Edmonton’s preseason ended on a sour note, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Vancouver Canucks last night in BC.
Oh yes, I’m fully cognizant of the fact that preseason games don’t count in the standings, but make no mistake about it – This was a regular season game.
It was a regular season game for the Canucks, who dressed what is quite likely their complete roster against what is very likely going to be Edmonton’s starting defence in a week’s time if the club stands pat.
We’ll hash the game and call some shots after the jump.
Write that down on a piece of paper. It doesn’t even matter who plays what depth. Write the names down. All of them.
What looked like a mad grab for defenders last night could have been a dry-run for next Sunday’s game. I had a debate about a month ago whether Sutton was even going to make the big club at the start of the season. This was before we knew that Ryan Whitney’s ankle would need more time, and before Smid’s injury last night. Today, I’ve got him as my second or third best guy on the blue.
Paajarvi’s goal was uglier than ugly, and I enjoyed it very much because of that fact. Anton Lander and Ryan Jones had a nice two-on-one break in the first period while shorthanded. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is going to start the season in Edmonton, and he’s earned that right. Khabibulin was thrice scored upon, yet didn’t cause me to fly into fits of rage. The defence looked like what you’d expect when Ryan Whitney and Ladislav Smid aren’t in the lineup. What really gets frightening is when one of either Gilbert or Sutton are in the box. Now you’re killing a penalty with two of the five guys on that list near the top of the screen.
With the injury to Sam Gagner, I just don’t see how Lander doesn’t get on this team. Lander’s gotten significant time for a guy with no prior NHL experience before this year’s preseason (over 13 minutes last night), and he hasn’t looked out of place at all. Rather, he’s looked good. Really good.
You’ve got Horcoff, RNH and Belanger to go with him in your top four. As for Brule, I’m less certain, and that’s unfortunate. I’ve gone on record more than a few occasions talking about what a great guy Gilbert Brule is, and the positive light he helps put on Edmonton and the Oilers. Once Gagner is healthy enough to skate, you’ve got another significant decision to make when it comes to centre.
Unless they move Brule to wing…
This team is one week away from their regular season. I’m hoping the club makes a roster move (or two) between now and then in an effort to bolster the blue. You guys: watch the waiver wires. I’ll be busy sending letters to Tambellini cleverly hidden in donair wrappers in the hopes he’ll open one and read it.
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