If there was any doubt Jordan Eberle could skate with the big boys, that concern has now officially been put to rest.
The Edmonton Oilers and their former Canadian junior star introduced themselves to the Vancouver Canucks tonight, embarrassing their guests from the west coast, 8-2, before a boisterous Rexall Place crowd.
Playing on a line with first overall NHL draft pick, Taylor Hall, and the much maligned, Shawn Horcoff, Eberle opened the scoring for the copper and blue two minutes into the game on a power play, as a result of a hooking call to the Canucks’ Brendan Morrison.
Eberle and Horcoff finished the tilt with three points each (2-1), while big man Duston Penner pitched in with a pair, and Linus Omark enjoyed his best outing of the preseason, scoring a goal and pitching in with two helpers. Omark, another Swede who can stick handle in a telephone booth and boasts speed to burn, is making a solid argument for remaining with the NHL club. The number of bodies in camp, however, may make a flight to Oklahoma City inevitable.
Centre Chris Vande Velde had the other Oilers goal, all coming at the hands of Vancouver netminder Cory Schneider.
Edmonton deserves full marks for the “W” tonight, but it’s important to note the absence of the Sedin twins, a large part of Vancouver’s offensive schemes. The Oilers’ Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, Andrew Cogliano and Magnus Paajarvi also watched from the press box.
While kids like Eberle continue to steal all of the headlines in E-town, an interesting secondary story, and one that arguably carries more weight, took place tonight in the Oilers’ goal crease. Embattled goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin, started his first game of the preseason tonight, his first since undergoing back surgery last November and subsequent arrest and conviction on DUI charges in Arizona. The Bulin Wall faced 28 shots and made several key stops, despite one softy to Canucks’ agitator, Ryan Kesler.
Edmonton continues to impress (two goals on the PP tonight as well) with each preseason contest.
In the meantime Oiler fans, chins up, sticks down.
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.