The picture above is of Chris Vande Velde, who makes his official NHL debut tonight. He was called up, along with centre Ryan O’Marra and winger Alex Giroux. Also previously called up was Teemu Hartikainen, who will also make his NHL debut tonight. By my count, Vande Velde and Hartikainen join a list that is now
8 7 players long of players who have made their NHL debut with the Oilers this year: Jeff Petry, Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall, Linus Omark, Jordan Eberle, Shawn Belle, (snipped Belle because he actually played a few games in Minny and Montreal) Vande Velde, and Hartikainen. That also makes 11 different players that the Oilers have called up from the Barons (8 of them currently sitting on the Oilers team). Trogdor also reminds me that several ladies made their NHL debut with the Oilers this year as well: Octane.
I would not expect a pretty one, but it will be nice to get a closer look at Teemu Hartikainen, who has played quite well for the Barons this year. Chris Vande Velde has had his struggles, although his focus has been on the defensive aspects of his game. It will be good to get a close look at him too.
So now with these 3 call ups, the Oilers have an average of a shade over ONE whole full season played per player on their forward group (just over 2.5 for all skaters). Yikes. Sounds like Theo Peckham is close to a return, at least.
On to the fun stuff… the Coyotes are a mere 4-4-2 in their last 10, however 3 of those 4 wins came all in a row recently, as they’re on a 3-game winning streak. The Oilers are 4-5-1 in their last 10, looking at times like a team that wants to compete hard on one night, and a team that has no place in the NHL (mainly because it’s composed of AHLers) on other nights. We’ll see which one we get to watch tonight!
With any luck, this will also be the last time the Oilers ever play the Phoenix Coyotes (sorry Phoenixonians… Phoenixites… Phoenixers… whatever).
Prediction: 4-0 Coyotes