It sure as heck isn't the Stanley Cup, but the Oilers can seal the Young Stars tournament with a win over the Sharks tonight. I don't know if they get anything for winning. Probably not... But you know what, I like watching the team win. It's heartening.
The trio of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi will all be back in the lineup, and the Sharks, despite icing a team with some AHL veterans, don't exactly have a ton of talent in Penticton. So let's all sit back, relax, and expect to win - it might be the last time all year we'll have that luxury. The Oilers will again be streaming the game on their website, and they seemed to iron out the kinks from the first game for last night's tilt. After the jump, we'll look at who's in the lineup.
Forwards: The Oilers have published the line combinations, so here's who's in tonight: Taylor Hall with Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle; Milan Kytnar with Teemu Hartikainen and Mike Thomas; Ryan Martindale with James Livingston and Tyler Pitlick; and Chase Schaber with Drew Czerwonka and Cameron Abney. Taylor Hall suiting up at center is an interesting little wrinkle and suggests to me that the Oilers are at least considering putting him there this season. On the other end of the lineup, there are a few free agents looking to earn a spot at main camp, and judging by the line combinations, Thomas and Livingston seem to have impressed a bit more than Schaber so far. Finally, four forwards will have played in all three games: Hartikainen, Martindale, Pitlick, and Abney.
Defenders: The pairings for tonight's game are: Dominik Schlumpf and Johan Motin; Alex Plante and Jeremie Blain; and Martin Marincin and Jordan Bendfeld. As I expected, Jeff Petry isn't going to risk his sore shoulder by playing tonight, and will thus be certain to move on to main camp a bit closer to 100% tomorrow. Dallas Ehrhardt is also out, and will not have had the chance to play in any games. That's got to be disappointing for a player who's trying to earn a contract. The only defenders who will have played in all three games are Plante and Marincin.
Goalies: The third goalie at camp, Bryan Pitton, gets the start tonight. Pitton will have a hard time making the AHL this season, but he is a quality ECHL goalie who might look decent against the rookies tonight. In other words, against this level of competition Pitton might look good, but don't get your hopes up (although I guess that goes for pretty much everyone).
Todd Nelson on tonight's game: "It's going to be a good test for our guys to go up against some experienced guys. San Jose is pretty big, they're a big team, so it's going to be a very good test for our young players and I'd like to see how they can play against a team that's freshly rested."