Photo by Rob Ferguson.
Hockey and October are like peanut butter and jelly – wonderfully addicting and warmly received. It has been a while since we’ve had NHL hockey in October, and boy am I glad the full season sked is back. Our beloved Oilers, with a few Barons thrown in for good measure, take to the ice in Rexall this evening to face the Winnipeg Jets. It’s opening night. Enough said.
After a saggy loss in Oklahoma City to round out the preseason for the Oilers, they’ll begin their journey towards betterment tonight with a host of new characters.
Dallas Eakins and Craig MacTavish are hoping to ice a quality team. Indeed the top half is a lovely Michelangelo, but the bottom half remains a Richard Scary. Woven in between are important pieces in the pantheon of Barons folklore. Let’s explore those things. Won’t you join me.
First and foremost, Mark Arcobello. That guy is an epic under dog. He will indeed wear #26 again after fiddling around with the inappropriate #62, and he will center a second line with Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky. He will be in good company with those two fellas, but he’s a centerman that still needs to prove he has the right stuff. I’m skeptical, but he’s getting the old college try here, and Eakins will do his best to give him every chance to succeed, even if that means he fails. Godspeed.
I want to see Luke Gazdic play NHL minutes consistently, I really do, but after watching him a ton in the AHL I’m not sure how he pans out even in an under 4 minute role. Is he a liability? Probably. He will be playing with Will Acton on the center and Mike Brown on the opposite wing. Liability is a three way ditch, so it seems.
And speaking of Will Acton, I want to see this guy do things better than Chris VandVelde mainly because he feels like a similarly molded player. A penalty killer dropping fourth line minutes at 5 on 5, but earning maybe just as much time on the kill. Can he play special teams in continuously good fashion? Ironically, I think he can. He’s perhaps the ONLY reason that fourth line keeps its head above water. I like Will. Keith, his dad, likes Will. Dallas likes Will. You probably should too.
Belov so hardily outplayed Larsen in preseason that the 5/6 defender was a no-brainer to crack the Oilers opening night roster. He is a really important get for Edmonton in the offseason, and I think we find his value increases quickly.
Injuries are always a concern, and for the Oilers they need to stay healthy, especially on the offensive side of the puck. Linus Omark, Ryan Hamilton, and Tyler Pitlick are your most-likely-to-get-called-up-forwards. After that, there’s not much more. This is going to be an interesting season for the Oilers, and by extension the Barons. We’ve already seen some goofy gimps, but that needs to lessen as the season rolls on. Drink your whole milk fellas, keep those bones strong.
Like forward health, goaltending health is key too. Dubnyk is no stranger to the injury bug. He pulls a groin, Bachman gets the recall, and the Barons are saddled with a Roy/Bunz twosome on the farm. Yikes and zoinks and geez. Stay healthy, my friends.
The Barons open their fourth season of play in three days. They play the Charlotte Checkers in a revamped division of the Western Conference. Stay plugged in to Tend The Farm for practice reports, award winning commentary, humble brags, vicious gifs, and of course, Barons coverage.
Okay, let us know. Are you watching tonight’s Oilers game? What are you looking for?