Thursday, March 17, 2011

2 Rookies and 1 Coyote Win

The starting line-up for the  Edmonton Oilers vs the Phoenix Coyotes went something like this:





No one, at the start of the season would've guessed that Ryan O'Marra, Alex Giroux, Teemu Hartikainen and Chris VandeVelde would be penned in for tonight's match-up versus the Coyotes; let alone witness a first line consisting of Ryan Jones, Andrew Cogliano and rookie Jordan Eberle.  

Upon closer inspection the line-up simply resembled that of a pre-season game, in which the regulars take a back seat and allow the "hopefuls" to make the final cut.  With 7 soldiers healing in the infirmary, the Oilers Brass had no other choice but to make the call to the reserves in OK City.  In total, 3 Barons were re-called and promptly whisked away via the private jet of Oilers' owner Daryl Katz.  Non stop by the way.

Of the three, Teemu Hartikainen and Chris VandeVelde made their first NHL debut in Oilers threads hoping to make a stand in the big leagues.  However, it was Hartikainen who came out on top after gathering his first NHL point, during the 3-1 loss to the Desert Dogs.  The Finnish rookie played the game accompanied with some jitters, coupled with the nauseating sensation of butterflies in the ol' gut. 

"I was so nervous before the game,” he said. “I almost threw up when they scored (their third goal). "This means a lot to us,” said the 20 year-old who manage to help Magnus Paajarvi pick up his 11th goal of the season. “These are really big games for us. There is a lot of excitement and energy, everybody wants to show what they can do. I got a few hits and an assist, so it’s a good start, but I can play better.”

With the same tone of enthusiasm VandeVelde echoed Hartikainen's sentiments. 

“Being up here is huge for me,” said Vande Velde. “It’s a great opportunity to show what I have to put forward. All of us. It’s not going to be a question of work ethic or energy.

If there is one thing that the Oilers coaching staff is looking for, its effort.  Regardless of the depleted line-up and where the club currently sits in the standings, there are players in the Oilers locker room who are ecstatic to be given the opportunity to play...unlike like the whiners and complainers of last year.  

"If you had a choice would you rather not have that than walking around with all kinds of doom and gloom,” said head coach Tom Renney. “It could be a country music song in here. We’re not that. We’re good. We’re working hard to put a product on the ice that we can be proud of. We understand our situation but we’re not walking around asking people to step back from the ledge.

“They played their guts out tonight. Take any element of our game tonight and they tried. I like the way we played. I liked that we cared enough.”

At the end of the match, the Oilers out shot the 'Yotes 36-17.  Stempniak, Whitney and Vrbata had the goals for the Coyotes.  The Dogs are now 9th overall in the league with a handsome record of 38-23-11 for 87 points.

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