GDB -5: VICTORY HUNTING IN VANCOUVER

Before we get carried away let’s remember it is only preseason, but Dallas Eakins will be looking for a better effort from the Oilers tonight in Vancouver compared to last night’s display in Winnipeg. The Jets had 12 NHL regulars in their lineup while the Oilers had six; Gagner, Yakupov, Jones, Smid, Petry and Grebeshkov, but Eakins has preached being competitive since day one of camp, and if Richard Bachman doesn’t stand on his head in the middle frame the score would have been much worse.

The Oilers will dress a more skilled lineup tonight, and Eakins will be hoping for a more competitive result.

Most coaches don’t put much stock into the score in the first four or five preseason games, mainly because many of the players aren’t regular NHLers, but they are hoping to see improvement in system play, individual competitiveness and watching the veterans find their timing.

Last night’s lineup had more "bubble boys" than regulars, while tonight’s roster contains more NHL skill and experience.

LINEUP

We know who nine of the forwards will be, but Eakins will need to add a few forwards who played in Winnipeg.

Smyth-Hall-Eberle
Perron-Gordon-Hemsky
Eager-Acton-Brown
Khaira-Nugent-Hopkins-Miller

Nugent-Hopkins isn’t playing, while Miller and Khaira are questionable due to nagging injuries, so that means at least one, and potentially three, forwards will play back-to-back.

Tyler Pitlick has only played one game thus far and prior to his strong showing last night, I thought he was a good bet to play both games. "“There’s something there with that kid. We just have to see if we can bring it out,” said Eakins last night. If one of Miller or Khaira can’t play I’ll guess Pitlick replaces them.

Marc Arcobello or Anton Lander will fill RNH’s spot. Arcobello played almost 18 minutes last night, while Lander played just over 14. Both have played two games, and neither did much last night, but one of them will play. Sam Gagner won’t play back-to-back, and Eakins would likely rather get another look at guys who are fighting for a spot than Ryan Martindale who is destined for the minors.

I’m guessing the top three pairings below will make the trip:

Ference-J.Schultz
Nurse-N.Schultz
Marincin-Hunt
Belov-Fedun 

Belov won’t play until Saturday most likely, while Ference and J.Schultz need some playing time together. Nurse has really impressed his teammates in practice and in the preseason. In conversations with forwards, D-men and even goalies all of them have raved about his smarts, skating ability and decision making. The Oilers won’t rush him into the NHL this season, but they will want to see him at least two or three more times, if not more.

Dubnyk/Rimmer

Rimmer is the best young goalie the Oilers have, and he isn’t officially their property. He’s outplayed Tyler Bunz and Olivier Roy, and they might want another look at him before deciding if they offer him a contract. Rimmer is one month younger than Bunz and a year younger than Roy, and if he plays well he could secure a two-way contract, or at the very least a 25-game deal.

It is clear Dubnyk is the starter, so making sure he is sharp for October 1st is a bigger concern than signing Rimmer, and he likely starts and finishes tonight. The issue is how much playing time does he need? Will he need to start at least two, if not three, of the final preseason games?

He could start this Saturday, next Tuesday and next Friday and likely be ready. I’m sure he and Eakins have discussed how much playing time he needs. I asked Dubnyk if he felt he’d need more preseason action than usual to get accustomed to his new pads, and he said no.

He acknowledged the shorter pads feel different, especially when he butterflies because the top of the pads don’t touch like they did last season, but he didn’t think he’d need more playing time to adjust.

**EDIT***

The other forward line will be Joensuu/Arcobello/Pitlick. It makes sense to have bubble guys playing back-to-back, and if Pitlick wants a legitimate shot at making the team, he’ll need another strong game. Also, likely you will see Arcobello and Gordon switch lines, so Arcobello plays with Hemksy and Perron.

CANUCKS LINEUP

D. Sedin- H.Sedin – Kassian
Shinkaruk – Richardson – Hansen
Gaunce – Santorelli – DeFazio
Stuart – Horvat – Jensen

Garrison – Bieksa
Andersson – Mullen
Negrin – Tanev

Luongo

THOUGHTS FROM LAST NIGHT….

  • Bachman was the best Oiler and he kept the game close, especially in the second period. In my eyes he is a slightly better NHL backup option than Yann Danis.
     
  • Pitlick was the best forward. He was strong on the puck and assertive.
     
  • Joensuu, Lander, Hamilton, Arcobello and Omark didn’t do much to gain an edge in the race of the bubble boys. Joensuu was okay, but he didn’t stand out like he did in Edmonton on Saturday. Omark got a late assist, but if he is going to play in the top-nine he’s going to need to generate more scoring changes. Lander’s footspeed might cost him a spot on the roster.
     
  • Larsen was much better than he was in Calgary on Saturday, and he showed his playmaking abilities more than Grebeskhov last night. Both of them have NHL experience, and until we see Belov play, they are battling for the #6 spot. Grebeshkov has the advantage in experience, but their final preseason games will determine who skates beside Nick Schultz on October 1st.
     
  • Yakupov had four shots and he looked sharper than he did in first game. I’m guessing he’ll play with Hall, Gagner or Gordon in the next few preseason games to find some chemistry.
     
  • Lander was 56% in the draw, while Arcobello was 58%. Neither of them stood out for me, but in a game where they didn’t stand out, both were solid in the dot.
     
  • If Will Acton has a strong game tonight, he’ll take the lead in the battle for the 4th line centre.
     
  • Tonight’s game is on Sportsnet West at 8 p.m. MST.
     

NEED YOUR HELP

Nation, I need your help. I need to borrow two Red Wagons, big enough that I can sit in, kind of, for a photo opportunity. I also need a thick 10-foot rope, like a boat rope. If you have either, email gregor@theteam1260.com. I’ll make it worth your while.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

  • Spydyr

    Watched the first two periods last night. Did not see the effort Eakins talks about. It is early but it looked like the same half hearted effort as the last seven years.

    • Spydyr

      So he speaks the truth then.That is what this team is at the momment. I am hoping with all my heart that changes this year but right now that is this team.

      • Benny Botts

        You aren’t hoping, and neither is QSB. Your both focusing on the negatives over and over. No optimism in any of your comments. The team is not at all the same as yrs before. There has been significant change at all levels. True it’s to be determined if they are any better, but it’s time to move on and cheer for them, that’s what real fans do.

  • Ducey

    Rimmer is the best young goalie the Oilers have, and he isn’t officially their property. He’s outplayed Tyler Bunz and Olivier Roy, and they might want another look at him before deciding if they offer him a contract.

    Rimmer is their best young goalie? Come on Gregor. Ever hear of small sample size?

    He is small (5’11”) and had a .912 save % in his last year in the WHL last year.

    Bunz (who is the same age) had a .921 in his last year in the WHL. He has stuggled in his first professional year, but its a little ealry to write him off.

    Roy has excelled in his time in the ECHL and needs to step up in the AHL.

    Perhonen is 6’5″, is younger than Rimmer, and has played internationally for Finland every year.

    With Bachman/ Roy in OKC and Bunz in the ECHL, there is no room for him, nor should they waste a contract on him.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      FYI: Rimmer is 6’1″

      The .912 he put up last year was with a weak Lethbridge team which gave up a high number of shots every game.

      The same year Bunz put up his .921, Rimmer’s save % was .922 both on good teams.

      I’m pretty sure Perhonen wasn’t qualified so he’s no longer Oiler property.

      If the Oilers think Rimmer is better than what they have, then you upgrade the position.

    • Jason Gregor

      If the Oilers thought Bunz or Roy was better, why wouldn’t they have kept them for an extra day or two. The OKC coaching staff is still here, so it’s not like they are practicing.

      I’d expect the Oilers to sign him to a minor league deal, and maybe, big maybe, they sign him to an NHL deal.

      If he is better than Roy and Bunz, you don’t let him go just because. They will find a way to keep him.

      • Ducey

        I don’t know why the Oilers would keep Rimmer up. Presumably they need 4 goalies for the back to back games and for practice purposes?

        My point is that Rimmer can’t be considered the best goalie in the system.

        If the Oilers are going to ignore his numbers from a whole season and sign him to an NHL contract based on 120 training camp/ exhibition minutes, well, then they are making a mistake. I could see them signing him to a contract to play in the ECHL, but that wouldn’t really make him the best goalie in the system.

        I would think they would be better served to grab someone off waivers from another team if they are looking to upgrade on Roy or Bunz.

        • pkam

          Why close the door instead of give ourselves a chance to see if Rimmer can outperform the other goalies? What could it hurt?

          We have 8 defenses with NHL experience and 3-4 with no NHL experience fighting for 7 spots. The addition of Grebeshkov, Belov, and Larsen may bump Klefbom down to the minors. Do you see a problem?

        • Jason Gregor

          You can’t claim a goalie off of waivers and put them directly in AHL, so that isn’t happening.

          Rimmer is for depth down the road. He’s better than young goalie, not vets like Bachman or LaBarbera.

          I said they could sign him to AHL deal…

      • Czar

        I’d be a lot happier with a Bachman/Rimmer tandem in OKC. The Oiler goaltending depth is as weak as any team in the NHL, we need all the help we can get,who cares where it comes from and who gets lost in the shuffle.

    • Yah man we need bigger goalies in the system who can IMPOSE THEIR WILL on shooters. We have enough small guys on the team as it is! What the hell? What’s going to happen when McGratton plays us? WHO WILL STEP UP AND CHALLENGE HIM?

      This team is full of smurfs who will get pushed off the puck WAY TOO OFTEN. Time to load up with a goalie who will SMASH SOME FACE WHEN THE BELL CALLS!

      Jeez. WE NEED TO HULK UP! THE OILERS WILL NOT WIN WITH A SMALL GOALIE! Trade Bachman NOW for a goalie who will protect our young guys and make room behind the net! If we don’t opposing goalies will RUN OUR SHOW again this year!

      #Sarcasm

      #Facepalm

  • pkam

    On Trouba,

    I’ve read lots of great stuff, but the Jetsnation site has an interesting article on him comparing him to Jack Johnson… who might very well be the most divisive player in the league, with bloggers thinking he’s utter garbage and the Pierre McGuire’s of the world becoming semi-erect at the mere mention of his name.

  • pkam

    @Jason Gregor

    Are you sure Belov will play tonight?

    I remember Eakins said on Monday that Belov would not play the next 2 exhibition games, which would be last night’s game and tonight’s game.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Hard to see how all these split squad games will help this team moving forward. If there was ever a time where you needed a couple weeks to get all the required players functioning as one group, this would be it. Dallas Eakins should have broken tradition in order to get this group down to 32 over a week ago. With the season starting in a little over a week, he’ll have only 1 or 2 days of practice with his all important final group of 25. Seems like a terrible waste of two weeks if you ask me.

    Certainly appears to be a lot of unnecessary bullship and distraction for someone wanting to take charge of his hockey club asap.

    • Jason Gregor

      Every team in the NHL plays rookies and AHL players the first few games, THIS ISN’T NEW.

      Stop suggesting the Oilers are the only team that does it. Veterans won’t play 8 preseason games, they don’t need it.

      Did you look at Vancouver’s lineup on Monday, when they only had one game, it was similar to Oilers. This is how it works in the NHL.

      The final 3 or 4 preseason games have mainly NHL players or guys battling for sports.

      The Oilers have about 7-8 forwards competing for three spots, you think in two practices Eakins will know who is good. He’s never coached them, he has no idea how they are as people and players, and you want him to cut down to 25 after two days.

      The only bullship is your theory. Move on.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Not you too…

        Where in any of my statements did I claim the Oilers are the only team using S/S games? Don’t be putting words in my mouth. You of all people should appreciate this guideline.

        I don’t friggen care what the Canucks did on such and such insignificant date. Maybe they had some of those 1 or 2 pre season game commitments they wanted to get out of the way as well. All I care about is the Oilers using the 7 or so exhibition games to use this time to build a cohesive 25 man group. Traditionalists like yourself, appear to be comfortable having this period stretch into the first couple weeks of the season that matters. A 35-36 man post rookie camp roster makes sense.

        Give your head a shake Jason, did you look at what you just put your name on? Don’t be putting words in my mouth.

        • Jason Gregor

          Are you that clueless?

          Your first line of your first post…

          Hard to see how all these split squad games will help this team moving forward.

          I don’t have to put words in your mouth to make you look foolish, you did it yourself, don’t blame me. Your idea has no merit, nor does it make sense for pro teams to not have youth interact with veterans.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            With all the one way deals signed going into this season, why waste all this time allowing the extra bodies to get in the way of what should be the focus.

            Looks to be more than a few kids who have zero chance of making this club this year. Get them the hell out of the way. 26th, 30th, 30th, 29th and 24th must reveal the Oilers need every competitive advantage they can get.

            Apologies in advance for all the possible inaccuracies/fictional claims in this post. This just expands on what the highlighted sentence meant/inferred.

          • #ThereGoesTheOilers

            “You want to get them into games. Even though they know they’re probably going to start the year in the minors, you have to have that fire. You have to have that light at the end of the tunnel. It has to be flickering.

            “I’m doing my best to get everybody a little bit of experience … so it creates competition in your organization.”

            Perhaps you should use your creative energy to write a strongly worded letter to Dallas Eakins explaining why he wrong. That effort would be a better investment than giving Mr. Gregor a hard time.

        • Craig1981

          You quoted the oilers finishing poorly as proof they need to change. That info would only help your case if the top teams were different. His point is very valid. Also shows that if 29 other teams with highly skilled executives and GMs do it one way, its highly unlikely your way is correct and should at least not be brought up as fact.

          and please quit insulting people who take the time to write articles for us to read. Disagree with them, but don’t insult someone that has taken the time from their day to write something to entertain you.

        • Ducey

          You should be giving your own head a shake (or two).

          You rack up “Trashes” at rate higher than anyone else around here.

          For most people, that would be a clear indication to modify the way they post, to re-examine their opinion, or to get lost.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I think keeping the borderline guys around for comparison purposes and for the experience is a good thing. When the inevitable injuries hit we can fill in without grinding to a halt.

      It’s a nice feeling when AHL call-ups don’t doom a team to a lotto finish. Looks like the oil are at least moving in that direction with Larson and Fedun probably being the 1st options on D and at forward… well we are getting closer I guess.

      Tonight the oil take the 1st step toward passing a division rival, showing the canucks we will be a threat this season. Oil pecker-slap Vancouver 5-1.

      • Quicksilver ballet

        Let me dumb this down for you a little….

        No split squad games period. Just take the chosen 23 bodies from the approx. 35 bodies available to you each night. All the kids who’ll probably never play an NHL reg season game, are being promised an exhibition game or two at each camp, are just getting in the way.

        26th, 30th, 30th, 29th and 24th (there you go drago, you 1Di0t) reveals you need every competitive advantage you can get. The Oilers should be pushing the alsorans out asap. No need to take more than just a couple kids from rookie camp to the main camp.

        • Word to the Bird

          Your logic is off to say the least.

          What’s the point of icing the most competitive roster available in the preseason? Win or lose, the games mean nothing. All you’re doing is exposing more roster players to injury that could spill over into the regular season. Also, the team wants to see who has progressed over the offseason and who has floundered; not everyone is guaranteed a roster spot.

        • Craig1981

          So are you proposing that we should pick our team before we evaluate anyone?!?! And we should ignore developing players like Nurse and Khaira?!? What about mid season when we have to call everyone someone up and they have no idea what type of system the big club plays?
          BTW just because Drago corrected your false statement that makes him an idiot?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Sorry Craig, should be directed at Frenchtoast Mafia. OWTHHNI

            23 man roster Frenchy. 36 spots to start camp. Do the math. Would allow for atleast 10 spots for rookies and/or blue chip prospects.

            Oilers should/could benefit from being much closer to that final 25 by now.

          • Do what Weight did?

            Are players coachable? Capable of learning a new system, or thriving in the new coach’s system? It seems to me like a coaching staff would want to see how players progress over the span of a training camp.

            Sounds like Omark, for instance has been unimpressive (haven’t been able to watch for myself), but in his case, the most important thing IMHO, would be growth, adaptation and willingness to try to do the things Eakins wants him to do. Sounds tough to evaluate over one or two days.

            From a player development perspective, I have to believe they have a file on each player at camp, and goals that each player is working towards. Many players, whether destined for Edm, OKC, or junior, will improve due to their camp experience. Seems like the more those players improve, the better in the long term.

            By the way, winning and scoring in pre-season guarantees nothing. Just ask Patrick Thoreson.

          • Craig1981

            What are you even talking about?!?!? I have “done the math” If you have only 25 now you do not have enough to develop your prospects, train your callups to the oiler system, and evaluate who is in the bottom 1/4 of your lineup.

        • French Toast Mafia

          Where do you come up with this stuff??

          I honestly don’t know if you are trying to be funny or if you actually beleive the things you throw out.

        • Benny Botts

          Does the NHL not make up their pre-season schedule (i.e split squad games)…in that case would they not have to bring the extra bodies in from rookie camp to help fill out the rosters?

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Depending on T/C arrangements. It’s up to each team to come to an agreement on who they’ll play during the pre season. Once they come to an agreement (usually arranged in July), both teams will notify the league as to location and date.

            Split squad games aren’t required. Teams must only be using them to give the kids who’ve been promised 1 or 2 exhibition games, out of the way.

        • pkam

          No split squad games? Did Oilers make the schedule?

          So we choose 23 bodies and ask them to play in Calgary at 7:00pm and Edmonton at 8:00pm the same night? Or just show up at one game and no show at the other game?

          • Jason Gregor

            That’s your response?! Bahahaha priceless. That comment right there is gold and shows all their is to know about your intelligence level. You can’t come up with anything remotely smart to his reply cause your flat out wrong. So you insult him.

            Your worse than DSF, at least the worst he can be accused of is cherry picking players and stats.

            I’m done having any discussions with you, I’ll spend my time conversing with oiler fans who have intelligent things to say.

          • Quicksilver ballet

            Maybe when you know the difference between you, you’re and your. You, of all people, shouldn’t be using the word intelligent in any of your comments, and stop butchering the English language. Appologies if it isn’t your first language (an olive branch you may want to consider grasping onto).

          • pkam

            Perhaps you should know better when to use a period and a comma, and understand proper sentence structure, before commenting on others’ grammatical mistakes?

  • John Chambers

    Was at the game last night – it was a snoozer until the 3rd.

    Bachman’s positioning was solid. With a better defense in front of him he lets in one goal, not three.

    Yakupov started slow, but him and Evander Kane were easily the most noticeable players on the ice. Not only does Yak have wicked speed and a great shot, he also gets himself into scoring position very naturally, and isn’t afraid to throw his body around. Yak plays a lot bigger than he is.

    Jake Trouba is going to be one hell of an NHL defenseman.

    • Quicksilver ballet

      Are the buffalo wings alone, still worth the trip to Winnipeg?

      Trouba in exchange for Gags and Omark? We’ll take your Wellwood guy too, if it’ll help seal the deal.

    • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

      Totally agree.

      Buff looks a little quicker, too. I’m inclined to believe the reports about him being in game shape from day 1 of camp this year.

  • S0DAP0PS

    I’m really looking forward to watching the first televised game tonight. Gonna keep an eye on Nurse, and the chemistry between Ference and Schultz. Hopefully Pitlick plays and shows well.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I see Calgary’s village idiot has discovered the internets. The “kiss your cousin festival” is coming up soon, shouldn’t you be practicing your moves on grandma.

    Conditioning stints, on waiver wire pick ups. Can you even find 2 examples of this?