I don't remember anything about the Oilers last game of the 2011/12 season. I know it was a 3-0 loss in Vancouver but I don't recall any specifics about what happened that night. The Oilers have lost so many games over the last three seasons as management continue to attempt to rebuild the team into something worth watching that it's become hard to distinguish one loss from the next. Had I known then what I know now, that it would be 288 days before I had a chance to watch the Oilers play again I might have paid closer attention.
Heading into this season hopes are high in Edmonton that the Oilers are finally going to turn the corner on the rebuild moving from perennial basement dweller towards a berth in the playoffs. The addition of Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov to the Young Gunz™ - Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - has people dreaming of what might be on the horizon for this team. It's hard not to be excited but reality is a bitch and I still think a lot of things are going to have to go right for this team to make the playoffs this season. Regardless of what the next couple of months might bring it is nice to have Oilers hockey back, finally.
Oilers Report: The Oilers are the very last team to start the 2013 season but where the extra day of practice might have been helpful for a lot of team around the league as players rush to get back in game shape and find some timing in their games, the Oilers roster is loaded with players who were playing hockey during the lockout and should be coming into this season in great shape. In total ten of the Oilers dressed for tonights game, including the top two lines, played during the lockout - five in Oklahoma City and five more in Europe.
Canucks Report: The Canucks got embarrassed last night by the Ducks, losing 7-3 in their home opener. The big story last night should have been ageless wonder Teemu Selanne but was instead that Vancouver's new number one goalie, Corey Schneider, looked nothing like a number one getting lit up for five goals on just 14 shots before being pulled in the 27th minute. Roberto Luongo fared better than Schneider and according to Mark Spector will get the start tonight. I'm sure this was always the intent but given the Scheider didn't exactly have a full nights work last night I'm surprised they didn't go back to him tonight.
Expected Line Combinations
Courtesy of the Oilers Twitter account we have the line combinations Ralph Krueger will be starting with tonight:
Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle
Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Teemu Hartikainen
Ben Eager - Eric Belanger - Lennart Petrell
Ladislav Smid - Jeff Petry
Justin Schultz - Nick Schultz
Ryan Whitney - Corey Potter
Starting Goalie: Devan Dubnyk
Scratches: Mark Fistric, Magnus Paajarvi, Darcy Hordichuk
Rogers Arena, 7pm MST
TV - Sportsnet West
Radio - 630 CHED
By The Numbers
- The Oilers 18-10-4 all time in season openers, including a perfect 1-0 record in season opening games played in the month of January.
- In his career Luongo has posted an 18-9-3 record against the Oilers. That record is due in large part to the heavy divisional schedule that's been played in recent years and that the Oilers haven't been a very good team during those seasons. Oilers fans can probably find some comfort in the fact that Luongo has beaten Calgary more often than Edmonton though.
- With a single point Horcoff will tie Esa Tikkanen for eighth on the Oilers all time scoring list with 436 points. Different eras of course but if Horcoff gets that point tonight it will have taken him 244 more games to reach that mark.
- The Oilers posted a 1-5 record against Vancouver last season, losing all three games played on the road. The last time the Oilers posted a winning record against the Canucks in a season was in 2005/06 following the last lockout. Maybe the same thing will happen after this lockout as well.