Like I think I’ve mentioned before the NHL has to do something about these feeds. Game Center Live is one thing but these team feeds suck. Both the Flames and the Oilers sites claimed that due to restrictions only people in Alberta, Saskatchewan and NWT would be able to watch the game. I live about 20 minutes outside of Calgary and for the first 30 minutes (ream time) I couldn’t watch either of the games. Then with about 4 minutes left (I couldn’t really tell you because the Oilers don’t show the time clock on their feed) the feed cut out and didn’t come back until 10 seconds remaining in the 3rd. I know many people were feeling my because Twitter exploded. Anyway onto hockey.
The Game In Edmonton
Both the Oilers and the Flames wanted to give their home town fans something to chear about so as expected the Oilers dressed their A squad which included Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall, Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl, Andrej Sekera and Cam Talbot. The Flames on the other hand dressed powerhouse players like Kris Russell, David Jones, Deryk Engelland, Garnet Hathaway and Oliver (Buzz) Kylington.
But for some strange reason his name is pronounced Shilington. What is with Flames players having stupid pronunciations to their names (Giordano pronounced as Jore-danno)?
This was definitely a preseason game. Players were still trying to feel eachother out, goalies were allowing stupid soft goals and people were playing that you will never hear about again in your life but that is how the preseason works.
The first period goals were two extremely soft goals. The Oilers goal was Miller getting a shot on net off the half boards and Karri Ramo just didn’t get enough of it.
The Flames first goal was just as bad.
Then in the second the Oilers got a power play and as we’ve seen every year for the past few years the Oilers allowed a short handed goal.
But they’d make up for it. First Draisaitl would get a perfect pass from McDavid on the powerplay to tie the game. By the way Draisaitl and Yakupov were on with McDavid because Taylor Hall got a skate to the nose and didn’t return to the game.
Then Anton Lander scored short handed. This was where the feed cut out for everyone so I am just now seeing the replay.
The final goal was scored by Yakupov on the empty net.
McLellan made some changes to the top line about half way through the game when he "demoted" Teddy Purcell to the second line with Lander and Yakupov and "promoted" Draisaitl to the top line with McDavid and Hall. Obviously after Hall got hurt McLellan had to make some adjustments but thanks to the feed I really didn’t get to see them so I may need some help on this.
Nikita Nikitn - Don’t let any of the pundits fool you. He is slow, there was a play in the first where the Oilers had the zone and the puck came to him. Instead of holding onto the puck and making a smart move he tried to shoot it through a Flames player. The puck obviously bounced off the player and lead to break. Nikitin tried to catch him but could barely keep up (remember this was the Flames B squad), Andrew Ference had to bail him out and cut down the angle. It was brutal to watch.
Sekera - He took a bit to get going but once he did his passes were tape to tape and his vision on the ice was supurb.
Purcell - Yes he may have played with Steve Stamkos in Tampa Bay but that was almost 5 years ago. He is older and is definitely not a top line winger. Hopefully McLellan isn’t as pig headed as Eakins and sees it quickly and adjusts appropriately.
Once again this was the first preseason game of the year. The season is still two weeks away (sigh) things will be sorted out and adjusted as needed.
The Game In Calgary
Orignally I wasn’t going to cover this game but due to feed issues I volunteered to do the write up as well. I’ll admit I wasn’t as invested in this game as the other but it was the first one to start working so I caught the end of the first and then went back and watched the rest of it.
The best part of watching this game was knowing the final score before watching especially when the Flames roster included Mark Giordano (Jore-Danno), Johnny Gaudreau, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan, Jiri Hudler and Jonas Hiller. With the exception of Dennis Wideman, Mikael Backlund and Karri Ramo, this was the Flames regular season roster versus the Oilers B squad. The funny thing about the Oilers B squad was that it looked like the Oilers A squad for the past few seasons it included Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Benoit Pouliot, Justin Schultz, Oscar Klefbom, Matt Hendricks and Ben Scrivens. The biggest difference between the A & B squad for the Oilers was that the B squad had a deeper defense which ended up working to their advantage.
Unlike the other game the first period ended 0-0 but there was a goal called back that Jore-Danno kicked in and there was a wrist shot from Hamilton that knocked Scrivens’ mask off. Other than that there wasn’t anything overly exciting.
The second period offered a little more goal scoring (or at least 50 seconds in which 2 goals were scored) but because of the feeds none of the goals actually exist on video. Luckily the Oilers Twitter feed captured some GIFs for us to recap the moments.
#YYC —> #Flames break the ice on the PP as Frolik takes a pass from Gaudreau and beats Scrivens high. 1-0 for the home side.— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2015
It was a very nice pass from Gaudreau. Even though he is a Flame Gaudreau is an amazing tallent to watch.
Hard-working #Oilers goal for Letestu! pic.twitter.com/dXfu3Sa1Nh— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2015
This goal just came from really hard work and a lot of drive from Mark Letestu.
What a glorious game-winner by Ebs & Benny! pic.twitter.com/3X07ckg7bQ— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2015
Once again we see why the Pouliot signing was such a great move. It freed up Hall from Eberle which in hinesight was the best thing for the team.
Within the game there were a few other notes. Darnell Nurse fought 6’6" Hunter Smith and sent Smith to the dressing room for the remainder of the period.
#BattleOfAlberta pic.twitter.com/6K4w8fRv91— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2015
Also Anders Nilsson came up huge on a Frolik penalty shot.
DENIED! Nilsson says no to Frolik on the penalty shot. pic.twitter.com/GDJg9w7wpS— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) September 22, 2015
This game made me smile. The Oilers went into Calgary as the underdog, considering who the Flames dressed, and came out the victors. This doesn’t mean that the Oilers are fixed or that the Flames are broken, but what it means is that making cuts may be more difficult than anticipated and that isn’t a bad thing.
The Top Line - The combination for Eberle - Nugent-Hopkins - Pouliot will be the Oilers top line for at least the first half of the season while McDavid adjusts to the NHL. Like last season, watching these three play together is fun. They bring a good balance to eachother’s game and play well together.
The 4th Line - Obviously the second line in this game will end up being the 4th line on the Oilers regular season team and they played very well together. There is definitely need for adjustment but that is why the preseason exists.
Nilsson - He played well but again it was a preseason game against a split team. Hopefully he gets a real chance at a NHL job and can show what else he has in his tollkit.
After the game I watched McLellan address the media and he said some interesting things. First off he said that in the future he will not be speaking about minor player injuries and anything major Peter Chiarelli would be the one to discuss it with the media. Basically he was saying "Don’t ask because I am not going to tell you anything."
When it came to cuts McLellan made it clear that nobody would be going to Bakersfield tomorrow. He would be splitting up the groups and getting a true A & B squad together. He wanted to ensure that both the squads were getting the same information no matter if they were NHL or AHL. He also mentioned that players from squad B would still be competing for spots in squad A.
It an interesting approach and hopefully it works out better than other attempts have.