EDMONTONT - Normally, one doesn't read much into pre-season games, but when a team that dresses at least 13 opening night players struggles against a team that dresses three or four at best, it's a little unnerving.
And so it was after some guys wearing Vancouver Canucks sweaters edged 70% of Edmonton's final roster 2-1 Thursday at Rexall Place.
"It wasn't our best, obviously," said captain Shawn Horcoff, playing his first game since breaking his ankle seven months ago. "In the pre-season you're trying to get your legs underneath you and trying to get chemistry with lines and we just couldn't find it.
"There were times when we played well and controlled the play, but it wasn't good enough."
The Oilers fell behind 2-0 on goals from Owen Nolan and Mike Duco before Jordan Eberle's second of the pre-season closed it to 2-1 after 40 minutes, but that's as close as Edmonton got.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, making his pre-season home ice debut, had a relatively quiet night, assisting on Eberle's goal for his only point of the game.
"It was a different game than (Chicago in Saskatoon)," he said. "These guys were a lot more physical, they came at us pretty hard and we got off to a little bit of a slow start. For me, there was a lot of penalty kills and power plays so it was kind of hard to get into the game but once the five-on-five started a little bit I definitely started to feel I got into the game more."
- Taylor Hall, who missed the end of last season after injuring his knee in a fight, gave serious consideration to fighting Duco late in the first period. Even Ryan Smyth thought that was nuts, and intercepted Duco and wrestled him to the ground before anything could come of it.