Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top 5 Tuesday: Why You Should Watch Cougars/Oil Kings Tonight

Tonight the Edmonton Oil Kings play host to the Prince George Cougars at Rexall Place. It's a game that you should try to get to if you're a fan of entertainment and future stars of the NHL. It's also a pretty important game for both teams who sit 6th in their respective conferences. Here now are 5 reasons you should check it out.

5. Sena Acolatse Vs. Cameron Abney

The 2 pugilists scrapped earlier this year and have fought twice total in their WHL careers according to Hockeyfights.com. Abney has missed a good chunk of the season with a hand injury while Acolatse has pretty much taken on all comers with 13 fights. Acolatse has also helped out offensively for the Cougars with 10 goals and 42 points from the blueline. Another scrappy player I was hoping to see is Josh Smith, a small blueliner who isn't NHL draft eligible until 2012. Earlier this year he fought twice at Rexall Place, but he hasn't played since January 26th. I am told he's probable for Tuesday night, and I hope he plays, because the Lacombe, Alberta product is pure entertainment on the ice.

4. Young Cougars Preying On WHL

I mentioned Smith above, but he's just a handful of young studs that G.M. Dallas Thompson has acquired through trades or drafting. Troy Bourke leads all 16-year-olds with 14 goals. Bourke, who was my pick for rookie of the year also has 15 assists, but is behind 2 top level freshman on his own team. Taylor Stefishen and Martin Marincin, although they both have years of experience on Bourke. One scout told me if he was the Cougars G.M. he wouldn't trade Bourke for anyone, and that he could be the top 16 year old in the whole league. Ty Rimmer has done a nice job in the crease for PG and leads all rookies in GAA. He could face the #2 man in that category Tuesday night if Laurent Brossoit gets the nod from Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal.

3. Martin Marincin

This one is especially important for Oilers fans. Edmonton grabbed Marincin in the 2nd round this year, while PG took him first overall in the CHL import draft. He's lived up to the expectations of both teams. Marincin leads all rookie blueliners in scoring with 13 goals 33 assists in 47 games. He's smooth and efficient on the ice and might not be long for the WHL. The Slovakian who was suspended for most of the World Junior Championship could play in the AHL next year because he wasn't drafted out of the CHL, and judging by his adjustment he might be ready for Oklahoma City.

2. The Wrucking Ball

He wasn't drafted by a WHL team, but Oil King G.M. Bob Green saw something in Dylan Wruck that made him list him. Maybe it was the same thing he saw in Tyler Ennis whom he did the same thing with in Medicine Hat. Wruck is in his second full WHL season and has exploded when it comes to points. He leads Edmonton in that department with 31 goals 26 helpers for 57 points in 52 games. He's also an outstanding +22. The undrafted 5.8 winger is 9th in goals, tied with the 7th most power play goals, 4th in game winners, and is in the top 20 when it comes to plus minus. The last stat is very impressive as the Oil Kings are 2 games below .500 right now.

1. Brett Connolly

WHLers when 4-5-6 in last year's draft and no player was more scrutinized then PG's Brett Connolly who went to Tampa Bay 6th overall. At 16 he scored 30 goals and was named WHL rookie of the year. Last season he was hurt for all but 16 games but still managed 19 points. This campaign he leads the Cougars in scoring with 28 goals for 47 points in 39 games and thankfully most of his missed games came from his stint with Canada at the World Junior Championship. Connolly has the ability to take over games with his shot and vision, but some have been concerned with his sometimes apparent lack of drive. His scouting fans say it's just his personality and that he his motor does rev up on the ice. Those who aren't wearing Connolly pom-pom's say he turns it on and off when it's convenient. If the former Connolly shows up Tuesday night Edmonton fans will be in for a treat.

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