The Edmonton Oilers took to Jasper this week for a little team building and training upon the completion of the pre-season. Thanks to various tweets we have an idea of what the bus ride and week was like. At the same time, the Oilers’ lines have been shuffled for opening night and will continue to change until Tom Renney sees something he likes.
The Edmonton Oilers face several challenges in the coming season. The team is still/already riddled with injuries, don’t appear to have complete confidence in their goaltending, and the defence is still quite young and is easily the most identifiable weakness of the roster. While the Oilers appear good up front, that will depend upon the sophomores avoiding the dreaded second year slumps.
Minor Updates and Musings
The Edmonton Oilers may not be as short on defenceman opening night as was previously believed. According to the Oilers website, “Both Ryan Whitney and Ladislav Smid are progressing and could potentially shock Oil Country by playing vs. the Penguins, but Taylor Chorney is certainly ready to go.” If Whitney feels ready to play, the team trainer clears him, and the coaching staff puts Whitney into the lineup, it will not be a problem because Whitney has been on the team’s injured reserve listing since his injury last December. As such, the defenceman has been on the IR for much longer than the required week. For Smid to play he cannot have been placed on the IR on Wednesday but the Oilers’ website has not been updated to indicate which players have been placed on IR. So, it will be a surprise to Oil Country if Smid plays and if he doesn’t.
The WHL has been the starting point for many NHL careers; it’s a dream held by most players in the league. For the three Reinhart brothers, Max, Griffin and Sam that dream is a little closer to home than for others. The Reinhart brothers are sons of Paul Reinhart, former Calgary Flame and this year all three brothers are playing in the WHL.
Apparently, 95% of parents have a favourite child and that the other 5% are lying. With that in mind I won’t bother suggesting that I don’t have favourite prospects, even though the two situations are completely different. I try to remain unbiased, and can be successful in that regard in many ways, but certainly not all. Quite simply, some prospects make my job easy; they’re confident, well spoken, friendly and put me at ease as much as I hope I do for them. Drew Czerwonka of the Kootenay Ice is one of those prospects. With his calm yet friendly demeanor, million dollar smile and thoughtful responses Czerwonka has quickly become a favourite of mine.
Coach Tom Renney gets asked a million questions every day, but Monday’s questions seemed to be concerning many more topics than usual. Renney was asked about the condition of his players, his choices for cuts, his starting lineup, about the players who weren’t cut, the team trip to Jasper and everything else the people of Oil Country would like to know. The Edmonton Oilers have a portion of Renney’s interview available on their website and Jason Gregor of the Team 1260, has a much longer portion available in the 3rd hour of the October 3rd show.
The Edmonton Oilers have made their “final” cuts Sunday, and there was at least one surprise. Gilbert Brule is in the last year of his one way contract, but has a highly publicized bought of depression/illness that has kept him out of the Oilers’ lineup for much of last season, and kept the first round centreman from being traded to the Los Angeles Kings. Sunday, Brule was placed on waivers with the intention of assignment to the AHL along with Josh Green, Ryan Keller and Ryan O’Marra. Finnish left winger Teemu Hartikainen was also assigned to Oklahoma City, but does not have to be placed on waivers for re-assignment.
A sunny October Sunday afternoon was the setting for the Calgary Hitmen’s home opener. This team is usually a powerhouse in the WHL and up at the top of the standings. Last year however, the Hitmen found themselves at the bottom of the WHL and now this Calgary Hitmen team is another year older and another year wiser. Their current roster has 2 NHL drafted players, Brooks Macek drafted by Detroit and Victor Rask drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes. The majority of their players are 2012 draft eligible and this is the start of the season that may decide their fates. The team must be in some ways worried that they don’t have a mix of younger players (they only have 1 younger player) on their roster, but I’m sure they’ll never tell you that.
Oilers lose to Canucks 4-1
Pre-season or not, going into a game against the Vancouver Canucks, the Oilers were the underdogs. This Edmonton Oilers team younger less experienced and already decimated by injuries. Last night following the game against the Minnesota Wild, young defenceman Taylor Fedun had emergency surgery on his femur bone. Fedun is expected to be in the hospital for a number of weeks, and will be looking at a long recovery but Fedun by all accounts, is a fighter and will return. Eric Nystrom delivered the hit, and personally delivered apologies to Fedun in his hospital room. Nystrom has been tweeting apologies as well; the play did not appear to have an intention to injure and is one that you would expect to see throughout the season.
Oilers Beat Wild 4-3 in Shootout
The Edmonton Oilers have one game remaining in their pre-season schedule, but are already running out of players due to injury. This was no easy battle for the Oilers, behind 3-1 thanks to two Wild power play goals in the third, but managed to find the back of the net twice in time to tie the game before the end of regulation time. The extra five minutes would solve nothing, and neither team would accumulate many shots on net; both goaltenders had their work cut out for them. Through the shootout, it was a sweet Swede who made the day for the Oilers.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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