Even though tonight's Oilers' news wasn't all good, it's great to have hockey back. On the heels of the news that Oscar Klefbom was dinged yet again, the rest of the Oilers' prospects debuted in Penticton against the Vancouver Canucks and beat them like the Canucks deserve to be beaten.
Things started as they often do when Edmonton plays Vancouver - the Oilers fell behind. Darren Archibald beat Olivier Roy on a cross-rink feed after Martin Gernat was beaten soundly and Roy never really had a chance at the puck. But the Oilers tied it shortly thereafter as Curtis Hamilton beat Vancouver goaltender David Honzik on a Deslaurian goal. Hamilton threw the puck on net from outside of the left circle and it fluttered in through the "14 hole" according to notoriously awful annoucer John Garrett. Hamilton had another outstanding chance in the first period off of a fantastic Ryan Nugent-Hopkins behind-the-back feed from the corner to the far side of the crease, but goalie Honzik made an outstanding save to stifle the chance. It was one of the few things Hoznik did well.
Second period opened with the Oilers taking the lead and not looking back. The Vancouver rookies got caught in a pretty bad line change (it looked like the Oilers' under Pat Quinn) and Phil Cornet took advantage, grabbing a Taylor Fedun pass and walking in alone on what the official scorer called an unassisted goal, but I'm quite certain Fedun should get an assist. The Oilers extended the lead on the power play when Anton Lander walked out from the goal line and flipped one by Hoznik who was left out to dry by his entire penalty killing unit. Moments later Gernat scored on Nikolai Khabibulin, rather Hoznik doing his best Nikolai Khabibulin imitation. On a blast from the point Hoznik, unscreened and with a good angle, let the puck flow right through him. The blowout was official when Anton Lander banged home a gorgoeus pass by Antti Tyrvainen on the power play, his second of the evening. 40 seconds later, Hopkins floated another pass in front, this time missing his primary target, but connecting with Tyrvainen who flipped home the Oilers' sixth goal. The Oilers poured it on as David Musil made a heads up play, finding Colin Smith breaking through the neutral zone and up the right wing. Smith coasted into the zone and flipped the puck in front to Drew Czerwonka, who blasted his way to the net and banged home the goal, barging over replacement goaltnder Karel St. Laurent in the process. While all of this was going on Olivier Roy had some tea, made a sandwich, checked his investments and took a nap. Roy finally got some action late in the second, but faced only one dangerous shot the entire period.
Like last season's Penticton tournament, the third period erupted in stupidity as Colten Teubert squared off with Adam Polasek and got knocked square on his backside, possibly injuring himself in the process, like Alex Plante a year ago. Tyler Schmidt squared off as well in a meaningless fight and won, but who cares? There is no reason for Colten Teubert to accept an invitation to fight in the third period of a 7-1 rookie camp game. The downside risk for an established prospect is enormous, as Plante learned last season, and even if Teubert doesn't miss any time because of this fight, the Oilers need to deliver a message to the non-goons in camp -- stop fighting in meaningless games.
Kristians Pelss was an animal on the boards tonight. Scott noticed it early in the first period, but if we were tracking battles, Pelss would be batting 1.000 early in the season. The scouting reports talk about his wheels, but his ability to dig pucks out of the half-walls and corners was unmatched tonight. It was his work late in the first that led to Hamilton's beauty of a chance off of a Hopkins feed. Pelss battled on the boards to free the puck ahead to Hopkins. He had a great night.
Anton Lander looked like a man among boys on almost every shift. He led the team in shots with five. He was playing a calm, smart game and was able to read the play and work through open space with ease. He beat the puck to the spot a couple of times and played extremely well defensively. It's nice to get him some work, but it was pretty obvious that he didn't belong in this game.
David Musil and Taylor Fedun were a rock-solid pairing in this one. They both showed a deft touch in breaking out of the zone and handled the puck with aplomb. They didn't have to battle much and didn't need to chase in their own zone - they got to the puck quickly, moved it and then moved it out. They were the anti-Smid/Staios pairing.
Martin Gernat was smoked on the Canucks first goal and looked terribly out of place in the first period. Thankfully, he evened out over the last two periods and though he needs a ton of work, there is some raw talent there.
Antti Tyrvainen opened the game with a vicious and stupid elbowing penalty in the first period. It's his game and will make Barons' fans happy, but given the crackdown on headshots, he's going to have to change to stick around for an extended period.
Prior to his fight Colten Teubert didn't look as good as I would have expected him to in a game like this. He wasn't moving well and didn't stand out at all, or least didn't stand out as much as Musil or Fedun.
Ryan Martindale has a choppy stride and not much acceleration. Before the Oilers send him back to Ottawa, they should send him to Steve Serdachny for a workout regimen.
The fighting. There's just no reason for this to happen, especially for non-goons like Teubert. The Oilers should have had a word with the team about this, especially after losing Plante to injury last year.
The broadcast was terrible in two ways: first, it takes almost no effort to have a gameclock in the feed, yet the only time a viewer knew the game situation was when a camera caught the scoreboard; secondly, John Garrett was awful. He's an atrocious homer and never lets up and he was out in full force tonight.
The Copper & Blue Three Stars:
★★★ - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
★★ - David Musil / Taylor Fedun
★ - Anton Lander