The Oilers looked like a team a few days before the start of the season, with 24 players, five coaches and third goalie Floyd Whitney on the ice for the morning skate today. They went through a bevy of cross-ice and two-on-two, and two-on-one passing drills. Sad thing is they didn’t come close to scoring as often as Peter Pocklington has been charged by creditors.
Sheldon Souray was out there and took part in every drill so he will suit up tonight. Ethan Moreau also skated hard, while wearing the darkest colour-tinted visor I’d seen, so expect him to play as well.
Moreau’s visor makes him look a bit like a Euro, but he insisted his game won’t change due to the visor.
What will change is the lineup. Moreau and Penner will dress tonight, and they’ll play on the same line with Kyle Brodziak.
21 – 10 – 83
12 – 89 – 78
19 – 13 – 34
18 – 51 – 27
This is how they will start but if the Kovalchuk – White – Little line gives the Oilers problems don’t be surprised to see Horcoff, Moreau and Pisani become a trio to try and shut them down.
MacTavish admitted the lines could become very interchangeable tonight. Altanta coach John Anderson told me yesterday on my show that he likes to juggle his lines a lot, so expect to see many different combinations tonight.
A Horcoff – Moreau – Pisani trio could become reality down the stretch as a shut-down line.
Don’t think MacTavish doesn’t listen to the radio or read the Internet based on his comments today. He was asked about O’Sullivan and his overall game.
“I’m trying to find offensive opportunities for O’Sullivan. I want to get him some power-play time. I’m not going to pigeon-hole him as a checker just yet, that’s apparently my expertise to turn offence into checkers. He is in the process right now, (he laughs) but hopefully he has more goals in him.”
It looks like MacTavish is going with his most offensive unit of the season. The competition for ice-time tonight should be fierce, and if players are going early MacTavish said they will play more.
The Thrashers are playing well right now, going 6-3-1 in their last ten, with Johan Hedberg between the pipes, so the Oilers can’t overlook the lottery-bound Thrashers.
Their top line of Kovalchuk – White – Little have combined for 82 goals and 183 points, compared to Hemsky – Horcoff – Penner’s 49 goals and 128 points. Look for Souray and Staios to match up against that line.