While everyone is focusing on the debut of Mats Sundin tonight, Oilers fans will see Gilbert Brule on the first line for the first time. Brule and Reddox took turns on the RW at the morning skate today, but Brule tipped me off that he will be on the wing tonight.
For Brule this is the first opportunity to play in a true offensive role in the NHL and he is excited.
“It’s a great chance to think offence. I know that I just have to play a simple game and focus more on getting into spaces where I can score,” said Brule.
The other aspect about Brule’s game that should come in handy tonight against the pesky Canucks is his willingness to play gritty. With disturbers and pests like Kesler and Burrows, if Brule can bring that element tonight that could go a long way for him staying in the line-up, at least until Hemsky returns.
JF Jacques skated with his teammates for the first time this season, but he is still a long ways away from playing. Jacques’ back is still sore from the surgery and he is looking at getting in a game sometime in February. But that will be in the AHL with the Springfield Falcons and it is very doubtful that he will play with the Oilers this season.
Steve MacIntyre saw the doctor yesterday and it looks like he will be cleared to play in ten days, but the way the fourth line is playing right now it will be hard for him to get in the line-up. Expect him to get a two-week conditioning stint in Springfield to try and get in game shape.
Dwayne Roloson will start in goal tonight for the Oilers. Shawn Horcoff said his back is feeling much better today, and it shouldn’t give him any trouble tonight.
Mats Sundin will skate with Kyle Wellwood and former Camrose Kodiak Mason Raymond tonight, while Pavol Demitra will skate with the Sedin sisters.
The Canucks long term plan is to use Demitra and Sundin as a pair, with the Sisters on the other line, and the other winger will be on a rotation basis, based on who is playing well and which guy has chemistry with the specific pair.