Yesterday, Wanye predicted his star of the year, which unofficially dropped the puck on another NHL season here on the Nation. Many of you will now enter at least 23 different NHL drafts or pools, you’ll perfect your game day routine, kiss your significant other and tell her you’ll see her in May (or April if you think the Oilers haven’t improved), take your Oiler jersey off the hanger, pre-write excuses for your boss as to why you are late and only use them the day after a big Oiler win, or a loss, and you will stare lovingly at your new Pat Quinn “He is God” poster that you bought. That’s right, Nation, the Oilers are officially back tonight.
The Oilers will have a morning skate at 9:00am and then hop on a plane to Calgary, take a nap and then get to the rink.
**Update…Here are the lines for tonight.
O’Sullivan — Comrie — Stone
Jacques — Horcoff — Schremp
Brennan — Paukovich -Stortini
Moreau — Potulny — Minard
Gilbert — Chorney
Staios — Arsene
Plante — Strudwick
I know that Dubnyk will get the start and Deslauriers will back him up.
One of the more intriguing story lines will be whether Theo Fleury suits up in a Flames jersey, since he was traded to the Avalanche for Regehr and others.
You might hate Fleury, and most Oilers fans probably hurl when they see the video of that waterbug sliding on his knees all the way down the ice after scoring the OT winner in game six. But if that pisses you off, just remember that another pest, Esa Tikkanen scored the winner in game seven in Calgary two nights later.
Pre-season is hard to gauge, because many of the players on the ice won’t be here come October, but it is also the first opportunity for Quinn and company to see some of these players in game action.
First line really?
JF Jacques gave me a pretty good insight on how players look at themselves. The roster for the first two pre-season games is on the wall in the players lounge, and yesterday Jacques took a look to see when he was playing.
The lineup is printed out how we normally do it, with the alleged first line on top and then it goes downwards to the fourth line. He told me he scanned the 3rd and 4th lines for both games and didn’t see his name. He was a bit dejected and decided to double check, and he was stunned when he noticed his name on the first line for tonight.
“I’m not thinking I’m a first line player, but it is exciting to get to play with Horc and Schremp. They are both very creative and I think it should be lots of fun, but I have to play my game and not get too fancy. I remember I didn’t even get to play in an exhibition game my first camp, and normally I’ve only played with checkers so tomorrow should be fun.”
The fact Jacques missed his name on the first line, shows he knows where he’ll fit on this team, and that’s what he needs if he wants to be an everyday player. “I’m tired of spending more time as a healthy scratch, and I want to become an everyday player this year.”
I asked Devan Dubnyk about the memory of his first pre-season game.
“My first game Markkanen got hurt, so they told me I would dress but only back up Deslauriers. But then they pulled him midway through the second. I didn’t have much time to get nervous and I played okay in Dallas, but my first game in Calgary was the worst.
“I was backing up Ty Conklin and he injured himself late in the first period, and during the intermission I’m in my stall and he has his skate off. With four minutes to go in intermission I look at his stall and all his gear is there, so I realize I’m going in.
“Calgary is my hometown so I was really nervous. They pumped three goals by me in the first five minutes. I didn’t have a chance on two of them, but I’m crouching in my net after the third goal thinking we are going to lose twenty to nothing and there is no other goalie on the bench. I was pretty stressed at that moment. Thankfully they didn’t score after that, and we lost three nothing, but it ended up way better than it started,” he said laughing.
You can bet he’ll be much calmer tonight; in fact he was really pumped to be getting the call in game one. He admitted that for the first time in his career he feels he is ready to play in the NHL and wants to prove that starting tonight.
With Brennan dressed expect some fireworks. He believes he can really push MacIntryre to be the other tough, even though he’d have to be really good, because right now he only has an AHL contract.
MacT starts early
TSN sent out a release today announcing that Craig MacTavish will be in studio for 25 games, debuting September 21st when Pittsburgh faces Montreal.
MacT was never one to be love with the media, and now that he is “one”, he had some fun with it.
“I’m happy to finally be among the experts where the issues are many and the solutions obvious. I appreciate TSN providing a safe haven for unemployed coaches as we rehabilitate ourselves towards future employability.”