Moose Jaw-Edmonton Game 1 pre-game

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Friday, April 20, 2012

While the Warriors are healthy, the Oil Kings could be missing one of their many dangerous forwards. Oil Kings winger Dylan Wruck left Game 4 against Brandon with an apparent shoulder injury and is questionable for Game 1 of the Eastern final.

Wruck scored 21 goals and had 80 points in 66 games. The Saskatoon product was the Sask. MIdget AAA Hockey League's scoring champion in 2007-08 when he tallied 94 points in 44 games with the Beardy's Blackhawks.

If Wruck can't go look for Klarc Wilson to get in the line-up for his third game of the playoffs. Wilson played while Henrik Samuelsson was suspended for two games for a clipping major in the regular season finale.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors put together their least impressive performance of the playoffs in each of the first two rounds in Game 1 of their series.

They lost Game 1 to the Regina Pats in the opening round and failed to take advantage of a number of power plays — including two five-minute man advantages — before beating Medicine Hat 2-1 in Game 1.

Both of those games saw a lot of physical play and "tone-setting" in the first period before things settled down. Still, and especially in the Medicine Hat game, the Warriors passing wasn't very crisp as the time off showed.

Given the long layoff, it is unlikely either team will be as sharp as they want to be and with nearly 10 days of anticipation built up it could be a little frantic early on at Rexall Place.

Warriors head coach Mike Stothers certainly wasn't sure what to expect from Game 1:

“Both clubs are in the same situation. It might be a little bit tentative. It might be a little sloppy to start. Who knows? It might be like Pittsburgh and Philly and every time you turn around somebody is scoring a goal. You never know what you’re going to get in playoff hockey,” said Stothers.

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Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal told Dave 'Crash' Cameron of the Edmonton Sun that he was ready to get the series started, but points out that after Portland and Tri-City had one day's rest after a pair of emotional seven-game series, he'd rather have too much time between series than too little.

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Warriors director of hockey operations Alan Millar represented the team at the official Eastern Conference series press conference Thursday afternoon. The team was rolling through Lloydminster on their way to Edmonton when the press conference started.

Edmonton Sun columnist Terry Jones spoke with Millar about the excitement that is taking over the Friendly City:

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The Warriors line combinations have been in a state of flux over the first two rounds. While Stothers isn't always consistent with his lines, he is a fan of pairings. Quinton Howden and James Henry, Sam Fioretti and Cam Braes, and Cody Beach and Kenton Miller are almost always together. Who has fit in on the wing on those lines has changed over the course of each series as match-ups and performance dictates.

So while the lines seem to be getting shuffled frequently there is quite a bit of consistency there. 

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While the Warriors are anticipating having everyone available for Game 1, they won't necessarily put all of the injured players back in the line-up.. Even if he is healthy to go, Torrin White may not dress Friday. Look for Kenton Miller to take Carter Hansen's roster spot and Morgan Rielly to step in for Shayne Gwinner. The other 18 players will likely be the same as Game 4 of the Medicine Hat series.

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The Warriors game-day skate will take place at NAIT today because Rexall Place is still cleaning up after the Johnny Reid concert Thursday night. The Oil Kings typically practice at NAIT and the Warriors will have their practice at NAIT on Saturday.

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