoff%: 52.2 (34th in the league)

This guy belongs among the 12 forwards every night on this team.

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#25 Curcro
November 25 2013, 01:03PM
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@Gregor

"Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team's MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn't watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don't overestimate his contributions."

Isn't he really the team's MVP by default? No one else deserved it.

Personally I think it is Gordon.

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#26 They're $hittie
November 25 2013, 01:41PM
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Hmmmm, oilers PK and PP turn around once 89 was back in the line up.

No saying it is him, but Yak has been playing better since too. Is this what a little bit of depth feels like?

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#27 Reg Dunlop
November 25 2013, 08:45PM
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The oil with this group of players will NEVER be competitive against the top teams, the Hawks are toying with them. At least the oil can beat some of the detritus feeders so that's progress, I guess.

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#28 U
November 25 2013, 11:25PM
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Clyde wrote:

Anyone still wondering why Saad was a Calder finalist and Yak wasn't?

Get lost Flamer

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#29 Daren Walker
November 25 2013, 11:37PM
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Hey Jason. Well thought out article. However, not many people are thinking about the CFL expansion draft on December 16th. 9 days away from Christmas, 3 weeks away from the Grey Cup, NHL ongoing, world jr.'s approaching, NFL ongoing, kids about to start their winter break. Seriously man, December one of the few months of the year almost nobody cares whats going on in the CFL. (this comming from a die-hard CFL fan btw.) So quit trying to stir up a story within the media.

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#30 Craig1981
November 25 2013, 12:36PM
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I'm thankful the winning streak has filled the team's fans with positivity. Coming on here and seeing DSF's comments with 50+ props a few weeks ago show just how bad fans had turned. I hope they can get to 20th overall by Christmas (baby steps)

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#31 rob
November 25 2013, 12:56PM
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Oilers win this one in an exciting end to end tilt,oil are healthy and have a swagger to them so they get it together and win 6-3

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#32 ubermiguel
November 25 2013, 01:17PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

"Marc Arcobello has been a good surprise, but anyone who felt he was the team's MVP in the first quarter of the season wasn't watching close enough. It is great to want him in the lineup, but don't overestimate his contributions."

I don't know about MVP, but I'm not sure that is the relevant question.

The relevant question isn't "is he the MVP on this team", but rather "is he good enough to be playing on this team," i.e., one of 12 forwards.

I think the answer to that is pretty definitive and it would be hard to overstate it when the question is put in its proper light.

Boxcars: 20 2 10 12 -3 (6th on the team; missing 4 games)

CorsiOn: -0.90 (3rd of Fs on the team)

Faceoff%: 52.2 (34th in the league)

This guy belongs among the 12 forwards every night on this team.

Plus Arco was 3rd in team scoring when he got sent down.

I don't get how anyone can trash this comment. Arco has earned a lineup spot. I don't see any criteria that says he didn't. Unless you include size, but by that criteria Martin St Louis and Todd Marchant are career AHLers.

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#33 A-Mc
November 25 2013, 01:47PM
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Hey OilersNation, What do you think about this little tidbit i found on YahooSports:

Martin Erat wants to be traded out of Washington.
"I want to be traded. We'll see how it goes," Erat said Monday after practice. "Since day one, I didn't get the chance here. I got traded here to be a top six player but never got the chance, never played more than 15 minutes in here and it's time for me to move on." Erat was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career on Saturday and he's averaged just over 13 minutes of playing time when he's be in the lineup. He has no goals and six assists in 23 games this season. Erat has a $4.5 million cap hit through 2014-15 and GM George McPhee doesn't intend to retain any salary in a deal involving the disgruntled forward.

He was nearly a 60 pt guy (57/58pts) for 3 years, and when he wasnt, he was still hovering around 50pts. For some reason i thought he was a defenseman but i must have had a brain fart: he's a winger. Ignore my post! i'll leave it here as kind of a Newsflash type thing, but he wasn't what i thought he was. We already have wingers.

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#34 Mac629
November 25 2013, 02:34PM
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Dog Train wrote:

Eberle will be inspired by the Roughriders' Grey Cup win and scores a hat trick tonight.

SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS, GREY CUP CHAMPS BABY!!!

Who cares????? Eskimos will win next year for sure!

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#35 gcw_rocks
November 25 2013, 03:07PM
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Here is something to think about:

Since the 2009 draft, Chicago has the following home grown non-first round players in their top 9: BRANDON PIRRI 2ND (59TH OVERALL) 2009 BRANDON SAAD 2ND (43RD OVERALL) 2011 ANDREW SHAW 5TH (139TH OVERALL) 2011

On the roster, you can add: BRYAN BICKELL 2ND (41ST OVERALL) 2004 BEN SMITH 6TH (169TH OVERALL) 2008 NIKLAS HJALMARSSON 4TH (108TH OVERALL) 2005 DUNCAN KEITH 2ND (54TH OVERALL) 2002 COREY CRAWFORD 2ND (52ND OVERALL) 2003

The Oilers have Petry. Hall, Hemsky, Eberle, Yakupov, Gagner, Dubnyk, and Smyth were all 1st rounders. If the Oilers did half as well as the Hawks in drafting after the 1st round this team would be a playoff team right now.

Sigh…

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#36 pkam
November 25 2013, 03:18PM
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If I am going to dream, dream big, right?

Gagner breaks his 8 pts record tonight.

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#37 Alsker
November 25 2013, 09:30PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

4-1. Not really close. Now firmly in 29th with fla now three points ahead.

Same flaws.

Same as it ever was.

And you honestly thought it would be any different..granted the bounces have not gone our way tonight

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#38 Johnnydapunk
November 26 2013, 12:11AM
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Mike Krushelnyski wrote:

I have high hopes for the Bryzgalov-era Oilers. They've looked pretty good ever since he's been in net for them!!

Dude, your interwebs is broken, I remember the last game you made like 3 pages of comments. Either you are spamming like a trooper or there is something seriously wrong with your PC or whatever device you are commenting from. It's not being a dick or anything, just you should get it fixed :-)

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#39 A-Mc
November 25 2013, 01:00PM
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Oh christ, I'm nervous. I think I'm more nervous about the Oilers actually winning. If they win, that means I'll be returning to the land of "The Oilers CAN make the playoffs with this squad!" but if they lose, and continue to lose, I'm in the comfortable position of "alright, MacT needs to do something..."

It makes me nervous because i think the team needs to make moves, no matter the outcome of this season. Losing just helps to ensure change happens. Winning could mean some Tambo-like dithering.. and I've had my fill of that.

*sigh*

Oilers win 4-1.. sadly? *nervous*

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#40 CellyHard
November 25 2013, 01:30PM
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This is a huge game, a win tonight could really get the ball rolling. I don't want to admit to myself that i will have no playoffs again. If theOilers can roll 13-3-3 till end of December, they give themselves a slight chance to make it. So essentially they must win 2 of every 3 games.I am a sad and pathetic and cant let go of my over optimism.

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#41 tileguy
November 25 2013, 01:33PM
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@A-Mc

If we win tonight can we have a thimnble full of kool-aid and get all giddy like we were in september?

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#42 David S
November 25 2013, 02:13PM
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HOLY ICE GIRLS!!!

Could someone send that pic over to the Octane office because they DO have some hotties and if they dressed like that at our games...*cough*... hey is it just me or is it getting hot in here?

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#43 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 25 2013, 02:48PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

It was relevant because the journal website had a poll asking who was MVP and those who voted had Arcobello 3rd. Ridiculous.

Your boxcars mean little considering that if Arcobello gets in the lineup it will be on the 4th line. No one knows if he can be effective playing 7 or 8 minutes a night. It is much harder to stay in the game.

Playing fewer minutes is hard on guys and many can't succeed in that role. Just like players who produce with 14 minutes, don't produce more automatically when they play 17 or 18...

So your "proper light," isn't as clear cut as you assume it is.

Sorry, I missed the EJ piece and it wasn't linked in your article so I had no context for the question.

http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2013/11/23/who-has-been-the-edmonton-oilers-best-player-so-far-this-year/

3rd does indeed seem high. I'd include him on the list, but I share your surprise to see him doing so well. Then again, fans love an underdog :)

I think you have a point about Arco in limited minutes. But I'm not sure how compelling it is.

Arco doesn't just have nice boxcars, he is winning the shot metrics race too against significantly higher competition than Acton/Gazdic/Joensuu are seeing.

He has also demonstrated very good PK ability so far something neither Gazdic, nor Joensuu offer.

Moreover, there is no reason he has to usurp Acton, or play only 7-8 minutes.

Eakins could easily sit Gazdic or Joensuu and place Smyth on the 4th line and put Arco just about anywhere in the top 9.

Not only does having Arco in the lineup give you another competent and defensively reliable center he gives you another PK option.

Finally, I'd like to see at least Arco fail at Acton or Gazdic's minutes before deciding it won't work (which is not what you are doing, I'm not saying that).

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#44 wiseguy
November 25 2013, 04:16PM
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Why is it that Perron credits playing with Gordon and Smyth for getting him the puck for more scoring chances and shots, while when Yak (a shooter) was playing with the same two players, we accused Eakins of playing him with offensive duds and was the cause of his lack of production.

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#45 Fresh Mess
November 25 2013, 04:33PM
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John Chambers wrote:

Q - would anyone be open to trading Ales Hemsky straight up for Martin Erat?

So trade an underperforming, massively overpaid expiring contract for a massively overpaid, unproductive contract with an extra year of term remaining? No I would not make that trade if I were Oiler GM.

I think the Oilers would be better off purging Hemsky's contract for as high a draft pick as possible. The fact MacTavish chose Smid's contract to dump tells me there is (rightfully) no interest around the league in Hemsky at his cap number.

Prior to the season, there were rumours out of Ottawa that Murray was willing to trade Zack Smith for Hemsky. If that were true MacLooselips should have taken it.

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#46 Rocket
November 25 2013, 05:13PM
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Lately I've been pretty stoked to watch Edmonton-Chicago games. They're usually entertaining at least. Unlike watching San Jose beat the snot out of The Oilers, Blackhaws games are not boring.

OGP: Oilers win (why not eh?), Gagner finishes with a minus stat and does terribly in faceoffs (prove me wrong Gags), RNH crushes Call of Duty later tonight.

NSOGDP: Ebs & Kane start to go at it but then decide they don't want to mess up their pretty faces 'cause they're gonna party down whyte tonight.

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#47 michael
November 25 2013, 08:40PM
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Why is Potter still an Oiler? Own goal.Pp and Sh goal. The Oil are finding all kinds of ways to piss this game away. Oh well. Looks like a recipe for failure tonight. BTW Columbus kicks the crud out of TO tonight 6-0. Friday night should be brutal for the Oil.

5-1 final tonight I think I 'll go watch a Miley Cyrus video on You Tube. Isn't that the joke? What's worse than watching the Oilers play Chicago? Answer? Watching Miley Cyrus.

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#48 MessyEH!
November 25 2013, 10:09PM
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This Oilers team shouldn't ever beat the Hawks. I think Doobie was hung out to dry on a couple of goals. But his rebound control stinks.

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#49 Serious Gord
November 25 2013, 10:12PM
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Alsker wrote:

And you honestly thought it would be any different..granted the bounces have not gone our way tonight

Nope went pretty much the way I expected - which is the way I expected the season would be before it started. Management has failed at a very high level.

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#50 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 25 2013, 10:27PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

From another article.

Romulus' Apotheosis wrote: Dubnyk named one of the NHL's 3 stars of the week:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=693003&navid=DL|NHL|home

So… I guess everyone predicting he had eternally cratered was being reactionary… who would have guessed?

Ya, ok.

You still feel that way Rom?

If Dubnyks the answer, then why are the Oilers looking so hard for a replacement?

Don't answer that, I'll come back to that after December & January.

He didn't play well, that's for sure. Of course, Yak blowing a tire on a PP, Kane winning a scramble on their PP, Corey Potter punching the puck into the net and Shaw scoring on a 3 on 1 didn't help matters.

Look, no one EVER said Dubnyk was amazing.

What they (myself included) said is that he was playing terribly but was way more likely to rebound to his historical average (which happens to be league average or very slightly better, i.e., not amazing, not terrible), then to remain in the gutter, which many were dead certain of happening.

His play over the last 10 games was very good. And, I expect it to even out over the course of the season to league average or slightly better.

Feel free to continue to think otherwise. You would probably be seriously wrong and if you were in charge of an NHL team you would be likely to make many very bad decisions.

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