EDMONTON OILERS 4
FLORIDA PANTHERS 0
I'm not sure that could've gone much better really. Perhaps if the Gilbert Brule had looked stupendous and Rob Schremp has scored a pair, but dominating the Panthers (it's going to be a LOOOONNNNGGGG year down there...), getting the shutout, beating them up in the literal sense as well was just excellent to watch.
Did this team get a shutout at all last year? Even once? Even in games where we'd allow next to no shots, something would always sneak in on us. I'm not even sure about preseason to be honest.
It's very evident that we're playing a different type of powerplay out there and I'm very relieved to see it. I'm sure early on the players will occasionally drift back into the old habit of simply dishing to the side and waiting, but many are adopting the change to a more down-low style with an increased amount of shooting lanes. I see this being very effective. Suddenly we have 3 options on the PP instead of 1. This looks to be gold.
The system change is also evident in watching the defencemen jump in and out more often. They did it fairly effectively tonight and when we actually see our top-notch top-4 execute this system, we'll be downright scary. Every single one of them can play this style of driving the d-man up the middle effectively.
If I'm the coach right now, every single guy who has no shot at realistically making this team is gone right now. I want to see them start working on combos and getting ready. We have some guys who look to be locked in from the get-go, which is something that's been lacking in past years. If they can keep some of the things they did tonight up while the vets round into form...we'll be sailin.
- He did what he needed to do tonight from the opening whistle. I counted at least 4 really solid hits and his puck handling improved after the first. He wasn't chasing in the offensive zone as much as I'd like to see him do, but that's nitpicky. His goal was a good read and great decoying by Comrie and Arsene to set up a stellar pass from O'Sullivan. The fact that he got that shot away so well is a great sign. I truly hope he keeps it up even though I don't value his style of game near as much as some do.
- Honestly I thought he didn't look that great tonight. But he's a secure vet working with unfamiliar linemates so I don't consider it to be that big of a deal. Missing on the PP was only forgiven because he got another chance; and to be fair he was on the wrong side. Oh well. I'm sure he'll get better as we go along. Needs to find his legs a bit still as he looked fairly slow.
- The positive is that he was solid in his defensive zone, read the play properly and also worked hard to free pucks in the offensive corners. The negative is that he didn't do anything all that productive offensively. There was no pop to his game tonight. I'd argue that was because he wasn't playing a puck-support role but a puck-chasing role, but Rob still needed to be better. He gave the puck away too easily twice and was made to look bad when the Panther defenceman held the puck away from him simply by standing tall later on the third. He's got to show a lot in the remaining games because competition is so tight for those final spots.
- This guy looks fired up and ready to go period. He is moving quickly in every zone, has the puck on a string and is flat-out dominating. He was productive tonight and should've had 2 goals (he rang an absolutely stellar shot off the post and didn't score on a break where he had Vokoun beat). There is no better sign for the Oilers going into the season than the way this guy looks right now. This is 60+ point 30+ goal Patrick O'Sullivan we're watching. Book it now. The really nice thing to watch though is the way he's showing this level of play in every zone on the ice. We've got something special brewing here.
- Even I wasn't quite ready for this. I busted out ol' #89 tonight (and I like to think of the dividing line between those brave few who marched in wearing old Comrie jerseys tonight and those that will sport the new # later in the season) and don't think I could have been more pleased with how that went. There were not one but TWO COM-RIE! chants. It was stupendous. He's controlling the puck and going to all his old spots just like he did before, but with more veteran saavy and more control of his game. He's very smart on the ice now. In addition to his 4 points there were more chances and a couple great passes, even a couple hits. I like to think that as he sat in the penalty box after the scrap that brought the crowd to its feet, 4 assists in his pocket and likely sore hands, he smiled, sat back and realized he had returned to where he always should have been, and to where his greatest successes will be. It was emotional for me because when I first started going to games regularly, this guy was the guy I cheered for harder than anyone. Everyone like me has hope again. First star, fist pumps, love from the crowd...tonight's the night the world begins again says it all for me. This could be one hell of a year.
- He's making his case in a really strong way and has at the very least solved a problem for coach Quinn. We have a line now: O'Sullivan, Comrie and a more skilled version of Ryan Stone. He should enjoy his success as he's doing very well. His pass to Chorney was a nice patient read and a solid pass. I didn't really catch his other assist but believe it was in the neutral zone. Send him down or keep him in the PB and power-skate the crap out of him and we may indeed have something. He looks to be useful at the very least and putting out the effort of his life. He's gonna make some decisions more difficult.
- Who the heck is this guy? He's small, quick but not fast, shifty but the puck doesn't stick to him, and the guy had 222 PIMs in the Slovakian league somehow??? Quite possibly the most unique skillset I've ever seen. I don't think he's ready for anything near primetime though as he just looked plain outclassed.
- There's something about the style that Gilbert Brule plays that puts him in awkward positions and gets him hammered. This happened twice tonight. It's no wonder the kid gets hurt. In the offensive zone, where he has to be effective, he simply was not good enough with the puck. Judging right now I see him getting sent down and not even among the last cuts, but perhaps he'll improve and perhaps he's been better in practice. We need him to be an ace of diamonds in the rough and there are no signs of that so far.
- Not very noticable at all. He had the puck a few times and looks like a half-decent skater but there's nothing exceptional to his game.
- He hit people very solidly and was a mean, nasty SOB. I'm pretty sure that's the job he was trying out for. I could see him getting a contract and even playing in games against teams like Minnesota, Calgary and Vancouver. He's a more consistent hitter and better skater than MacIntyre is, but Steve pounds people every time he lands one...will be an interesting battle with no coaching allegiances anywhere.
- I still see hope for this guy because of nights like tonight. It's really unfortunate that he's such a slow skater because he's not particularly bad at it; he just has a really weak first step. He's rangy and plays the position well; hits people in an effective manner and clearly has some puck skill. Maybe he's found whatever it is he needed this summer. Going off this I hope he gets a full season in the higher end of the AHL and does well. You never know because guys that are big and solid and positionally good can be late bloomers. Especially those who have had injury trouble.
- He looked sluggish to me tonight and possible a little distracted. Stortini needs to bring a better game if these larger wingers are going to keep playing well.
- I really like Chorney's game from the opposition hash-marks in. He made a great read and took a phenomenal shot on his goal. When he's down past that point he's very dynamic with the puck and creates options for his forwards. It's behind this point where I still feel he has a lot of distance to cover. His first shift of the game was a great example; offensive defencemen above all else need to know when to pinch and do it decisively...he hesitated and didn't pinch on a clear chance, then tried to make up for it with a bad pinch that nearly cost him. Not the right thought process and you could see it unfolding. Chorney also has a bad habit of crossing over his d-partner on the way back into his own zone. Better NHL defencemen don't do this unless its absolutely necessary but it seems to be the default play for Taylor. To his credit, he didn't get caught way off tonight like he did in Calgary. To the AHL with you Mr. Chorney, we wish you the best of luck utilizing your skillset and expanding it to the full ice...I'm still in favor of trading him if anyone's really REALLY high on him though...
- Vet getting ready for the season again. He looked solid but kind of rusty to me. I have no doubts Tom will shine this year though.
- Steve spent the first period hitting people, jumping into the play and making passes. He looked like a veteran almost exaggerating elements of his game to train them in at an accelerated rate. I really like this approach. After the first he slowed down a tad, but that's okay from my POV. Liked what he brought.
- He's one of the better depth guys they'll have this year in an emergency situation. Plain but not in a bash the puck around like you're using a club kind of way. I wouldn't mind seeing him in an emergency situation over some of the other guys.
- Did what he does; simple game with a fight. Nothing to see here...show's over...OH MY GOD A HORRIBLE PLANE CRASH!!!
- Just don't see it with this guy. Every time he touched the puck it wobbled off his stick. Every single time. He's going to have to work his butt off to make the AHL at this rate.
- It sure was pleasant to watch a goalie who butterflies properly and doesn't get distracted in the net. Despite not being tested, he looked focused and solid in the net the whole night. And he did what he needed to do. I really look forward to watching this guy all year.
My Three Stars:
1 - Mike Comrie (that was a put-up, don't need to shut up, any questions? kinda game)
2 - J.F. Jacques (did everything he needed to)
3 - Nik Ka-bib-you-lin (as #2 has committed to call him all year for amusement's sake)
O'Sullivan was also excellent and Stone was good.
Could that have gone much better? Did I miss anything? Florida's bad, very bad, but that game filled me with more hope than the last one despite a somewhat sloppy first.
I have a theory that good teams often win in the second. The best teams in the NHL seem to just BURY other teams in the second period when they're going strong. We did that tonight. If we keep doing that, I'd look upon it as a very good sign in regular season time.