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At the Morning Skate: Oilers vs. Jets

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

Start time:
8:30pm MT
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network

Following the team’s decisive 7-2 victory over the Canucks Sunday night, the Oilers’ next assignment, also sporting a 1-0 record, comes vs. the Winnipeg Jets tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Winnipeg came into the 2011 Young Stars Tournament as an unknown, but quickly turned heads in a 4-0 shutout win over the San Jose Sharks one night ago.

While the Oilers peppered the Canucks with dismantling speed, skill and up-tempo transition, the Jets replicated that style with their own brand, littering the ice with an incredible pace that proved deadly vs. San Jose.

As OKC Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson explains, it’s a matchup best dictated by the Oilers’ own game.

“[Winnipeg is] a very fast team; but then again, we think that we are as well. We think that our defencemen have great agility and speed when they're skating backwards and we can handle that.

“From that respect, we're going to focus on our own game. It's too early to really get into the technical part and match things up. Right now we want the guys to go out there, showcase their ability and go from there.”

Centre Tyler Pitlick, who will be slotted between Brett Ferguson and Tobias Rieder vs. Winnipeg, agreed with the coach’s comments.

“It's been pretty good,” he said of the tournament’s pace. “It seems pretty similar to Junior. It should be fun out there tonight.


Jeremie Blain and Brandon Davidson, who were both scratched on Sunday, will be paired together in tonight's contest.

“I think we're players that play very similar to each other,” Blain said. “We move the puck well. We can pass, shoot, skate up-ice ourselves and play physical. We’re a good combo.

“I need to move the puck and be physical in my own end; get the puck out and support the rush. I'll also get involved in scoring chances when I have the opportunity, but I’m most concerned with my play in the D zone.”

As Davidson adds, the key is simplicity. With speed coming the other way, an overly aggressive mentality can trigger a breakdown.

“I'm not really thinking about it a whole lot,” he said. “I need to stick to my game plan and continue to do what got me here. I'm excited.

“Everything you can show [coaches and management], you've got to show them on the ice. That's all you can really do in this business. I really need to put a good game together tonight.”

Both players are keen to continue the team’s hot start.

“It was really good to see the guys win,” Davidson said. “We had a rough start there, but once we got rolling we had success. Hopefully all the pressure is off and we can play our game.”

Not having seen what the Jets are all about, Blain is ready regardless.

“I haven’t really seen them play or practice yet,” he said. “I heard they’re a really fast team and strong off the rush. We’ll see what happens. I’m not really too concerned, because our team is well prepared. We’re ready for whatever they throw at us.”


Olivier Roy stopped 23 shots in the Oilers’ 7-2 win over Vancouver, but now it’s Tyler Bunz’ turn to showcase his skill to the masses in Penticton. The mild-mannered 19-year-old is, as you’d expect, excited about the opportunity to get back in the crease.

“It was a long summer,” he said. “Last season was the best season I've had in my whole career. It all adds up. The few practices that I've had here in Penticton have been really good.

"I'm looking forward to it.”

With dynamic young superstars patrolling the Jets’ lines, Bunz said he isn’t concerned with the opponent’s structure.

“You've got to treat it like any other game. You've got to play every shooter the same. I've got to prepare and work like I normally would.

“It starts tonight. I've got to do the same thing that I did last year; go out there, play hard and hopefully get the win for the guys.”

Practice notes: Cameron Abney skated on the team’s fourth line this morning, but will be scratched. Ryan Martindale will play the wing, alongside Antti Tyrvainen and Chase Schaber.

Line combinations:

Hamilton - Nugent-Hopkins - Pelss
Ferguson - Pitlick - Rieder
Czerwonka - Smith - Rajala
Tyrvainen - Schaber - Martindale

Davidson - Blain
Vannieuwenhuizen - Lowery
Gernat - Fedun

Tonight's game can be seen LIVE right here on

Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick

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