SUN Hockey Pool

Roster re-dos

BY DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

They're two teams heading in similar directions.

Both pulled out the wallet and made dramatic moves to improve their rosters this off-season.

And both have really nowhere to go but up.

"It was quite clear that it was a necessity based on the way we finished," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish of revamping the roster. "I don't know what their injury situation was, but I know what ours was, and we were going to be better just over the layoff by getting guys healthy and ready to play.

"Then you have the added motivation where you finished poorly and you do everything you can to try and improve your team. Both Philadelphia and Edmonton have very proud organizations and they're going to do whatever it takes to make their teams better."

BOTTOM FALL OUT

The Flyers had the worst record in the league last season, managing just 22 wins all year. The Oilers won 32 games last year and saw the bottom fall out of their season with a ridiculous number of injuries and the trading of Ryan Smyth.

"Part of the philosophy of both organizations is that they're not going to sit back," MacTavish said. "I think both teams were the two most aggressive teams in terms of making moves and those moves will be evaluated over time."

Unrestricted free agent defenceman Sheldon Souray and restricted free agent Dustin Penner were among two of the Oilers off-season acquisitions.

The Flyers brought in Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell to try and turn their fortunes around.

FORGET ABOUT IT

"In our case certainly we want to forget about last year and move on to this year," said Flyers head coach John Stevens. "I think both teams are looking to start the new season with a new group. Both teams had some significant changes on them.

"I don't think it's fair to the new players here to hold them hostage for what happened last year.

"Let's learn from what happened last year, but let's start these new experience with this new group and look at what lies ahead."

Tonight's meeting between the two teams is the first at Rexall Place since the 2002-2003 season. Last year the clubs did not face each other. The previous season the Oilers defeated the Flyers 3-2 in Philadelphia.

"I think it's going to be a skilled game," MacTavish said. "It's going to be a highly competitive game and we're going to have to be physically involved to have any success."


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