At least for one night, the 'H' in HOPE wasn't the franchise savior - the only #1 overall pick in team history. With Taylor Hall on the shelf for the rest of the season, it was Teemu Hartikainen stepping into the to the young bull-of-a-left-wing role and did so with aplomb. Hartikainen's game was on display throughout. He was throwing himself into the corners and into defensemen, but he was winning the puck regularly. He was in front of the net causing headaches for everyone wearing the silliest logo and team nickname in professional sports. In an example of questionable scoring, Hartikainen was credited with only two hits. He was stereotypically Finnish and it was a treat to watch - the kid is a keeper.
Magnus Paajarvi was all over the ice this evening, his shirt-flapping in his own jet wash. Before leaving with injury, Paajarvi recorded six shots on goal, scored a goal and was hard on the puck all night long. He forechecked like a demon and backchecked just as hard. His line looked like a legitimate NHL line, and though he had help from Linus Omark, Paajarvi was driving the play.
It's to be expected at this point, but the Oilers defensemen covered the ice like they forgot they were defenders. Jason Strudwick will retire (there will be tears if he does not) and Jim Vandermeer will not be in Edmonton next season (there will be tears if he is), and Ryan Whitney will come back. But this team still needs two more real NHL defensemen before they can hope to compete for even 8th place. By real NHL defensemen, I don't mean guys who have previously played in the NHL like Vandermeer and Strudwick, I mean players capable of handling NHL minutes without the benefit of protected zonestarts or all-star partners.
The call on Teemu Hartikainen in the third period was a farce. That same play -- two players approach the puck and jostle for position -- happens multiple times per period and never warrants a call. Hartikainen was whistled because he ran into one of the few weak and weak-willed Finns.
Tom Renney had a chance to beat the Flames in a shootout in the Battle of Alberta at home and left Linus Omark on the bench.
Scott Oake was awkward, Kevin Weekes spoke as fast as he possibly could to get as many words out as possible, even when what he was saying didn't make any sense and Mark Lee was Mark Lee. It would be nice for Edmonton to win so we could watch meaningful hockey again, I'm also rooting for Edmonton to play meaningful games again so we no longer have to suffer CBC's third-string broadcast.
Steve MacIntyre had 4 penalty minutes in 2:20 of icetime. He was so intimidating that the Flames were too scared to concuss Paajarvi. Actually, that last part is not true at all. The Oilers need to replace a half-dozen players on this roster and it's not difficult to figure out where they should start.
The Copper & Blue Three Stars:
★★★ - Colin Fraser
★ - Teemu Hartikainen