With two games left in the pre-season, Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan has some decisions to make about his opening night roster.
“If you’re here with this team right now, you’re in the mix right now to make it,” says McLellan. “But to me, camp never really ends. You earn your spot, then you have to keep it.”
Defenceman Matthew Benning will play Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets. The 22-year-old out of Northeastern University wasn’t expected to be in camp this late.
“I see someone that isn’t intimidated at all by his environment,” says McLellan. “He’s not the biggest defenceman, but he has a battle level that is very high. He’s getting more and more confident every game he plays.”
“I’ve been in three pre-season games now,” says Benning. “For me, the big thing is just asking questions. All the guys in the room are great guys to talk to.”
Up front, spots have opened up with the injuries to Matt Hendricks and Iiro Pakarinen. Tyler Pitlick will get another shot to show his stuff against the Jets.
“He’s played like a bully, night in and night out, along the boards and in the blue paint,” McLellan says of Pitlick. “Two players discomfort or misery is someone else’s gain right now. Pitlick has done a really good job of capturing that.”
The Oilers expected lineup is:
Klefbom – Larsson
Reinhart – Gryba
Sekera – Benning
The Oilers and Jets are on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 5:30pm and the game starting at 7pm. (jrw)