Monday, December 26, 2011

Game Day: Oilers vs Vancouver

Edmonton (15-16-3) vs Vancouver (21-12-2)

Time:       8:00pm
Where:    Rogers Arena

Watch:     Sportsnet
Listen:     630 CHED

Projected Line Combinations 

Eberle - Nugent-Hopkins - Hall    
Gagner - Horcoff - Smyth
Eager - Belanger - Jones
Hordichuk - Lander - Petrell

Tonight will mark the hometown debut of one Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. While the rookie already played a game during the exhibition campaign in the Rogers Arena, tonight will be a special night for the youngster. The comparisons to # 99 have been coming in for some time now and it will be interesting to see, if RNH can put on a show for the people of Vancouver, the way Gretzky did in Toronto. Whenever Edmonton would visit Toronto, Gretzky almost always managed to put on some sort of display in Maple Leafs Garden so lets see if the kid has something special in his bag of tricks for his family and friends.

It looks as though Ales Hemsky will miss his second consecutive game. Apparently he is over the bug that kept him out of action against the Wild but a painful sinus infection has left him dizzy and unable to play. 

With Hemsky out, the lineup that beat Minnesota last Thursday night, remains intact. Look for big games from both Darcy Hordichuk and Ben Eager, as the pair will have the opportunity to send a message to their Northwest rivals that the Oilers can no longer be pushed around at will. These two have a role to play on this club and tonight is the night they need to go out and do it.

Defence Pairings 

Gilbert - Smid
Peckham - Potter
Petry - Plante

Defenceman Ryan Whitney did not take part in the afternoon skate and will not play against the Canucks, due to tendinitis in his right ankle. While Whitney has played nowhere near the level he did last season, his loss is a hole that this club can simply not fill. They called up defenceman Alex Plante from Oklahoma City and he will suit up in place of Whitney but the Oilers blueline is going to have their hands full with a red hot Vancouver side. It was going to be a challenge with the veteran rearguard in the lineup but without him, it could be a very long night.


Nikolai Khabibulin 

Khabibulin has been nothing short of brilliant since returning from a brief stint on the sidelines and in order for this suddenly depleted roster to compete against the high flying Canucks, the veteran netminder may have to stand on his head. In fairness to the Russian puck stopper, nothing in his play suggests he will be anything but and hence he should give Edmonton a fighting chance to earn two points.

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