GDB -1: FINAL IMPRESSIONS

Jason Gregor
September 27 2013 12:58PM

The Oilers wrap up the preseason with a tilt against the Dallas/Texas Stars tonight in Oklahoma City. The Oilers currently have 27 players remaining in camp, 23 of them are healthy while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Corey Potter and Denis Grebeshkov will start the season on either the IR or LTIR.

It is the final opportunity to impress head coach Dallas Eakins, and tonight's lineup will be very close to what we see next Tuesday when the Oilers open their 34th NHL season against the Winnipeg Jets.

Unfortunately, the Oilers will once again face a lineup with half a roster of AHL-destined players. The Stars still have 20 forwards and 10 D-men in camp, and last night vs. the Avalanche the Stars dressed about 95% of their opening-night roster, so tonight the Oilers will faceoff against Luke Gazdic, Lane MacDermid, Travis Morin, Chris Mueller, Brett Ritchie, Colton Sceviour and others. The Stars will dress two forward lines of NHL players, but it likely won't be their best lines.

Usually the final preseason games involve more NHL-ready lineups, thus allowing the players to fine-tune their skills as well as giving the coaches a better sense of where their team is at. Eakins won't have that luxury this year.

Eakins mentioned he only worries about how his team plays and I respect that, but if your opponents aren't NHL caliber, is it possible to get an accurate gauge on your team's play? It is easier to defend the aforementioned Stars than it would be trying to shut down Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, Valerie Nichuskin and Shawn Horcoff.

The Oilers will see a few of those players tonight, but not all of them.

LINEUPS

Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
Perron-Gordon-Yakupov
Joensuu-Arcobello-Eberle
MacIntyre-Acton-Brown

Belov-J.Schultz
Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-Larsen

Dubnyk

Perron and Joensuu switched spots in practice yesterday and they'll stay that way tonight. That is interesting considering Perron and Eberle have played very well together. Jordan Eberle leads the NHL in preseason points with 8, while Perron leads the league with 5 preseason goals.

I suspect Eakins is just experimenting. Before leaving Edmonton he said he wanted three balanced scoring lines, and putting Eberle with two guys who played a combined eight NHL games last season seems to contradict that. I'm going to guess he's just looking at different combinations.

The Oilers know what they have in Andrew Ference so he'll get the night off.  Belov playing with Justin Schultz tells me he'll be on the opening night roster, likely in a pairing with Nick Schultz. .

PP UNITS...

The Oilers haven't spent much time practicing their powerplay, but yesterday they did.

The first unit consisted of Hall,Hemsky and Smyth up front with J.Schultz and Yakupov on the points. Yakupov on the right point was a focal point in the previous games, and I'm sure we'll see him unleash his one-timer frequently. Smyth replaces Horcoff in front of the net. I understand wanting to use Yakupov's one-timer, but they should also focus on getting Hall in a good shooting lane. He's got an excellent snap/wrist shot.

The 2nd unit will be Eberle, Arcobello and Joensuu as forwards with Perron and Belov on the point. Belov has a bomb of a shot, while most of the puck movement should go between Eberle and Perron.

When Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner return, the Oilers PP should get even better.

Texas Dallas lineup:

MacDermid-Eakin-Nichushkin
Garbutt-Fiddler-Ritchie
Roussel-Mueller-Sceviour
Gazdic-Morin-Smith

Connauton-Oleksiak
Dillon-Fortunus
Nemeth-Jokipakka

Ellis
Nilstorp

QUICK HITS

  • The Stars new green jerseys look fantastic. I rarely like a new jersey more than the old one, but these ones look great, especially on TV.
     
  • Nichuskin has looked great in the preseason, and he'll start the season in Dallas. If he has a good season, I'm sure some will rip the Oilers for taking Darnell Nurse instead of him. Like most draft years, I think you have to wait at least five years to gauge players, and sometimes even longer, especially when comparing a D-man to a forward. It will be a good debate.
     
  • Remind you to watch my fellow Nation writer, Jason Strudwick, this Sunday evening on Battle of the Blades. Struds informed me that his first outfit is, umm, outside his comfort zone. Can't wait, it will be fun. Break a blade Struds.
     
  • Please do me a favour and sign up for Streakcred. I'm getting sick of Wanye texting me every ten minutes reminding me to add a link in my story. The early bird special is on right now for only $15 a team, and it's addicting. The best part is that in addition to winning some cool prizes, you will also be helping out The Inner City Children's Program. Show the world how smart you are, and help kids eat a healthy meat. It's a win-win. You should sign up here.  

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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#101 YFC Prez
September 27 2013, 07:49PM
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Thank god 3rd period...hopefully they stop playing like the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked!

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#102 konst16
September 28 2013, 12:38AM
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@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

You missed the point.

The NHLPA would care because I doubt the vets would want to play the increased preseason games, for free. How many of them play 6+ games now? I'd think just the younger guys if any..

The rest of your reasoning makes the disconnect clear to me. You could care less about player development..

"rookie camp.. ..who cares" "Starting with a much smaller group.. (of) ..players that matter the most" "value back into those games for the few fans who show up"

We'll have to agree to disagree about how much you are giving up by providing a very small percentage of your prospects experience in an NHL coaching/fitness/game environment.

As for your timeline, are you sure you are not conflating training camp and rookie camp? Training camp can be a maximum of 20 days, the first 5 of which are very limited in terms of time permitted on ice. Good luck squeezing 6 games in less than 10 days (one would assume you'd want at least three days between the last preseason, and first legit games) with a 30 person roster.

I am not suggesting the Oilers picked the right number of players (they invited 63, not 70+ as you suggested for effect), or that more is better (it seems to vary between teams; Det 67; Dal 54; Van 61), just that you are being incredibly shortsighted about player development.

Not to mention presumptuous, suggesting you know better than 30 NHL coaches and 30 NHL GMs.

Either way you certainly seem convinced.

Almost as much as NewAge about his Sys...

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#103 konst16
September 28 2013, 12:40AM
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moving on..

Its easy to say in hind sight, but I think getting smoked is the best thing that could have happened tonight (sorry for those that had to watch). Especially from a coaching point of view.

Motivating the team, and getting it through their head that they are still far from "getting it", should be easier to achieve going into the last few days before the season starts with a 4-0 stinker, than on a winning streak.

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#104 Spydyr
September 28 2013, 07:33AM
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Mikey wrote:

You're right, most days. And since the oilers have sucked the past many years, you've been around a lot. Here's to hopping the oilers win more than lose, even if it only meant you would stop showing up here.

I would like nothing more then the Oilers to start winning.If only the team management would want them to win as much the last few years. It finally looks like the drive for number one overall is over.Now if they could only shore up the center position find a goalie that does not let in a weak goal every fourth period. They might compete for a playoff spot this year.

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#105 oildawg99
September 28 2013, 10:52AM
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konst16 wrote:

moving on..

Its easy to say in hind sight, but I think getting smoked is the best thing that could have happened tonight (sorry for those that had to watch). Especially from a coaching point of view.

Motivating the team, and getting it through their head that they are still far from "getting it", should be easier to achieve going into the last few days before the season starts with a 4-0 stinker, than on a winning streak.

Well said...

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#106 Oiler Al
September 28 2013, 11:09AM
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This teams depth on forward is lower than the bottom of the barrel, and only slightly better on the defense side. But that's what you get your farm team is what two season old/new and your drafting is questionable at best.[excluding the lotto kids ]

Mind you kicking starting the rebuild 3 times in the last seven years and a revolving door for managers and coaches ...Got to give Lowe credit, sure must have some good pictures of Katz from the good old days.I think SMith and Bucky have copies of those same pictures.

Sorry.. no playoffs this year.

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