It seems like forever since we’ve last seen a regulation game so, needless to say, I’m excited as hell for this one. The big story about tonight’s game is that we’ll see the NHL debut of two Oilers in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Anton Lander. The Oilers are giving Nugent-Hopkins the best possible start he can get by playing between Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky. These guys have been playing together in practice for quite a while now, so it will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry has been built there. We all know that Hemsky, as amazingly skilled as he is, can be a difficult player to play with at times. But I think Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are very smart players that should have no troubles keeping up.
Lander will center the fourth line tonight, which contains Ryan Jones and Darcy Hordichuk. I don’t expect too much magic from him tonight playing with those two guys. But I do expect to see what he can do in the defensive zone at shutting down opponents and playing an energy game.
The other HUGE deal for me.. Devan Dubnyk gets the start tonight. This is a huge deal for me because it signifies that Tom Renney full recognize who is the better goaltender here. With any luck, that means that we’ll see many starts from him this season (50+ I hope). That is a really good sign for the Oilers if that is the case. At worst, that means that Nikolai Khabibulin will have to play his ass off to start in games.
Tom Renney is apparently undefeated in home openers (7-0?)… however the Oilers will have their hands full in this one. They do like to play against Eastern teams, however.
I predict that Dubnyk will have a good game though… I’ll go with 4-1 Oilers for my prediction as Tom Renney improves to 8-0 in openers.
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