Chicago Black Hawks v Edmonton Oilers

Oilers welcome back Whitney for Battle of Alberta

Ryan Whitney will make his long-anticipated return to the Oilers lineup tonight.

The Edmonton faithful have been waiting on this for almost a full calendar year. Last December, a busted ankle derailed Whitney’s promising campaign — he was averaging over 25 minutes a game and on pace for 60-plus points. The injury also exposed Edmonton’s lack of blueline depth as the likes of Kurtis Foster, Jim Vandermeer, Jason Strudwick and Taylor Chorney were forced into increased roles.

As for this year — let’s just say Whitney’s being welcomed back with open arms.

Through four games, Edmonton’s gotten virtually zero production from its back end. The only defensemen with points are Tom Gilbert (one assist) and Corey Potter (ditto). The unit’s combined for just 31 shots on goal through four games. Comparatively, San Jose D Brent Burns has 19 shots himself through four games.

That’s why Whitney’s return is such a big deal. There’s a real sense of optimism around the Oilers given how well the forwards have played and how “not terrible” the goaltending has been, so it’s quite possible the defense could be the deciding factor. If Whitney can give Edmonton any consistent production from the blueline, the Oilers might hang around the playoff picture longer than expected.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?