GDB 08: CLIMB THE MOUNTAIN

Jason Gregor
February 02 2013 10:05AM

The Oilers aren't Stanley Cup contenders yet, but if they want to be a playoff contender this afternoon is a game they need to win. The Oilers have to beat the teams below them in the standings, or ones they will be battling with for the final few playoff berths, and Colorado is one of those teams.

Their powerplay dismantled the Avalanche Monday night in Edmonton, going 4-for-6, and after picking up three of a possible four points in Phoenix and San Jose, the Oilers have an excellent opportunity to make this a very successful road trip today.

This is a game they should win.

The Avs are without Ryan O'Reilly, Steve Downie and Gabriel Landeskog, who was put on IR yesterday with a concussion. Those are three of their top-seven forwards, so the Oilers need to take advantage of an injured team.

The Oilers have more skill than Colorado and their goalie is playing much better. Devan Dubnyk has been very good this year, and great in his last three games. Ralph Krueger would be foolish to sit him this afternoon in favour of Nikolai Khabibulin.

Henrk Lundqvist, 7, Jimmy Howard, 7, Jonathan Quick, 6, and Mikka Kiprusoff, 5, are the only other goalies who have started every game thus far. Dubnyk is young, in a groove and he doesn't waste a lot of energy with his style of play. I don't see why Krueger wouldn't play him today, Monday night v. Vancouver, Wednesday v. Dallas and then enjoy two days off before playing in Detroit on Saturday, February 9th. He could play Nikolai Khabibulin v. Columbus on the 10th.

The Oilers need wins, especially against a team like Colorado and Dubnyk should be able to start 11 consecutive games, without getting fatigued, especially when he is playing this well.

LINE UP

Hall-RNH-Eberle
Yakupov-Gagner-Hemsky
Smyth-Belanger-Petrell
Hartikainen-Lander-Hordichuk

Shawn Horcoff skated yesterday and he will be a game time decision. If he plays I suspect Anton Lander sits down. Cody Mcleod and Patrick Bordeleau took a few healthy runs at the Oilers on Monday, and Krueger might want to have Hordichuk on the bench just in case.

UPDATE...Horcoff will not play. He still isn't feeling right after the Doan hit.

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

Krueger should stick with the same six defenders. Fistric played well, and Whitney's overall game has improved this past week.

Dubnyk

Let Dubnyk play.

QUICK HITS

  • I wonder if Oiler fans relish that Calgary is in 30th place this morning. Of course you do. The only good thing about the Flames sucking is that maybe in a few years both teams will be good and the Battle of Alberta will be exciting again.
     
  • Speaking of the Battle of Alberta I'll be calling the game between the Edmonton Rush and Calgary Roughnecks tonight on Sportsnet One at 7 p.m. (no-so-subtle plug).
     
  • Taylor Hall has 9 points during his career-high 7 game point streak. His previous best was 5 games, February 21st to 29th, 2012 when he accumulated 7 points.
     
  • Sam Gagner has a 7-game point streak, 8 points. His career high is 9 games. He tallied 12 points from February 4th to 24th as a rookie in 2008.
     
  • Colorado is 26th on the PK, 74.4% and 29th on the PP, 9.5%, while the Oilers are 4th on the PP, 31.4%, and 6th on the PK at 85.3%. The Oilers have a huge advantage on special teams and need to capitalize on it. 

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers win a game they need and should win with a strong 4-2 performance. Dubnyk is solid again, and Jordan Eberle pots a pair.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Today is the anniversary of Sam Gagner's out-of-body experience. He tallied 8 points v. the Chicago Blackhawsk last year, and during the intro Sportsnet will play a highlight package of his record-tying night. Gene will tie in the 8-point night with Gagner's career totals of 31 points in 30 games v. the Avs and say his confidence is A Mile High right now.

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.

Smyth smiles and replies, "I don't care about the shot, what did you think of my celly? Knee drag on the ice, with two fist pumps. Old school." "Not bad, when I score my next one-timer I'll honour that and add my own Russian twist. By the way do you think that guy they call "Plums" will call you out for that?" "Plums...(laughs) you're a good kid," says Smitty as he hopes over the boards for his next shift.

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 Oilcruzer
February 02 2013, 01:34PM
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Fail... (edit)

K - Go Oilers.

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#52 The Soup Fascist
February 02 2013, 02:05PM
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Can someone please tell me again how soft Hemsky is? He is putting himself in tough places time and time again. He is far from a perfect player but he does have way more stones than his detractors give him credit for.

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#53 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 02 2013, 02:07PM
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We got outshot in the first period, time to mix up the lines and fire the coach.

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#54 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 02:17PM
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Clyde Frog wrote:

But that means they lose 3-4 NHL players and will have to wait 2-3 years before those first rounders have a chance to make a positive impact.

Trading that much would put them in an Oilers blow it up rebuild model... Or at least make a huge line up gap they have to fill while they develop the kids.

All I know is those years will be fun ones for us :)

Absolutely a fun filled 2-3 years of laughing and pointing.

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#55 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 02:18PM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Can someone please tell me again how soft Hemsky is? He is putting himself in tough places time and time again. He is far from a perfect player but he does have way more stones than his detractors give him credit for.

Ha Ha I'm sure @ Kealin will be by to explain why.

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#56 K_Mart
February 02 2013, 02:20PM
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"...the ONLY good thing about the Flames sucking..."?!?!?!.

Let me be clear here Jason, everything about Calgary losing is good. PERIOD

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#57 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 02:29PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Here is the thing about the Flames, The Flames don't need to rebuild like the Oilers did.

The Flames have better players in there line up now then the Oilers fell into a re-build.

With there own 1st round pick plus what Iginla will bring, Kiprusoff -Bouwmeester- Cammalleri - Glencross who ever else they decide to trade off for picks Calgary wont suck as long as the Oilers did.

Calgary could be going to the draft with a potential of 3 first round picks in a very deep draft.

If they trade Kipper who is their elite goalie?TJ Brodie is their top d prospect, trading Bouwmeester weakens that position. 18 year olds don't transform you overnight. And the draft is notoriously unreliable. Oilers had three first round picks in 2007. Gagner(useful), Plante (career AHL), Nash(Riley not Rick).Sure, you say, bad drafting. But after the top few picks every year there are very few elite players, and drafting them is like, well, like a lottery - very occasionally you win and look like a genius. And then you dine out on that reputation for years.The last time Detroit drafted and developed an elite player was 1999(Zetterberg).

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#58 Sanaa Montana
February 02 2013, 02:33PM
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According to Gene and Louis, a lot of current Oilers will be converting to Islam. The Tatar son of Jacob was shown praying, and if it keeps working so well for him they say his teammates will consider it as well.

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#59 Mikey
February 02 2013, 02:35PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I know this isn't the popular opinion but in the later stages of the San Jose game i noticed Dubey getting a little tired. The Shark shooters were just a little off when Devan was vulnerable in the later stages on Thurs. Unlikely i know, but with them being off so long it is possible.

Oilers lose 5 or 6-2 if Dubey plays. Just my 2 cents but i hope i'm wrong. Have to give Dubnyk a B+ on his perfomance so far this season.

Wow your a tough grader. B+ for Dubnyk? A for sure. A+ if you exzempt one crappy period.

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#60 pelhem grenville
February 02 2013, 02:36PM
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...anyone gotta link for streaming live this game ?

would apprecite the help

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#61 Sanaa Montana
February 02 2013, 02:37PM
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@dougtheslug

More than 3 goals a game and a save % around 85-90 is not an elite goalie. As the time goes on, considering the team aroung him, Keeperssoft is not going to get much better. The return on him won't be spectacular.

Calgary is #@$%ed.!..

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#62 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 02:42PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

More than 3 goals a game and a save % around 85-90 is not an elite goalie. As the time goes on, considering the team aroung him, Keeperssoft is not going to get much better. The return on him won't be spectacular.

Calgary is #@$%ed.!..

Indeed.

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#63 tileguy
February 02 2013, 02:47PM
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vipbox.tv

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#64 tileguy
February 02 2013, 02:49PM
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under the sports buttond you will have to hit "other" than "ice hockey"

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#65 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 02:49PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

If they trade Kipper who is their elite goalie?TJ Brodie is their top d prospect, trading Bouwmeester weakens that position. 18 year olds don't transform you overnight. And the draft is notoriously unreliable. Oilers had three first round picks in 2007. Gagner(useful), Plante (career AHL), Nash(Riley not Rick).Sure, you say, bad drafting. But after the top few picks every year there are very few elite players, and drafting them is like, well, like a lottery - very occasionally you win and look like a genius. And then you dine out on that reputation for years.The last time Detroit drafted and developed an elite player was 1999(Zetterberg).

I tend to agree with you on the development part however this draft maybe the exception.

As for finding players wont be hard, the same way the Oilers used transitional players think Sutton, Barker, Frasier etc

the flames have an opportunity to get good players this draft should help, if Feaster doesn't blow it.

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#66 m3sh
February 02 2013, 02:50PM
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@pelhem grenville

atdee.net bud :)

edit: I fail... for some reason nothing for Oilers there today. Worked on Wed. I blame afternoon games

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#67 a lg dubl dubl
February 02 2013, 02:53PM
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Im thinkin I should have made Whitney my goat this year, holy hell he sucks this year!!

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#68 Sanaa Montana
February 02 2013, 02:55PM
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Tayor Hall is a little too selfish. He shoots from small angles when he has teammates open in better positions. It appears as if he makes up his mind too early and sees it through no matter what.

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#69 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 02:56PM
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@Walter Sobchak

Yes but by using transitional players like Barker and Sutton, it was total suckage. Which, of course, translates into top 5 picks. Which tends to lead to elite players(minus the occasional Barker - top 5 picks can still be busts).But we all know how long that takes...

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#70 pelhem grenville
February 02 2013, 02:57PM
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thx boyz...

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#71 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 03:03PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

Yes but by using transitional players like Barker and Sutton, it was total suckage. Which, of course, translates into top 5 picks. Which tends to lead to elite players(minus the occasional Barker - top 5 picks can still be busts).But we all know how long that takes...

Exactly, I'm not saying the Flames will be better the very next year, I'm saying they might have 3 hard years of sucking.

However, the Flames have better players to use then the Oiler's did back when they began the re-build.

I think this years top ten are as good as can be expected out of a draft group, really impressive group of kids, the first round has some nice players.

Just look at how far Lazar fell, we all know that kid can play, he's sitting around 20-25 right now.

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#72 Oilertown
February 02 2013, 03:03PM
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Just dont understand why the refs gotta kill the pace of all our games this year. Nothing like having 3 powerplays to there 6

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#73 Sanaa Montana
February 02 2013, 03:30PM
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How long until B.Eager is back?

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#74 SurfacetoAirMissile
February 02 2013, 03:41PM
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Sanaa Montana wrote:

Tayor Hall is a little too selfish. He shoots from small angles when he has teammates open in better positions. It appears as if he makes up his mind too early and sees it through no matter what.

7 helpers and 2 goals on the year must be an error.

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#75 Yep
February 02 2013, 03:42PM
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What a terrible game.

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#76 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
February 02 2013, 03:54PM
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Ok haters, let's here it.

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#77 OILERSORDEATH
February 02 2013, 04:06PM
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Fu%$in absolute garbage game! Jesus Christ that was worst then watching the Phoenix.game.

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#78 Sanaa Montana
February 02 2013, 04:12PM
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@SurfacetoAirMissile

7-2 ratio could be the reason he feels he should shoot more. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with 7 asssists but 11-14 assists would be a lot better.

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#79 Oilfred
February 02 2013, 04:14PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Exactly, I'm not saying the Flames will be better the very next year, I'm saying they might have 3 hard years of sucking.

However, the Flames have better players to use then the Oiler's did back when they began the re-build.

I think this years top ten are as good as can be expected out of a draft group, really impressive group of kids, the first round has some nice players.

Just look at how far Lazar fell, we all know that kid can play, he's sitting around 20-25 right now.

I doubt you see many picks fly in a draft this deep. GM's have gotten a bit gun shy about moving first rounders and this year they will hold on to them like a catfish with a ball of worms.

I doubt they blow it up this year anyways.

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#80 Hahahahahahahahahaha
February 02 2013, 04:30PM
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/deep breath/

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

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#81 MAC962
February 02 2013, 04:40PM
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Taylor Hall Teams can red you like a book now. you better change things up this is not Windsor... Just sayin....

Whitney... Wow i sure hope your ankle is still giving you grief because if its not.. YOU SUCK.

Hemmer WOW U R Rocking man ,

Piss poor game against a team essentially missing their top players.

Wake up ...The fn&&%% Nucks are coming and they are picking up speed.

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#82 Poolanov
February 02 2013, 05:02PM
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Brutal game by Sam Gagner. Its like he hates his linemates.

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#83 Poolanov
February 02 2013, 05:04PM
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OH and hey Smitty lose the freaking wrap around, you are slower than every goalie in the league

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#84 Poolanov
February 02 2013, 05:10PM
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One more vent....RNH should be shipped to OKC (or the second line) until he figures out how to score a freaking GOAL

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#85 michael
February 02 2013, 05:19PM
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The one certainty that you can count on with the Oilers is this. In afternoon games the Oilers suck the Popsicle like no one else.They are brutal in afternoon tilts. No matter the year,the team,the Oilers cannot get up for an afternoon tilt. Its like money in the bank betting against the Oilers if its an afternoon game.

Today? Was there an semblance of push back back the Oilers? Hell no. No truculence. Could RNH,Hall and Eberle just simplify their game by just a notch. Please its way to painful watching them just missing the great play when really all they need is the good play. Hall skated miles today and was rewarded with play after play that was close but no cigar. I would like to see him take it inside more.

DD. Was freakin fantastic. Could someone remember to pick up the guy up the middle. Please. And yes Gregor I am going to whip on Whitney some more. Where was his game at today. The play died on his stick more often than not today when Colorado pressed. I need more from him. His play is reminiscent of one Cam Barker. Good enough to be in the show but not good enough to be the guy. He is paid like he is the guy. If Horcoff (who I like) is berated for his contract ,Whitney should be ahead him. Because he just isn't a 5 million dollar Dman in my opinion. Sadly were stuck with him till the end of the season. what idiot GM would want a dman that is playing like a 6th dman and getting paid 1st=2cd money?

Kudo's to Belanger. He has bought in and today he paid the price 2x. I am going to eat my words. He has been one of the Oilers top players this season. In a reduced and redefined role he has flourished under Kreuger.

Vancouver? 3-2 SO win for the Oilers on Monday.

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#86 eastcoastoil
February 02 2013, 05:31PM
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How about a more simple line change.

Gagner-Ebs-Hall RNH-Yak-hemmer

Nuge needs some confidence and this would give him some softer mins. Plus he has been playing decent defensively to cover any major issues. Keep the PP the same

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#87 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 06:54PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Is it just me, or is anyone else concerned about the Oiler's being out shot every game and not being able to score 5x5?

Its not just you anymore

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#88 Willi P
February 02 2013, 07:00PM
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Oilertown wrote:

Just dont understand why the refs gotta kill the pace of all our games this year. Nothing like having 3 powerplays to there 6

Refs call them as they see them Oilertown. Don't make excuses. How does your crow taste after trolling the other night in FN after Colorado won?

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#89 Willi P
February 02 2013, 07:16PM
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Willi P wrote:

Refs call them as they see them Oilertown. Don't make excuses. How does your crow taste after trolling the other night in FN after Colorado won?

And in case you can't remember, here is your double post below;

#103 OilertownFebruary 01 2013, 05:01PM

+1 0 props

Oilertown wrote:

Pssst have a look at the standings and we just came off playing the hottest team in the league and stealing a point. Have fun finishing 9th AGAIN this year and watching the boys on the golf course while the good team to the north has there first playoff birth of many many. ;) Oilertown wrote:

Forgot to mention Lames just played the WORST team in the league and couldn't even get a point lolololololol.

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#90 andrewmk20
February 02 2013, 08:15PM
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@dougtheslug

Just one thing about the 2007 draft as well. It was the weakest draft since the lockout. Not a lot of NHL regulars out of the first three rounds. Scouts believe this year could be the strongest since 2008 and unlike that draft offers equal amounts of prospects up front and on the back end. Also you shouldn't completely clean house yet until they reveal the new draft lottery system as the new system is supposed to create enough balance to discourage a team from circling the toilet on purpose like Edmonton has since 2009.

Another reason would be that keeping some key veterans is a necessity. Filip Kuba really helped Erik Karlsson's game last year by playing the role of the stay at home reliable defender and taking the brunt of the physical punishment with his size. Calgary has some really good character veterans they shouldn't jettison. They should keep Iginla and Bouwmeester and deal guys like Cammalleri and if he plays well and raises his value someone like Hudler as well. These guys have value and are still in their prime age and teams always look for offensive depth come playoff time.

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#91 Walter Sobchak
February 02 2013, 09:47PM
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I fear Dubnyk can't keep this pace up, lack of 5x5 scoring and facing 35+ shots a game is a pre curser of very bad things to come.

I thought Dubnyk was a risk, boy was I wrong, he's a huge reason why the Oilers are in most games this season.

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#92 dougtheslug
February 02 2013, 09:49PM
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andrewmk20 wrote:

Just one thing about the 2007 draft as well. It was the weakest draft since the lockout. Not a lot of NHL regulars out of the first three rounds. Scouts believe this year could be the strongest since 2008 and unlike that draft offers equal amounts of prospects up front and on the back end. Also you shouldn't completely clean house yet until they reveal the new draft lottery system as the new system is supposed to create enough balance to discourage a team from circling the toilet on purpose like Edmonton has since 2009.

Another reason would be that keeping some key veterans is a necessity. Filip Kuba really helped Erik Karlsson's game last year by playing the role of the stay at home reliable defender and taking the brunt of the physical punishment with his size. Calgary has some really good character veterans they shouldn't jettison. They should keep Iginla and Bouwmeester and deal guys like Cammalleri and if he plays well and raises his value someone like Hudler as well. These guys have value and are still in their prime age and teams always look for offensive depth come playoff time.

But, as you say,GM's will probably think twice about trading first rounders for the likes of Cammalleri. Unless they are late first rounders.Even so, the vaunted 2008 draft yielded only a handful of bonafide superstars(so far, of course, not all the returns are in) in the first round, a dozen or so serviceable NHLers, and 10 or 12 that are rapidly descending into the "bust" category. Relying on the draft to rebuild, unless you are picking top three for a few years seems to be like depending on Lotto 6-49 for your pension.

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#93 etownman
February 02 2013, 11:08PM
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For some reason the Oilers are getting no love from the refs? This is some of the worst refereeing I have ever seen! Don't get me wrong, the Oil can definately play better but they are getting no breaks from the zebras & thus the Oil don't get to unleash their greatest weapon, the PP!

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#94 Romanus
February 03 2013, 12:27AM
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Poolanov wrote:

Brutal game by Sam Gagner. Its like he hates his linemates.

Really?

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#95 dougtheslug
February 03 2013, 01:42AM
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Willi P wrote:

Refs call them as they see them Oilertown. Don't make excuses. How does your crow taste after trolling the other night in FN after Colorado won?

I believe the expression is, "He who laughs last, laughs best".And I thought the Oilers had exhausted all the creative ways to lose.

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#96 Willi P
February 03 2013, 08:47AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

I believe the expression is, "He who laughs last, laughs best".And I thought the Oilers had exhausted all the creative ways to lose.

It appears that the Oil don't have the monopoly on creative ways to lose. The team down South outshot the Hawks last night 47 to 19 and outchanced them 35-8! But, they still found a way to give it to the Hawks in the shoot out.

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#97 dougtheslug
February 03 2013, 10:33AM
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The next step is you say to yourself,"Hey, we played great!We should have won. We just have to play that way every night and we'll be fine. The fans were excited.Yeah, the standings say we are in last place but we play an exciting brand of last place hockey.*"

The next thing you know, your GM is standing at the podium, saying, "the Calgary flames are proud to select, first overall in the 2013 draft....."

Been there, done that.

*ELPH (ON registered trademark)

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#98 Willi P
February 03 2013, 11:45AM
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dougtheslug wrote:

The next step is you say to yourself,"Hey, we played great!We should have won. We just have to play that way every night and we'll be fine. The fans were excited.Yeah, the standings say we are in last place but we play an exciting brand of last place hockey.*"

The next thing you know, your GM is standing at the podium, saying, "the Calgary flames are proud to select, first overall in the 2013 draft....."

Been there, done that.

*ELPH (ON registered trademark)

Well said Doug.

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#99 Old Retired Guy
February 03 2013, 01:07PM
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Officials had nothing to do with that loss.

Your gonna win some you shoulda lost and lose some you shoulda won.

Kudos to Hemsky, Dubnyk (no weak goals against Colorado), and maybe even Belanger.

As for teams finishing near the bottom, we should be cheering for any team that plays Anahiem as we have their second round pick this year (via the Cogliano trade) and most prognasticators say that the draft is deep with value through to pick 50 or so. Need Anahiem to finish in the bottom 15 to secure ourselves 3 picks in the top 50.....

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