This is it. The final game of the preseason goes tonight, and with it comes the final opportunity for players to make an impact on the coaches before the start of the year. Given the sheer volume of camp battles the Oilers have still going on, it should be fascinating.
- Anton Lander – Leon Draisaitl – Nail Yakupov
- Teddy Purcell – Boyd Gordon – Jordan Eberle
- Matt Hendricks – Jujhar Khaira – Tyler Pitlick
- Will Acton – Bogdan Yakimov – Mark Arcobello
Lots of guys playing out of position here, which is presumably the coaches’ way of sussing out how flexible the forward group is.
On the top line, Lander’s being given a chance to show something in an offensive role. Don’t hold your breath. The more critical thing here is probably that Draisaitl and Yakupov are together again, which hints rather strongly that Dallas Eakins does intend to start the year with them together (probably with Benoit Pouliot on wing).
Gordon gets another shot in an offensive role, and it’s hard not to wonder if the Oilers are thinking about taking him off the team’s defensive zone unit. More interesting to me is Purcell’s shift to left wing; if he looks good that would be a big help to the Oilers, whose lineup has been inconvenienced by the obvious need to keep Yakupov on right wing.
Pitlick, as he has for the majority of camp, is getting a look on a line structured exactly like the fourth line the Oilers have been talking about all summer. I don’t know how to interpret the fact that he’s still playing while both of his presumptive rivals for the role (Jesse Joensuu and Steve Pinizzotto) are scratched.
An all-centre fourth line is in action, with both Arcobello and Yakimov looking to impress. Arcobello playing is interesting; I’d assumed he was pretty much a lock, at least as the team’s No. 5 centre. It could be that the coaches just want to see him play right wing before the games matter.
- Oscar Klefbom – Justin Schultz
- Keith Aulie – Martin Marincin
- Darnell Nurse – Brad Hunt
- Ben Scrivens
Klefbom gets a look alongside Schultz once again. Honestly, I don’t know that I’d have him on my starting roster at this point, but he’s certainly being given a chance to impress and with Nikita Nikitin hurt there’s an opening.
I don’t know what poor Marincin has done to get assigned a job on right defence; at this point I’m halfway expecting him to start the year there if Jeff Petry isn’t good to go. He’s probably the best left defenceman on the team with Nikitin out. But hey, he’s been excellent over the last two games alongside Aulie, and he’s the first partner the Oilers’ latest ex-Marlie hasn’t looked awful with.
Nurse and Hunt is always fun, but old hat at this point.
Game day prediction: The Oilers played reasonably well overall (give or take four men in the corner) the last time out and lost; this time let’s say the Canucks have the edge overall but Edmonton lands the 3-2 victory.
Obvious game day prediction: Anton Lander will be invisible.
Not-so-obvious game day prediction: Jujhar Khaira will legitimately impress, setting up a Tyler Pitlick goal and making a case to be kept on opening night (though he won’t be).
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