GDB 09: ONE IN AND ONE OUT

Jason Gregor
February 04 2013 01:09PM

Shawn Horcoff returns to the lineup tonight, but Eric Belanger walked into Rexall Place this morning in a walking boot and he's been put on the injured list. Belanger has been infinitely better this season than he was last year, especially on the PK, and he, like Horcoff, will be missed.

It isn't great for the Oilers to have their veteran centres sitting out due to injuries, but it is another opportunity for Anton Lander to keep developing. As long as the injured list remains short the Oilers should be able to stay competitive.
The Oilers face the Canucks for the 2nd time in nine games, and after a come-from-behind win in their season opener the Oilers will try to avoid a three-game losing streak.

Edmonton wasn't very good in Colorado on Saturday, and they will need a much more energetic effort tonight.

Hall/RNH/Eberle
Yakupov/Gagner/Hemsky
Smyth/Horcoff/Petrell
Paajarvi/Lander/Hartikainen

Smid/Petry
N.Schultz/J.Schultz
Fistric/Potter

Dubnyk

Ryan Whitney was paired with Theo Peckham at the morning skate, and he will be take a seat in the pressbox. Whitney hasn't been great, but I think this is Ralph Krueger trying to send a message that anyone can be benched. That wasn't the case last year, and sometimes the only way a coach can get people's attention is by sitting a veteran in the pressbox. This is the first time in his career that Whitney has been a healthy scratch, and he was obviously disappointed. "I don't agree with it obviously, but I respect the decision and I will be better when I get back in," said Whitney.

I suspect this will be short-term for Whitney, who seems to be lacking confidence more than anything, because is overall game is better than Potter and Fistric. However, if you aren't playing up to your potential, Krueger is showing he won't be afraid to cut your icetime.

Krueger is also hoping that 91/57/56 can find the chemistry they had in OKC. Todd Nelson said they were his most consistent trio in both ends of the rink, and we'll see if they can bring that level of consistency to the NHL.

QUICK HITS

  • Lots of teams are interested in Whitney, and after being stripped of his "A" and now a healthy scratch, I could see a trade scenario unfolding at some point. The issue is the Oilers still don't have enough quality NHL depth to make that move, unless it is for another D-man. I can see situation where Whitney gets dealt, and then plays well somewhere else, and those fans who have been begging for his benching, will then complain he got dealt. Whitney is not nearly as bad as some are portraying him. Of course he can play better, but I'd rather let him play out of it than move him when his value is likely lower than it should be.
  • Belanger has an open cut on his foot so he will be out at least a week. He was put on IR so he is out at least 7 days.
  • Peckham has done a few three-a-day workouts as they Oilers try to get him back in game shape. Right now Krueger has mentioned, "We have 7 D-men" on numerous occasions, so it is clear Peckham isn't in the picture right now. OKC only plays on Friday and Saturday for the next three weeks, so if the Oilers send him down for a conditioning stint, it likely won't happen until later this week. They'd rather put him through extensive conditioning here.

  • It might just be a coincidence but in the two games Horcoff sat out the Oilers PP went 0-for-6. You might not like him on the PP, but he has a valuable role.
     
  • I wonder who will be the first person to write the article saying how Yakupov can't keep scoring like this because of his ridiculous 29.4%. I will name that person the ultimate "fun sponge."
     
  • Thomas Vanek has been in on 19 of the Sabres 27 goals. He's been incredible so far this season and I hope he keeps it up. I love offence.

LOOKING AHEAD

 

 GAME DAY PREDICTION: In previous years you'd expect the Oilers to lose this game, fall to .500 and extend their losing streak, but they will avoid the obvious and pick up an exciting 5-4 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gagner matches his career-high and extends his scoring streak to nine games. The Oilers PP gets back on track with two goals while the Sedins combine for five points.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After picking up an assist in the first period, Yakupov delivers a crushing hit on Maxim Lapierre. Yakupov finishes the evening with two hits. After the game he says, " I'm surprised more people aren't mentioning that I have more hits, 9, than points, 7. I wonder if "Plums"* will point that out this Saturday. I thought he loves gritty players."

*If you didn't catch the Plums reference read NSOGDP from GDB: 08 below.

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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#51 Dog Train
February 04 2013, 06:11PM
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I wish that the Canucks had traded Luongo. Schneider might have a bright future but Luongo scares me a lot more than Schneider does.

Nice to see Whitney take a seat. There is more accountability under Krueger. I feel like Fistric has outplayed Whitney while Potter has been playing better of late. Whitney's spot in lineup should not be a given because he simply isn't playing well enough.

I think the Oilers will lose tonight. 3-2 Canuckleheads. Nuge finally gets on the board and J. Schultz pots one as well. Hope I am wrong on the score. GO OILERS GO!!

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EHH Team wrote:

But his sister, Lucy is tough and will take care of business in the parking lot after the game.

5 cents please

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#53 Rama Lama
February 04 2013, 06:17PM
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I believe that Whitney just needs a different prespective and watching the game from 100 feet up will be a good thing.

He has more time and space than he probably thinks and watching a game may provide that prespective.........he is too good not to recover from a benching.

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#54 Sanaa Montana
February 04 2013, 06:33PM
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What do Gagner and Whitney get the Oilers before the trade deadline?

An older, cheaper centre than Gagner but just as affective, also reliable to kill PKs(case of Horcoff/Belanger absence)?

A 2-4 d-man that can be counted upon in all aspects of the game with some back bone and presence?

I believe the Oilers will trade the two named players along with some prospects to obtain another centre or defenseman. Which ever they don't get in a trade they will try to obtain via free-agency.

I'm not really sad to say it but Whitney's days are numbered. I can't see many teams lining up for his services, so him alone won't bring anything in return.

If you look at the Oilers forwards in two groups; top and bottom-4 of the 6 in the top are written in stone.(IMO) The two questions and eraseables are Hemsky and Gagner. The bottom 6 is where I believe the Oilers are comfortable and have options to work with. Horcoff, Belanger, Pettrell, Lander, Hartikanen, Eager, Jones, VandeVelde, Paajarvi. That is 9 players that the Oilers have a luxury of chosing from for the bottom 6 positions. Include a name of two from the current prospect list and the Oilers, I believe, have no worries.

Going back to the top 6 and Gagner/Hemsky. Most math adds up to Gagner becoming the dearly departed.

Gagner, Whitney, future picks, prospect/s would be able to get what and from whom? I don't really follow the rest of the NHL or any other teams(only what I see on Oilers broadcasts and highlights). Is there any teams out there that would be willing to entertain that idea and have something in return the Oilers would want?

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#55 OilLeak
February 04 2013, 06:57PM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

Sure Whitney has played sub-par but can't believe how Oiler Fans dump on players returning from major surgery. Hemsky last year which was clearly a rehab year - he is flying and back to his normal self this year.

and now Whitney - who basically has had reconstructive surgery on not one but both feet. An issue that is worse than what forced Petr Forsberg to retire.

so it is an absolute that it will it take time for him to return to form. But I'd stop there, he is not junk, a pylon, (insert insults used for horcoff here)

Uh, you mean the surgery he had 2 years ago now? Whitney's ankle is done, which is sad to see, but he can't pivot and keep up with the pace at NHL level anymore.

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#56 gr8one
February 04 2013, 07:01PM
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I think people forget too that Whitney hadn't played competitively in about a full calendar year, coming off of a pretty serious injury and not really any training camp to speak of, of course it's going to take awhile for him to get back to full speed both physically and mentally.

I like that he's being sat and I hope that with that perspective and a little more time he gets his game back.

But you're right Gregor, I could totally see this as being on of those classic sell low scenarios just in time for him to regain his form somewhere else.

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#57 Ryan14
February 04 2013, 07:12PM
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I don't think Willis is going to like being called a "fun sponge." ;)

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#58 Sanaa Montana
February 04 2013, 07:18PM
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Oilers need to put RNH with Hemsky and Yakupov. I fear he may not get a goal for a while, he needs someone to spread the attacking zone with. Hall is too quick to head to the net.

Maybe even try Hall with Hemsky and Gagner, and RNH with Yakupov and Eberle.

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#59 RSD
February 04 2013, 07:38PM
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@gr8one

I agree with you 100%; when a player hasn't been playing consistently like Whitney, they need half a season in in order to really get their legs under them, however his ankle injury is a concern as to how that may turn out. I've seen players whom were stagnant all season long, get traded and turn it on. We're only 9 games in we shouldn't get to impatient and send him packing.

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#60 Clyde Frog
February 04 2013, 07:48PM
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@Sanaa Montana

Yes, why would the Oilers want to keep a young second line centre that can actually score?

Especially when you can obtain a older 3rd line centre to go along with our other 2 older 3rd and 4th line centres...

Can never have too much checking!

/leh sigh...

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#61 Justin
February 04 2013, 07:52PM
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@Clyde Frog

Ryan O'Reilly

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#62 RSD
February 04 2013, 07:57PM
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@Justin

Do oilers trade for O'Rielly on the stipulation he signs or just trade for his rights? That would really affect what is offered for him.

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#63 OilersBrass
February 04 2013, 08:10PM
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bdiddy18 wrote:

Sure Whitney has played sub-par but can't believe how Oiler Fans dump on players returning from major surgery. Hemsky last year which was clearly a rehab year - he is flying and back to his normal self this year.

and now Whitney - who basically has had reconstructive surgery on not one but both feet. An issue that is worse than what forced Petr Forsberg to retire.

so it is an absolute that it will it take time for him to return to form. But I'd stop there, he is not junk, a pylon, (insert insults used for horcoff here)

Well said! People don't realize how hard and fast these NHL games really are. It's difficult for a player to play well every single game, let alone after being injured for a year.

Gagner is the perfect example of why they shouldn't go trade someone just because they aren't playing well. Gagner had his off year last season, and now this year he's been one of the best players every game.

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#64 Goobarianone
February 04 2013, 08:14PM
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Anyone have a link for the game? Difficult to watch the Oil in the Philippines :(

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#65 Charlie N64
February 04 2013, 08:17PM
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God I hate the Canucks.

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#66 2004Z06
February 04 2013, 08:24PM
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I'd love to see someone teach Taylor Hall that he can't deke through 5 guys standing up on the blue line. He has turned the puck over 5 times already and we are only in the first period!

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#67 RSD
February 04 2013, 08:31PM
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Hemsky strikes again!!!!

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#68 Sanaa Montana
February 04 2013, 08:50PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Yes, why would the Oilers want to keep a young second line centre that can actually score?

Especially when you can obtain a older 3rd line centre to go along with our other 2 older 3rd and 4th line centres...

Can never have too much checking!

/leh sigh...

I believe to re-sign Gagner will take a long term deal at over $4 million a year. What Gagner does is not worth $4 million a year or a long term investment at this point to the Oilers. It may be worth the money and the term to some teams in the NHL, but not to the Oilers considering the skill level of Gagner's linemates of his contract year. One could also take his second assists into consideration as well.

Is there a difference in a centre that can score and the one that can actually score? I'm not sure I understand your question.

Why would you want another 3rd line centre?

Only time Gagner checks is during the off-nights poker games they play on the road. /leh sigh.!..

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#69 Clyde Frog
February 04 2013, 09:04PM
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@Sanaa Montana

Just take a peak at the top 45 scoring centres for the last 3 years.

Find one that is older, cheaper and puts up PK minutes.

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#70 RSD
February 04 2013, 09:07PM
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Nice read by lander.

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#71 Clyde Frog
February 04 2013, 09:07PM
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RYAN SMYTH ONE TIMER OF DOOM!

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#72 Lofty
February 04 2013, 09:10PM
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Oilers give up their blue line way too easily. The Hall, Nuge ands Ebs line must have a field day in practice.

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#73 OILERSORDEATH
February 04 2013, 09:19PM
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God what a cheese Dick goal!

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#74 yep
February 04 2013, 09:23PM
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smells like someone is baking turnovers in here...

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#75 Wäx Män Riley
February 04 2013, 09:33PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan Smyth scores his first of the season on a one-timer. Instantly the blogosphere goes crazy trying to find out if that was his first-career one-timer. After the goal you will see Smyth talking to Yakupov on the bench. "Sick shot Mr. Smyth. I didn't know someone could one-time a puck with a canoe paddle," says Yakupov.

You were one game early on that NSOGDP Jason! Your crystal ball might need a tune-up, lol.

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#76 RSD
February 04 2013, 09:46PM
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Mark Spector hit on the nose, shoot the fn' puck!

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#77 John F
February 04 2013, 10:03PM
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Can you imagine if the Oilers had a top #1 or #2 center that could win face-offs. Oh never mind they score points

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#78 rpk99
February 04 2013, 10:07PM
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just turned the game on a bit ago...Horc is out again? My 6 year old son is going to have a heart attack...

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#79 Lofty
February 04 2013, 10:36PM
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John F wrote:

Can you imagine if the Oilers had a top #1 or #2 center that could win face-offs. Oh never mind they score points

Not enough the last couple nights

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#80 Lofty
February 04 2013, 10:37PM
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Wish there was an option to decline the penalty shot and take the powerplay

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#81 Dog Train
February 04 2013, 10:38PM
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Frustrating one to lose. Unfortunately, we tend to come out on the short end of those ones too often. You're playing with fire if you can't close out a 1 goal lead late in the 3rd. Plenty of try tonight, just couldn't seal the deal.

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#82 Kodiak
February 04 2013, 10:42PM
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Lofty wrote:

Wish there was an option to decline the penalty shot and take the powerplay

I was saying the exact same thing. Hall is like the golfer who can drive it 300 but chokes on the 3' putts constantly.

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#83 2004Z06
February 04 2013, 10:46PM
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Shots were 40-25 in favor of the opposition yet again. Stop the BS passing and shoot the damn puck! Dubnyk has faced more shots than any other goaltender in the league. RNH looks awful, and won't throw a check. Smitty has a piano tied to his ass, Hemsky is a puck hog and Taylor Hall is a turnover machine! Great first period though....minus the horrible first powerplay.

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#84 RSD
February 04 2013, 10:48PM
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@Lofty

It would prefer they call the pp as well it might of helped at least get to the SO. Oilers were outplayed, the Canucks seem to be able to foil any developing opportunity they had.

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#85 2004Z06
February 04 2013, 10:48PM
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On a positive note, I thought the Nordic line looked great! Lander may be small, but he is aggressive as hell.

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#86 Yep
February 04 2013, 10:49PM
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Another stinker tonight. I cannot believe the number of turnovers in all 3 zones, staggering. And not nearly enough shots; Duby saved them from being embarrassed. I think the whole first line needs a night in the press box. But the worst part is that its not fun to watch them constantly turn the puck over and not get any quality chances.

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#87 Clarence Oveur
February 04 2013, 10:55PM
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Tonight is just another example of why this team still isn't any good.

It's that simple.

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#88 TDSM31
February 04 2013, 11:09PM
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The biggest problem with the Oilers top six is they hang on to the puck too long giving the other team time set up defensive systems. Its easier to get position on a body than it is the puck. Eberle and Hemsky are the biggest culprits. Start moving the puck quicker and more often and we'll start having success.

Regards,

Howie Meeker

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#89 Devolution
February 05 2013, 12:51AM
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There is something about this team I just don't understand. Coming into the season it was all about having an AHL goalie and AHL defense but man were we going to score goals!

Our defense has been OK, Dubnyk has been great and we can't score at all.

What gives?

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#90 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 05 2013, 08:16AM
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I'm starting to think that the Oilers actually hired that NewAgeSys guy and their using his system on 5x5 play.

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#91 Mac962
February 05 2013, 08:25AM
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I would say a deal needs to be made for a centre now, who can be a force. Not sayin Arnott is the guy, but he is worth the few bucks if he can go that is. There are no options in OKC.

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#92 rpk99
February 05 2013, 08:49AM
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agreed, if Horc is gone for 6 weeks the season looks fairly perilous without some veteran/impact help. Van Velde, or Belangetr for that matter, is not Shawn Horcoff. RNH is simply not strong enough to be the #1 center in all situations, Gagner is weak defensively, and our PK is going to go to crap. Every time I see RNH and Ebs get PK time for the last 10 seconds of a PK I get a lump in my throat. I think they have given up two goals in that situation this year, drives me nuts.

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#93 Shaun Doe
February 05 2013, 09:23AM
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I would like to see Nail take a ride in the press box for a game or two perhaps. The kids looks so akward and afraid in his own zone. He dishes the puck to avoid the hit most times and doesn't really have a sense of defensive awareness. That and his passes are pretty terrible. Seem to break the flow of the break out alot of times by making ill timed cross ice passes etc. That "Pass" to Hemsky looked more like a fanned on dump in to me that worked itself into a pass. Not sure that was his intent but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt at least on that one. As for the rest of the team, if I'm Kreuger I spend the entire next practice on Faceoffs and break outs. IF there is time left they work on some offensive zone access (Ie. dump and chase)

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#94 The Soup Fascist
February 05 2013, 09:37AM
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Eastern Oil wrote:

Who is this Linus Van Pelt that you are referring to? Can he take draws? Play on the pk?

Never mind, I already don't like him because I can't fight him at hockeyfights.com, he's obviously too soft.

Not a fighter, but he can BLANKET the oppositions best players .......

Gene Principe

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#95 andrewmk20
February 05 2013, 10:24AM
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@OilersBrass

I agree it will take time. The tough thing is that he is an offensive defenceman who has enough defensive ability not to be a liability. Now coming off two years of injury he's reticent to make those risky passes because he seems aware that the risk is too high because his skating just isn't there. So now he's an ineffective offensive defenseman with somewhat marginal defensive ability without his skating.

Also the problem is that Whitney's injuries affect the most important aspect of any player's game which is his skating. The shoulder issues of Hemsky don't affect his skating, which is his strength, while his shot has always been average to slightly above average and his passing skills don't really require a lot of force from his shoulders.

PS. I've always been a big fan of Gagner and thought his production was fairly decent. The fact that he's only 1 year older than Eberle should never be lost on fans either. Now at age 23 he finally looks stronger and quicker with his turns and pivots. He hasn't played as well as some people are saying but he has definitely improved and the one thing I like is he's been finishing his checks.

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#96 Old Retired Guy
February 05 2013, 12:01PM
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1) Yeah.......it was frustrating...... 2) Dubnyk is playing like a #1 starter type 3) Nordic line is looking good...might be worth keeping them up and together even when we get our injured players back 4) Face off %'s are BRUTAL and a big part of the reason that we're constantly getting outshot 5) Chances are above 50% that Whitney will be moved before or at the trade deadline 6) It really looks like Krueger is fully committed to playing the youngsters in all game situations ( PP, PK, Last minute of close games etc) Letting them learn in a trial by fire manner, rather then looking to shelter them in any way. This will speed their development....but will be a little painful to watch for this season. 7) Even with his cough ups etc. Taylor Hall was a beast out there tonight.

P.S Ryan Smyth starting to pick things up a little.

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#97 Old Retired Guy
February 05 2013, 12:02PM
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If you could choose one , would you take

a) Game goes to a shootout? b) Fistric makes complete contact on that BIG missed hit?

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#98 Old Retired Guy
February 05 2013, 12:07PM
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andrewmk20 wrote:

I agree it will take time. The tough thing is that he is an offensive defenceman who has enough defensive ability not to be a liability. Now coming off two years of injury he's reticent to make those risky passes because he seems aware that the risk is too high because his skating just isn't there. So now he's an ineffective offensive defenseman with somewhat marginal defensive ability without his skating.

Also the problem is that Whitney's injuries affect the most important aspect of any player's game which is his skating. The shoulder issues of Hemsky don't affect his skating, which is his strength, while his shot has always been average to slightly above average and his passing skills don't really require a lot of force from his shoulders.

PS. I've always been a big fan of Gagner and thought his production was fairly decent. The fact that he's only 1 year older than Eberle should never be lost on fans either. Now at age 23 he finally looks stronger and quicker with his turns and pivots. He hasn't played as well as some people are saying but he has definitely improved and the one thing I like is he's been finishing his checks.

I'm kind of on the fence about Gagner. I see talent and take into account his age. But still not that confident that he'll be the right guy when the chips are down.

I'm honestly trying to get better informed. When you say you've "always been a big fan of Gagner", can you elaborate? Would it be possible to list the 5 things you like the most that have lead you to support him?

Thanks.

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#99 Old Retired Guy
February 05 2013, 12:14PM
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I've been wondering about 2 things.

1) Is there another team in the league that falls down/gets knocked down as much as the Oilers do? It would be interesting to keep a count of the number of fall downs per game. Is it just a result of being a small team? a young team? or what?

2) I here all the time how the Oilers are either the fastest team, or at least one of the fastest teams in the leaque.....THis seems wrong for two reasons....a) most other teams seem to be out hustling us and b) most other teams we play seem to get far more stretch passes completed against us than we do against them. Anyone feel this way?

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