Meanwhile, in practice-land

skate-or-die-quinn

I spent a bit of time at the Oilers’ skate session today. Ethan Moreau didn’t skate; he pulled something late in the game last night and will be evaluated this afternoon.

The lines looked like this today:

Jacques — Horcoff — Hemsky
Penner — Comrie — O’Sullivan
Cogliano — Gagner — Stortini
Nilsson — Brule — Stone

Reddox, Schremp, MacIntyre, Brennan and Eberle mixed in on different rushes. Moreau, Pouliot and Pisani didn’t skate.

Defence had:

Souray — Staios
Gilbert — Grebeshkov
Smid — Visnovsky
Strudwick — Chorney

Khabibulin, Deslauriers and Dubnyk

If Moreau’s injury isn’t serious, look for him to skate with Cogliano and Gagner, and then Stortini will move down with Brule and Nilsson.

You could see Nilsson and Moreau swap during the game depending on how the game is going. You saw Quinn move Nilsson back with Cogliano and Gagner in the second period when the game became more of a free-wheeling style. If the game is tight, he won’t play them together all the time but has no problem moving Moreau and Nilsson around.

These lines aren’t set in stone, because of the injuries, but they give a pretty good picture of what the opening day roster could look like.

On the blueline, the pairings aren’t set. Quinn said there are lots of discussions still happening amongst the coaches on who will play where.

Today was the most relaxed practice I’d see so far. Quinn had lots of drills focusing on offence and skill. In fact at the end of practice, Hemsky, Gilbert and Penner had to skate three laps as punishment for spraying the goalies with snow. It was not a hard skate, but more of a joke amongst the players.

Quinn also said, “I shouldn’t speculate but I think cuts will occur on Monday.” So we will see how it plays out.

To me Brennan, Reddox, Eberle, Schremp, Chorney and Dubnyk are obvious cuts. That would leave two more forwards to get cut, of course Peckham and Rajala will be re-assigned once they are healthy as well.

  • Fun question:

    If Quinn wants to run power-vs.-power to afford the rest of his lines some shelter, why not swap Penner and Jacques? The Comrie/O'Sullivan combination seemed to do well with Stone, and Jacques is a better player.

  • David Staples wrote:

    These four lines look like the opening game lines to me.

    Except that you have to think Moreau and Pisani (and possibly Pouliot) would draw in as well. Assuming that Jacques keeps the top-line job (?!?) that would mean something like this:

    Jacques – Horcoff – Hemsky
    Penner – Comrie – O'Sullivan
    Cogliano – Gagner – Pisani
    Moreau – Pouliot/Brule – Stortini
    Nilsson, Pouliot/Brule

    It does make a certain sense if Quinn really does plan to role his lines. Unfortunately, it leaves Horcoff as the only viable L hand choice for defensive draws, and one of Pouliot/Brule in the same spot for R hand defensive zone draws, but there isn't much Quinn can do about that.

  • rronaldo wrote:

    I like the concept of the lines with mixed size, just not sure about Stortini with Gagner and Cogliano, even with Nilsson moving in and out. Defensively they will be scary out there.

    Stortini was only there because Moreau didn't skate. I see 46 as a 4th liner with Brule and Nilsson or whoever they put there. Maybe Moreau if they go with the KID line again at times.

  • David Staples wrote:

    These four lines look like the opening game lines to me.
    One big guy on every line.
    I like ‘em.
    Cogliano’s on the wing — that’s good.

    I still expect Moreau to be there instead of Stone, but until we find out how serious, if any, his injury is then Stone might stick. I still think he is a long shot to stick. I'm not sure he skates well enough to play in the NHL. The past two games he didn't show me much at all.

    Agreed Cogliano on wing is good, especially because Quinn admitted that the wingers will have a bit more freedom to cheat, but only if they are certain the Oilers have possession. If Cogliano reads the play well, his speed could lend to a few extra odd man rushes or at least quick and easy breakouts.

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    Brennan isn’t as tough, takes too many penalties, and doesn’t have an NHL contract. They would have to sign him first, which just muddies the situation even further.

    Completely forgot about the contract situation. Yeah, that makes it a pretty clear-cut choice.

  • Jonathan Willis wrote:

    @ Jason Gregor:
    You’d keep MacIntyre over Brennan? Not that it’s a big deal, since I imagine they’re both getting sent down.

    Yep. Brennan isn't as tough, takes too many penalties, and doesn't have an NHL contract. They would have to sign him first, which just muddies the situation even further.