After a final round of roster cuts and four straight pre-season wins the Edmonton Oilers rolled into Oklahoma City for their opening day rehearsal. Turns out there’s some work to be done between now and Oct. 1. Against a Dallas Stars lineup stocked with depth players many of whom are on their way to the American Hockey League this weekend the Oilers were soundly defeated 4-0. They closed out the pre-season with a record of 5-2-1. “That’s not going to happen again” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. “I let the players know that is their free pass. If that was Oct. 1 I would have shortened that bench down fast. “(But) sometimes it’s good that you get a good kick in the butt leading into the season.” The Oilers should have rolled over the Stars given the disparity in the two lineups. Edmonton sent out a group that will look a lot like the team that makes its debut in Rexall Place next week against the Winnipeg Jets while the Stars sent out their first-choice roster one night earlier in Dallas. Before a crowd of 8841 the underdog Stars struck first with a bad angle shot from Austin Smith that eluded Devan Dubnyk midway through the first period. He atoned for that early in the second with a pad save on Antoine Roussel but had no defence for Luke Gazdic’s wrist shot on a three-on-one. Vernon Fiddler on Dubnyk’s doorstep batted in a puck midway through the third. In an attempt to spark something Eakins pulled Dubnyk and sent out an extra attacker with eight minutes left on the clock. Brett Ritchie shovelled in an empty-net goal to ratchet the Stars lead to 4-0. “We couldn’t get any shots five-on-five and it was 3-0. What’s the difference if it’s 4-0? If you can get a goal you can usually put them on their heels” said Eakins who pegged his goaltender’s game as average at best. “That first goal can’t go in. He knows that. He’s a competitive kid.” Dubnyk wasn’t going to put much stock into the end result. Instead he said it was the end of the pre-season and that it wasn’t a big deal. “I’m not too concerned about it. We’ll be fine” said Dubnyk who faced 28 shots. Stars goaltender Dan Ellis made 20 saves for the shutout. “For some reason we didn’t want to shoot the puck put pucks on nets” said Eakins. “A good lesson for our team. “I have a couple of assistant coaches in there that are about to climb the wall with anger. All I said was that ‘Hey it’s good that it happened. It’s good to let our team know that our diapers do stink. “That’s not going to happen again.” Taylor Hall and his linemates Ales Hemsky and Ryan Smyth were on the ice for three of the goals.
Oilers regular season rehearsal ends on sour note
Edmonton Journal | Sep 28