Craig MacTavish has traditionally provided a sneak peek at his regular season line-up in the final game of pre-season, and it doesn’t look like the Edmonton Oilers bench boss is straying far from that against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Centre tonight.
Looking at MacTavish’s line-up card, there’s no major surprises, although it’s noteworthy that tough guy Steve MacIntyre will draw in for a second straight game after punching tough Jim Vandermeer into snot-bubble-blowing submission in Friday’s 4–3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames.
In terms of tonight’s first three lines, MacTavish is dressing the threesomes he intends to start the regular season with when the puck drops against the Colorado Avalanche Sunday.
As far as tonight’s fourth line goes, MacIntyre gets his second straight game by drawing in for Zack Stortini, while Marc Pouliot stays in. I wouldn’t read too much into that as it only makes sense MacTavish wants to get another look at MacIntyre after his bruising debut in Calgary.
When the regular season begins, expect to see Pouliot on left wing with Kyle Brodziak at centre and Stortini on the right side as the fourth line. It’ll be MacIntyre who gets the 13th and final roster spot for forwards.
As is stands, that leaves Gilbert Brule and Rob Schremp, both scratched tonight, with tickets to Springfield.
The back end
The top two defensive pairings are what fans can expect to open the season. I’d expect to see Ladislav Smid alongside Steve Staios against the Avalanche, but Strudwick draws in tonight.
If anything, I was guessing Staios would get a night off against Dallas to regroup after a tough game in Calgary, but it’s Smid who sits tonight. I’m told, though, MacTavish and Staios had a long conversation today.
Anyway, when the final cuts are made look for Smid back beside Staios with Strudwick as the seventh D-man.
It’s not exactly stop-the-presses-stuff that it’ll be Taylor Chorney, Theo Peckham and Mathieu Roy who are headed to the AHL.
And… the Oilers will take Monday off and skate Tuesday morning at Rexall Place—at which time it’s likely the last cuts will be made—before leaving for Jasper… by the way, Mathieu Garon will get the start in goal tonight.