EDMONTON OILERS 3
NEW YORK ISLANDERS 2
Well, back to Rexall we all went again tonight for a joyous (if slightly meaningless) victory. It's always great to win and I don't care if it was against a nothing team for zero points. We beat em and we darn well liked it. I was actually a little surprised that people weren't more pumped for the start of the game, but I guess that's life. When we finally did score, and boy did it take forever, everyone got into it a little more. I'm not sure everyone knew what to make of playing the Islanders to be honest. We're used to rivalry matches in the preseason.
I'm not sure if they'll add more before the season starts, but there seemed to be a whole lot of nothing new at the rink. Maybe I missed something, but there was no new food, no new store or stand, nothing new in the viewing area (aside from new ads for Telus TV and some discount Barn-somethingerother). That was a little disappointing. I'm hoping they're just holding back.
John Tavares looked...well...good when he had Doug Weight on his line. I think he'll do alright for himself this year. He didn't look earth-shattering, which would be noticeable even in the first pre-season game I find. It will be very interesting to see how he develops in NYI given how utterly bad they are.
The Isles actually came out much faster than we did and seemed to outwork the vet-prospect combo lineup early; but they weren't good enough to really do anything with that work. The Isles are a bad team that looks like a bad team and plays like a bad team.
I enjoyed watching Quinn jawing the ref even in a preseason game. I truly didn't enjoy the lack of intensity our previous coach projected. It's one thing to be focused and calm, but a great leader must know when the time comes to show some fire (yes, even in the pre-season).
I'm sure there's more system change than was totally evident tonight, but watching the 5-on-3 with three players down low was very interesting and should've worked but Hemsky got robbed.
In the end it was a semi-crummy pre-season game against the Islanders, nothing much to see here, but let's get into some...
- I thought he looked like he was getting his feet wet tonight. In my pre-game I speculated that this line wouldn't work and I think that came true. They didn't dominate inferior opposition at any time. These guys' games aren't built right. Hemsky played fine for a vet using the first game as prep. I'd look for him to be better in the next game he plays though. No extra step or major changes obvious as yet.
- I think he looks like a little more solid hockey player this year. He was getting into better position and looked more sure of himself on his skates and with the puck. I still think he's behind a number of players for a top 6, and maybe even top 9 spot on the team, but at least he looked like an NHLer.
- He was okay, and I suppose looked more comfortable on the ice than he would be in the past. His goal was fairly weak, but it almost looked like he was relieved. Nothing special but nothing alarming which is kind of the point.
- His goal was entirely unique in that he actually made other players look slow and took a great shot. I liked that a lot. If he can keep that up he'll be very useful. I thought he was invisible and kind of slow before that. Did anyone else see anything different?
- He didn't look great to me as he wasn't using his speed to get to the locations he needed to be in. I think it was more about being uncomfortable with his line though. I'll wait to see how he's looking in later games.
- How exactly he was awarded first star I really don't know. Maybe they wanted to make him feel good? I really don't know. I see a lot of potential in his game as he goes to the right places in the offensive zone all the time and the puck really seems to come to him. He needs to learn to finish at a higher level. Tonight he really should have scored at least 1 and probably 2. Scoring goals from in tight is probably his only hope to make the NHL this season and I don't think he can do it at this level...YET. I certainly think he'll be able to do it at some point. Every team needs a quiet scorer and this guy could be it; give him two years however. He's a different type of dynamic player that we don't really possess at the moment.
- I can see why some people really like him. He gets to the right spots in every zone, is a solid if unspectacular skater, and looks very very comfortable handling a puck even with the Andy Sutton's of the world lurking around. The one thing I really noticed is that he's always checking around himself and is very observant of the play. He does this without the panicking that many other young players exhibit as they attempt this same thing early in their careers. I see potential in this young man.
- Liam had a really weird game. He tried to go in on two rushes like a dynamic offensive guy and failed. He missed the net on a break. He took two penalties and wasn't really effective anywhere. If this is how he's going to play, his already low-ish chances of making the squad are nearly non-existant.
- I was hoping to see something special. He looks like he's moving more effectively than last year which is good. I did not however see anything special. Oh well. The wait continues. I think the best fit for him on the team is really debatable this year depending on the style we employ, but that it's very important that Fernando have a good year. At least he looks fit for a change.
- Did his job, landed some good shots.
- A surprise addition to the lineup, I thought he played well and showed his patience and skill with the puck. I really hope he's able to find an extra gear to his game in the AHL though because he's still a ways off.
- Skated well and made solid passes. Certainly the class of his line even if that isn't saying much. I'll be more interested in his game against more pro-laden squads.
- Played well and snarly. He broke two pieces of glass in one game (ever before in Oilers land?), he was tough in his own end and I loved how he owned Bruno Gervais to score his goal. That was beautiful and showed where Sheldon is most effective in the offensive zone. When he moves in with the puck, it generates big-time offence. Looking solid.
- Patient with the puck, a little snarly, good passing. No complaints.
- He's usually better, but he also usually has better linemates. Unspectacular and didn't notice him much aside from one or two rusty moments that everyone had.
- I watched him specifically and noticed one very disturbing constant: he is very unsure of himself in the defensive zone and thus always gets caught moving towards his man late. I'm going to chalk this up to jitters and hope he improves, but you cannot be an NHLer defender chasing your man from behind all the time. I wasn't that impressed with his positioning either. Another look is required at this guy, hopefully on a night when he looks more comfortable. Right now he's behind a number of guys, though I thought Chorney looked worse against Calgary.
- Did his job very well. I like him as an AHL stalwart.
- Nothing good about his game that I could see.
- Really really solid. He moved well and positioned himself effectively in the net. Most importantly, he really gave the impression to me that he knows he's an NHL goaltender. Not in an arrogant way but in a confident and important way, especially for a goalie. He could surprise this year, I'll already predict that.
- Effective if a bit awkward. I still think there's a visible gap between him and Jeff, but not so much because of Dubnyk lagging as last year, but because Jeff has improved.
My Three Stars:
3. Weight (yes I know he left really early but he made John T look very good)
So there we have it; let the best sports season of the year begin shortly! I want to have the boys playin for points and see a real NHL roster under the leadership of our new more intense coach! I see possibility!