LMHF Report Webcast Link

9/27/11

Advisory - No Game Report Tonight

Good day all,

Sadly I won't be at the game tonight for Ales' return and what looks like a really interesting lineup, so no report tonight.

9/24/11

LMHF Report - Preseason Game #3

EDMONTON 2

VS.

CALGARY 1
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I was a little worried early on that this was going to be just like the Vancouver game all over again. We weren't generating a ton of dangerous offence and were a little lazy. The difference tonight was how the defence played. They moved the puck much more smoothly, effectively and with purpose. They didn't struggle to make simple plays, and coupled that with solid D. They certainly were not perfect, but they were much better and good enough that Khabibulin really only had to make maybe 3-5 good saves. The rest of the limited number of shots he faced were quite weak. Some of the pairs seemed to balance out pretty well and that served to make this a pretty simple win so long as we got some goals. Thankfully we did.

When it comes to Calgary, we didn't get to see much of what they have to offer tonight. Bourque scored on us because he always does, and Sven did some interesting things, but other than that they're a pretty bland squad. I imagine they'll have a decent squad on the ice tomorrow night.

It was interesting that Yann Danis is still here but doesn't appear to be set to play another minute. I'm assuming this is so that there are goalies for two practice squads worth of teams possibly? I would have liked to have seen him get some time tonight.

As a unit, the forwards generated more chances and were in more useful combinations than in the previous two home games. Gagner's injury screwed things up a little bit but the coaching staff seemed to manage. What I don't understand is why they just run the same old lines out on the powerplay as 5-on-5. That's never acceptable, yet we've done it now all of last season essentially and during the preseason. Tonight that meant that we kept seeing guys like Jones and Belanger on the PP. Not effective and serves no purpose whatever.

There should be some cuts after this, and I really hope they are the appropriate ones.

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Khabibulin
- I have to admit he was good tonight; he controlled his positioning and made the saves he needed to make. The goal he allowed was pretty bad but thankfully it didn't kill us. I have to give him credit, but the scout in me who watches a lot more than one game knows that while he has these games in him, they are few and far between. There aren't any indications that he's either changing his approach or improving in any way. We can always hope (but I'm not optimistic, even though I'm always optimistic).

Tulupov
- He was paired with Barker tonight and he could certainly have had some trouble playing with such an offensively aggressive partner and been excused for it. He really didn't. He stayed in position (almost to a fault) and provided a steady defensive game and steady puck movement. I wish he'd pinched in and taken a run at somebody, because he had forwards covering for him a couple times. I appreciate the attention to detail and desire not to get caught, but you also need to learn to harness your aggression and take a shot once in a while. He was steady on the PP blue line as well. You might have seen him get knocked down from time to time, but don't be fooled; this doesn't always mean you're getting overpowered. Sometimes it is honestly easier to just bounce back up again than fight to stay up. I used to use this to avoid getting tangled and quickly get back into the play. There's a future ahead for this guy. We should really make room for him.

Barker
- He did some stupid things tonight. He took that strange penalty and at times looked to be skating a fair bit more slowly than he should be. On the other hand, he keeps taking chances and keeps not getting caught. This may be a function of his opposition, but if it isn't, then we have something really handy because he'll be able to be aggressive; especially late in games when we're behind. One thing he's going to need to do is not shoot so much on the PP. He often rushes the shot, leading to a lot of blocks, missed passes and easy stops for the opposition goalie. The stupid fans among us who yell SHOOT will love him.

Peckham
- Theo is struggling a little bit. He's not landing a lot of big hits, is getting caught out of position a bunch and isn't making solid moves with the puck. It didn't cost us tonight but he's really going to need to watch it because his spot is not completely assured going forward. He progressed last year but really needs to keep his foot on the accelerator. His skills are somewhat limited and it will always require attention and hard work for him to be good. He can't be coasting.

Petry
- He had almost the exact same game as he had last game, just amplified. In the first period he was running around some, getting caught out of position and gave the puck away multiple times. It really wasn't good to watch. But it seemed like for the second and third a switch flipped and he locked things down and just made plays. This is certainly the story of most young and talented defencemen, just in different degrees. I'm not worried about Petry, but I do tend to wish we didn't need him on the squad so badly. He's still developing.

Gilbert
- Improved again tonight. He was engaging in some of the physical play that people always knock him for and was excellent with the puck save for one mistake early. He was exactly what we needed with Whitney out. It helped that he once again had a defensively focused (mostly) partner of course, but make no mistake, Gilbert was very solid.

Sutton
- I'm going to preface my comments for the year on Sutton by saying I really don't like him. I find him to be the worst type of pansy much of the time when he has to answer for his play; a big guy has no excuse. Tonight he was decent enough defensively and certainly pushed some people around. His giveaways were pretty few and far between and the only thing I can fault him for really are some ill-advised pinches. He doesn't recover well enough to attempt the aggressive plays he sometimes attempts.

Jones
- For the first 39 minutes he was not very good. He gave the puck away a bunch, looked lost at times positionally and was a contributor to Gagner's injury due to an awkward interaction with a Calgary defenceman. After that he scored his goal, and was a much better player. He is being outplayed though by someone further along on tonight's roster, and not by a little.

Keller
- Again, I'm not really sure why he's still here. We know what he is; and he showed again tonight that he's just not far enough along to play in the NHL. He's a little too slow, not quite sturdy enough, and makes some positioning mistakes. Certainly not a bad or untalented player, just not really worth the icetime they're giving him right now.

Martindale
- He's a big, rangy guy who can really move out there and certainly knows where to go. You can tell he's got the tools, but he's still a ways away from being an NHL player. Not having seen enough of him, I don't know if he can correct the mistakes he was making tonight (which were very typical rookie issues and nothing we'd worry about if he weren't surrounded by SO MUCH talent) quickly, but I certainly get the sense he will correct them. He shows sparks and makes some really intelligent plays every now and again.

Lander
- He wasn't really playing in a feature role tonight, which is appropriate because he wouldn't be doing that in our lineup at the moment anyway. The one thing you notice about Lander that he doesn't do is hit people. He had several opportunities to get some guys tonight and always turns away. He doesn't NEED to be laying people out, but it would certainly complete him as a player. He's certainly consistent though in that he makes smart plays, positions himself well, and supports the play well. One unique skill he has in the ability to shoot through the opposition defence very well and have his shot reach the net. Not many guys are great at this, but he seems to be. At the very least, this means he's made a safe play in a situation where some make fairly bad attempts and the puck goes the other way quickly.

Tyrvainen
- He never lets up. There's something about these Finnish and Swedish guys and getting after the puck. They're really pesky and give the opposition nothing but fits. Not only did he do this with his stick, but he hit people and got I think 3 chances at the empty net tonight. He got a decent amount of icetime and made good things happen with it. I think he'll be a strong contributor in OKC and could challenge seriously for a spot in about a year. There's talent and desire there, combined with a strong shot and good stickhandling.

Pitlick
- Of the secondary crop of talented forwards, he's standing out quite a bit because he gets in on the forecheck most effectively and can really really skate. He's not a step behind right now like most of these guys are. He's MAYBE a half-step off. There's a lot going on in his head on the ice but I think as soon as he focuses and has a role, he'll really fly. He made an excellent and smart play during the first people in the neutral zone, but I've honestly forgotten what it is despite making a mental note and trying to remember...damn. Where does he go this year?

Gagner
- Was playing a pretty decent game before he got hurt, which was good to see. Still showed his extra gear, though he didn't hit people in the way he usually does when he's placed on a more checking-oriented unit. Early on both teams were actually backing off of hits which was very strange to see. Sam's in a really strange spot right now and has to play well this year to keep up with what is a wave of talented forwards, most of whom happen to be bigger than he is (which is why the skating power improvement was so important.

Green
- Of all the people I expected to see at Oilers camp this year, Josh Green might have been the last. I'm sure most of us remember him from his previous go-round as the latest "we hope he's what Brad Isbister was supposed to be" kind of guy. I can't say anything bad about him...he played a positionally solid game and drove the net when he got a chance. He certainly didn't do anything special with the puck but he wasn't bad either. If we didn't have all these junior guys and euro depth, he might be needed, but he hasn't shown any real improvement other than maturing, so he's not really relevant to conversation on our roster at the moment. I'm strongly in favor of offering tryout agreements to as many vets wanting another chance as will come though. They push the rooks.

Belanger
- Other than one of the saddest rush plays I've seen that he ended with an incredibly weak backhand on the net, he was quite solid tonight. You can see his positioning is his strong suit and it wins a lot of battles for him. I don't have a lot to say about him, which is probably good because that would mean he's being pushed for too much offence or having to bail us out defensively if he was getting noticed.

Hall
- He was certainly better tonight, even with a couple sequences in the first where he did nothing but turn the puck over. He got a little annoyed and showed some real edge tonight, lining up several hits. Even if he doesn't nail anybody, the assertiveness creates room and he can use it for offence. He's still making the mistake of shooting wide side and missing off the rush...which doesn't generate offence and can lead to rushes for the other team. I was very glad to see him use a combination of positioning, quick reflexes and the strength to direct the puck with a fully extended stick to get the goal he did. He needed it and so did the team, so that's great to see . We haven't got to see Hall with Hemsky yet this preseason and I'd like to see that soon. Hall also tried to run the PP from the half wall a couple times...that's not his thing.

Hopkins
- He was better tonight in that he was more involved with the play, especially in the offensive and neutral zones. There were times he really looked like a kid though...for instance he seems to crouch over when he's trying to hit people. Though I admire the effort, it doesn't work and is a waste of skating energy. He's also reacting a little too slowly in terms of reading the play and heading there. In the offensive zone though, he moved the puck solidly, supported his linemates and made a nice power move and got the puck on net to set up the winning goal. I'm still not sure what the best place for him is...actually that's not true. The best place for him right now would be the AHL. The fact that we are unable to send him there is a problem that should be addressed (but won't any time soon). You can see that he's capable of being elite, but he's not the impact player right out of the hopper that Eberle or Hall were. Appreciate the solid defensive plays he made.

Hartikainen
- First off, the radio guys have it wrong; he shouldn't be in competition with Omark, he should be in competition with Jones...and he's kicking the crap out of him. Teemu had a shift tonight where he made 5 marvelous plays (if I recall right, a hit, a corner play, two passes and a scoring chance of his own out of the corner). He made at least 3 excellent power plays out of the corner to either set up a shot or a pass. He also showed at times when they were side by side and both trying to get to the play, that he can now skate quite quickly, beating out Hopkins. I've said that he's a better hockey player than Hopkins as of RIGHT NOW, not that it's all that relevant but I'd really hate to see him not make this team. He outplayed a first overall pick on the same line and looked just excellent. His upward trending is tremendous. He also laid at least 2 very nice hits that created offence and made some defensive stops. Fully and completely deserving of his first star selection. If you like hockey, you love the way this guy plays and he seems to be only getting better. I think there's another gear in there too. He shows hints of it from time to time. Try him on the other wing to verify that he can play there, and the versatility should absolutely salt it for him.
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Lots and lots of individual positives tonight that thankfully weren't ruined by a loss. We've got some really interesting decisions going forward and I really wish I was more confident in management.

9/22/11

LMHF Report - Preseason Game #2

EDMONTON 1

VS.

VANCOUVER 2

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Well, I'd really hoped not to have to resort to this so early on in the year, but that was incredibly boring hockey. I was worried when I saw the lineup that we'd either win and it would totally ho-hum, or we'd lose and look silly as a bunch of regulars couldn't beat the Canucks D team. We were unmotivated and in this game and got beat by a bunch of hungry semi-pros fighting for scraps. That's kind of sad considering the talent we had in the lineup.

Our problem tonight was one that was very common last year; we did a very bad job of getting open, and skating with and without the puck to get open. This was why we had no shooting lanes on our powerplay and offensive chances were so scarce all over the ice. We didn't have either that extra jump required to get into the gaps or that strategy to break down what was not a strong Canucks D.

A lot of that started from the back end. They were not strong with the puck and often simply sent it in a direction aware from where trouble might have been. They were not pressured, they were just in a sloppy rush. It was unfortunate to see. I'd send out a couple of these guys tomorrow if I were part of the coaching staff.

Unfortunately I don't think the 91-10-23 combo is going to work out. I know that's a quick read, but they really didn't follow each other's instincts. Horcoff can't process mentally what these guys are going to do, and the Swedes have trouble adapting to playing with a "stuck on the rail" kind of player.

Ultimately we should have been more motivated tonight. We lost and it was rather disappointing.

I had a different view of the game tonight, as my sister was able to get some tickets in row 4 behind the Oilers defend twice net, so some of the observations might be a little different than usual. You see more of the small plays and personality of the players at this level, but it is more difficult to see the flow of the play and the depth of the players and puck. I've found the best spot seems to be either in the top row of the lower deck or bottom row of the top deck.

And of course with this being a game against the Canucks, it wouldn't be complete without random Canucks fans causing a ruckus...today it was three of them bothering 4 girls, being asked to stop, then threatening to fight several Oilers fans. Bad idea. Sometimes, you really wish they would follow through before security arrives and they'd get what they deserve...


Smyth
- They really didn't do too much to highlight his return to Rexall, which kind of surprised me. His game tonight didn't feature a lot of direct offence, but he did showcase his unique forechecking and defensive skills and gave that Canucks some serious trouble as puck carriers. I'll preface the year of commentary on Smyth by saying I don't much like his style of play. He often plays well, but I'm constantly left feeling like he's not doing all he could be. From his crappy uncurved stick that I maintain has cost him a boatload of goals to his ugly slapshot, I just don't enjoy it much. Doesn't mean he's ineffective.

Hopkins
- I have strange expectations for Hopkins (which is what I will be calling him btw; I loathe hyphenation) in that I don't expect him to blow me away. Even though he's a first overall pick, I just haven't gotten the impression that he's ready to come in and make a pronounced difference right away. That impression was built upon with tonight's performance. You can see he's good - he goes to the right areas, is solid with the puck and chooses good skating lines. He is not, however, an electric player. I liked his assist as a quick and smart play to a well positioned teammate, and he made some good things happen. He wasn't the puck-retrieval machine I'd heard about though. I see good things coming from him of course, but was not blown away (as I expected not to).

Eberle
- Great little goal during an otherwise quiet night. When he gets room and a chance to make those moves he almost always finishes. I was quite surprised that he missed his two chances right by the side of the net; one in the second and one near the end of the game. He certainly didn't play badly (he almost never does), but he didn't jump right out and make himself noticed. I don't know if he and Smyth are appropriate linemates. Smyth needs a "get it to the net" kinda guy and Eberle isn't that; Eberle needs someone who can hit him in stride or find him in the open and Smyth isn't that. I guess we'll just have to see.

Hall
- I know he generated some offensive chances and went to important areas with speed, but I still wasn't all that impressed with his impact on the game tonight. His shots were off the mark again and he wasn't making that one last move that's required to score goals. He's also not making many passes thus far; and needs to do this in order to make a full impact. He was at his best on the PP in the second, but when we needed a game-changer, he wasn't there. It's preseason so I won't bug him too much, but some talented players eat preseason squads for breakfast and I kind of expect that out of Hall.

Gagner
- I've seen people musing that it looks like he's got an extra bit of speed this year and I can indeed confirm that Sam looked to be skating in a much more powerful and somewhat faster way out there tonight. It will be interesting to see what he's able to do with that added asset. He was staring at the puck rather than looking ahead a little too much, which is probably a rust thing. He did have a more confident manner about his game, so I'm optimistic that he'll show a jump forward to start the year. I hope for his sake he doesn't take his spot on the team for granted. I liked that he did a lot of talking to his teammates during the game, trying to explain the intricacies of the gameplan to some that might not have it just yet.

Pitlick
- Tyler again looked like a relatively skilled guy who knows what to do on the ice and acts like he deserves this opportunity. There aren't a lot of nerves or unfocused plays being made by him at this stage, which is impressive. He's certainly not ready, but tonight he showed that he's certainly part of the conversation as we move forward. He should develop into the kind of depth player that good teams either have, or trade for something valuable down the line.

Omark
- I heard a lot of people dogging him after this one; some even blaming him for the loss and I don't get that at all. Did he tear it up offensively? No. Did he make a bunch of mistakes and cause pucks to wind up in his own net? No. Linus doesn't have to be an offensive dynamo to be effective. He wasn't good or bad tonight, but he's not a liability when he plays a neutral game. People really need to get over that. It had more to do with flow and line chemistry anyway.

Paajarvi
- He used his speed to get to some open areas and get the puck, but wasn't really dangerous in the offensive zone. I've said before here that I don't think a mostly offensive game is Magnus' strength at this stage anyway, but tonight his game felt unfocused to me. He especially didn't seem to mesh well with Horcoff and it resulted in awkward turnovers where there wouldn't normally be any, and very few of the passes we usually see from the 23-91 and whoever combo.

Horcoff
- Individually I can't really fault Horcoff for much other than making one of the worst breakaway attempts I can recall (it wasn't a Scott Ferguson Special, but he did go completely the wrong direction and then PASS). He played an okay game and was pretty solid on the PK but didn't mesh well with his linemates and gave us a unit that simply wasn't all that dangerous. End the meddling and get him back with Smyth and Hemsky, or send him out with Hall and Eberle as before. Both of those were okay, this wasn't.

Hordichuk
- I truly hope he continues to do his job as he did tonight. He hit people and he fought; all while from a solid hockey position and being responsible with the puck. I had low expectations for him and he's beating them by miles. We'll see if he can stay focused and keep it up; especially if the team starts losing in the regular season.

House
- Meh. He was okay on special teams but I really didn't notice him at all 5-on-5.

Petrell
- This guy on the other hand, I quite like. If you're going to have a positionally strong, defensive minded forward, he'd better be solid with the puck and BIG. He's both. When you watch him closely, you can see how many different things he's able to read at once and it is impressive. He knew where to go and what to do faster than most, but with a defensive focus. If we'd picked up a defenceman of his ilk; he'd make the team (if I were Renney I'd try that by the way, but he won't). This will be an interesting guy to watch, as he gives yet another example of a guy who can contribute in multiple ways. I know he's older, but I hope we get some use from him in OKC and that he's one of the guys who shows well enough to be considered for callup.

Smid
- He was really a calming influence on Gilbert tonight and played a solid defensive game. He didn't do anything great but he certainly gave a different look that allowed his partner to play his game.

Gilbert
- A much more focused and mistake-free effort. The errant passes were gone. The standing still was gone. The lack of desire to drive the net and/or shoot the puck was gone. This was proper Tom Gilbert and certainly thought he was our best defender tonight. He didn't do anything crazy, but he played a solid game.

Peckham
- A very mixed bag from Theo tonight. He threw some lovely hits and had a solid scrap, but he was weaker with the puck than usual and struggled some with his positioning including on the Nolan goal. He's got to be disciplined in his skating and positioning in order to be effective.

Petry
- He was looking really good early and tailed off late. I was prepared to write a very strong positive review after two. He looks much more filled out this year and was making decisive puck moves, but that performance didn't continue for all three periods as it looked like he either got frustrated or unfocused and made some mistakes with the puck. Glad to see a mostly strong night, but he needs to finish things off.

Chorney
- Chorney doesn't have the physical gifts that a guy like Plante has. He must exploit the fact that he's good with the puck in both ends to be effective and improve to the level of NHL player. He isn't showing signs that this is occurring and hasn't improved his positioning or gotten much bigger either. It may seem rash, but I'd ship him out right now. I've actually been a fan of trading him for some time now, but I think his value is even lower these days.

Plante
- I'd cut him tomorrow. He was too bad with the puck, moved too slowly and was out of position too much. Is he ever going to realize the potential of his frame? I doubt it highly. He was required when we were very very thin on the blue in terms of prospects (even though he shouldn't have been drafted by us) but he just isn't now.

Dubnyk
- He was pretty solid and looked to be very in control tonight. He really couldn't do too much on the goal he allowed and other than that he did his job. Devan looked much more composed, ready and focused than Khabibulin did on Tuesday.

Danis
- The goal he allowed was an ugly rebound. He did this a couple more times and wasn't punished as severely. He also half-whiffed on several saves made on shots that weren't actually that dangerous. I was really hoping that he would surprise, but Bunz looked about 10x as good.

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I hope Saturday is much better than this one, which just wasn't very entertaining. Time to try some different combos as well.

9/20/11

LMHF Report - Preseason Game #1

EDMONTON 3

VS.

MINNESOTA 4
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Well, here we are again finally. Back to the rink we march as in every September. Last year I missed the preseason games on my honeymoon (though I actually caught one from the Honolulu Buffalo Wild Wings location, which was awesome), and this is one of my very favorite times of year to watch because there's just so much to learn about these new players we've got on our hands.

I didn't really do much/any hockey writing over the summer. It was a very busy time including a new house, a new car and whole lot of life, but it sure is good to be back in my seat again watching the team.

First things first: the price of popcorn went up (though I think the size is bigger), the hot dogs are still lacklustre (have been since '06, but their price is still the same), the program tonight was lacking and didn't include a full listing of all players on the ice, most everything else seems to be the same in price and not much has really changed in seems.

I thought our squad looked really really solid in the second, rusty in the first, and kind of disorganized in the third. It isn't anything to raise a stink about of course because it is just the preseason, but I would've liked to see a more consistent effort. There are a lot of guys trying to win jobs at various levels and they should really be giving it all they have. Some did, some did not.

Minnesota's roster really isn't that intriguing. They have some BIG guys on their team but not much else. They got some great breaks on behalf of the Oilers tonight but were otherwise quite pedestrian. Anyway, on to the good stuff:

KHABIBULIN
- UGH...he didn't look like he was ready to play at all. On the third goal he was down way too early, the second he let out an ugly rebound and the first wasn't great either. It is very sad that he is likely being handed the #1 G job AGAIN, because he bring his total focus so seldom that there' s no way for it to be worth the shot. I thought maybe we'd see a changed man...so much for that theory. It would've shown in some way.

BUNZ
- Looked really solid. He was in control of himself, very calm, made the saves he needed to make look really easy and was robbed of a clean slate by an unfortunate play from a guy who will be back in junior shortly. In addition to noticing that he does a great job of making himself very large in the net, he seems to play the puck fairly well and direct it to the corners when he has the chance. He really did seem to know exactly what he's doing. I think you have to give him a full game start...but I'm not running the show.

FEDUN
- Before he got hurt being run into the end boards, he was one of our best players tonight. He made several plays that were just excellent. There was a long multi-line pass, a nifty saucer to set up a breakaway, several defensive stops and a drag-then-shoot-between-the-man-and-the-stick play for an assist. I really wasn't expecting much and he blew me away. He was always moving his skates when he had the puck and used this asset well. The class of the defensive field this evening. I hope he's okay.

MARINCIN
- Before the third period, he had the problem of standing still or skating backwards when he got the puck. You can't make good plays from the positions he was putting himself in. I'm chalking it up mainly to nerves because he was certainly better in the third and used his skating to do more of the initial work. Was that a slap pass or just a slightly miffed shot that got him an assist? I had a hard time telling. I can certainly see the potential in his game, but he didn't show tonight that he's ready for the pros. Hopefully he relaxes quickly.

TULUPOV
- He showed a lot of talent tonight. Still very raw talent, but talent nonetheless. For a guy who was a little nervous, he still usually made the right play, only bobbling a couple. He took a couple nice runs at people but could've been more aggressive. I got the impression from watching him that the coaches told him to throttle it back a touch and focus on his positioning. He still needs some work there, but again, potential. This is a guy the Oilers should spend some time on. I disagree vehemently with Tencer and Stauffer (who both dismissed him in a tone that indicated they hadn't even watched him tonight) that he should be sent to OKC. Give him another game. Tell him to go out there and HIT. Once he calms down a bit, he's actually pretty good with the puck too.

MUSIL
- ROUGH night. He looked overmatched from the very first shift. Positioning was off, decisions were late and he got knocked around some. I was expecting at the very least for him to lay some hits but we did not see that. Having not seen him play before, I'll chalk this up to nerves for the time being, but I hope he's not THAT nervous about an exhibition game. The awkward attempt to play goal that screened Bunz and cost us the game was just the icing on the cake. Ouch.

BARKER
- Loves to pinch. A lot. He joins the rush and plays with a very free flowing style. When he's on it is great to watch and leads to some chances where he seems to be able to get an excellent shot off, but I can see it going wrong as well and he's not the type that can skate his way back into the play (think Pitkanen or Visnovsky). I see a lot of potential for him this year, but not playing with Gilbert. That pair really didn't work out, which led to a lot of confusion and several goals scored against us. Get him with a different type of defender and maybe we're in business. He certainly didn't allow himself to be pushed around, which was nice to see.

GILBERT
- He had a really rough first couple periods before he settled in. There were errant passes, giveaways and some running around. It wasn't pretty. I'm not sure whether to just chalk this up to a weak game from a vet in the preseason (which happens all the time) or to be worried here. I'd really hope he still doesn't have the confidence issues that are stifling him, but he may.

HORDICHUK
- I have to admit I don't really want to like Darcy Hordichuk. He was always a bit a goof on the Predators and the Canucks. He did his job tonight though: hit people, fought Kassian, got in on the forecheck and managed to play some decent positional hockey as well. I hope he sticks to that and making the Canucks' lives hell.

ABNEY
- He's just not a very good hockey player. He's big and he skates okay, but he can't see open men to make passes to, doesn't land the HUGE hit and isn't strong positionally. Maybe I'm comparing him to his draft position too much, but I just don't see him as worth a contract. I did like that he went right after the guy that hit Fedun and I hope he continues to improve.

PITLICK
- I'm really not sure why he seemed to get so little icetime. Perhaps they just didn't have a line for him? I liked what I saw after about the first two shifts (nerves), because he gets in on the forecheck, accelerates past the line of defenders to enter the zone, and seems to know where to go positionally. He certainly looks to be a talented guy and I'd like to see him play again but would understand if they sent him down purely because of how many players they've got.

HOUSE & KELLER
- I group these two together because honestly we know what we're getting: two AHL forwards. They played okay and had some almost moments including some nice stickhandling, but you just don't see any evidence of the higher gear that our other prospects have.

PAAJARVI
- It took him almost a period to get going. He missed a bunch of pucks and wasn't really moving that fast in the third. He was much better at driving the play up the wings come the second and third. If someone can teach him to turn the corner on the defender and turn some of those rushes into goals or tap-ins for Omark, we're in the money. Still don't see the value of him on the PP because he just isn't that great with the puck. I would also love to see him on the PK and was pleased he got a bit of time there tonight. They should be training him there.

OMARK
- Aside from his penalties (one was lame, the other very confusing as to what he was trying to do) he played a pretty solid game. As usual, he owned the boards like only he can, fighting off one or two Wild as the need arose. He also made several of his trademark no-look passes and had a high percentage work out. His high level of skill is what creates the opportunity for players like Paajarvi and Lander on a line that really looked like it knew the plan tonight. I just hope Linus stays focused and motivated, but believe he will because he seems to want to win more than most.

LANDER
- He's going to be a dream for people that love simple hockey. He's in the right positions right now, he makes simple passes and when in doubt he puts the puck on the net (but not in the chest). All the fundamentals are there. They're complimented with a nice sprinkling of skill and some ability to keep up with dynamic players. There's every chance he's a regular by year's end, and depending on how things go with Mr. Hopkins, I could see his development driving Gagner away for a defenceman. Really looking forward to watching more of his game. Think Jarret Stoll but with more initial skill and better positioning.

JONES
- He was bad tonight. For a guy who by all rights should be fighting for a job to spend his evening losing pucks and making bad passes is rather weak. I don't like the way the organization seems to be positioning him as a guy who has "nothing to worry about" either. You really get that impression from the promos and such. He needs to focus and play simple hockey, rather than thinking he's a lock and trying to crack the top six. Don't get me wrong, I like the personality and approach he brings to the game, but he needs to bare down.

TYRVAINEN
- I liked the way this guy played a lot actually. He was as advertised; gritty and unafraid but with some skill to go along side. Seems like a decent enough skater and didn't have the jitters of the other players on the ice with his level of NHL experience. This could be a guy who sees a callup at some point this year. Perhaps the path to Stanley includes a boatload of Swedes and Finns?

BELANGER
- I know he won faceoffs, but aside from that it looked like a typical "rusty veteran" sort of game to me. That's fine, I just wanted to see what he could do right off the hop. I think he has the chance to make a pretty big difference to this team and nothing tonight convinced me otherwise, but to be honest I was expecting a little bit more.

HALL
- I'm not worried about Hall so I didn't really watch him away from the puck or when he wasn't getting offensive chances. He showed his outside speed is fine and seemed to be cornering as well as every, so the ankle looks good. He also got the faces of a couple opponents which is good to see. I didn't like the shots he took very much though; all low and all right at the goalie. He probably should've popped at least one tonight.
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Well, I hope that's helpful for those of you who didn't get to see the game in Edmonton tonight. I hope there aren't many split squad games because I'm sure they just lead to mass confusion on the blogs and boards. Looking forward to another great year and HOPEFULLY devoting some more energy to this blog.

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