Oilers winger Tyler Pitlick knocked Canucks Bo Horvat out of the game in the opening two minutes with a huge open-ice check. The intensity of the game took off from there.
The 22-year-old said the he and the team feeds off the physicality of each other.
“I think it’s contagious when anyone is being physical,” Pitlick said. “One guy lays a hit and everyone is like, ‘alright, let’s do that too.’
“Things get rolling and it’s contagious for sure.”
Pitlick was asked if he senses more pressure to perform and be physical now that pre-season is coming to a close.
“Every night is do or die. But it’s like that in the beginning of camp too. If you go out there and lay an egg, you might be sent home right away. There’s definitely more pressure as the pre-season winds down.”
Jesse Joensuu had an assist on the Oilers only goal and, according to his head coach, played a good game. But that didn’t stop the big Finnish forward from being hard on himself for taking three penalties.
“I took two bad penalties,” Joensuu said. “I should have kept my stick down on the last one. I knew that it was going to come rushing into me so I thought that I’d be ready, but I can’t take that penalty.”
Joensuu taking it hard had Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins singing his praises.
“I love when the player is hard on himself and I thought he played pretty good,” Eakins said. “I’m willing to overlook those penalties and I thought he played another big man’s game. He’s got real confidence with the puck right now and that’s something he didn’t have a whole lot of last year. He’s making plays and using his body well. We’ll overlook those penalties tonight. We know they won’t come up in the regular season, he’s just trying to play so aggressive right now. But that’s music to my ears that he’s being hard on himself, but he was good for me.”
David Perron was injured after being on the receiving end of a hit in last night’s win over Arizona. Perron struggled to exit the ice, then returned to the game later in the second. However, he would not return for the third period due to a rib injury.
This morning, Perron was absent at practice, presumably still nursing that injury. Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided an update, saying Perron tried to give it a whirl on the ice but the coaches pulled him off.
“He’s just got some sore ribs,” Eakins said. “He came out, we were going to keep him off the ice but he wanted to get in there. Then he got out there and I could see that he was in pain shooting the puck. I’m fairly certain David has made our team, so we just had him go off the ice and get a good workout in.”
“Last game, I started to see it,” Eakins said. “I felt for him because he had worked extremely hard in practice. He jumped in, our pace of practice is way up, with it being much shorter. Our guys were going and he was doing his damnedest to help drive the pace. He was working extremely hard, and usually when your players are doing that it starts to creep into their game. That’s what happens. He wasn’t getting rewarded in the games but I thought he had the pace and he can certainly make a play. This guy has got really soft hands, he can find people, I think he’s going to be a danger on one of our power play units and he’s going to be a great compliment to guys who can shoot the puck. We’ve got a lot of time for Teddy and I think he’ll fit into our group quite nicely moving forward.”
The early group of Oilers on the ice on Thursday morning was as follows:
Those players are not expected to suit up tonight against the Canucks.
Three Oilers, all in contention for a fourth-line winger spot with the team, showed very well in the team’s 3-2 pre-season win over Arizona. Jesse Joensuu, Steve Pinizzotto and Tyler Pitlick did exactly what their head coach wants them to do on the ice.
“Just what those guys did tonight, all three of them,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “They were all skating, they were all playing a big man’s game. They finished every check, they were able to keep cycles alive, they were able to retrieve pucks on the forecheck and tonight they ended up driving the game. You need that out of those players. It seemed like everyone played well as a group and they had great energy, not only on the bench or on the ice but in the room as well.”
Joensuu scored two goals, both assisted by Pinizzotto. Joensuu had six hits, while Pinizzotto had four on the same line. Pitlick drew a couple of penalties and added three shots and four assists.
The competition seems like it’s not over yet, with all three players doing their job and doing it well tonight.
“It was a huge shock for me to come here, but I knew what this team needed and I think that’s my game,” Pinizzotto said. “I’ve just got to bring energy to the highly effective players. The first-line guys build energy off that, the crowd builds off that and all it takes is one big hit to get everyone going. I can be a pretty effective player with this team if I can get the confidence under my belt and I just try to get better every day.”
Joensuu said after the game that he is more prepared for a camp battle now than he was as a younger player.
“I’m not good that I wouldn’t have to play good in training camp,” he said. “I feel now that I’m older, it is easier to perform than when I was on my entry-level deal it felt like those were the most important games of the whole season. I think I tried too hard then and now it’s easier.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins had said before in camp that Martin Marincin had yet to hit his stride. Marincin, who played 44 games with the Oilers last season, was clearly in a battle for his position on the team. Eakins says the 22-year-old made a statement in the team’s 3-2 win over the Coyotes on Wednesday night.
“I thought Marty Marincin really upped his game. He had, I thought, struggled a little bit but he firmly put his stamp tonight that he is very interested in staying here and reclaiming his spot.”
Nurse, who was selected seventh overall in 2013, showed “flashes of what he can do.”
“I think his game, compared to last year, is much better,” Eakins said. “He’s a little more settled back there. The difference for him this year is our defence is better. It’s a different battle set up. All three guys played well for me.”
The reaction in the press box of Rexall Place was unanimous. Leon Draisaitl, the third-overall pick in this year’s draft, is playing himself into that second-line centre spot to start the season. The big, talented 18-year-old hit a couple of posts, and was making plays all over the ice.
After scoring 105 points last season in the WHL with Prince Albert, his offensive skills are coming to light here at the NHL level. But it is Draisaitl’s willingness to learn that stuck out to his head coach.
“He showed some great flashes of what he can do,” Dallas Eakins said after the game. “There were some learning points in the game as well. The one really good thing is our young players are not shy on the bench, they’re asking questions, and he was doing that when he wasn’t sure. He showed some flashes.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins provided some updates on injured defencemen Andrew Ference and Jeff Petry. Ference injured his right arm in the pre-season game against Chicago, while Petry has been nursing a shoulder wound.
Both appear to be getting better.
“Petry continues to get better, which is a good sign,” Eakins said. “He’s out there, he doesn’t have any pain shooting the puck anymore so he’s moving along nicely, which we like. Ference was out there. He rubbed some dirt on that injury, it’s sore still, not ready to play but he’s able to get through the practice part.”