Based on tonight’s lineup, don’t be surprised to see a few preseason tilts in Vancouver. The Oilers have dressed someone in every weight class, except lightweight, unless Jordan Eberle’s jab is as quick as his snapshot.
In their first of only six preseason games, the Oilers will ice a lineup where the majority of players dressed won’t be here past this Saturday. Tom Renney will ice a completely different line up tomorrow night, and then he’ll make another 15-18 cuts and get down to a workable number for the rest of the preseason and training camp.
Alex Giroux/Shawn Horcoff/Jordan Eberle
Greg Stewart/Brad Moran/Zack Stortini
Colin McDonald/Ryan O’Marra/Teemu Hartikainen
Steve MacIntyre/Chris Vande Velde/Ben Ondrus
Ryan Whitney/Jeff Petry
Jim Vandermeer/Theo Peckham
Taylor Chorney/Jake Taylor
Only eight or nine of these guys look to be here past Saturday, but you can expect a lot of them will try to make an impression in Vancouver tonight. Vande Velde and O’Marra play similar roles and only one of them might stay past Friday, so one of them needs to play well tonight.
It will be interesting to watch how MacIntrye plays tonight. He informed the media over the weekend that he wasn’t going to be a gentle giant this year. He wants to take the game to the opposition, and has vowed he will make sure the young kids are protected. Last night MacIntyre told me he wasn’t going to dress tonight, but they made a last second switch and decided to dress him instead of Ryan Jones. Jones didn’t practice with the second group this morning so he must have tweaked something during the Joey Moss Cup last night.
Peckham is another guy who doesn’t need to showcase his toughness, but talked about needing to get off to a good start, and the easiest way for him to get in the game is to start yapping, hitting and mixing it up.
Giroux needs to make an impact tonight. He doesn’t have to score necessarily, but he needs to showcase his offensive instincts and skill if he hopes to get a long look.
Expect Gerber to start, but only play half a game. There is no need for him to play any more than that. He won’t make this team, and with only six games Renney needs to get Dubnyk and JDD as much icetime as possible. It looks like both goalies should get a lot of action tonight based on the Canucks lineup.
L. Sweatt/Connaughton or
Tonight’s game is on Sportsnet One, if you have shaw, or you can catch it on Sportsnet Pacific if it isn’t blocked in your area. Right now Bell isn’t picking up Sportsnet One, but I’m hearing that might, and I stress might, change before the start of the regular season. If Bell doesn’t pick it up you can bet they will have plenty of annoyed Oilers, Flames and Canuck subscribers.
LOOK AHEAD TO TOMORROW
Based on the second practice the home crowd at Rexall will get to see a more offensive lineup tomorrow v. Tampa.
Sam Gagner skated with Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky this morning, Andrew Cogliano had Dustin Penner and Magnus Paajarvi on his wings, while Colin Fraser was flanked by Gilbert Brule and Liam Reddox. Tyler Pitlick, Linus Omark, Jared Aulin, Cam Abney and JF Jacques were the other forwards. Jacques won’t play so it will be between the other four, unless Renney wants a veteran physical guy in the lineup.
Ladislav Smid and Kurtis Foster continued to practice as a duo, so they’ll probably play together. Tom Gilbert was paired with Richard Petiot, Jason Strudwick skated with Johan Motin while Shawn Belle and Alex Plante were the other pair. Two of those six guys won’t go tomorrow.
Nikolai Khabibulin practiced again, but it isn’t a guarantee he will play tomorrow.
WHO SAID YOGA IS FOR GIRLS
A lot of guys think yoga is girly. I wonder how many of them would tell that to MacIntyre.
The big man took up yoga over the summer and says it’s made him feel much better. "It’s loosened up my shoulders a lot. I was wrestling around with the guys yesterday and I felt like I had way more snap in my punches. I feel more agile on the ice too. I’m looking to be more physical this year. I want to get a hit on every shift, and if I can do that I think I can get guys on the other team worried a bit."
After telling us he had more snap in his punches, there was a good exchange between him and former lacrosse tough guy, Robin Brownlee.
RB: "I think you had me beat before you had more snap in your punches."
SM: "Want to go outside and I can show you just to be sure..(laughs)"
RB: (laughing) Oh yeah, real tough guy picking on the 50 year-old."
SM: "I’ll break your hip old man.."
MacIntrye, Brownlee, myself and a few other reporters erupted in a hearty laugh.
MacIntyre is a typical tough guy. Crazy on the ice, but very funny and calm off of it. MacIntyre is extremely excited about getting another chance and he wants to prove to Renney that he can use him for more than three minutes a night.
ROY GOES HOME
Olivier Roy was sent back to Acadie-Bathhurst in the QMJHL this morning. Roy can now focus on making the world junior team. The 5th rounder in 2009 looked solid at the rookie tournament, but still needs to refine his game. He’ll play a lot in Acadie-Bathhurst and look for he will be in the mix to be the starter for Canada at the under-20 tournament.