The fifth place Oilers take on the seventh place Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. I’m positive that is the first time we’ve ever been able to write that sentence, as both teams are off to good starts. The Oilers, 5-2-1 are two points back of the Flames, while the Jackets, 5-2-0 are one point behind Chicago in the Central with two games in hand.
Gilbert Brule didn’t skate this morning and it seems unlikely that he will play tonight. Mike Comrie is also under the weather a bit, but word is they think he will be able to gut it out tonight. Ladislav Smid was back on the ice and it looks like he’ll go.
With Brule out, that means Steve MacIntyre will draw in, but expect a mixed bag of lines tonight.
Line rushes didn’t show us anything to tip us off. The new combinations of Dustin Penner/Sam Gagner/Ales Hemsky and Mike Comrie/Shawn Horcoff/Patrick O’Sullivan will be used, but with Brule out they might have to juggle and move Comrie into the middle.
We might see:
- Penner – Gagner – Hemsky
- Nilsson – Horcoff – O’Sullivan
- Jacques – Cogliano – Moreau
- MacIntyre – Comrie – Stortini
That is just a guess, but I don’t think you’ll see four set lines tonight. And if Mike Comrie gets worse who will they call up? Jordan Eberle is dominating the WHL and the Regina Pats have today and tomorrow off. Eberle has eleven goals, nineteen points so far this year. Regina is a much closer flight than Springfield so you never know.
This is the Oilers 7th home game out of their first nine, and a win tonight would get them the good start at home they wanted with a 5-1-1 record.
The Blue Jackets are 2-2 on the road this year, but in two of those games they’ve given up six goals, losing 6-3 to both San Jose and Calgary. In their other five games the Jackets have given up six goals, so when they are on they are very good defensively, but if the Oilers can get to them early they’ve shown a tendency to give up a lot.
At the end of practice Zack Stortini was taking draws. Will Pat Quinn put a grind line of Stortini, MacIntyre and Moreau together tonight at times? We will see. If that happens, then Cogliano moves up between Nilsson and Jacques, which might work.
It is all speculation right now as to what the lines might look like, and I really don’t think it matters that much to be honest.
Regardless of who plays together, if they continue to play Quinn’s aggressive style they should be alright.
And Khabibulin left the ice right after practice, so he will get the start tonight.
Well my idea of Eberle won’t happen. The Oilers confirmed that the flu bug is not a good enough reason to get an emergency call up for Eberle. They looked into and the league says that this case wouldn’t fall under the guidelines of emergency call up. So no Eberle.
I was correct though with my hunch of Stortini in the middle.
He will play centre between Moreau and MacIntyre. Stortini played some centre in junior and his first year in the AHL he played centre in Iowa and Milwaukee. He also played the middle this preseason against Tampa Bay. So he has played there before.
Cogliano will move up and centre Jacques and Nilsson.