Oilers vs. Flames Pre-season Game September 20th/03
I just got back to good old Lethbridge from the game. I took a notepad and camera along with me so here goes nothing. I was sitting in section 221 off the start of the game but it was brutal, I hate that netting...I would rather take my chances on getting hit by the puck. Midway through the first i most down and over to i forget what section but it was about 4 rows into the second deck behind the Oilers bench, the seats were better but the game was horrendous and i felt close to being ashamed that i was wearing my Salo third and an Oilers cap....kidding!!!
We'll start with Oiler player observations and notes:
Moreau: Very average, was wearing the "C" tonight but really didn't show much energy in the offensive zone although he did throw his weight around from time to time. There's just too many younger cheaper guys that are able to provide this club with what Moreau put forth tonight, hopefully he will become a name of the past before long.
Horcoff: Some of you were saying that it sounded from the radio like Horcoff was one of the Oilers best players. I hate to disagree with Rod but i thought Shawn was quiet to say the least tonight, after hearing about his slave driven workout routine in the off season and knowing that his confidence would be at an all time high...i guess i sort of expected too much from him because i thought he was also JUST average.
Hemsky: Came out of the gates flying and looking like he meant business. He missed a gimme open net goal when Turek was down and out. From then on the Flames hounded him every time he got near the puck and he took a lot of punishment or at least he seemed to be getting tossed around like a ragdoll at times. The kids skill and patience with the puck are entertaining to say the least and he doesn't seem intimidated in the least by playing the point on the powerplay (was creative and showed solid vision). But during the third period Hemsky began to fade and become next to invisible. Slightly above average game but only a taste of what he brings to this club.
Chimera: Played quite physical and feisty start to finish and renewed acquaintences with Gauthier during a goal mouth scramble in the second. Chimera also got into another scuffle during the same whistle as the Henley fight. Jason is fast and seems to work hard but like most Oilers tonight he did little or nothing once he got the puck. Yet another average performance.
Stoll: Bad Game, what can I say. Jarret was far from effective at both ends of the ice. The puck seemed like a hot potato on his stick, he definitely dissapointed me, i think he could have put out a little more and not panicked so much...Stoll was basically invisible for 60 minutes. Bad Game, if you ask me...he needs to seriously improve on tonight's performance otherwise he will be handed a one way ticket to Toronto!
Pisani: Average in all aspects, seems like an AHL player living the dream...he has press box boy written all over him but don't kid yourself he will contribute when others slack off. Decent game overall.
Rita: The kid has obvious talent and didn't really shy away from the rough stuff tonight. He was on a line with Wright and Hinz for the first two periods and looked effective but in the third the lines got a little mixed up and Rita seemed to blend in with the rest of the Oiler forwards who were a weak bunch in general tonight. Slightly above average game tonight but i think Rita belongs on the big club from day 1.
Hinz: Chad played solid. His offensive abilities are slim and none and he has little or no size but his effort is consistent, he won quite a few faceoffs, and was effective on the PK. Will continue to contribute in Toronto by he should be there in the near future. Impressive game for Hinz, was one of the most consistent Oiler forwards.
Wright: Average at best...should bring some leadership to the Roadrunners. Just a depth pick-up who played alright tonight.
Torres: Tried to be physical and it worked wonders for him at times. He plays an inspiring game but i thought he would be faster with a better set of hands. Somewhat disappointing but slightly above average in comparison to the other Oiler forwards tonight.
Hunter: Reminds me a lot of a Dan Baum minus a slight amount of offensive skills. Similar in size and work ethic, Hunter will hopefully play on a grind line down in Toronto. Basically he works hard to make up for his lack of natural talent but seems to be a career AHLer and i expect him to be packing up and heading as soon as tomarrow.
Laraque: Another average Oiler. Georges seems to have found a home in front of the net on the powerplay, the Flames d-man struggled to budge him let alone move him...but the fact that the point men were wiring head shots and regularly missing the net by 5 feet made having a player in front of the net rather ineffective. I thought it seemed like Georges got shafted somewhat when it came to ice time but when he was out there he wasn't doing anything special and i am sure MacT wanted to see what the younger guys had to offer. Decent but average game.
Henley: One word...Surprise! I had never seen the guy play before and some HF posters made him sound absolute bush league and as if didn't understand the game. However, he plays his position fairly well and MacT was confident giving him ice time during PK situations and he seemed to shine at times. There was no tie whatsoever in his scrap; they traded a couple blows the Brent held Commodore away while Commodore tried desparately to land a blow, Henley measured him up pulled him in and dropped him with the money shot. I am guessing they got game misconducts either for a second fight rule or 3rd and 4th man in rules. Although he left for good midway through the second i thought he was impressive up till then; don't get me wrong though he'll still be lucky to end up with a permanent spot in Toronto.
Staios: Same old...Steve played the exact game that got all of us die hard Oil fans to take notice of him last season. His physical two way game along with his leadership makes him a very valueable commodity. Above average game.
Allen: He must have got hurt early on because I honestly don't remember seeing him on the ice and i can't recall any big hits by the Flames early on, so who knows, its hard to really grade his game but hopefully he has a quick recovery and gets back on track in Toronto.
Thompson: Rocky fought Oliwa to a draw and might have even landed more punches but it was close. Funny thing is Thompson doesn't even look that out of place on the Oilers blueline, that could either be taken as a compliment towards Rocky or a BURN towards the Oilers defense tonight. He should find his role in Toronto in the near future and hopefully he keeps doing what he does best; messing wannabes up. Decent game for Rocky.
Bergeron: Marc Andre still seems to enjoy running the show on the Oilers powerplay. He has a physical dimension to his game and he appears noticeably thicker or solider than last year. I think tonight was another step along the way to becoming an Oiler regular for Bergeron. Slightly above average.
Ferguson: Was steady and smart in the first, his foot speed is still notrotious but his hockey sense almost balances that out at times. He brings some grit and leadership to this club but i think he to has press box or trade written all over him. Average in general but played your typical Fergie game.
Conklin: This kid's a keeper, write it down. He was alert and quick all game with his only negative being some trouble with controlling rebounds from time to time. However, in my hockey days i seem to recall a popular saying being "its the tenders job to stop the initial shot and the defensemens' job to clear the rebound." He robbed Iginla at least five times and was the BEST Oiler in my opinion. If Salo faulters or goes down with an injury (knock on wood), i am starting to feel more confident that maybe Conks can get the job done. Good game.
Valiquette: Didn't see any playing time but he ran the door with a vengeance. Sad as it is he was probably in the top 10 most effective Oilers tonight...lol.
I guess it is only the pre-season but it appeared as though the Flames deserved the win; they out hustled, out shot (29-20), and out scored us (4-1).
Their lines seemed to click at a much higher pace and in general they played their positions better. This could be a result of their roster being closer to finalized/more familiar with each other or for all we know maybe Darryl Sutter and staff are flat out better at what they get paid to do.
Iginla was firing on all cylinders tonight, i bet he had close to 10 of Calgary's 29 shots and more than 5 were quality scoring chances. Chuck Kobesew was also very impressive for the Flames; he was working hard and hitting everything in sight while showing glimpses of being a potential centerpiece of the Flames offense this season. Kobesew had a goal and probably set up 3-5 point blank opportunities, he looks good in all situations.
Robert Dome probably scored the prettiest goal of the night as he wired one from inside the circle to the top corner of the net.
The Flames defense seems dominant at both ends of the rink as while as physically; especially Jordon Leopold who really stood out tonight (made two great plays to keep the puck in on one of the Calgary powerplays).
Even Calgary's goaltending tandem was sharp tonight. Turek played the two periods of shutout hockey before hometown kid Brent Krahn took over; both guys made some key saves although the Oilers failed to put forth many solid opportunities.
It remained scoreless after the first frame which saw Calgary outshoot Edmonton 9-3, but i swear it was more like 15-5, either way Conklin was forced to stand on his head.
The Oilers came on in sprints during the second but Turek turned their efforts aside. The Flames replied by turning up the intensity and managed to take advantage of a few Conklin rebounds which transformed into goal mouth scrambles and glowing red lights. Lowry, Gelinas and Kobesew were credited with the trio of Calgary goals and after the second the shots were 19-14 in favor of Calgary.
Robert Dome took a drop pass from Inginla shortly into the third and snapped a laser beam upstairs over Conklins glove. Late in the third a Staios wrister from the point found its way through traffic and past a confused Krahn.
Calgary won 4-1 but the game was pretty lousy in general and it appeared to get slower with time.
Some assumptions I made on the Oilers part were:
1) We didn't ice our best line up to begin with; Calgary's defense was better from the get go and they were sporting a better collection of talented forwards.
2) None of MacT's line combos seemed to click or not in comparison to Calgarys. Hopefully all the kinks are ironed out between now and the regular season and hopefully MacT lets the players find chemistry with each other rather than constantly experimenting like he did for the first two months last year.
3) We just flat out didn't capitalize on our opportunities. Hemsky should have made it 1-0 Oilers in the first and i think it was Stoll who had a partial break away in the second. We seemed to go flat after Calgary scored those three fast ones but if we had drawn first blood it likely would have been a different game.
Goaltending = B+
Forwards = C
Defense = D
Oilers Team Rating = C-
Thanks salostyle for your excellent summary. Nothing beats comments by a real fan after they attended at the 'live ice' and the speed and power of even an averagely contested NHL game still reverberates in their observations. Keep those