Well folks, we made it through another long off-season. What is most remarkable is that I was easily able to find something to write about each and every week. Now, we enter the period of time where I will struggle to keep up with all of the news, or to pick and choose what to write about. This week, it's all about the new season of hockey for the Oilers' organization. The Edmonton Oilers open their season at home Sunday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Oklahoma City Barons opened their season at the same time in Cedar Park Texas against the Texas Stars.Last Saturday night, the Oilers played their final pre-season game against the Vancouver Canucks, a game that would see the Oilers lose 4-1 to their division rivals. Of course the rivalry between the Canucks and the Oilers may not be between two evenly matched teams, but the fans do seem to get some enjoyment every time the two teams meet.
Following the conclusion of the pre-season the team hopped on a bus to Jasper for some team building and continued preparation for the upcoming season. Thanks to various tweets we have an idea of what the bus ride was like:
- "Eberle & Hall in worst hangman game in history Ebs can't spell "banana" and hall can't figure out 2nd word is "split" Wow http://yfrog.com/h6xpsknj" Tweeted by Whitney
- "Just on the bus on our way to jasper for a little team building and @RNH_93 forgot the movies.. It's a fine fine day #chaching" Tweeted by Peckham
While in Jasper, various member of the team tweeted pictures of run-ins with nature. Ryan Whitney saw a large elk "Rode our bikes through mountains to rink in Jasper this morning and got a tad too close for the sake of the picture http://yfrog.com/nu21cegj" but worse for the nerves of fans was the photo posted by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins "Got so close to a bear wow!" Well, until of course you realize that that is the stuffed bear.
The players hit the links, where they continued to have encounters with wildlife. Magnus Pääjärvi at least kept his distance. "Jasper golf is unreal! In the end i was looking more for elks and bears then looking at Linus shots.http://yfrog.com/nzk4gij"
The lineup Sunday night will feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander in their first NHL games. There have been several line combinations used in Jasper this week, but it appears as though it will be Smyth - Belanger - Eberle on the first line and Hall - Nugent-Hopkins - Hemsky on the second. That should leave Paajarvi - Horcoff - Omark for the third line and Jones - Lander - Petrell for the fourth line. If I had to put money on a starting goaltender, my two bucks would go for Nikolai Khabibulin, despite the fact the Devan Dubnyk needs to play more games this year and to many in Oil Country has earned the honour of starting the season.
Eric Nystrom was fighting for a position with the Minnesota Wild during the game where Taylor Fedun was injured, sadly for Nystrom, the left winger was waived this week. Fedun is said to be recovering in Minnesota and can hardly wait to return to Edmonton. If Fedun were able to attend the Oilers' home opener, that would be quite the inspiration for fans and players alike. The road to recovery will be long for Fedun, but perhaps his good health and fitness will be his best aid. Nystrom did not receive any additional suspensions for the hit or play, but that didn't upset fans, merely rekindled the no-touch icing debate.
Alexandre Edler was not suspended or fined for his hit on Taylor Hall during Saturday night's game either. Taylor Hall has said that it was not a play that surprised him, that Hall has made similar plays in the past. Unfortunately, Hall will be a player targeted by other teams, but Hall is used to it.
Oklahoma City Baron Marc Arcobello was featured in the NewsOK on Friday where the winger talks about his off-season, his time with the ECHL Stockton Thunder and a little about his other interests.
The Stockton Thunder will open their season on October 14th. In their lineup will be Oilers' prospects Cameron Abney and Olivier Roy.
The Edmonton Oil Kings lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday in Medicine Hat, but won in another shootout on Wednesday at Rexall Place against the Kootenay Ice. The Ice are still without Oilers' prospect Drew Czerwonka, but the winger should be close to returning to the game.
Another look behind the Oilers’ scenes coming up: Oil Change returns to TV screens - Cult of Hockey Adler
Updated Oiler roster features just 21 healthy bodies after Sunday’s cuts - Cult of Hockey McCurdy
Barons Roundtable Question: What Is Your Opinion Of The First Barons Season? - Copper & Blue Livingston
2011-12 CHL Draft Tracker, October Edition - Copper & Blue Sumoil
No Suspension For Nystrom Is A Step Back For Player Safety - Copper & Blue Batty
New Names On The Scoresheets - Copper & Blue Rodgers
Paajarvi's Pronounced Progression Portends Prodigious Play - Copper & Blue Zona
MAPLE LEAFS INTERESTED IN GAGNER? - Oilers Nation Brownlee
UPDATED: LOWE-DOWN ON BRADY SPECULATION - Oilers Nation Brownlee
THINGS THAT MUST IMPROVE: POWERPLAY - Oilers Nation Gregor
A WEEK OF WAITING - Oilers Nation Gregor
Prospect Progress - Lowetide
Are Sam Gagner's Days As An Oiler Numbered? - BBO
The fight for something more: A new image for our city - Jean Shorts Bagged Milk edmontoncritic
Reinhart Brothers Could Be a WHL Story Of The Year - Kukla's Korner McRitchie
Drew Czerwonka Looks to be a Leader - Kukla's Korner McRitchie