Oilers' season-starting lineup will differ from tonight's

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

The Edmonton Oilers lineup on the ice against the Vancouver Canucks at G.M. Place tonight won't be the one fans will see when the puck drops and the curtain goes up on the 2005-06 regular season against Colorado at Rexall Place Wednesday.

MacTavish won't be pencilling in his final forward lines and defence pairings against the Canucks. Likewise, as far as using tonight as a final tune-up for the Avalanche, that's not really the case, either.

"I think you guys probably read too much into it being a dress rehearsal for opening night," MacTavish said of the Oilers eighth pre-season outing.

"We feel like, based on what we saw here last Tuesday (against Calgary), that gave me enough information I need to start the year.

"Most of our players, with maybe a couple exceptions, are right where they need to be starting the year and have exceeded my expectations. I feel like we could start the season without that Vancouver game."

MacTavish will take another look at Robbie Schremp and Jani Rita against the Canucks. They'll draw in for Raffi Torres and Jarret Stoll, both of whom will be in the lineup when the Avs come calling.

Forward Todd Harvey and Igor Ulanov, who is nursing a tender groin and left yesterday's skate early, will not play tonight.

Expect Rita to draw in on left wing for Torres on a line with Michael Peca and Ales Hemsky, while Schremp will play pivot between Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani.

"I think we're pretty ready to go right now," MacTavish said.

DISTANCE FOR CONKLIN: Ty Conklin will start against the Canucks as his final tune-up for the regular season. The plan is to have Conklin, who has a 4.48 goals-against average and an .845 saves-percentage in four appearances, go the distance. Mike Morrison, sporting a miniscule 0.48 GAA and .978 saves-percentage in two outings, will dress as the backup.

JUSSI WAITS: Jussi Markkanen practised again yesterday and was hoping to make the trip to Vancouver, but he'll stay home to give his fractured collarbone a couple of extra days to heal.

Markkanen won't be activated until Thursday - Conklin and Morrison will be the tandem against Colorado Wednesday.

AROUND THE RINK: The Oilers are 16-7-3-0 (.673) in 26 pre-season games against the Canucks.

HULL OF A DEAL: The Phoenix Coyotes are going to "un-retire" Hall of Famer Bobby Hull's jersey number so he can present it to his son Brett before the team's home opener against Minnesota on Oct. 8.

The team announced that Brett Hull will wear his father's No. 9 the rest of his career.

Bobby Hull wore No. 9 throughout his career with the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets. The Jets, who moved to Phoenix in 1996, retired Hull's No. 9 in 1989.

OVECHKIN SPARKS CAPS: Rookie Alex Ovechkin had three goals and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 exhibition victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Ovechkin, the first player selected in the 2004 NHL draft, scored an unassisted short-handed goal that gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead early in the third period.

Sidney Crosby, the first overall pick in 2005 by the Penguins, did not play.

GOALIE'S PERFECT PASS: Alex Auld, who is fighting to win the backup goaltender job, showed a little offensive touch by making a heads-up pass which resulted in a power-play goal as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Calgary Flames 4-2.

"It was an easy pass because I had about six guys to chose from," joked Auld, who evened his pre-season record at 1-1.


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