PREVIEW: Oilers vs. Canucks
Oilers open stretch of three straight pre-season home games tonight against Canucks
RADIO: 630 CHED
PUCK DROP: 8:10 p.m. MDT
AT THE MORNING SKATEThe Edmonton Oilers will take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight as they continue to evaluate their roster before the start of the regular season. Here are some notes from morning skate, which include a new goaltender and a young defenceman making the coaches jobs difficult.
RIMMER GETS HIS SHOT
Edmonton native Ty Rimmer will get his first taste of NHL pre-season action tonight. He is slated to back up Jason LaBarbera and play the second half of the game.
The moment isn’t too big for the 21 year-old goaltender, even if his first game happens to be a Hockey Night in Canada game.
“I’m still processing,” said Rimmer. “But I’ve been preparing for this for weeks now. We’ve been skating everyday and it’s a good experience, playing against some of the best shooters in the world.”
Rimmer is looking forward to playing against NHL stars. The nerves are there, but stopping shots by Oilers players like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle has prepared the young netminder for this situation.
“Maybe there will be a little bit of nerves when it comes to game time. Right now I feel prepared. Like I said, I’ve been practicing against some of the best forwards in the league right now.
“When it comes to the game situation, I know the guys will be there to back me up and I’ll be there for them.”
The Oilers 2013 first round pick Darnell Nurse will not leave without a fight.
The 18 year-old was expected to return to the OHL for another season before making the Oilers roster but his recent play and accelerated development have thrown a wrench into the coaching staff’s plans.
“That’s the problem with those 18 year-olds,” said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. “He’s definitely getting better every day right now. We’ve just got to wait and see if he plateaus or if he keeps getting better.”
Nurse turned in an impressive performance in Vancouver on Wednesday night. It turned some heads in the Oilers front office and Eakins raved about his rookie defenceman.
“I thought that game in Vancouver he was very dynamic. He was creating offence, he was skating and then he was playing a big man’s game in our zone as well.”
How does Nurse feel about all of the compliments from the Oilers? He said it’s all part of the plan. (Insert evil laugh at your leisure)
“Pretty good,” said Nurse. “That was my plan coming in. Work as hard as I can and make it as difficult on them as can be.”
So when will a decision on whether or not Nurse has made the roster be made?
“It’s a day-by-day thing. His job is to keep screwing up our plans,” said Eakins.
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
4 Taylor Hall
13 Mike Brown
14 Jordan Eberle
28 Ryan Jones
41 Will Acton
48 Ryan Hamilton
54 Jujhar Khaira
57 David Perron
64 Nail Yakupov
83 Ales Hemsky
89 Sam Gagner
94 Ryan Smyth
2 Jeff Petry
37 Denis Grebeshkov
59 Brad Hunt
74 Darnell Nurse
77 Anton Belov
81 Taylor Fedun
1 Jason LaBarbera
33 Ty Rimmer
UP FRONT: The Oilers dressed a good lineup up front on Wednesday in their 4-1 win at Vancouver and arguably they have a better front 12 tonight. Hall, Smyth, Perron and Eberle are all playing once again but this time Sam Gagner and Nail Yakupov are also playing.
ON THE BLUELINE: Darnell Nurse plays once again for the Oilers, as does Brad Hunt. The other four rearguards did not play in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Belov, Taylor Fedun and Jeff Petry all draw in. Grebeshkov will be paired with Belov in an all-Russian duo.
BETWEEN THE PIPES: Jason LaBarbera and Ty Rimmer will be the goaltenders tonight, splitting 50/50 according to head coach Dallas Eakins. Rimmer is in camp on a PTO and will have an opportunity to show why he should be signed to a contract.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Anton Belov makes his debut in an Oilers uniform tonight. Belov, who stands at 6'4" and 212 pounds was a highly-coveted European free agent this past offseason after a career-high 26 points in 46 games for Omsk Avangard in the KHL last season.
CANUCKS CANUCKS (PROJECTED ROSTER)
Higgins - Schroeder - Hansen
Shinkaruk - Horvat - Kassian
Sestito - Santorelli - Weise
Gaunce - Lain - Booth
Edler - Tanev
Alberts - Corrado
Sauve - Weber
UP FRONT: Hunter Shinkaruk, Mike Santorelli, Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat are each expected to play again in Edmonton tonight after facing the Oilers Wednesday. The Sedins will not make the trip so the team's offensive power will likely need to come from the likes of Chris Higgins, Jordan Schroeder and Jannik Hansen.
ON THE BLUELINE: Alex Edler and Chris Tanev are expected to be the top defensive pairing for the Canucks tonight. Edler had eight goals last season in 45 games, tying with Jason Garrison for first on the team among blueliners. Edler also had 22 points, ranking second among defencemen behind Dan Hamhuis (24). Tanev netted seven points in 38 games last season -- his first full season in the NHL.
BETWEEN THE PIPES: Eddie Lack and Joe Cannata will be the duo between the pipes for Vancouver. Lack is battling for the backup role with Joacim Erikksson, who had a scoreless third period against the Oilers on Wednesday. Lack has played 40 minutes so far in this pre-season, allowing two goals on 27 shots.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Bo Horvat has yet to register a point through two pre-season games but he coudl break out at any time. The centre scored 33 goals and had 61 points in 67 games last season with London of the OHL. He added 23 points in 21 games in the playoffs when it mattered most, including 16 goals.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com