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Canucks and Oilers Close out Pre-Season

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.

The Edmonton Oilers have a page setup for fans to send Fedun their best wishes. Some of the comments are from members of Fedun’s family and even Ryan Jones’ father in law, Dave Arundel, who was at the game and saw the hit. Arundel tells Fedun “The time is NOW for the NHL to stop the carnage on the icing calls. It works fine in college…the puck crosses the goal line and the whistle blows. It does not detract in any way from a great hockey game. Taylor…everyone suffers. Everyone gets hurt and everyone struggles….there is no escaping it…the difference is how we react to it. Your NHL career is all in front of you…and you will have an NHL career. You are a very, very talented blueliner. May God grant you a speedy recovery. Wait…just a little longer…and you will be back with the Oilers. Hang in there young friend”

Several NHLers responded to the hit and subsequent injury by calling for a change to icing rules in the NHL. This is wonderful, but hopefully they will follow these tweets up by speaking with their player reps. The NHLPA needs players to speak up and take formal steps if they want to make a real impact or changes to the game and player safety.

Alright, back to the final pre-season game of the 2011-12 season for both teams.

The Oilers’ defencemen seemingly couldn’t stay out of the penalty box through the first 20 minutes. This of course caught up to them before too long, and the Oilers were down by one thanks to a goal by Cody Hodgson.  1-0 was a lot better than it could have been, Nikolai Khabibulin didn’t have an overly bad start in net.

The second period had a number of ups and downs for the Oilers; they got their first power play opportunity, but they also had more time on the penalty kill.

Magnus Paajarvi scored the team’s only goal on a play that Robert Luongo later said wished had been whistled down, “It’s part of the game and its pre-season but I would have loved to have stopped that.” Luongo stated post game.  The Oilers were pouring on offence and at one point sent Luongo sprawling onto his back. Never letting up, but never quite covering up the puck, Luongo battled. Between Ryan Smyth and Magnus Paajarvi jamming away at the puck and net, and Luongo sprawled out on the ice, this scrimmage went on a lot longer than may have been expected, but the Oilers came out on top.

Just over seven minutes into the period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins showed the world why he was selected first overall, embarrassing Victor Oreskovich and Maxim Lapierre in his own end. The young centreman sped down the ice and was hit against the boards by Oreskovich. The hit was clean, but the Oilers will not allow hits like that on their future star. All skaters converged into a scrum and Theo Peckham emerged fighting Lapierre. The bought was a long one, as were the list of penalties that resulted from the skirmish. After all of the penalties were added up, the Canucks were once again on the power play. The Oilers weathered the storm and closed out the second period tied at one.

Following the hit, Nugent-Hopkins felt alright and spoke to Scott Oakes of his pre-season and his game; “I think I had my head down there a little bit. I always have to prepare myself to be hit’ it’s the NHL and I’ve got to prepare for that.” Nugent-Hopkins continued to play his game through the third, hoping to show that he can put in the effort. “I think that I’ve done pretty well this pre-season. I’ve had some great line-mates to work with, with Eberle and Hall and Smytty so I’ve been lucky that way.” Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t find his experiences overwhelming at this point, “No I don’t think so, all of the guys, especially like Ebsy and Hallsy, they all did this last year too. It’s good to talk to them and see how they handled things and get a feel for what they did too.”

The final frame didn’t go the Oilers way. Goals from Jannik Hansen and Mikael Samuelsson gave the Canucks a comfortable lead, and an empty netter from Cody Hodgson sealed the deal.

Overall, the Oilers didn’t look as though they should be playing in a league below the Canucks, but they did look as though they have some work to do. It doesn’t appear to be an issue of work ethic, but man power and experience.  Ladislav Smid’s shoulder injury is a separation and so things are looking worse and worse for the Oilers’ blueline.

Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi look as though they will have no trouble picking up where they left off, and aiming for more points this season, especially when Paajarvi combined with Smyth.

Coach Tom Renney had another glowing review of Nugent-Hopkins; “He’ll navigate the ice against any team in the world honestly. The big thing for him is his ability to play with the heavy lifting and be able to use the cerebral part of his game. And as long as he can do that, he’ll be fine. As far as it goes, as I’ve mentioned before, it will be the body of work that we’ll look for now in retrospect and we’ll certainly not look for any conclusions tonight.”

Decimated by injuries, the Oilers lineup had little rest after arriving in Vancouver at 2am then playing a game for the second time in as many nights. Renney gives, “Full credit to our squad for showing up and showing their character and the resiliency to come out here and play hard. There certainly won’t be any decisions made here tonight.” Taylor Hall received an elbow to the head from Alexander Edler that will likely be reviewed in the morning by Brendan Shanahan and his team, but thankfully Hall played the entire game and has not been added to the Oilers’ list of injured players. This should aid Renney in his decisions; worrying about an injured star player cannot make things any easier.

The Oilers have a number of options for their line combinations up front, but are short on the backend. Whether the Oilers start picking up the phone to make trades, or wait for the waiver wire is yet to be seen, but if the Oilers make any moves this week, it will not be a surprise.


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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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