So more injuries, heading into this one. Shawn Horcoff is out with a broken knuckle, and Mark Fistric is out with back problems after missing a big hit and slamming into the bench boards ass first. That means Mark Arcobello gets the callup and makes his NHL debut, after playing stellar hockey for the Oklahoma City Barons. In 43 games he has 14 goals and 25 assists. He did play some games between Hall and Eberle while the Nuge was in Russia for the WJHCs. I wouldn’t expect that to happen tonight though, as that would be high expectations for a guy who is playing his first NHL game, especially with his small size. He’s listed at 5’9″ and 165lbs.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a shake up of the lines tonight, with Gagner getting a stint with Hall and Eberle. He’s played superbly so far this year. He leads the Oilers in points with 3 goals and 7 assists. He’s really elevated his game to what we’d hope we’d see from him. His net play is quite strong, and he’s been very aggressive on the forecheck. His defensive game still leaves a lot to be desired, but you take the good with the bad.
More injury notes, for the better… Ben Eager should be back soon. He says he’s feeling better than he has in quite a while. It’s always been in the back of my mind that Eager has gone “soft” in recent years here since the Tulupov hit… and because of the outcome of that hit – a bad concussion. I wonder if he’s not at all been 100% since that hit and been protecting himself. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, as concussions can be a bitch and very long lasting. I hope he really is 100% though and the concussion problems are behind him.
Theo Peckham is now on a 2-week conditioning stint with the Barons. I look forward to him returning to the lineup. Similarly to Eager, you can’t help but think that his play took a big dip after being knocked-the-fuck-out by Nathan Horton (not really knocked out, but he got knocked down and was out of the lineup for a couple/few weeks from that) as well as being concussed by a hit by Rick Nash all in the span of a month.
Lastly, Mark Spector doesn’t think the Oilers will be making any trades to acquire a center, as Eric Belanger is expected to be back soon.
No word on the lines just yet, but I’ll update when that info is out.
Edit: Lines confirmed.. Nuge will sit this one out. Not sure why. Really, he could sit out due to his play as of late. I don’t think he’s been too hot this year yet. Arcobello will slot in with familiar linemates in Hall and Eberle. That should be interesting. And I wanted to see Smyth at center… we’ll get that chance tonight as he centers Hordi and Petrell. This will be Hordichuk’s best chance to make a name for himself here or be confirmed as the “useless” tag that many fans are giving him.
Edit 2: Nuge was apparently hurt in the first shift of OT against Canucks. He could still play in this one, but I’d say he’s doubtful since he missed the morning skate. I personally think it’d be good for him to sit one out anyways. Not to say he’s been BAD… just I don’t think he’s been playing at the level I expect to see him play at.. yet.
OILERS LINES (CONFIRMED)
Hall – Arcobello – Eberle
Yakupov – Gagner – Hemsky
Hordichuk – Smyth – Petrell
Paajarvi – Lander- Hartikainen
Smid – Petry
N. Schultz – J. Schultz
Whitney – Potter