Friday, December 31, 2010

Edmonton's Premium Oil

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Their slogan this year is "The Other Oil in Town" but perhaps they should update that with "The Winning Oil in Town". While their NHL parent club follows up a horrendous 2009-10 with an even worse 2010-11, the Edmonton Oil Kings are not only competitive this year, they're the hottest team in the entire WHL.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 Draft Blog: Seth Ambroz Pt.2

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Continuing his guest blogging series with us today is Seth Ambroz, forward of the Omaha Lancers. The product of New Prague, MN wrote the first entry to the blog back on October 17th which you can read HERE. Since then, the 17-year-old has continued to develop with Omaha, has helped the Lancers to the 2nd best record in the USHL's Western Conference and headlined team USA's third straight gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge.

To fill in the time from Chapter 1 until now, here is Seth Ambroz...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Visentin Or Roy?

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Canada opens the tournament against Russia on Sunday, so who would pick as your last line of defence?

Recently Sam Cosentino of Rogers Sportsnet said he wouldn't be surprised if Mark Visentin was the starter for Canada on Boxing Day. Visentin did get 2 of the 3 starts in pre tournament play and is very familiar to head coach Dave Cameron. Olivier Roy is the more experienced of the two, although neither have played in the tournament, and it's rare for a non 19 year old tender to lead the charge.

The Oilers prospect was very sharp against the Swiss and coming into camp was the #1 goaltender so I expect the Russians to face the future Oiler on Boxing Day.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Interesting Top Prospects List

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The CHL released it's invite list for the 2011 Top Prospects game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto and on Rogers Sportsnet January 19th. Similar to the World Junior team but on a smaller scale as it's only one game, the list is always debated. There are some good discussions this year, and even some interesting names behind the bench. Neate Sager from Buzzing the Net has some interesting thoughts about Bobby Orr not coaching in this game.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

World Junior Preview Show

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Tuesday night Guy and I presented our 2 hour World Junior preview show, trying to cover as much ground as we could and get to as many of the contenders as possible, as well as some key individuals to watch.

Top 5 Tuesday: Scouts Buffet

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The World Junior Championship is largely considered a 19 year old tournament, but every year a number of high level youngsters who are in their draft year sneak into the event and their draft stock either rises or falls. Jack Campbell, Alex Burmistrov and Nino Niederrreiter were all guys who parlayed a strong tournament into a top 11 draft position.

Here now are 5 guys, not named Sean Couturier who could be ones to watch. I say could be as some countries haven't finalized their teams yet.

Monday, December 20, 2010

2011 WJC Preview Show

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Tuesday on The Pipeline Show it's our final program of 2010 and we'll wrap up our extensive lead up coverage of the 2011 World Junior Championship with our big 2-hour preview.

We'll get some in depth opinion on Team Russia from Dmitry Chesnokov of Yahoo! Sports and also grab someone from both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada.

If that's not enough, our old friend Peter Loubardias of Rogers Sportsnet will join us and deliver another of his never-miss pre-tourney predictions. A few years ago he told us some kid named Matt Halischuk would probably score a big goal... and all he did was score the overtime winner for Canada in 2008. He also told us that Cody Hodgson would lead Canada in scoring in 2009... and sure enough, he did. What will Peter come up with this year?

Plus Dean and I will make out podium predictions and go over some of the players you should be paying specific attention to with the 2011 NHL Draft in mind. Which country might be the Cinderella this year? And... why or why not should you consider Canada to be the favourite?

(Seriously though, with a coach that can apparently unleash his own version of Blue Steel to blind the opposition, who would bet against Team Canuck??)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday Morning Special - Dec 18th

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Saturday morning we got things going with The Pipeline Show Game Day, and had lots to discuss. We recapped the night in the CHL and NCAA and took a look at key match ups Saturday night. Who should captain Canada at the WJC? Our poll question will revealed what you think. And much more...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rattie Undresses Oiler Prospect to Score Beauty

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The annual Teddy Bear Toss season is here and several CHL teams (and NCAA too I believe) have already held their version of the charity tradition. Edmonton's Teddy Bruin Toss game is tomorrow when Chilliwack comes to town.

The Portland Winterhawks hosted Prince George on December 11th and the goal that got the ice littered with stuffed toys was an absolute beauty. It was scored by 2011 eligible forward Ty Rattie and was even more impressive considering the player he embarrassed in the process.

The highlight video replay to follow...

CHL Top Prospects Game Rosters

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The 40-player invite list to the 2011 CHL Home Hardware Top Prospects Game will be released on Tuesday. The game is one of the marquee events during the draft year for a prospect trying to elevate and raise his stock in front of a plethora of NHL scouts and executives.

Unfortunately, like every year, some deserving players might be on the outside looking in whether due to injury or simply not getting the invite.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Team Canada Predictions (UPDATED)

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With the final cuts about to be announced, The Pipeline Show is submitting our picks for Canada's World Junior roster. We also cornered Rogers Sportsnet CHL Analyst Sam Cosentino and forced him to participate. Here are our teams, feel free to tell us we're crazy and what your team would look like.

Just do it before Hockey Canada makes their team official.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Night Recap - Hockey Canada & the Big Chill

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This time of year The Pipeline Show spends a lot of time looking ahead to the World Junior Championship, one of our four "Majors" on our annual calendar. That said, we certainly didn't forget the massive spectacle that the NCAA put on last weekend and we also looked to the AHL for an update on some key prospects at that level.

Top 5 Tuesdays: Reasons to Watch the Oil Kings

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Edmonton is a pro-city and an event driven city. The Edmonton Oilers are by far the biggest thing in town and the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos are clearly #2. History has shown that massive events like the Heritage Classic, the World Junior Championship, The World Track and Field Games and others can be held here and the citizens will support it.

That cannot be said for other teams in town. Soccer, basketball, baseball, lacrosse... all very much off the radar for the vast majority of people in Edmonton. All of those sports have their supporters but certainly not nearly as much as the local teams that play them would like.

Hockey isn't immune to that either. The UofA Golden Bears are a perennial powerhouse but don't draw nearly as much as they deserve. There are 3 local AJHL franchises (Spruce Grove, Sherwood Park and St. Albert) and all of them have plenty of room at their home games.

And the Edmonton Oil Kings, now in their 4th season in the league, are averaging 3900 people in a building that holds just under 17,000. We've heard plenty of valid reasons as to why fans have not embraced the team and I can understand most of them. Parking at Rexall Place is an outrageous $15, ticket prices are out of whack when compared to the rest of the league (including other NHL/CHL markets), a lack of star power, poor marketing, the wrong atmosphere at Rexall, etc.

At the risk of coming off as a commercial for the Oil Kings, (the last thing I want to appear as), here are 5 reasons why people should be following the team from a far or buying tickets to Rexall Place and watching the team play.

Monday, December 13, 2010

First Impression of Sean Couturier

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Drummondville center Sean Couturier was a one man wrecking crew before leaving for Canada's World Junior team camp. He racked up 17 points in his last 6 games and had back to back 4 point outings. The surge has vaulted the potential first overall pick to 2nd in Q scoring.

Last year he led the QMJHL in scoring with 96 points, 41 of them goals in 68 games. Even as a rookie he was pretty special and gained some valuable championship experience going to the Memorial Cup. But don't take my word for it, hear it from his first junior coach. I chatted with Guy Boucher after Tampa Bay's game against Edmonton on Friday and we'll bring you that conversation Tuesday night on The Pipeline Show.

Boucher coached Couturier for just one season but saw something special right away, and is certain he'll be an NHL star one day.

If you're in the Edmonton area you can catch the conversation on the TEAM 1260, or you can listen on line and get the whole guest list at www.thepipelineshow.com where the interview will be archived later that evening. As usual show time is from 7-9 pm mst.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hodgson Can't Buy a Break

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Vancouver prospect and Manitoba Moose rookie Cody Hodgson is on the shelf again. The good news is it's not his back. The bad news is he has a broken orbital bone. What makes it even worse is that he took the stick from teammate Billy Sweatt in practice. Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press has the story here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Morning Special - Dec 11th

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It was a fun edition of The Pipeline Show this morning as Dean and I welcomed 5 guests and covered a lot of territory in the NHL, NCAA and CHL. We looked ahead to the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo and spent a lot of time debating the Linus/Lienus Omark shootout goal from Friday night.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Did Omark Cross the Line? History Says "NO!"

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"It's embarrassing for him…It's not a very classy thing. That's just the kind of person he is." - Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis. (St. Pete Times) via Michael Traikos Twitter.
No question, the talk of Edmonton right now is the shootout goal above by Swedish rookie Linus Omark, the eventual winner against Tampa Bay in what was a memorable NHL debut.

When the Oilers and Lightning went into overtime I found myself really hoping that no one would score. Then, as the shootout started and Jordan Eberle scored a dandy to put the Oilers ahead and Taylor Hall was preparing for his shot, I told the group I was watching with "I hope he doesn't score... I want to see Omark".

I bet I wasn't alone in that. after seeing what he'd done over the last couple of seasons on various shootouts, penalty shots and breakaways... how could you not be drawn by the scene that was unfolding? Would he be conventional or would Omark throw caution to the wind and pull off a stunt in the his first NHL game? He certainly didn't disappoint the home crowd but back in the Tampa Bay room, several Lighting players were "irate" over what they felt was a disrespectful slap in the face.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

St. Croix On Fire:Is it enough to push him into the first round?

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Edmonton sophomore Michael St. Croix has the Midas touch, which is a good thing if you're an Oil King fan. Thanks to a hattrick and one assist in a victory over Calgary Wednesday night, St. Croix now has an incredible 17 points in his last 6 games. Those are Sidney Crosby type numbers. The Winnipeg native has points in 8 straight games, and has amassed 6 straight multi-point efforts including back to back 4 point outings. The hot streak has pushed St. Croix near the WHL scoring leaders as he now has the 9th most points in the league with 18 goals and 20 assists, but is his offensive outburst enough to make him a first round pick?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tuesday Night on TPS: Team USA, A Swede not name Larsson in the top 3, and another Swiss star

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We kicked things off Tuesday night by running through the invitation list put out by USA Hockey for their World Junior camp. Both Guy and I were surprised that for a second straight year, the Americans aren't having any competition for who makes the team in net, and we discussed a few guys that didn't make the grade.

Top 5 Tuesday: Team USA

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Team U.S.A unveiled the 29 players they are inviting to their training camp as the defending champs look to win 2 titles in a row for the first time. Here now are 5 story lines heading into camp and the eventual tournament.

Team Alberta: Canada Games

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TPS has received a sneak peak at what Team Alberta will look like when it's Canada Games squad is unveiled tomorrow afternoon in Edmonton. The news conference will be held at Rexall place following the OIlers practice and on hand will be Devan Dubnyk and Jordan Eberle. Here's a look at the team:

USA Assembles Gold-Worthy Camp

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Make no mistake, the gold medal performance from Team USA last year was anything but a fluke and despite a historically disappointing record, there is every reason to believe the Americans can win it all again in Buffalo. This morning USA Hockey announced their 29-man camp roster which will compete for 22 spots on the tournament team and with experience, depth and home ice advantage, USA has to be considered the favourites to win gold in 2011.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2011 Draft Blog: Travis Ewanyk Pt.2

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Continuing his guest blogging series with us today is Travis Ewanyk, forward of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The product of St.Albert, AB wrote the first entry to the blog back on October 27th which you can read HERE. Since then, the Oil Kings have played through a lengthy losing streak, made a major trade, grown facial hair for charity and gotten hot.

Here are the last several weeks from the player's perspective courtesy Travis Ewanyk...

O'Marra, Blain Return and Contribute

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A couple of Oilers prospects have returned to action and have contributed immediately since getting back on their blades. Ryan O'Marra missed 4 games recently with a shoulder injury but was back in the lineup for Oklahoma City as they played a 2-game set in Manitoba. Jérémie Blain lost much more time with a cracked foot but he's back for Acadie-Bathurst and has picked up two points in as many games.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Saturday Morning Special - Dec 4th

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Despite a no-show, Saturday's Game Day edition of TPS was another fun way to start the morning. Not only did we have our weekly session with Daren Millard but we touched base with one of our favorite guys covering the NCAA and also talked with one of the top rated goaltenders available for the 2011 NHL Draft too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hoping Schenn Starts a Domino Effect

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The LA Kings made the coaching and scouting staff of Hockey Canada breathe a little easier on Thursday. By sending Brayden Schenn back to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, the Kings also gave Hockey Canada it's #1 centre and all around best player. Schenn also makes the Wheat Kings an interesting team to watch, as getting back last year's co-captain could easily vault them a few spots up the standings.

The Wheat Kings sit tied for a playoff spot right now but are only a few wins out of 6th, and if they keep Schenn they could make a run for a home playoff game, which would be a pretty amazing accomplishment considering the players they lost after hosting the Memorial Cup.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Schenn decision soon?

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On Monday, Hockey Canada released the invite list for it's training camp starting December 10th. 39 players made the list with hopes that a couple of NHL guys will be made available. The two guys being talked about the most are Tyler Seguin in Boston and Brayden Schenn with LA. The decision on Seguin will likely be a last minute one and will be based on their salary cap situation when Marc Savard returns.

As for Schenn word is the Kings will be letting Hockey Canada know this week If he'll be made available for training camp. The 5th overall pick from 2009 just came back from a 2 week conditioning stint in Manchester and has two more games in the NHL before a year of his entry level deal kicks in.

LA could loan Schenn to the World Juniors and call him back up or send him back to Brandon. Returning him to Brandon would likely only happen if they knew he would be traded to a contender. The 2 most likely destinations are Portland and Schenn's home town of Saskatoon.