The Oilers are finally back, as the players were put through their annual medicals today. All the vets came in healthy and will be on the ice tomorrow. The same can’t be said for their head coach, as Craig MacTavish had his right hand bandaged after having surgery to repair some damaged tendons on his hand. MacT joked that hopefully it will just be the coaching staff on the injured list this season.
Some interesting points from Day 1
It sounds like MacTavish has his top three line combinations set, and there was one major surprise. Oiler fans, your third line centre will be…
Marc Pouliot? No…
Kyle Brodziak? Not yet…
Dustin Penner? Negative…
It will be none of than Fernando Pisani.
MacTavish said he is leaning to trying Pisani in the middle with Moreau on the left side and Dustin Penner moving to the right side. This is a shocker, but to me it shows that right now there isn’t much faith in Pouliot being a centre on this team. Brodziak has a lock on the 4th line centre and if the Pisani experiment doesn’t work, he will get a shot on the 3rd line.
MacT also said you can pencil in Zack Stortini to be the 4th line right winger on opening night. So that leaves the left side of the 4th line as the only position up for grabs heading into camp. Meaning Marc Pouliot, Gilbert Brule and Rob Schremp are the three leading candidates to get the job. J.F Jacques’ back has acted up again and it sounds like he is destined for surgery more than a spot on the roster.
As expected the kid line will play together and MacT is curious to see how they look. “We have to give them a chance to grow together, and put them back in a position to succeed.”
The defence will be paired by the Alphabet
The “S’s” will play together, Staios and Souray.
The “G’s” will start beside one another, Gilbert and Grebeshkov.
And the “L’s”, Lubomir and Ladislav will be a pair. This pairing will depend on the health of Smid, who still isn’t 100% healthy on his surgically repaired knee. He says it’s about 85% and needs to see how it responds in one-on-one battles.
Horcoff in great shape
Shawn Horcoff has added five pounds to his upper body, and it showed during the fitness testing. While we aren’t privy to the exact numbers, during one strength test that involves essentially spinning a wheel that is loaded down with weights, Horcoff ripped through it while some teammates struggled. Horcoff seems determined to pick up where he left off last year, and will play and produce like an All Star.
Check in all weekend to read my reports from the first one-ice sessions through to the Joey Moss Cup.
– You can hear Jason weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m. on the TEAM 1260, or listen online at www.justagame.ca