GDB 77: This is it

Jason Gregor
March 31 2009 12:03PM

gdb77

Tonight is do or die for the Oilers. I know they have five more games, but if they lose in regulation tonight they won't make playoffs. We all know this but let's go on record saying: a loss puts them three back of the Ducks, and possibly five back of Nashville if they beat Columbus. Five games remaining won't be enough time to make up those points.

Unfortunately a win doesn't guarantee they make the playoffs, but for their psyche they need a win tonight. The players had another closed door meeting before practice yesterday. Having another one after a loss tonight becomes redundant, and if the message didn't sink in after yesterday's session it never will.

Rather than be upset, frustrated, annoyed, pissed off or scared, Oiler fans should embrace tonight's game. It will be the most intense game you have witnessed all season. You will race home, kiss the wife, play with the kids for a few minutes but YOU know that come 7:30 you will be planted firmly on the coach, bevy in hand, chips in the bowl, leaning forward towards the TV with your hands clenched waiting for the puck to drop.

And you know you will be filled with nervous anticipation. There will be at least two dust ups tonight, four or five big hits and hopefully many goals. Rexall Place will be loud, because even though the masses are pissed and ready to hang MacT, most of you can't bring yourself not to cheer for your team in such a meaningful game.  That's being an Oilers fan folks.

Games like tonight are what make sports great. All those dud games in Nov, Dec and Sunday against the Wild are a distant memory now. Tonight all you care about is seeing a win, because at least that keeps the dream alive for a few more games.

A loss tonight and the dream is over for another season. No possible drunk chicks flashing you on Whyte, no chance the wife watches the game in just an Oiler jersey and no house parties or nights out watching the playoffs with the Boys.

It is excruciatingly simple for the Oilers: Win and you stay alive. Lose and you play out the string.

Good to see it's the Ducks

The Ducks are the perfect opponent for a game of this magnitude. They play tough, physical and have loads of top-end skill. If the Oilers dont show up tonight they will not only lose, but get humiliated at home. The Ducks bring out the emotion of the Oilers. The Oilers actually play with a pulse when the Human Rake and company come to town.

More often than not this year the Oilers have looked as prepared as your drunk Uncle emceeing a family wedding. You know the guy who thinks he is funny at the family summer picnic, yet when he gets on the mic at the wedding his stories suck, his jokes are stolen from some lame website, and the program rolls as smoothly as the Best Man's toast about the groom and his past conquests.

The Oilers will be ready to play tonight. I dont know if they will win, but tonight's effort will be one of the few times this year that they are prepared. There was a playoff energy in the locker room this morning. Players smiled when asked about the intensity, and expected physical play tonight.

Last December when the Ducks came to town the Oilers played their best home game of the year even though they lost in a SO. They out shot the Ducks 53-36, they killed off seven of eight powerplays and engaged the Ducks physically at every turn. In fact, the Ducks are only 2 for 19 on the PP against the Oilers this year. I cant explain why when you look at the Ducks firepower, but the Oilers PK is actually good against them.

The Oilers won both games in Anaheim, despite being outshot in both. Expect the trend of the home team getting more shots to continue this evening.

The Oilers just wrapped up a crisp morning skate. There wasnt much standing around, passes were on the tape, they actually scored some goals in practice and to a man they looked ready. The only concern is that even in practice, it looked like Horcoff was still struggling to finish.

The most frustrating thing to watch today was Grebeshkov in a shooting drill. He scored on three consecutive slap shots, two from the high slot and another from blueline. Why he doesn't shoot during the game remains a mystery. Though he did have three shots on goal the last time the Ducks were in town, so he might actually take a shot tonight. He has a measly 53 shots on net this year.

They didnt do any line rushes, but there wont be any lineup changes, outside of Peckham drawing in for Smid.

COLOSSAL FOSSIL SETS RECORD

Tonight Dwayne Roloson will become the oldest goalie to play in 60 games in a season. The CF will start his start his 33rd consecutive game tonight, and like most games during the previous 32 he will need to be one of their top three players if the Oilers hope to stay in the playoff race.

Enjoy the afternoon planning your playoff experience tonight, hopefully for Oiler fans you get a few more opportunities to feel the anticipation and excitement this April.

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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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#301 Charlie
March 31 2009, 10:57PM
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Damn. Go Oilers.

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#302 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 11:02PM
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@ jeanshorts: *sees jeanshorts put the tape in and dreams of the Oilers coming to his house in the rain and raising their boomboxes over their heads. Closes eyes and can faintly hear Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"*

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#303 David S
March 31 2009, 11:08PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

great, just another thing MacT can blame on Penner

I get the MacT angst thing and all. It sure is fun. But he screwed himself into the ground knowingly taking a chance like that. Then he takes personal responsibility on national TV for sabotaging the comeback. There's a time to crap on a guy and a time to give it a rest. This is the latter.

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#304 Archaeologuy
March 31 2009, 11:11PM
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@ David S: Really? I didnt get the memo.

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#305 jeanshorts
March 31 2009, 11:12PM
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@ David S:

I'll agree that it was really nice to see him man up. And I don't even care that he made the call, because really what did he have to lose?

I don't forgive him for the rest of the year, but for tonight, not 100 percent of the blame should fall on him.

FMNF, and just put him out of his damn misery already.

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#306 Deans
March 31 2009, 11:32PM
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I actaully liked the stick call by MacT. They were desperate and they resorted to a desperate tactic. It didnt work but had it have worked, they might still be able to make the playoffs.

There was another coaching decision that baffled me. With the score 1-0 the Oilers, in all there infinite wisdom, decide to engage in two straight fights. With the momentum clearly on your side, what is the point of stopping play for five minutes to engage in meaningless fights. The game was different after those fights. Are The Oilers just trying to prove to the world that they are tougher guys then the Ducks? Next time, lets just get it over with, take them out and measure them, so we can move on and play hockey.

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#307 Hockey Gods
March 31 2009, 11:46PM
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Well boys beore the game I eluded to a 2006 playoff run type of atmosphere. Well tonight after the game I seen some similarities, a city banned together after the game tonight.

Sure in 06 the city banned together in hopes of a Stanely cup, this year it is different. I remember driving home after game 6 when knocked off the Wings, I we were on our way to Whyte ave and stopped at a set of lights. Every car had heir windows openned chanting Go-Oil-GO.

Tonight on my way home, I got a chant started at a set the set of lights on Argyll Road and 75th street. Not a word of a lie my car and the truck next to me got most vehicles at the intersection chanting FIRE MAC-T.

FMNF FMNF FMNF

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#308 Hockey Gods
March 31 2009, 11:46PM
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Oh and Lowe should get the eff out of town too, he created this mess.

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#309 Jason Gregor
April 01 2009, 12:01AM
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David S wrote:

And from the interviews on TSN, it sounds like Penner gave MacT the info. Makes sense. He played with Selanne.

That isn't true. I asked Penner directly. He told me the video coach asked him in the morning and Penner said he wasn't 100% sure. He said MacT never asked him during the game. He hasn't been there in two years, so it would be hard to assume that because Selanne had an illegal stick then, that he would have one now.

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#310 David S
April 01 2009, 12:26AM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

That isn’t true. I asked Penner directly. He told me the video coach asked him in the morning and Penner said he wasn’t 100% sure. He said MacT never asked him during the game. He hasn’t been there in two years, so it would be hard to assume that because Selanne had an illegal stick then, that he would have one now.

Fair enough Jason. Like I said, it "sounded" like it was Penner from his post game interview. Regardless, MacT felt he had enough intel to go for it. Gutsy move and I applaud him for doing so given the personal consequences of being wrong.

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#311 Jack "FMNF" Bauer
April 01 2009, 12:28AM
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@ Jason Gregor:

So then where did MacT get this awesome piece of intellegence? Or better yet, what made MacT think it was a great idea to kill whatever momentum they had based on "some reliable information"?

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#312 TonyT
April 01 2009, 12:36AM
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@ Oilersnation:

It's been good, we've debated and laughed at pretty much everything this year's team has done (or should have done), and when all was said and done, it didn't really matter. This year has been the toughest for me personally to be an Oilers fan, but we've stuck through it and supported our team. 5 games left, there really isn't anything left to do but cheer, either they lose as expected or we experience another Oilers miracle. So I look forward to cheering with all of you against whoever is playing Vancouver or Calgary! go Oilers go...

@ Gregor:

Too much on this team needs fixing, having said that if the Oilers make only one move this off-season, what should it be?

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#313 Victoria
April 01 2009, 12:42AM
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I'm going to hate living here in Vancouver for the next few months. Thanks for nothing, Oilers (not including you Roli).

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#314 Rob
April 01 2009, 08:22AM
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David S wrote:

Jason Gregor wrote: That isn’t true. I asked Penner directly. He told me the video coach asked him in the morning and Penner said he wasn’t 100% sure. He said MacT never asked him during the game. He hasn’t been there in two years, so it would be hard to assume that because Selanne had an illegal stick then, that he would have one now. Fair enough Jason. Like I said, it “sounded” like it was Penner from his post game interview. Regardless, MacT felt he had enough intel to go for it. Gutsy move and I applaud him for doing so given the personal consequences of being wrong.

You applaud him for doing so?? hahaha. We had momentum going, over two minutes left and our leader sinks us with a penalty on some petty little useless factor in the game. I applaud him for signing his own walking papers with that move, horrible. So if Selanne had a blade thats 1cm less wide do we win that game?? what a joke.

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#315 Dr_oil
April 01 2009, 09:16AM
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Rob wrote:

You applaud him for doing so?? hahaha. We had momentum going, over two minutes left and our leader sinks us with a penalty on some petty little useless factor in the game. I applaud him for signing his own walking papers with that move, horrible. So if Selanne had a blade thats 1cm less wide do we win that game?? what a joke.

Rob, the point of the call was to get us a powerplay. It had nothing to do with Selanne really. It was all about getting a powerplay.

Brutal call though. Our PP sucks so we would have been better off 5 on 5 then pull the goalie.

Oh well, at least Oilers playoff hockey won't get in the way of my camping season. Only the friggin snow is getting in the way of that now.

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#316 Rob
April 01 2009, 09:28AM
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@ Dr_oil:

I realise they wanted a powerplay. I just though it was a lame attempt by a coach who has run out of options.

What I meant was, who cares if his stick was a little too wide?? Does it really matter that much?? Especially at that point in the game?? If he did play that entire game with an illegal stick and they won, was the deciding factor a wide blade, I doubt it.

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#317 David S
April 01 2009, 09:49AM
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Rob wrote:

I realise they wanted a powerplay. I just though it was a lame attempt by a coach who has run out of options. What I meant was, who cares if his stick was a little too wide?? Does it really matter that much?? Especially at that point in the game?? If he did play that entire game with an illegal stick and they won, was the deciding factor a wide blade, I doubt it.

A 6 on 4 powerplay could have been the deciding factor. The Ducks would have called a timeout regardless to settle their guys down, so the "breaking momentum" thing is overblown.

Think of it this way. Selanne gets 2, we get a goal on the PP and win it in overtime with our momentum. Next day we're thinking twice about FMNF. That's how it goes. MacT took a huge chance which he considered (at the time) winnable. He didn't and sucked it up in front of the media scrum. I wish some of our other guys like "Thecaptainethanmoreau" would do the same. High risk - high reward. THAT's Oilers hockey BTW.

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#318 Rob
April 01 2009, 10:58AM
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@ David S:

I see where you are coming from for sure. Thanks for the reply. I just thought it was a huge gamble at a critical moment in the game. It felt like a cheap way to try to win a game, but a win is a win I suppose. And considering how bad our PP is, it seemed a little pointless to me. Like you said though, high risk - high reward.

"Next day we’re thinking twice about FMNF".....Never, I've been thinking FMNF for over a year now. A crazy gamble over something as lame as a wide blade isn't going to change my mind, win or lose. I want playoff hockey as much as any oil fan in alberta but I think I want mact gone just as much.

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