EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers continue their exhibition campaign Friday night, as they host the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. Edmonton is 3-0-0 thus far in the pre-season, having defeated the Calgary Flames in split-squad action on Monday, and then routing the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 on Wednesday.
The squad will seek to maintain their perfect record despite icing a bevy of young skaters set out to prove more to Oilers management.
"There's still some players in camp that have played games that I personally haven't had a chance to see," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "They'll get that chance tonight. We're playing back-to-back games (Winnipeg on Saturday), so this is one of those nights where we give a lot of the 'on the edge' guys an opportunity to step up and separate themselves from that group.
"If they don't do that tonight, if they stay in the mix and they're not really pushing for a spot, then we'll be able to make some decisions over the weekend."
McLellan knows what he wants to see from the fringe skaters.
"Players playing in structure," he said. "Can they get to the right spots? Can they get it done when they get there? Are their anticipation skills proper to play within our structure?
"We've given them enough information now to play in three zones," McLellan continued. "I would expect our veteran players that have been around to be sharper in those areas but some of the younger guys now have to adapt quickly."
Milan Lucic has been there and done that. The veteran winger offered his insight on the way exhibition tune-ups have changed over the years and how it's different for the rookies and roster hopefuls to make an impression these days.
"There's been I think one fight in the exhibition season throughout the whole League so far," he said. "Rewind it 10 years ago when I came in, I think I fought four times in the exhibition season just to hopefully stick around. The mindset when you're a young guy trying to get yourself noticed and trying to do what you can, for me, it was more of a physical thing: laying big hits, getting in on the fore-check and dropping the gloves to get myself noticed."
SPECIAL TEAMS EMPHASIS
Oilers rearguard Adam Larsson hasn't noticed much of a change in the pace of the games this pre-season, even though there is the enforcement of slashing and face-off violation penalties.
"It's more whistles that kind of slow the play a little bit," the Swedish defender said. "But the pace itself, not really."
Edmonton is 6-for-23 on the man-advantage this exhibition campaign, clicking at a 26 percent rate. As for the penalty kill, the club thwarted 15 of the 18 pre-season penalties they've been called on, converting at 83 percent.
It is still unclear what the lineup will look like for the Oilers tonight. McLellan did confirm Kailer Yamamoto will play in his third pre-season game and that Laurent Brossoit is expected to play the full 60 minutes.