The next three games will sort out pretenders from the contenders when it comes to who makes the final roster.
The Oilers are icing a squad that includes players who have all played in the NHL, and the Flames roster is fairly close as well. These rosters will give the coaches a more clear evaluation of which guys can produce and compete in the regular season.
The biggest surprise for tonight is that J.F Jacques gets to ride shotgun with Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky. Even Jacques himself is surprised he’s been given a chance to skate beside Horcoff throughout the pre-season.
“I didn’t expect to be given this chance, and it has been great. I just have to continue to show the coaches I can contribute. Even now, though, I wouldn’t expect to start the year in the top six.”
Jacques isn’t alone in that thought process, but if he continues to hit and chip in with some points, Quinn might shock everyone and leave him there.
Quinn hasn’t been happy with the play of some of his veterans to this point in the pre-season. He feels some are only playing hard when they have the puck, but aren’t working hard enough without it. He did admit that it might be because it was the early pre-season games, but starting tonight that excuse goes out the window.
Here’s the lineup for tonight’s tilt.
Jacques — Horcoff — Hemsky
Comrie — O’Sullivan — Stone
Moreau — Cogliano — Brennan
Penner — Brule — Nilsson
Souray — Gilbert
Visnovsky — Grebeshkov
Smid — Strudwick
Khabibulin and Deslauriers
Quinn has a one mucker/grinder type of player on every line, and yesterday he admitted he is more about finding pairs than a complete trio. Dominant and even consistent lines are rare in today’s game. The Ducks have one in Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan. The Sharks have Setoguchi, Thornton and Heatley, but they are rare in today’s game.
And tonight’s lineup also has three offensive oriented lines, and Moreau’s grinder-like line. I get the sense that Quinn might lean more to that type of roster, rather than two top lines, a checking line and 4th line of crashers and bangers. He seems like he’s leaning toward having someone with grit on each line.
Most of the returning forwards have talked about how this system forces them to work harder and skate much more. Quinn wants them to be a much better puck-retrieving team, and that could be why he wants one gritty/physical player on each line. Someone needs to be able to go get the puck. Of course he will want Hemsky, Gagner, Comrie and O’Sullivan to compete hard and go get the puck as well.
Steve Staios was skating Monday with Theo Peckham and Toni Rajala when the rest of the team had the day off. He has some sort of upper body injury it looks like, but it didn’t look too serious based on how he practiced yesterday with the entire team.
Brennan is itching to drop the mitts and show the coaching staff he can excel in that department. Look for him to find a partner tonight. He was joking yesterday that he has been too much of a choir boy so far.
This is two straight games that we’ve seen Nilsson play the right side. He said openly before camp that he is just as comfortable on either wing, and if O’Sullivan stays in the middle of on the left side, there is a void after Hemsky on the RW. Nilsson needs to be more of an impact if he wants to win that job. So far in camp he has been just okay.
The Flames will ice a veteran-heavy lineup as well tonight.
Sjostrom Jokinen Iginla
Bourque Langkow Dawes
Glencross Lundmark Fleury
Stuart Jaffrey Prust
Kiprusoff looks like he will start in goal.
Interesing to note that Sjostrom gets a shot on the top line similar to Jacques for the Oilers. They Flames brought an extra D-man, so one will sit, and it looked like Pardy, Stralman or Kronwall would be that guy.