Thursday, September 21, 2006

Flames Oilers Preseason Matchup - Flames 3, Oilers 4, OT

As with all preseason games, this one was a total mess. 3 shorthanded goals scored throughout the night, including the OT winner by Horcoff. The Flames, rest assured, look no prettier than last year, with a transition game being non existant. Of course this is preseason so hopefully that problem is due purely to the team being half scrubs. Taratukhin and Nystrom played, both were invisible except for the penalty assessed to Taratukhin for hooking. Despite the fan reaction, it was a good call. Boyd was dangerous all night netting an assist on Calgary's third goal, but Lombardi was Calgary's best player, getting two goals and using his speed to his advantage. He looks faster this year, but I can't tell whether its because hes against AHLers or simply because he IS faster. Hopefully its the latter. Brent Krahn also played well again, and I think its now obvious theres no reason to hold him back due to his skill level. He's certainly qualified to be a back up at this point. I still put my money on Prust to be the team's 13th forward. He looked feisty all night, he looked fast, and he looked purposeful. He does play a bit of a redundant role on the team, but the Flames don't seem to be concerned with that sort of thing, judging by the rest of the team makeup.

Unfortunately there were a few key Oiler rookies missing, so I wasn't able to check out Mikhnov, Syvret or Peterson. I was able however to see Pouliot, who looked fast and got a goal, Schremp, who gave an underwhelming performance, and Smid, who actually looked really solid. Smid was confident with the puck, was definately up to the speed, and made some solid with the puck decisions. He made one major defensive identification error in the third which was almost converted into a goal by Lombardi, but judging by the Oiler's defensive roster, he will almost certainly make the team. Markkanen looked soft in the first period (although none of the goals were his fault) but really came on in the 2nd and 3rd. Horcoff, Pisani and Stoll all stood out as having good performances, as did Bergeron and Staois. Tjarnqvist looked terrible, got beat several times and was often forced to take penalties (2 hooking, 1 holding). Patrick Thoresen made a beautiful pass from behind the net to a wide open Pouliot in the slot on the Oiler's 1st goal.

I would say there are 10 Oilers with a garunteed roster spot, leaving 2-3 spots left open for rookies. I would say the Oilers are looking for a RW and a C, and the guys fighting for those spots include:

Brad Winchester - LW - skating is still an issue with Winchester, although he uses his size well and seems to find open spots. Obviously has a good chance of making the team now that Laraque is gone.

Alexei Mikhnov - LW - all I know about him is what I've seen on highlight packages. Seems to like to shoot it, and is very big.

Jean Francois Jacques - LW - looked feisty, fast, and has a bit of a touch.

Rob Shremp - C - Obviously talented with the puck, but has been plagued by questions of work ethic, dedication, and sportsmanship. But with the way he's been hyped up, I'd be suprised if he didnt get at least SOME time with the team.

Toby Peterson - C - Was called up last year during the playoffs while many of the Oiler's A squad were stricken with the flu. Provided energy, grit, and a goal in his two games. Peterson is a total longshot to make it due to his age, but he's my darkhorse favorite, and it may be an advantage to be the lesser skilled guy among the centre group as its a 4th line position.

Marc-Antoine Pouliot - C- Sydney Crosby's former linemate in Jr. but is a talented guy in his own right. Looked very fast and determined in the game tonight. Plays bigger than his listed 6'1.

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