WCOH GAME 2: Canada vs. USA

Jason Gregor
September 20 2016 12:20PM

What a glorious day.

Canada can knock the USA out of the tournament with a victory tonight. A win would give the Red and White a 2-0 record and guarantee them a berth in the playoff round, along with Team Europe, while the USA would play the Czech Republic in a meaningless game on Thursday.

How fun would it be to end the American's tournament after only two games? I'd say about a trillion times more fun than it was to be a fan of any Canadian NHL team last year. You've earned it.

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Questions on defence: Part Two

Jason Gregor
September 19 2016 11:00AM

Today is part two of my seven-part series on the Oilers' defence, and I will focus on Brandon Davidson. We looked at Oscar Klefbom in part one.

Davidson was very good last year -- the only downside was he missed 24 games due to injury. He exceeded everyone's expectations, even the coaches, considering he was a healthy scratch in seven of their first eight games.

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Hendricks: "We need to be a confident group"

Jason Gregor
September 16 2016 02:00PM

Oilers veteran Matt Hendricks is always a good player to speak with about the state of the Oilers. He doesn't give cliche answers, and he'll talk openly and honestly about the team.

Training camp is one week away. The Oilers had a strong camp last season, but it did not result in a good regular season. This year must be different, and Hendricks began our conversation discussing what he believes will be the most important factor for the Oilers success.

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Questions on defence: Part One

Jason Gregor
September 15 2016 11:16AM

Oscar is ready! #NHL #oilers #YEG

A photo posted by OilersNation (@officialoilersnation) on

There has been a lot of discussion and debate in Oilersnation about forward line combinations and the best combos for success. It is in an interesting topic, but for me the play of the Oilers defencemen will have a much larger impact on where they finish in the standings.

The Oilers overall team defence needs to improve, but the play of the D-men will be crucial if they hope to lower their goals against. Of course Cam Talbot will need to play well, but he doesn't need to be out of this world if the defence is solid. Last season 19 goalies started 50+ games, and Talbot's .917sv% was 12th.

Only Ben Bishop (.926), Cory Schneider, Corey Crawford (.924), Braden Holtby, Roberto Luongo (.922), Marc-Andre Fleury (.921) and Henrk Lundqvist (.920) were above .920. If Talbot had allowed five fewer goals he'd been at .920. Better defence should lean do fewer quality scoring chances, and I believe Talbot is good enough to be around .920 this season.

Will the defencemen be better?

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Versteeg discusses PTO, leadership and being versatile

Jason Gregor
September 13 2016 04:00PM

The Oilers signed Kris Versteeg to a PTO (Professional Tryout) last Friday. The 30-year-old will come to camp and try to earn a contract and spot on the right wing. He had 15 goals and 38 points last season, split between Carolina and Los Angeles. He's played 550 NHL games and 89 playoff games, winning two Stanley Cups as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Versteeg is an intriguing player. He is very versatile and can play both wings and anywhere in your lineup. I had him on my radio show after he signed and he sounded very excited for the opportunity to play in Edmonton.

We discussed his recent release/void contract from Bern, leadership, being a prankster and the challenge of coming to camp on a PTO.

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