Monday, July 7, 2014

New Bench Boss For Oil Kings

The 2014 Memorial Cup Champion Edmonton Oil Kings will name their new head coach on Monday and barring a massive surprise it will be Steve Hamilton. 

Hamilton, who has served as the team's Assistant and then Associate Head Coach since 2010-11, will be Edmonton's third bench boss since returning to the league in 2007-08. 

Edmonton's record under the tutelage of the Laxdal/Hamilton combination is an impressive 182-83-22 over those four years. In that time span, the Oil Kings have enjoyed three consecutive 50-win seasons, three straight WHL Eastern Conference titles, a pair of WHL Championships and are now the defending Memorial Cup Champions.

After the jump, some thoughts on the expected promotion from me and comments from some current and past players as well.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Millard Mock Draft

The NHL draft is today in Philadelphia and Guy Flaming and I will have you covered on TSN 1260.  Along with Dustin Nielson on the ground in Philly and with Jason Gregor and Jason Strudwick in Edmonton we'll break down all the picks in the opening round starting at 5 pm.  

You can also count on plenty of draft talk Saturday June 28th on TSN 1260 with The Pipeline Show at 10 am, Saturday Sports Extra at noon, you'll get your draft fix from both shows.  Before I lay out my top 30 and mock draft I have to preface a few things.  I haven't included trades of which i think there will be a few.  I think the Flyers will move up, possibly into a top 5 spot.  Vancouver has been rumoured to be flirting with Florida for the first pick to be able to snag Sam Reinhart and with so many veteran centres rumoured to be on the trade block who knows what picks might be thrown in.

1.   Florida Panthers- Aaron Ekblad
2.   Buffalo Sabres– Sam Reinhart
3.   Edmonton Oilers- Leon Draisaitl
4.   Calgary Flames- Sam Bennett
5.   New York Islanders- Michael Dal Colle
6.   Vancouver Canucks - William Nylander
7.   Carolina Hurricanes - Nicholas Ritchie
8.   Toronto Maple Leafs - Brendan Perlini
9.   Winnipeg Jets - Nikolaj Ehlers
10. Anaheim Ducks (From Ottawa) Robbi Fabbri
11. Nashville Predators - Jake Virtanen
12. Phoenix Coyotes - Haydyn Fleury
13. Washington Capitals - Alex Tuch
14. Dallas Stars - Kasperi Kapanen
15. Detroit Red Wings - Sonny Milano
16. Columbus Blue Jackets - Jared McCann
17. Philadelphia Flyers - Dylan Larkin
18. Minnesota Wild - Ivan Barbashev
19. Tampa Bay Lightning - Josh Ho-Sang
20. San Jose Sharks - Kevin Fiala
21. St. Louis Blues - Adrian Kempe
22. Pittsburgh Penguins - Jakub Vrana
23. Colorado  Avalanche - Connor Bleackley
24. Anaheim Ducks - Travis Sanheim
25. Boston Bruins - Nick Schmaltz
26. Montreal Canadiens - Ryan Macinnis
27. Chicago Blackhawks - Roland McKeown
28. Tampa Bay (from New York Rangers) Nikita Scherbak
29. Los Angeles Kings - Vladislav Kamenev
30. New Jersey Devils - Anton Karlsson

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TPS Mock Draft

The 2014 NHL Draft will be held on Friday so it's time to pump out my annual mock draft. As always, this is not the order that I would take the players but rather what my predictions are for how it could unfold in Philadelphia. 

Feel free to weigh in with your criticisms in the comments section. The fun begins after the jump. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

New fighting rule sucker punches AJHL

A rule change to Junior A hockey for the upcoming season has left owners in the Alberta Junior Hockey League feeling like they've been fed so many rights they're begging for a left. Hockey Canada has imposed a new one fight rule for Junior A hockey across the country, meaning if you drop the gloves, you get the gate.  
read more....

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jarry Leaves Lasting Impression in Portland

A gesture from Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry to a young boy helped create new fans from the most unlikely place on Earth; Portland. 

The night was May 9th. The Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks had just competed fiercely for 60 minutes in the 5th game of their epic WHL Final. The game was at the Moda Center in front of nearly 11,000 ridiculously passionate fans who did all they could that night to urge their team to victory. But it was the visiting team from Edmonton that prevailed, a 3-2 win giving the eventual WHL champions their first lead in the series. 

Jarry was unreal in the game. The Penguins 2nd rounder stopped 37 of 39 shots, many of which appeared to be sure goals. The Oil Kings netminder was name a game star for his effort which set the stage for the big moment many never saw. 

The rest of the story after the jump.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Winterhawks erase pair of 3 goal leads-force game 7

Portland celebrates the game winner
that has forced a game 7
Monday in Portland
Twice the Edmonton Oil Kings had the Portland Winterhawks down by 3 goals in what could have been a WHL Championship clinching game.  But twice the ‘Hawks battled back.  Once to within a goal and once to tie it completely, then win it on a sharp angled shot from Keegan Iverson 7:23 into overtime.

A stunned and loud and nearly full Rexall Place was in disbelief, much like the Oil Kings themselves that they squandered such opportunities.  Portland meanwhile celebrated as they should.  A pardon.  A stay of execution.  A do over after twice being left for dead in game 6....more thoughts after the jump. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gutsy Comeback Has Oil Kings Back In Final

The Oil Kings were down 2-0 in the series and 2-0 in game 3 that was just 3:30 old.  It wasn't looking good for the 3 time Eastern Conference champions and one might have wondered why Head Coach Derek Laxdall wouldn't call a time out??? 

The bench boss said post game he wanted to see if his club would sink or swim, and while at times it looked like a dod paddle, they finally smoothed out the stroke and looked like the team that hasn't yet lost on Rexall ice in the playoffs. 

Their strategy seemed simple, get shots on Corbin Boes.  Make him make saves and beat you.  It worked as the home side fired 19 shots at Portland's pipe man and while they still trailed after 20 minutes, they skated off the ice feeling good about their push back. 

In the middle frame Henrik Samuelsson put away a pretty pass from Curtis Lazar to get the Kings on the board.  Then just after a Samuelsson penalty, Luke Bertolucci- known more for his checking ability - snuck in on a breakaway.  After being pushed down by Matt Dumba he regained control and with more moves then Michael Jackson scored a Thriller on Corbin Boes tying the game at 2.  

From there Edmonton was forced to deal with some adversity.  One a Griffin Reinhart penalty kill.  I was really impressed with the captain's composure in handling the penalty and I think that calmness spread throughout the team.  Also a disallowed Samuelsson goal review that took forever and momentum. 

 The point is they got through it all and Edgars Kulda scored the go ahead goal for the team's first lead of the series, one they wouldn't give up despite a furious push from Portland down the stretch.  The Hawks are a team that makes you think they can score every time they have the puck when they have a man advantage, and Matt Dumba had a point blank chance to tie it up but fired high and wide. 

The win gives Edmonton belief that they can compete after Portland mostly dominated games one and two, and for the Hawks you know they'll be charged up even more for game 4 Wednesday night.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Brendan Leipsic Suspended

With 302 points in 261 regular season games, it's obvious that Brendan Leipsic can play. He's also scored 73 points in 76 playoff games so he's a guy you can depend on when it counts. And with a total of 468 career penalty minutes on his WHL resumé, the 5'10, 177 lb forward has a proven track record of "getting involved".

Everyone has an opinion on Leipsic; those that dislike him are mostly opposing players. I can tell you from speaking with them that there are a number of non-players around the league who aren't fans either - executives, coaches, support staff, media. They say he's cocky and arrogant, a dirty player who cheap shots guys then "gets tough once a linesman has stepped in to save him".

Personally, and I've said this many, many times on The Pipeline Show, Brendan Leipsic can play on my team any day. He's tenacious, he's talented and he not only "knows the role" but he thrives doing it. That's not always easy to find. 

Sure he's undersized and who knows if he'll play in the NHL but there is ability and determination there. I've always said he reminds me of Boston's Brad Marchand and I still feel that way.

But what he did late on Friday in a 7-3 game was not something anyone likes to see. A hot topic at Saturday night's Oil Kings / Tigers game was the spearing major given to the Portland forward. The video and my thoughts on the suspension after the jump.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Edmonton Vs. Portland: The Rubber Match

For a 3rd straight year the Portland Winterhawks and Edmonton Oil Kings will meet for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.  Each has a title in the last 2 years and have built up a healthy dose of dislike, even hatred for each other.  

Portland will likely be the favourite on paper, but outside of Oregon most will be pulling for the Oil Kings as the Winterhawks have made few friends with their rule breaking actions in recent years.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Draft Blog: Jordan Papirny Pt.3

Earlier this season our radio audience and blog readers were introduced to Brandon Wheat Kings netminder Jordan Papirny. The Edmonton product was an In Studio guest on The Pipeline Show last summer then began writing his draft blog in the fall. Chapter One was released back in September. Chapter Two soon followed in October.

Then, as sometimes happens, the player got too busy, needed to stay focused, and the blogging suddenly stopped. It wasn't hard to figure out why as Papirny began playing more and more. 

As the playoffs began and the wheat Kings advanced past Regina, it finally gave us a chance to watch Papirny live and in person; the goaltender did not start either regular season game at Rexall Place between. It was well worth the wait as the Papirny put on a show despite an endless assault by the Oil Kings. 

Here now is Chapter Three from Jordan Papirny...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tigers' push back not enough - Oil Kings lead 2-0

The Medicine Hat Tigers were  a much better hockey team in game 2 of the WHL's Eastern Conference final and might have caught the Oil Kings a little sleepy on Easter Sunday, but it still wasn't enough to pull even in the series.  Edmonton had enough skill, goaltending and defending to ward off the Tigers in a 3-1 victory at Rexall Place.  

After a scoreless first period that featured chances for both sides, it appeared that Dyson Mayo opened the scoring 34 seconds into the middle frame - which would have been the 5th from the blue line so far in the short series - but the goal was later given to Curtis Lazar, who also scored the series' first goal.  

Later in the period with the Oil Kings down a man after a having 6 players on the ice, Edgars Kulda showed dogged determination and would not be outworked for the puck as he set up Curtis Lazar.  The Senator pick dangled past Marek Langhamer and tucked in his 2nd of the game and 6th of the playoffs for a 2-0 lead.  

But unlike Friday night when Edmonton walked all over the Tigers, Medicine Hat pushed back.  On a power play Chad Butcher zipped home a wicked wrister off the bar and past Tristan Jarry.  That made it 2-1 and the Tigers tested Jarry several more times in the period outshooting Edmonton 15-12, trailing by one heading to the 3rd. 

But that's where Edmonton buttoned things up.  They were tighter in their own end, forced turnovers and putting up 17 shots to the Tigers 7 with Kulda salting it away with and empty net goal.  

There was a little rough stuff near the end as Tyler Lewington and Henrik Samuelsson tried to fight and Jacob Doty taking a slashing penalty with 5 seconds to go, and you should expect that to continue Tuesday night in Medicine Hat. 

The Tigers will have atmosphere and last change on their side and showed on Sunday they can skate with the Oil Kings, but like Prince Albert and Brandon before them they'll need to be much better to get back in the series. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Oil Kings Nearly Perfect in Battle Royal with Brandon

The Edmonton Oil Kings wasted little time establishing their dominance in game one of the battle royal between the Oil Kings and Wheat Kings, and never really gave Brandon a chance to reply en route to a 5-0 win Thursday night at Rexall Place.

Edmonton got the ball rolling thanks to a smart, simple play from Edgars Kulda who chipped and chased down a puck then set up Brett Pollock for the games opening goal just 1:50 in.  35 ticks of the clock later another Oil King import Mads Ellar grabbed a lose puck and slid his first of the playoffs past Brandon tender and Edmonton native Jordan Papirny for a 2-0 lead as the home team outshot the visitors 12-3.

The second period was more of the same as the Oil Kings peppered Papirny with 19 shots, beating him twice on goals from Ashton Sautner and Kulda for a 4-0 40 minute lead.

Henrik Samuelson got off the playoff schnide in the final frame zipping one under the bar to finish out the scoring.  Edmonton tripled the Wheat Kings in shots at 45-15 and went 2-7 on the power play while killing off both Brandon man advantage situations.

It was a truly impressive effort by Edmonton while Brandon will need to regroup or this series won't last long.

Of note, Brandon goalie and Edmonton product Curtis Honey didn't dress.  Head Coach/G.M. Kelly McCrimmon told me after the game Honey was injured in practice recently and isn't available right now. The plan is to call someone up until Honey is ready to return. He did dress in the first round as back up.

Pollock now has 4 goals in 5 playoff games.  Tristan Jarry wasn't busy in the Oil Kings net but did make a couple of point blank saves to preserve the shut out.  Curtis Lazar picked up 2 helpers, but his next goal will tie him for the all time playoff lead in Edmonton.

Game 2 goes Saturday at noon Edmonton time.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

WHL Playoff Predictions

Back in September I posted my predictions for both the East and West WHL conferences. 

Looking back now, not too bad; 7 of 8 correct playoff teams in the East including Edmonton, Calgary and Swift Current in their correct seeding. In the West, 6 of 8 playoff teams.

Every year there are a couple teams I badly underestimate and a couple I overestimate. This year I don't think anyone predicted that Lethbridge would implode like they did and I certainly expected better from Kamloops. Tri-City and Prince Albert both made the playoffs but I expected more from both clubs. 

Now it's time for the playoffs so let's get right to the first round predictions...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

2014 Draft Blog: Brendan Perlini Pt.2

One of the draft eligible players that seems to have some growing buzz around him these days is Niagara IceDogs forward Brendan Perlini. 

We first spoke with Perlini on the October 29th edition of TPS after which I immediately extended the invite to blog with us this year. Brendan quickly agreed and not long after, we received Part 1 of his guest blog series. It was a terrific read bringing us all up to speed on his background in England, his strong family roots within the game and his outlook at the year ahead. 

Today we are happy to bring you the second chapter of the blog written by Brendan Perlini. That comes after the jump. 

I also wanted to direct you to a Perlini story written by my friend Aaron Vickers and another from The Hockey Writers, both coming out today.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 Draft Blog: Tanner MacMaster Pt.2

We first heard from Camrose Kodiaks forward Tanner MacMaster back in September during the 2013 AJHL Showcase. The talented forward appeared on The Pipeline Show that weekend (Listen Here) and then accepted and offer to blog with us this season. You can read Tanner's first entry to the blog HERE.

Three months have passed and Tanner has put a few more thoughts down for fans to read. The Boston College recruit continues to lead the Kodiaks in scoring having scored 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points through 46 AJHL games this year. 

The second entry to the blog courtesy Tanner MacMaster comes after the jump.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Use'm or Lose'm?

Love them or hate them, the alternate jersey introduced by the Edmonton Oil Kings this year is here to stay. The look has produced both positive and negative response from the fanbase with most opinions coming in at either end of the approval spectrum. 

What will be interesting over the next few years is to see how those fans react should the traditional uniform slowly fade away into history. 

More on that after the jump.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

2014 Draft Blog: Brendan Perlini Pt.1

Each season we extend a blogging invitation to a select few players entering their NHL Draft year. Frequent visitors to The Pipeline Show know the extensive list of players who have taken us up on the offer over the last half a dozen years. 

This year we have already been introduced to Brandon Wheat Kings goaltender Jordan Papirny and forward Tanner MacMaster of the Camrose Kodiaks. 

Today we get the first entry from our guest blogger playing in the Ontario Hockey League. Niagara IceDogs forward Brendan Perlini shares us his back story, one that is definitely one of the more unique paths a NHL-bound player has been on. 

Are you ready? After the jump, the first chapter in the 2013-14 Guest Draft Blog from a sure-fire 1st round pick, in his own words. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

One To Watch: Ottawa Senators

I did not purposefully leave the best for last but it is just a coincidence that Ottawa is the final team to come up in the One To Watch series and the Sens have one of my personal favorite prospects. 

While they haven't become established NHL players yet, late picks like Mark Stone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have increased their value since draft day. Others that had more hype as 18-year-olds such as Robin Lehner, Mike Zibanejad and Cody Ceci still project to be main pieces in the NHL one day so all in all, kudos to the Sens. 

2012 Choice: Mark Stone - His first professional season was OK, I'd hesitate to say it was more than that because I didn't see him play with my own eyes. Judging by his stats line, 15 goals and 38 points in 54 AHL games, Stone's numbers certainly don't wow me but I don't know that big production was expected of him in year one. Last year I wondered if he might stick with the big club out of camp but Sens fans wrote in saying not to expect it and they were right. A fair bar for him to beat this year should be a full season and increased production with improved skating. 

My selection for One to Watch in 2013-14 will come as no surprise and it's after the jump. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

One To Watch: Toronto Maple Leafs

I think a person could make a pretty good argument that Toronto's prospect strength comes on the blueline. Perhaps the Buds would agree considering they didn't add to that particular position at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Obviously Morgan Rielly leads the pack of would-be future NHL blueliners and he's proving early on this year that that future could be sooner than some expect. Stu Percy and Matt Finn are fine prospects in their own right and Jesse Blacker provides depth in the organization. 

I'm not selling the organization short at other positions though as there are a number of young players that I have liked through their junior careers and a few that I like even still as pros. 

2012 Choice: Joe Colborne - I figured that last year was going to be the breakthrough season for the former Camrose Kodiak and Denver Pioneer. He overcame a wrist injury that hampered his productivity and confidence and it seemed to me that Colborne was an opportunity away from sticking with the big club. It didn't happen though and the Calgary native eventually found himself playing for the Flames this year and he's having a modicum of success with his third NHL organization. 

My pick for 2013-14 One to Watch with the Leafs comes after the jump.

Friday, November 1, 2013

One To Watch: Montreal Canadiens

Excellent drafting has helped Montreal stay competitive in a tough division for most of the last few years. Sure they have had their lottery pick year but for the most part the Habs are picking in the second half of the first round. 

Now the organization is reaping the benefits of that drafting as their last 4 1st round picks are all contributing at the NHL level and deeper picks are finding their way too.  Jarred Tinordi, Alex Galchenyuk, Louis Leblanc and Nathan Beaulieu are the high picks panning out but Brendan Gallagher has had as big of an impact as any of them and he was a 5th round swing for the fence. 

2012 Pick: Mike Cichy - Montreal fans were all over me for singling out the mostly forgotten collegian but it was his decent into relative obscurity that intrigued me. It was his first season playing with Western Michigan after beginning his college career at North Dakota but leaving after his sophomore year. Unfortunately it was a pretty vanilla campaign with the Broncos, 4 goals and 18 points. I believe it's safe to say that unless he has a massive year at WMU this season, Cichy won't be offered a deal in the spring of 2014. 

My pick for One to Watch this year for Habs prospects comes after the jump.