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Oilers v. Canucks - They're All Professionals Now

Tonight marks the Oilers first game on national television, and they're icing a lineup that's ready to impress with both first overall picks in the lineup. In fact, by my count, fourteen of the twenty men dressed tonight are very likely to make the final twenty-three man roster even if no one is injured to start the year (fat chance). And since the Canucks aren't exactly icing the team that was playing in the Stanley Cup Finals a few short months ago, it's reasonable to expect the Oilers to come away from this one with a victory. A win against the Canucks? I'll gladly take it (and brag about it at work), even if it is just pre-season.

Vancouver Canucks @ Edmonton Oilers 

Rexall Place, 7:00 p.m. MDT
Television: TSN

More analysis after the jump...

Expected Lineup:

Edmonton Oilers:

Smyth (94) - Nugent-Hopkins (93) - Eberle (14)
Hall (4) - Gagner (89) - Pitlick (68)
Paajarvi (91) - Horcoff (10) - Omark (23)
Hordichuk (16) - House (60) - Petrell (37)

Smid (5) - Gilbert (77)
Peckham (24) - Petry (58) 
Chorney (41) - Plante (48)

Dubnyk (40)
Danis (34)

Notes from Camp:

  • The Oilers cut four players on Wednesday (Jeremie Blain, Tyler Bunz, Brandon Davidson, and David Musil), and in their announcement told us that the roster now stands at fifty-four. By my math, that's the forty-eight players currently under contract plus Drew Czerwonka, Ryan Martindale, Ryan Lowery, Kirill Tulupov, Travis Ewanyk, and... is Kelly Buchberger making a comeback? Or is Jason Strudwick back in action? And which of those is scarier anyway?
  • Derek wrote today about being tough to play against, and it reminded me of Darcy Hordichuk's interview after playing against Minnesota. In his comments, he talks about why teams have heavyweights, and then completely undermines any idea of them being useful: "Every night I go in the lineup, I know there's always a tough guy on the other side. It's a matter of me fighting for a reason. Every game I'm going to go out there and run around, and that's why every team has a heavyweight. It was a good job on [Kassian's] part to try to slow me down, but at the end of the day, I still think I had six or seven hits." In other words, every team has a heavyweight to prevent guys like Hordichuk from running around, but guys like Hordichuk remain completely undeterred.
  • Ben Eager was a late scratch on Tuesday because of a concussion. It was interesting to hear Tom Renney state, "He does have a concussion" so unequivocally after all of the dancing that the organization did around Colten Teubert getting punched in the mug. I can understand the dancing though. Teubert's value declines if he has a concussion, and that's not good for the team or the player, so treating something like a concussion without calling it one until you're absolutely sure is understandable.
  • Tom Gilbert plays beside Ladislav Smid tonight on what I had assumed would be the Oilers first choice for shut-down defense pairing this season, which seems like a better use of the defensemen available than pairing Gilbert with Cam Barker. Another feature of this defensive lineup? All six guys playing their natural side. 
  • Tyler Pitlick and Tanner House are in interesting spots here. House has the inferior linemates, but he also stays at center (on a line we might see at the nadir of injury season). Pitlick is playing with the big boys, but he's shifting over to the wing to do it. There are a whole lot of forwards heading to Oklahoma City, so it will be interesting to see where all of these guys land. Pitlick's positional versatility may end up being a tremendous asset.