The pressure is on Oilers GM Tambellini


Under Steve Tambellini’s watch as the General Manager of the Edmonton Oilers, the team has fully embraced their youth movement. They’ve drafted first overall picks Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who, along with Jordan Eberle, should be an intimidating trio for years to come. Throw in whoever the Oilers get with the first overall pick in 2012 – be it with the pick itself or as part of a trade – and things are looking up for Edmonton.

That’s one way of looking at it at least. The other is that the Oilers have been horrendous under Tambellini’s watch and basically the only thing going for them is that the draft lottery has served them well. After all, while you can applaud Tambellini for his draft choices, it’s not as if he flew in the face of conventional wisdom when he took Hall or Nugent-Hopkins and if you don’t give him credit for that duo, then what are his noteworthy accomplishments thus far?

Ultimately, while the Edmonton Oilers have plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future, they are not yet a fully realized team. That might be a problem because typically a fanbase will only tolerate a rebuilding effort for so long before they start to turn on their GM. It seems like that might be the concern in Edmonton as Tambellini dismisses head coach Tom Renney and talks about the need to do better.

“I’m not going to dissect Tom as a coach. He’s a good man, a good coach,” said Tambellini. “We’re just trying … to get better. We need to get better as an organization. Better as a management staff. Better as a coaching staff. Better as players.”

This will be a key summer for the Oilers as they try to transition from a rebuilding squad into a legitimate contender. If they stumble, Renney might not be the only one dismissed in Edmonton.

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks