The Edmonton Oilers drop the puck on their 2021 season Wednesday night at home at Rogers Place.
“The energy’s high, maybe a little more tension in the room. Guys know it’s for real,” captain Connor McDavid — who is also celebrating his 24th birthday — said. “It’s a little bit of an unusual day, just having an opening day this late in the year.”
The Oilers will play a 56-game season in the North Division, formed for this year only with the other six Canadian teams. It’s a season that will likely be remembered largely for what it made different.
That includes no exhibition games to help the players tune up, though not all see that as a drawback.
“I’ve enjoyed this short camp and getting right into it,” defenceman Darnell Nurse said. “Talking to a few guys, this 10 days has actually been great.
“We’ve come out, worked, pushed each other. There will be some speed bumps along the way, having not played any exhibition games. I feel like we’ve pushed each other to the point we’re prepared for what’s to come.”
“The difference is getting in and the intensity and the battles. The pace of things is going to go up,” head coach Dave Tippett explained. “No matter how hard you try to build that into your practicing or into a training camp, until you meet an opponent, you’re never going to get that true intensity in a game.”
The Oilers expected lineup against the Vancouver Canucks is:
Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Kassian
Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Archibald – Turris – Puljujarvi
Ennis – Khaira – Chiasson
Nurse – Bear
Jones – Larsson
Koekkoek – Barrie
The Oilers have signed forward Devin Shore to a one year, two-way contract. Shore, who was in a camp on a professional tryout contract, has been placed on waivers.
Catch the Oilers and Canucks on 630 CHED with the Faceoff Show at 6 p.m. The game begins at 8 p.m.