GDB 06: ROAD TRIP....

Jason Gregor
January 30 2013 12:26PM

The first stop on a three-game-in-three-and-a-half-days-road-trip is tonight in Phoenix, in front of 8,000-10,000 fans. The Coyotes might not be in Phoenix long-term, because the crowds only come in the playoffs, but they are here now and Dave Tippett always has them well prepared.

When you look down the Coyotes' roster you wonder why they are 6th in goals for, yet 26th in goals against average. On paper their blueline is the strength of their team.

Vermette-Doan-Sullivan
Gordon-Moss-Korpikoski
Bolduc-Vrbata-Boedker
Chipchura-Johnson-Bissonnette

Martin Hanzal might play tonight, and if he does he'll slot in with Vrbata while Matthew Lombardi is out indefinitely.

Morris-Yandle
Michalek-Ekman-Larsson
Rundblad-Schlemko

They also have Rostislav Klesla, but he's only played two of their six games.

Johnson

Mike Smith is back skating, and he might be ready for the weekend, so the Oilers PP should be licking their chops facing Chad Johnson who only has five career NHL starts, and Monday was his first NHL start in three years.

Historically, a Tippett-coached team is built on solid defence and hard work, but so far this season the Coyotes have struggled defensively.

Much of those struggles can be attributed to below average play from Mike Smith and Jason LaBarbera between the pipes. In four starts (two each) they allowed 19 goals and produced a woeful .850 SV%. LaBarbera did play well after Smith got injured 11 minutes into their game v. Columbus, but he was awful in the his next two starts.

Tippett turned to former AJHL goalie, Johnson, on Monday night and Johnson was perfect. He picked up his first career NHL shutout stopping all 21 shots.

While Phoenix has struggled to keep the puck out of their net, they've been surprisingly productive offensively. The Coyotes are 6th in goals scored, 3.5/game, and they are 3rd in ES goals with 14, but they've also allowed the 2nd most ES goals with 15.

If they Oilers are going to awake from their five-on-five scoring drought, tonight could be the night.

ES WOES

It is only five games, and likely too early to go crazy, but the Oilers only have two 5-on-5 goals thus far. The good news is that the Hall/RNH/Eberle line is producing lots of chances and shots, but they, like every other line, is not generating many quality second or third chances.

The Oilers need to start going to the net and they need some guys willing to stand battle for some greasy goals. They can't expect to score all their goals off the rush. They need to start creating scoring chances closer to the net.

The Oilers can get away with below-average ES scoring due to their exceptional powerplay. The Oilers lead the NHL with a sizzling 35.7% efficiency with 10 goals on 28 chances. The NHL record for highest PP% was 31.9% set by Montreal in 1977, so you can expect their % to drop.

The best PP in the last decade was 25.5% by the 2009 Detroit Red Wings. The Washington Capitals had a 25.2% rating in both 2009 and 2010, so it is possible the Oilers, with their young PP specialists, could hover around the 24-27% range.

The Oilers PK has also been very good. Outside of the dreadful first period against San Jose, when the Sharks went 3-for-3, the Oilers have killed off 23 of 24 penalties. 

Their special teams have been very good, but just like last season, if the Oilers can't play even at five-on-five it will be difficult to win.

I've seen some suggest the Oilers ES scoring isn't a concern, because it is only five games, but I'd suggest they recognize that this has been an issue for more than five games.

Over the past three seasons the Oilers have been outscored 516-410 at 5-on-5. Last season they improved, and were only outscored 153-139, but don't tell me this five-game window is "a small sample size." It has been a problem for years, and while they improved last season, they need to be better this year if they want to become a playoff contender.

LINEUP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Horcoff-Petrell
Hartikainen-Belanger-Paajarvi

It will be interesting to see how Krueger allocates icetime tonight. The 56/20/91 combo had more ES icetime than Horcoff's line last game and basically the same as Gagner's line.

Smid-Petry
N.Schultz- J.Schultz
Whitney-Potter

Dubnyk

Yann Danis cleared waivers, no surprise, and Nikolai Khabibulin will dress and sit on the bench, rather than in the pressbox, which is a good thing considering what happened a few years ago when he was in Phoenix.

QUICK HITS

  • I'm not sure why people still feel the need to question why Shawn Horcoff is on the first powerplay unit. He played there last year and they finished 3rd in the league. He's on it this year and they are first. When the Oilers PP% starts to drop, please refrain from being the clown who wants to blame Horcoff. His role is to win draws and stay in front of the net. The formula has worked for well for over a year, why does it have to change? Because he makes to much money? Seriously, give it a rest already.
     
  • I like Krueger's willingness to role four lines and not spend too much time matching them. Tippett loves to match lines, so I'll be curious to see how, or if, Krueger responds.
     
  • I spoke to Taylor Hall after the Colorado win and he shared a story about Krueger. In the Calgary game Hall had tried numerous toe-drags, but none of them worked. "They weren't shy to point that out, over an over again (laughs), in our film work this morning. The message was clear, only do those if you are confident you won't turn over the puck." Hall is a quick learner because you didn't see him try any v. Colorado. That doesn't mean he won't try them again, nor does it mean if one fails he's in the doghouse, but the message was received. The Oilers need to cut down on turnovers.
     
  • I wonder if Nail Yakupov will do the same? Yakupov really struggled v. Colorado, especially with turnovers. Krueger wants to see how the young players react after a bad outing. I suspect Yakupov will protect the puck better tonight.
     
  • The Oilers are 2nd in the NHL in turnovers. I know it isn't the most accurate stat, because each building marks them differently, but I didn't need to look at the NHL website to realize the Oilers are turning it over too often. I suspect they will always be near the top, because they are more of a puck possession team, but they have to avoid the 5-star giveaways at the offensive blueline.
     
  • Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid weren't great in Calgary and were average v. Colorado. They seemed to be a split-second off and got caught in between attacking or sitting back in their own zone. Defensive zone timing is crucial for defenders, and with no training camp it will take some time to get that timing where they want it. I expect them to get better in their own zone with more game action.
     
  • Justin Schultz has been better than I expected in his own end. He clearly has loads of offensive confidence, but he's looked solid in his own zone. Playing with a veteran like Nick Schultz helps. The senior Schultz is rarely out of position, and outside of one brutal pass at the offensive blueline, he rarely makes bad decisions.
     
  • I watched Oil Change last night and it was too bad they had to squeeze six months into one episode. Aquila Productions had to make some tough decisions on what to take out, and I was told there was some interesting stuff from the draft that got left on the cutting room floor. Too bad. Another casualty of the lockout.

GAME DAY PREDICTION: Without Smith the Oilers PP continues to produce as they win 4-2. Nugent-Hopkins become 8th Oiler to score and then Hartikainen becomes the 9th.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ales Hemsky has a goal and as assist. Hemsky has 34 career points in 29 games v. the Coyotes. He lights them up more than any team other than the lowly Blue Jackets.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Gene Principe will do numerous stand up hits from the stands tonight. The Coyotes will ask him and his camera man to watch the game from the stands to make the arena look fuller. Gene will end up crushing three hot dogs, and accidently spill some mustard on his suit. So for his final hit, he will do it with one of the Coyotes dance team so all the viewers will focus on her and not his suit. Veteran move.

SUPER BOWL

 If you want to reserve a great seat for the Super Bowl and be at the best party, send Alley a tweet, or contact The Pint. Alley is a great host and you'll have a blast watching the Ravens and 49ers.

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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#101 MAC962
January 30 2013, 07:21PM
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Horcoff...lol lets give it a rest ? why dont you give me a rest ? Do you have a man crush on him or what ? This guy , and no fault of his own, does not belong on anyones power play. You think he would be on the ice for a PP on any other team ? You are dreaming. Yes , he is decent at draws, thats it, nothing else. It managements fault they have not been able to find someone who can take draws and have some offensive skill. Give it rest ? I dont think so.

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#102 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 07:23PM
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Jeffy wrote:

I SEE DEAD PEOPLE

Oh, and hi DSF!

Somewhere DSF is doing his best Mr. Burns "eeeeexcellent" impersonation while Jefffy Smithers stands obediently by his side waiting for the slightest acknowledgement of his existence ........

Release the hounds!!

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#103 Sanaa Montana
January 30 2013, 07:30PM
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I need a link for the game, please.

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#104 Clyde Frog
January 30 2013, 07:32PM
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keilan wrote:

The game continues to evolve and change so be careful about measuring any player based on points alone.

Horcoff and amazing should never be in the paragraph!!

Yeah lets forget his 19 points in 24 playoff games on our way to the cup finals... The bum was in way over his head!

Yes recently Horcoff has not performed; but there was a time when he was projecting to be a much better player. To pretend he was never any good is a joke.

But hey if you want to ignore what a player actual did, more power to you.

@ Nasreddin Hodja look at the link on the previous page

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#105 Darrell
January 30 2013, 07:40PM
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MAC962 wrote:

Horcoff...lol lets give it a rest ? why dont you give me a rest ? Do you have a man crush on him or what ? This guy , and no fault of his own, does not belong on anyones power play. You think he would be on the ice for a PP on any other team ? You are dreaming. Yes , he is decent at draws, thats it, nothing else. It managements fault they have not been able to find someone who can take draws and have some offensive skill. Give it rest ? I dont think so.

Top PP in the league @ 35% - guess they are smarter than you dude ...

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#106 Darrell
January 30 2013, 07:43PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Somewhere DSF is doing his best Mr. Burns "eeeeexcellent" impersonation while Jefffy Smithers stands obediently by his side waiting for the slightest acknowledgement of his existence ........

Release the hounds!!

All DSF wants are Minnesota Wild players with fricken lasers .....

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#107 keilan
January 30 2013, 07:50PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

Yeah lets forget his 19 points in 24 playoff games on our way to the cup finals... The bum was in way over his head!

Yes recently Horcoff has not performed; but there was a time when he was projecting to be a much better player. To pretend he was never any good is a joke.

But hey if you want to ignore what a player actual did, more power to you.

@ Nasreddin Hodja look at the link on the previous page

Projected by who? You have no idea what you're talking about!!

The Oiler"s have been one of the worst teams in the league for the past twenty years, coincidence?

I guess you love Ryan Symth too!

Watch the game for a couple years then have an opinion!

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#108 Oilertown
January 30 2013, 07:53PM
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Darrell wrote:

All DSF wants are Minnesota Wild players with fricken lasers .....

He is still trying to compare Schultz Jr to Jonas Brodin which is just laughable.

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#109 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
January 30 2013, 08:09PM
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Amazing block by Horcoff shorthanded. This guys is crazy good!!

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#110 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
January 30 2013, 08:13PM
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That Grange guy is pretty good too. He looks kinda small though.

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#111 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
January 30 2013, 08:14PM
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That Grange guy is pretty good too. He looks kinda small though.

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#112 Alsker
January 30 2013, 08:21PM
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so smitty gets his first point and Petrell continues to do what he did in europe scores(finally)

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#113 Clyde Frog
January 30 2013, 08:42PM
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keilan wrote:

Projected by who? You have no idea what you're talking about!!

The Oiler"s have been one of the worst teams in the league for the past twenty years, coincidence?

I guess you love Ryan Symth too!

Watch the game for a couple years then have an opinion!

You have won me over with your well balanced analysis and thoughtful arguments, thank you...

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#114 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
January 30 2013, 08:42PM
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The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

That Grange guy is pretty good too. He looks kinda small though.

It's spelt Gagne dumbass!

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#115 DonDon
January 30 2013, 08:43PM
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Other than scoring the only goal, it was an ugly period for the Oilers. Looked like they were playing with bad sticks. Just couldn't control the puck and their passing was atrocious.

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#116 West
January 30 2013, 08:54PM
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@keilan

Okay Keilan it's bed time now. You have proved by your comments that you are about 12 years old and apparently unable to be a citizen of Oilernation without parental approval. Since you probably have only been watching Oilers for a year or so now don't be acting like DSF and think you know everything. The Oilers Have only been on of the worst teams in the league(bottom 5) the last three years. Shawn Horcoff in 2005-2006(the year the Oilers last went to the Stanley Cup Final since you are too young to remember) scored 73 points in 79 games, good for 43rd in the league. He may never have been the greatest player ever but you don't score that much in the NHL these days by accident. And by the way if you don't love Ryan Smyth you ain't no Oiler fan. As a side note, anyone who uses an exclamation point to punctuate every sentence may only be in grade 3. Sorry for overestimating your age.

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#117 Marcus
January 30 2013, 08:55PM
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How is it Gagner didn't get the 2nd assist on Petrell's goal?

Ah...Just Sportsnet a little slow. NHL.com gave it to him.

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#118 West
January 30 2013, 08:56PM
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The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33 wrote:

It's spelt Gagne dumbass!

Gagner maybe?

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#119 keilan
January 30 2013, 08:58PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

You have won me over with your well balanced analysis and thoughtful arguments, thank you...

Horcoff was selected in the forth round but there was a time when he was projected to be a much better player.. really!

What you don't wanna make comments about my mother funny guy?

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#120 West
January 30 2013, 08:59PM
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Marcus wrote:

How is it Gagner didn't get the 2nd assist on Petrell's goal?

Ah...Just Sportsnet a little slow. NHL.com gave it to him.

Oilers website has him getting it.

Edit: Fast edit Marcus, before I could get my reply typed.

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#121 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
January 30 2013, 09:05PM
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keilan wrote:

Horcoff was selected in the forth round but there was a time when he was projected to be a much better player.. really!

What you don't wanna make comments about my mother funny guy?

he doesnt have to waste any time going down the mom joke road when you keep setting the softball up on the tee for him with your posts

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#122 Clyde Frog
January 30 2013, 09:06PM
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keilan wrote:

Horcoff was selected in the forth round but there was a time when he was projected to be a much better player.. really!

What you don't wanna make comments about my mother funny guy?

When you have trolled as well as DSF maybe, but you have a looooong way to troll before you get there.

Can you list how terrible Horcoff's 73 point season was? I don't think we know how to properly appreciate how bad he was when he produced that much.

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#123 Oilcruzer
January 30 2013, 09:13PM
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That's twice MPS forgot to pick up his man in the defensive zone... wake up!

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#124 keilan
January 30 2013, 09:16PM
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West wrote:

Okay Keilan it's bed time now. You have proved by your comments that you are about 12 years old and apparently unable to be a citizen of Oilernation without parental approval. Since you probably have only been watching Oilers for a year or so now don't be acting like DSF and think you know everything. The Oilers Have only been on of the worst teams in the league(bottom 5) the last three years. Shawn Horcoff in 2005-2006(the year the Oilers last went to the Stanley Cup Final since you are too young to remember) scored 73 points in 79 games, good for 43rd in the league. He may never have been the greatest player ever but you don't score that much in the NHL these days by accident. And by the way if you don't love Ryan Smyth you ain't no Oiler fan. As a side note, anyone who uses an exclamation point to punctuate every sentence may only be in grade 3. Sorry for overestimating your age.

west,

I've been watching them since 1978 and a season ticket holder many of those years. You probably don't know this but they squeezed into the playoffs on the last day of that season.They were a powerhouse alright!

And if you have a boy crush-on Symth good for you I guess. You are pretty narcissistic to have opinions that begin with "if you don't love Ryan Smyth you ain't no Oiler fan".

If you had a clue you'd be on the floor playing with it.

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#125 keilan
January 30 2013, 09:23PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

When you have trolled as well as DSF maybe, but you have a looooong way to troll before you get there.

Can you list how terrible Horcoff's 73 point season was? I don't think we know how to properly appreciate how bad he was when he produced that much.

It's common knowledge that Horcoff has little or almost no value if traded but to some here he is their superstar. I hear you but most hockey people don't share your opinion.

I think your the trolls....

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#126 Shaun Doe
January 30 2013, 09:25PM
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This Coyotes team is just so defensively reliable it is all smothering. Its as if they are able to plug every seam and hole with the size of their bodies alone. It would be pretty impressive if it wasn't so dull... maybe

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#127 West
January 30 2013, 09:28PM
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keilan wrote:

west,

I've been watching them since 1978 and a season ticket holder many of those years. You probably don't know this but they squeezed into the playoffs on the last day of that season.They were a powerhouse alright!

And if you have a boy crush-on Symth good for you I guess. You are pretty narcissistic to have opinions that begin with "if you don't love Ryan Smyth you ain't no Oiler fan".

If you had a clue you'd be on the floor playing with it.

Never said they were a powerhouse, but they did go on a run in the playoffs. I stand by my fact that you ain't no Oiler fan if you don't love Captain Canada.

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#128 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
January 30 2013, 09:30PM
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When Horcoff scored his first goal and I won the lottery, my wife came back to me. Coincidence? I don't think so. That #10 is one awesome dude.

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#129 keilan
January 30 2013, 09:36PM
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West wrote:

Never said they were a powerhouse, but they did go on a run in the playoffs. I stand by my fact that you ain't no Oiler fan if you don't love Captain Canada.

Oh my gawd, put a soother in it already!

The reason he's called Captain Canuck is because the Oilers almost never made the playoffs and he was the one guy they could count on to be there every year.

Did you guys start following the Oiler's since they started picking 1st overall?

The few posts that I've read of DSF he at least shows a knowledge of the game and players. Some of you are seriously hopeless.

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#130 West
January 30 2013, 09:40PM
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keilan wrote:

Oh my gawd, put a soother in it already!

The reason he's called Captain Canuck is because the Oilers almost never made the playoffs and he was the one guy they could count on to be there every year.

Did you guys start following the Oiler's since they started picking 1st overall?

The few posts that I've read of DSF he at least shows a knowledge of the game and players. Some of you are seriously hopeless.

Proof of troll. Probably alter ego of DSF.

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#131 Evilstu
January 30 2013, 09:46PM
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What a horribly boring game.

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#132 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 09:48PM
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keilan wrote:

west,

I've been watching them since 1978 and a season ticket holder many of those years. You probably don't know this but they squeezed into the playoffs on the last day of that season.They were a powerhouse alright!

And if you have a boy crush-on Symth good for you I guess. You are pretty narcissistic to have opinions that begin with "if you don't love Ryan Smyth you ain't no Oiler fan".

If you had a clue you'd be on the floor playing with it.

As a devout Oil follower, one would assume you would know that they never played an NHL game until October 1979 and snuck into the playoffs in 1980.

Yours truly, clueless and hopeless.

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#133 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 09:48PM
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keilan wrote:

west,

I've been watching them since 1978 and a season ticket holder many of those years. You probably don't know this but they squeezed into the playoffs on the last day of that season.They were a powerhouse alright!

And if you have a boy crush-on Symth good for you I guess. You are pretty narcissistic to have opinions that begin with "if you don't love Ryan Smyth you ain't no Oiler fan".

If you had a clue you'd be on the floor playing with it.

As a devout Oil follower, one would assume you would know that they never played an NHL game until October 1979 and snuck into the playoffs in 1980.

Yours truly, clueless and hopeless.

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#134 Evilstu
January 30 2013, 09:49PM
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Soooo tough to watch. They don't seem interested at all.

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#135 keilan
January 30 2013, 09:51PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

As a devout Oil follower, one would assume you would know that they never played an NHL game until October 1979 and snuck into the playoffs in 1980.

Yours truly, clueless and hopeless.

Does the WHA mean anything to you?

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#136 Walter Sobchak
January 30 2013, 09:52PM
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This game is sooooooo bad.

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#137 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 09:53PM
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@Evilstu

They can't all be Rembrandts. But you are correct. Game has all the edge of a wet Kleenex.

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#138 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
January 30 2013, 09:57PM
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When Horcoff Arrived in town, I was able to grow facial hair.

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#139 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 09:59PM
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keilan wrote:

Does the WHA mean anything to you?

Yes. Yes It does. The 78 -79 season the oil finished the regular season first overall. Not "getting in the last day of the regular season". Obviously you are confused or full of crap.

Word of advice, junior. When you find yourself in a hole - stop digging.

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#140 David
January 30 2013, 09:59PM
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@keilan

Horcoff had a 73 point season. He also had a 50 points in 53 game season where he went to the all star game. Smyth had seasons where he scored 39 goals, 36 goals, 31 goals, 31 goals, and seven seasons with 20+ goals. Neither players were ever stars and personally I think they have almost nil offensive ability left but Smyth was a very good player and Horcoff was a decent player with two very good seasons.

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#141 keilan
January 30 2013, 10:00PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

They can't all be Rembrandts. But you are correct. Game has all the edge of a wet Kleenex.

Come know Soupy, answer the question. Google it and see what you discover.

If and when the Oiler's next win the cup I expect there will be plenty from this site down on Whyte Ave trying to make a name for themselves.

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#142 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 10:05PM
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keilan wrote:

Come know Soupy, answer the question. Google it and see what you discover.

If and when the Oiler's next win the cup I expect there will be plenty from this site down on Whyte Ave trying to make a name for themselves.

And confused / dementia it is ..........

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#143 StHenriOilBomb
January 30 2013, 10:05PM
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Anyone else watching the Phoenix feed? These guys bore me stiff... The don't mention punishing hits, never get excited about anything, and put me to sleep... No onder nobody watches the Coyotes games.

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#144 keilan
January 30 2013, 10:10PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Yes. Yes It does. The 78 -79 season the oil finished the regular season first overall. Not "getting in the last day of the regular season". Obviously you are confused or full of crap.

Word of advice, junior. When you find yourself in a hole - stop digging.

Soupy where did I say they got in on the last day of the season for 78-79. You have trouble reading or is comprehension your problem?

I see you have access to the internet at least.. Seems some of your friends don't have television as they continually ask where they can get a live stream.

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#145 Evilstu
January 30 2013, 10:11PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

They can't all be Rembrandts. But you are correct. Game has all the edge of a wet Kleenex.

True but wow.......so lethargic, no jam or effort. It actually is a little concerning. Could you imagine if they were playing a high energy team. The boys can barely make a pass, and have no sense of GIVER.

Just brutal. Can't say they played to win.........just an alarming and disappointing effort.

It's bothering me.

Hope they at least get their two points out of the deal.

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#146 StHenriOilBomb
January 30 2013, 10:13PM
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I love Gagner, but damn man, don't take that penalty.

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#147 David
January 30 2013, 10:14PM
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StHenriOilBomb wrote:

I love Gagner, but damn man, don't take that penalty.

That was not a penalty. Brutal call.

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#148 Clyde Frog
January 30 2013, 10:15PM
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Evilstu wrote:

True but wow.......so lethargic, no jam or effort. It actually is a little concerning. Could you imagine if they were playing a high energy team. The boys can barely make a pass, and have no sense of GIVER.

Just brutal. Can't say they played to win.........just an alarming and disappointing effort.

It's bothering me.

Hope they at least get their two points out of the deal.

Trap meet the Trap; neither team is willing to push the puck into the danger zone...

also BOOO

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#149 Marcus
January 30 2013, 10:15PM
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Dumb move having RNH killing that penalty. Running around like a rookie out there.

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#150 The Soup Fascist
January 30 2013, 10:17PM
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keilan wrote:

Soupy where did I say they got in on the last day of the season for 78-79. You have trouble reading or is comprehension your problem?

I see you have access to the internet at least.. Seems some of your friends don't have television as they continually ask where they can get a live stream.

Okay. Lets go to the 77 / 78 season where they were 6 points clear of the team out of the playoffs. I am foggy on that. Was that when the WHA gave 4 points for a win or when they played double headers? For the love of God stop, please. It's just no fun anymore. Save some dignity. Put on your Sedin Jammies and hit the hay. You have had a looooooong day.

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