PREVIEW: Oilers at Canucks
|TV: Sportsnet West
RADIO: 630 CHED
PUCK DROP: 8:08 p.m. MDT
AT THE MORNING SKATEEDMONTON - The Oilers take on the Canucks tonight in a pre-season exhibition game in Vancouver, B.C. following 3-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets last night.
Three players who skated last night will suit up again for the Oilers as forwards Jesse Joensuu, Mark Arcobello and Tyler Pitlick all get the nod to play tonight. Edmonton will also suit up their younger defencemen tonight as opposed to the more experienced group they took to Winnipeg.
The Oilers brought in forward Will Acton over the summer to compete for a roster spot. Acton is currently in a position battle for the fourth-line centre role, competing against fellow forwards Anton Lander and Mark Arcobello.
Looking back on his performance thus far, Acton is unsure he has enough film on him to judge where he is in the competition.
“So far, it’s only been one exhibition game,” said Acton. “It might be a little bit early to evaluate things. Even with that said, I am just kind of taking it day by day and coming each day, each practice. I need to work hard to execute the little things.”
Acton believes that tonight, his second exhibition game of the pre-season, is a big test for him.
“Tonight, we’ve got a really big game and it’ll be nice to get a win. So, moving into tonight… I’m just focusing in on tonight and not thinking about tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, I’ll approach it when it gets here.”
PITLICK’S BIG SHOT
One of the younger players to suit up in Blue and Orange and take on the Canucks tonight is Tyler Pitlick.
Pitlick is a 21 year-old forward drafted 31st overall in 2010 and he is in the final season of his thee-year entry-level contract. He put in a decent showing during the Oilers intrasquad scrimmage and continued his success last night against Winnipeg.
“I felt pretty good,” said Pitlick of his 2013 NHL pre-season debut. “I had some hits out there, I was moving my feet, I had a few shots too, but there’s obviously still a few things I’ve got to work on. The system stuff, I’ve got to work on that and just feeling a little bit more comfortable out there.”
One of Pitlick’s main focus moving forward is to put more shots on net. One of his close friends on the roster, Ryan Jones, talked about the young forward earlier in camp.
“I skate with Pitlick a lot in the summer in Minnesota so I know him as a player and a person,” said Jones. “The one thing is, he’s not overly erratic. He might go a little bit without people noticing him just because he’s not flying all over the place or whatever. He’s a very smooth hockey player with an All Star shot.
“The kid can shoot the puck with the best of them and when I was talking to him this summer, I told him all of the time, you’ve got to shoot the puck. If you hit the net, with that shot, you have no idea how many goals that you’ll score.”
It’s a big season for Pitlick who’s chances to show the Oilers what he has to offer are dwindling, being that it is his final contract year.
“It’s huge for me. I’ve got to let them know that I’m ready and if they need me, I can play,” said Pitlick. “I mean, this is my contract year. So, I’ve got to have a big year and get signed back again.”
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
4 Taylor Hall
6 Jesse Joensuu
13 Mike Brown
14 Jordan Eberle
27 Boyd Gordon
41 Will Acton
55 Ben Eager
57 David Perron
62 Mark Arcobello
68 Tyler Pitlick
83 Ales Hemsky
94 Ryan Smyth
15 Nick Schultz
19 Justin Schultz
21 Andrew Ference
59 Brad Hunt
74 Darnell Nurse
80 Martin Marincin
33 Ty Rimmer
40 Devan Dubnyk
UP FRONT: The Oilers will be facing off against Vancouver with a roster that’s a healthy mix of veterans and youngsters. Taylor Hall will once again have the opportunity to adjust to his new role as a centre with the Oilers top middle-man Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recovering from shoulder surgery.
The top-line is projected to feature Hall between Ryan Smyth and Jordan Eberle.
Edmonton traded forward Magnus Paajarvi to St. Louis in the off-season for David Perron. The 25 year-old winger had a solid pre-season opener in the away game of a split-squad matchup against Calgary. Perron scored a goal, playing in 17:52 of the game. Perron will suit up for the Oilers in Vancouver.
The battle for the fourth line centre spot continues to be a point of interest for Edmonton. Two of the players in competition for that spot, Mark Arcobello and Will Acton will both see ice-time tonight.
ON THE BLUELINE: Two of the more highly touted, young defencemen on the Oilers roster, Darnell Nurse and Justin Schultz will patrol the blueline against the Canucks. Joining them will be free agent acquisition Andrew Ference.
BETWEEN THE PIPES: It has not been announced who will start, however Devan Dubnyk and Ty Rimmer are scheduled to make the trip. It is expected that Dubnyk will get the starting nod and Head Coach Dallas Eakins hinted that whoever is starting, will most likely play the entire game.
KEEP AN EYE ON: A trimmed down Ben Eager will step onto the ice for the Oilers tonight. The last time Eager played in Vancouver was the 2012-13 season opener in January. He suffered a concussion during a tilt with Zack Kassian. Eager’s return to Vancouver will be in the midst of a battle for a spot on the roster.
CANUCKS (PROJECTED ROSTER)
9 Zack Kassian
15 Brad Richardson
22 Daniel Sedin
25 Mike Santorelli
33 Henrik Sedin
36 Jannik Hansen
39 Brandon Defazio
40 Colin Stuart
46 Niklas Jensen
48 Hunter Shinkaruk
50 Brendan Gaunce
53 Bo Horvat
3 Kevin Bieksa
5 Jason Garrison
8 Chris Tanev
13 John Negrin
38 Patrick Mullen
80 Peter Andersson
1 Roberto Luongo
75 Joacim Eriksson
UP FRONT: The Canucks will suit up a plethora of young talent when they face off against the Edmonton Oilers tonight. Vancouver will suit up first round picks like Niklas Jensen, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat.
BETWEEN THE PIPES: The much publicized and criticized Roberto Luongo is scheduled to be a part of the roster taking on the Oilers in their pre-season game tonight. The Canucks erased any goaltender controversy when they pulled a shocker at the 2013 draft and traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the No. 9 pick.
KEEP AN EYE ON: 18-year-old rookie Hunter Shinkaruk made his NHL pre-season debut on Monday night against the San Jose Sharks in a 3-2 loss for the Canucks. Shinkaruk scored an impressive, steep angle goal in the game and showed off his offensive skills. He was drafted 24th overall in the first round of the 2013 draft. Shinkaruk scored over 85 points in each of the last two seasons with Medicine Hat in the WHL.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com