In search of chemistry

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 11:01 AM ET

Call it chemistry class.

Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish has his forward lines to start the season scratched out on the drawing board. What remains now is to spend the time leading into Wednesday's game against Vancouver seeing exactly how his combinations translate on the ice.

"I want to see who has some chemistry the next couple of days," said MacTavish, who'll dress a reasonable facsimile of his 2006-07 line-up against the Canucks.

"Not only in games, but in practice. We're going to scrimmage a bit and there'll be some good match-ups."

As of now, MacTavish is contemplating playing Ryan Smyth on the left side with Shawn Horcoff at centre and Joffrey Lupul on the right wing as his first line to start the season.

The second line will be Petr Sykora at pivot with Raffi Torres on the left side and Ales Hemsky on the right. Expect to see Jarret Stoll between Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani.

The fourth line is up in the air, with centre Marty Reasoner the only sure thing. Impressive rookie Patrick Thoresen, who can play the left or right side, has the inside track for one spot. Expect Thoresen to play in at least two of the final three games.

The other candidates - Brad Winchester, J.F. Jacques, Toby Petersen, Rob Schremp and Marc-Antoine Pouliot - are vying for the final starting job and two roster spots in the press box.

PUCK STOPS HERE

Despite the stellar play of rookie goaltender Devan Dubnyk in his two outings, a 5-0 win over Phoenix and Saturday's 2-1 loss to Calgary, Dwayne Roloson and back-up Jussi Markkanen will get the bulk of the work in the Oilers three remaining pre-season games.

Roloson, who's made just one appearance, will get two of the next three starts, likely against Vancouver Wednesday and again Saturday, when the Oilers wrap up pre-season against the Canucks at G.M. Place.

That leaves Markkanen, who's played in two games, to face the Coyotes in Phoenix Thursday. - BROWNLEE


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