Tonight: the Oil at the 'Nucks

Jason Gregor
September 23 2008 04:11PM

It seems the Oilers are expecting a more physical game tonight, and coach MacTavish doesn’t want to be out-muscled, so they made a last minute decision and will add Adam Huxley to the line up.

At practice the morning the lines were:

Nilsson – Cogliano – Trukhno Eberle – Brodziak – Lerg Sestito – Spurgeon – Stortini Potulny – Brule – McDonald

Gilbert – Grebeshkov Roy – Strudwick Taylor – Young

Those were the lines at practice, but when the bus was being loaded, Huxley’s bags were thrown in, and it seems that Lerg won’t be making the trip. Lerg has had a very good camp so he will probably play tomorrow against Florida. But tonight Huxley will draw in, and it’s expected that Darcy Hordichuk, Rick Rypien, Byron Ritchie and others will dress tonight for the ‘Nucks.

One of the biggest criticisms of MacTavish has been his unwillingness to allow tough guys to play their role. We all remember the game in 2005 when he told Georges Laraque not to fight Brian McGratton, but it’s hard to come up with other examples in recent memory. If anything, MacT’s coaching fuse has become shorter the past few years, especially when it comes to the Canucks.

Last year, the Canucks and Oilers had as close to a melee as we will see in today’s NHL, when they had 14 fighting majors. Remember last February, when even Sam Gagner got in the action going after Ryan Kesler? Well expect the rivalry to be more heated this year. It started last night when Mason Raymond took a run at Gagner. Even though he missed, the Oilers responded with Benson, Peckham and Smid all trying to get at Raymond.

MacTavish doesn’t want to be out-muscled tonight so Huxley draws in at the last minute. I guaranteed that Benson would go last night, and tonight that guarantee is even easier to make.

Huxley, the pride of Wainwright, will be looking to dance early. I don’t expect the game to match the 14 majors we saw last year, but MacT wants to make sure no one tries to run Nilsson, Cogliano, Brule, etc. While the Oilers don’t have a bona fide top-ten tough guy, I expect them to be in the top third in fights this season. Most of those fights won’t make the highlight reel, but they will show up.

Power-play

Look for Cogliano’s line and the G pairing to get lots of PP time tonight. After seeing the #1 unit, 83,10,26,44 and 71 get most of the PP time last night, expect the same for Cogliano and company tonight. I expect the kids line and the G-men to be the #2 unit most of the season, sprinkled in with a mix of Penner and Pisani at times.

Expect a strong game from Gilbert Brule tonight. Brule is not only making his Oiler debut, but he’s doing it in his hometown.

“I’m excited to get started. I had lots of good junior years in Vancouver so I’m comfortable going there. I need to make a good first impression, and I’m sure I might only get three or four games so I have to make them all count,” said he said.

Brule is also well aware that the only opening right now is the 4th line LW, and while he will play centre tonight, he is comfortable playing the wing if needed.

“The past two years in Columbus I played the wing, and in junior I switched from wing to centre now and then. I just want to make the team, and I don’t care where they put me as long as I’m in the line up.”

Brule could make a good first impression tonight if he showcases his gritty side. It has become obvious that MacTavish recognizes the Canucks are a tough team to play against. They have loads of agitators, and if Brule can create some offence, lay some hits and be involved physically tonight, he could get the coach’s attention.

—Jason Gregor is the sensibly-dressed host of Just A Game, which airs from 3pm to 6pm on the Team 1260.

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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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#1 outKast
September 23 2008, 05:29PM
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PLEA to Tambourine Man: Please trade STAIOS

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#2 B.C.B.
September 23 2008, 05:50PM
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outKast: I don't see why you want to trade Staios. What kind of return would he bring: a fringe bottom 6 forward (we have lots of those and they are young), a old tired defense (like himself), or a young inexperience defenseman (which we don't need). The only way I could see trading him if he was packaged with cogs or sugertits (and a high draft pick) to bring back a superstar defenseman- which are hardly in surplus.

Staios will be fine: give him till the end of TC to get up to speed and limit his minutes to about <20 a game.

PLEA to tambourine man trade moreau before he hurts himself

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#3 doritogrande
September 23 2008, 06:00PM
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I say Strudwick fights before Huxley. Bold move, but Strudwick needs to make some noise for himself if he wants to beat out Ladi.

Then Huxley fights. Then Stortini. Then Brule. Then, for good measure, Roy who will break a bone in his wrist, missing 14 games.

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#4 JJ
September 23 2008, 06:04PM
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Just pointing out, Byron Ritchie is no longer a Canuck.

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#5 doritogrande
September 23 2008, 07:14PM
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Tonight's game appears to be offered live on the Oilers website.

http://oilers.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?catid=616&id=21065

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#6 jdrevenge
September 23 2008, 08:48PM
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Grebs isn't looking so hot tonight. Wonder if he was hanging out with BoBo and Kovalenko last night...

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#7 doritogrande
September 23 2008, 08:56PM
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Okay, so it may be a bit out of order, but I've got both fighters on my card so far.

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#8 outKast
September 23 2008, 10:52PM
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zzzzzz.......

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#9 Stache_master
September 23 2008, 11:45PM
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Just got home from the game. Strudwick looked out of place. Didn't do anything for me. Slower than I had expected. I expect Smid to get most of the games. Truhkno has all kinds of skill and upside. Quite a few "errors" though if you're into that sort of thing. Brods was the best oiler tonight. Roloson was probably second best. Brule had a few good shifts, he looked like with the right linemates he could work out. Eberle was nice to watch actually, he's a player, not a pro yet though. Huxley wrestled Brown to the ice twice and in both fights gave him an extra shot on the ice once they were down. A little bush league if you ask me... still it was nice to see an oiler win a fight. McDonald looks like he could be an NHL player. Nice guy to have in the system.

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#10 DJ Spyn Cycle
September 24 2008, 12:26AM
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Thanks for the post-game, Stache_master.

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