SUN Hockey Pool

High expectations meet retro jerseys on opening night

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

If it's as exciting as heck to open a new season, what's it like to open a new season when you're supposed to be a really good team?

It's a question the Edmonton Oilers haven't had to answer very often, but they are now.

Picked by almost everyone to make the playoffs, and by some to win the Northwest Division, the club is learning to deal with the previously-foreign topic of high expectations.

"We realize that the fans are extremely excited, the media is excited, the new owner is excited," said captain Ethan Moreau, counting down the minutes till the season opens tonight against Colorado.

"There are so many expectations on us and you have a lot of pride as a player, so regardless of the outcome we're going to play really well, I truly believe that.

"There's going to be a lot of emotion in our game.

"The new players we have are going to be really welcomed into the city when they see our soldout crowd."

The challenge now is for the Oilers to look as good on the ice as they do on paper.

"It's nice going into a season knowing that the media doesn't have you picked last again, or is picking you to miss the playoffs," said Fernando Pisani.

"But ultimately, we as a team have to go out on the ice and win. It's nice for people to say we're going to do well, but we have to do it."

A LONG ROAD BACK ...

Tonight represents a much different view of opening night for Fernando Pisani, who didn't even have the strength to watch last year's game on TV.

"I was really sick," said Pisani, who was lying in a hospital bed with ulcerative colitis, unsure if he'd ever play again. "I didn't even make it through the game."

A year later he's in the starting lineup, and taking the time to smell every rose along the way.

"The whole summer has been a lot different for me, just more enjoyable, more exciting. It was exciting to get back to the weight room, everything. When you're out of the lineup you miss all the little things.

"Before I didn't enjoy it as much.

"But once you miss it and you're away from it and you get an opportunity to get back, you have to appreciate every day you get."

And every opening night.

"Especially putting on the retro jerseys,"he said. "It's going to be a good night."

- Mathieu Roy cleared waivers yesterday and was assigned to Springfield, along with centre Rob Schremp.


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