best players on the ice for the oilers:
1) eric brewer - was fantastic. seriously. if he can play like that for the majority of the season then the oilers have a potential norris candidate. i was honestly very surprised by his confidence and creativity.
2) tommy salo - credit where credit is due. tommy looked nervous to start the game. i liked it. i was pleased to see some nervous energy push through his indifferent nature. he looked sharp and excited.
3) jamie wright - solid 2 way game. i don't see him sticking with the big club because of the contract awarded to pisani but wright was the better grind winger on the night.
4) brad isbister - was a dominant force quite often during the game. i've read some criticisms in other threads suggesting he should be that kind of force all the time. simply put, that is an unreasonable expectation. even bertuzzi has "blah" shifts more often than "wow" shifts (note: i am not suggesting that isbister looked like bertuzzi - just that he looked dominant). isbister played the body, displayed good puck posetion and drove hard to the net.
5) marty reasoner - looked very solid on a line with rita and dvorak. frankly, i could see this being a very solid line to start the season. sure, it needs some work/practice (read consistency) time but i really like the dynamics. at any rate, each player on that line could get 50+ if they are allowed to evolve together.
- rita: i was surprised by rita. he showed good leg strength and poise. needs more consistency but certainly showed more than he did last year.
- lynch: was solid. he made a few mistakes but he plays a gritty, dependable game.
- sarno: go away to toronto. don't ever come back.
- luoma/horacek: both are big but slow. both made some bad passes. however i can see some potential in luoma when he calms down and adjusts to the nhl.
- semenov: looked like a giant pansy.
- pisani: not a first line player. move on down son.
- MacT: putting forwards (sarno) on the point for the PP again. it makes one wonder how many times you need punch yourself in the nuts before you figure out that it hurts and stop doing it.
it's the first game of the pre-season. of course they're going to try different combinations. I don't think anyone (even Sarno) expects Sarno to make the team. He will be content to play for Toronto. He's a good leader/playmaker.
and I doubt that Reasoner will remain on a scoring line when we've got York and Horcoff as potential centres.
I really like the fact that Isbister is showing up and having dominant shifts. One of the things about big guys is that they DO pick their spots because if they went hellbent for leather all the time they'd be injured all the time (read: Wendel Clark).
Guerin picked his spots, but he had some memorable nights. I'm not saying Isbister is going to be Guerin, but if he can dominate a couple of shifts a night sometimes that's all it takes for the team to catch fire.
I've posted my own observations in the initial game one thread but agree for the most part with the Lawn Demon. Especially on the comments about Eric Brewer's play last night. He was dominant in all facets and showed incredible calm and poise. If Brewer carries this over to the regular season, he will have a very good year.
We also agree on the power-play use of Sarno on the point. I hope this is a non-starter and game day decision based on Bergeron being sick. This 'strategy' should be buried in a hole in the desert and never heard from again.
There is no doubt Jani Rita has the physical tools to play at this level and demonstrates them on occasion. The issue imo is whether he want it bad enough to be a frontline player. His skills and size will at some time get him into an NHL roster, it is the intangibles of commitment, consistency, and desire to be the best imo which will determine Rita's fate. Teases us all with high-level skills but doesn't deliver it on a consistent basis. That smacks of character and make up. Willing yourself to be the best, beyond the skills one might have.
We (I think, kinda, maybe) disagree on Pisani. Watching him last night reminded me about how he contributes through decent skills, hard work, and commitment. He of course will move down in the line-up to a supporting role. Don't think anyone believes he would stay on the first-line.
Finally, the Demon is bang-on, pun intended, about Isbister. Very solid game last night. Skating, physical play, opportunistic. Had a great game and contributed in all facets. Controversial player, maybe, but I hope we will all have realistic expectations.
Good to hear positives about Isbister, and Brewer. Fans of this team have always had it in for big forwards (see Arnott, Guerin, Kilger), so hopefully Izzy can break the trend. Personally I think that mentality was all Marchants fault. People saw him go like hell every shift, then the next shift Arnott or Guerin would look like they were floating even if they weren't. P.S, LD best avatar ever.