Saturday, September 29, 2007

Calgary Flames vs Vancouver Canucks Pre Season Report

I caught the Flames in their final pre-season tilt last night at the Dome, and let me tell you; you thought 8 pre-season games is a lot? Wait till you catch this team in 82 regular season games, now THAT will seem long.

To be fair, Curtis Sanford played fantastic from the beginning. The Vancouver Canucks backup goaltender played a great game positionally, read the rebounds well (and in fact often cleared them himself). He had zero chance on the goal that Iginla tipped, and played a virtually perfect game besides the Wayne Primeau shot that he mishandled in the first.

The same cannot be said for Miikka Kipprusoff. He wasn't challenged very often and he didn't look sharp when he was. It's still preseason though and my personal theory is that Kipprusoff doesn't care even slightly about preseason. At least that's what I'm hoping.

The Flames iced what is essentially their opening night roster (minus Lombardi and Mark Smith) and I must say, looked good for most of the game. They legitimately carried the play for the first two periods, significantly outshooting and outchancing the Canucks, most of whom wore namebars that were completely unrecognizable. (Naslund, Morrison, Salo, Ohlund, Sedin, Luongo were all absent from the contest.) The Flames took the lead when Primeau took a harmless shot from the outside circle hashmarks which somehow slipped through Sanford on the short side (I actually felt bad for Sanford because his play was the only thing keeping the Canucks in the game at that point).

The first defensive breakdown of the evening came out of a bad offensive zone pass intercepted by Brad Isbister who inexplicably blew past Dion Phaneuf and put a bad angle softie (from my perspective) past Kipprusoff.

The Flames were outshooting the Canucks (34-20 or so) and outplaying them significantly going into the third, but whenever a team is outplayed that bad yet still in the game it's a bad sign.

In the third the Flames were unable to capitalize on a couple of PPs (Huselius with a double minor high stick on one, Tanguay with a lazy hook on another) while the Canucks put one past Kipper for the win.

Andrew Peters was the only Flames rookie in the lineup, not a huge impact, one fight (loss). Owen Nolan got hurt instantaneously, missed most of the game.

One way or another, this is going to be a highly entertaining season. Let's start the insanity.

Sounds like Cogliano has rightly made the Oilers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Jarret Stoll - "Stolly"

A heart and soul guy, Stoll was a former Captain Canada in the World Junior Championship. Has matured from a 4th line utility player into a versatile two way player with a wide range of talents. Is an excellent PKer, faceoff man and has an excellent one timer from the point. Plays with good energy and has a decent amount of physicality. Could improve on his speed, and scoring consistency. Given the right linemates Stoll might be a 30 goal man.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers - Preseason Scouting Report

I got a chance to take in the pre-season Battle of Alberta at the Dome last night so I took the opportunity to take some notes on the new names and faces (or more accurately, numbers) to see if I could predict this season's booms and busts.

I took most note of the freshman Oilers for two reasons; firstly it's pretty hard to observe the cause and effect of actions from two different perspectives simultaneously, and secondly, there is simply more drama from the Edmonton perspective. There is maybe space for one rookie roster spot on the Flames roster (does anyone else have a feeling it's going to go to Sutter now that Prust is MIA?) while the Oiler's roster is littered with holes.

Anyway, here are my quick notes along with some general thoughts (along with some thoughts about the vets).

Note that I missed 3/4 of the 1st period due to the awesome traffic situation around the dome.


1st Period

Pouliot - sometimes you put the puck on net and it goes in, good shot decision and we finally see a spark from Pouliot.

Stoll - nice PK effort near the end of the first, Stoll looks quick

Horcoff - same as Stoll

2nd Period

Brodziak - nice looking forecheck on Regehr, and then a nice finish with the bodycheck, Brodziak's speed has improved significantly

Nilsson -nice read on the play and and a nice pass into the slot 15:30

Moreau - great physicality in the defensive zone, and then a great play read 12:30

Cory Sarich - Terrible defensive read and then takes a penalty

Staios - absolutely sick pass to Cogliano

Cogliano - terrific speed and second effort leads to a great goal 12:02

Schremp - terrible shot decision 3:04 2nd

Anders Eriksson- massive giveaway to Nilsson gives Horcoff a SHG, good finish by Horcoff -2:30

Souray - massive giveaway 2:05

3rd Period

Pouliot - bad defensive read 11:40

Nilsson - bad dump in on PP 11:00

Schremp - miss on keep in, poor puck retrival, then bad pass


Greene - misread defensive play leads to Flames PP

Stoll - continues great PK play

Dion Phaneuf - in front of net on PP

Cogliano - right place right time, nice finish


Overall I felt Robert Nilsson played a very smart hockey game, he read plays well and made the most of his chances. Cogliano bounced back nicely from a goat like first period to show that he in fact can put the puck in the net (even though I thought Kipper and Roloson both looked shakey all game). His speed his still very much apparent in the NHL and seems like he could use limited ice time in an effective fashion. Schremp did not impress me at all, despite MacT describing Schremp's game as his best so far. I didn't think he made decisions particularily well and he didn't look confident with the puck. Brodziak looked very good and although he didn't do anything spectacular he read the play well and used his speed effectively. The vets looked very on top of their game, and Stoll and Horcoff in particular both dominated the PK.

If I were to guess at the best of the group I would say Nilsson on this occasion, but it was pretty close, especially considering Cogliano got a couple goals.

On Calgary's side I think the top line looked good (Iginla, Tanguay, Langkow) with the rest of the team, especially the defence, lagging behind. Sarich looked slow and confused, Eriksson had a massive giveaway and Regehr and Aucoin got dominated by Andrew Cogliano.

Tonight lead me to two possible conclusions; either Edmonton is going to be better than most think, or Calgary is going to be much worse...

I guess I should relax, it's only the preseason.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Ethan Moreau

A top notch athlete in terms of strength and conditioning. Moreau has a win at all costs attitude and is very well respected in the dressing room, considered by many to be the future captain of the Oilers. My only issue with Moreau being named captain is that it's hard to lead when you spend only 15 minutes a night (tops) on the ice, regardless, Moreau does not need a 'C' on his shoulder to be a leader. Has tremendous speed and is an excellent forechecker. Is very willing to fight. Has almost zero closing ability which is exemplified by his offensive numbers, but god knows he gets plenty of chances.

Update: October 2, 2007 - Ethan Moreau named head captain of the Edmonton Oilers

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shawn Horcoff - "Horc"

Horcoff has had a consitently good career away from the puck (save a few early parts of last year) but has been on and off in terms of his ability to produce offensively. Has great speed and good decision making skills offensively, but is not what I would call a natural scorer. Has the ability to play a lot of effective minutes in many situations (on of the Oiler's best penalty killers if not the best) but is utilized primarily in 5-5 and penalty kill situations. Had very good chemistry with Hemsky and Ryan Smyth, played a complementary cautionary role to Hemsky's daring. Could be more physical but tends to bring out physicality when pushed against a wall.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ales Hemsky - "Hemmers"

The most talented Oiler, probably by a longshot. A deceptively fast skater, Hemsky has the ability to go around or through opposition defenders. Hemsky has a frustrating tendency to hold onto the puck for too long and give up multiple glorious opportunities to shoot choosing instead to pass the puck. Actually has a very good shot. Can sometimes be caught floating, his defensive positioning is improving but still has a ways to go. Is not physical at all and has had some injury problems in the past. There is a rumour that Hemsky was requested as a member of Team Czech Republic for the Olympics by Jaromir Jagr.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Steve Staios

A heart and sole hockey player who continues to age like a fine wine. Staios has excellent positioning and is always physical. Is not a quick/fast player and is not offensively gifted. He’s a guy 29 NHL teams wish they had in some capacity or another. Probably not a top pairing guy but could excel in a shutdown role. Used to play forward for the Atlanta Thrashers but has been named Oilers’ Unsung Hero multiple times. Will be heavily counted upon in the upcoming season. I believe he will be named team captain, but at the very least he will be an assistant.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Mucky Situation

In what many saw as a suprising move, John Muckler was fired just a few days after the Senators were defeated. It was later leaked that the firing had something to do with not aquiring Gary Roberts at the trade deadline, but that's not exactly the whole story.

Apparently, Muckler had been instructed by Melnyk (whom he already had a strained relationship with) to aquire Gary Roberts almost regardless of the cost, and in fact, a 1st rounder had been suggested as the offer. Muckler however decided that he could pry Roberts away from Florida for less, and so he haggled with Martin in Florida deep into trade deadline day evening. This part of the story I'm not 100% but I think both parties sort of thought they were close or had a deal in principle. Muckler went home.

The next morning Muckler doesn't show up to his office. They phone him and phone him at home but no response. The Sens send someone over to his house and it turns out he overslept. Meanwhile Florida trades Roberts to the Penguins.

Well Melnyk was furious. He fired Muckler on the spot, and Muckler would have been gone that day, were it not for the pleadings of Bryan Murray and Daniel Alfredsson that the firing would be a massive team distraction heading into the playoffs. And so it wasn't until the playoffs ended that Muckler's firing was announced.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sheldon Souray

Appropriately labled a 'chaos defender' by Lowetide. Is often as likely to cause a goal against as a goal for. Has given up a couple of unsightly highlight reel one on one situations, although cut down on that 'issue' in the most recent season. Has an absolute boomer from the point and a real mean streak. Is a physical presence. Appears to be well respected by players. Is absolutely not as good a player as Ryan Smyth depsite his pay scale.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I'll preface this by saying, yes I've stooped this low, and I apologize in advance. I'm not entirely sure I believe this one myself, but I know the person who told me is a good source and he has no reason to lie about it unless he was lied to, and he was told this by someone extremely close to Miikka Kipprusoff himself.

Apparently Kipper is very unhappy with the money he is making, and the actual dollar value his contract holds is not what the public has been lead to believe. I don't know the details and it could be some sort of bargaining tool in contract negotiations by the Kipper camp but it sounds like the negotiations are going to be nothing like the Jarome Iginla/Robyn Regehr wham-bam deal done negotiations.

The other rumour is regarding a former Coyote and man who used to play under Keenan in Vancouver joining the Flames as an FA. I know there were talks between the two camps but I wouldn't say it's a strong possibility given our roster depth.

Anyway, yours to consider.

Ladislav Smid

A smooth skating puck handling defenceman. Tends to make pretty good 1st passes. Reads the play pretty well defensively. Biggest crime last year was being thrust into a key role as a 1st year defenceman, but I believe he has good fundamentals. Can hold onto the puck for too long and isn’t very physical. Hasn’t shown the offensive upside a player of his skill set perhaps could have.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Matt Greene

Was affectionately known as ‘Mini Gator’ by his teammates and for good reason. Plays a hard nose style of hockey and makes straightforward plays. Very little creativity in Greene’s game. Not a good first passer. Can pass up the smart play for a hit. Tends to be a bit slow on his feet.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Dwayne Roloson - "Roli"

Mr. MVP for the Oilers in 2007-2008 (except for Ryan Smyth). Is not particularly athletic but tends to read plays well and is good positionally. Not naturally skilled but works hard to stay on top of his game. Is known as a leader in the dressing room. Is extremely firey and tends to lose his temper very easily. Is just as likely to take a penalty as to draw one, and is starting to be known as a diver. Has a little trick where if the puck is dumped in towards him he can pick it up and literally bat it back out of the zone. Had an inconsistent effort in the World Championships in 2007 sharing duties with Cam Ward.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Alex Tanguay - "Tangs"

One of the few Flames to have already won a Stanley Cup. Tanguay is ultra talented but sometimes a bit inconsistent, and I personally feel he sometimes spends a lot of time and energy skating around and not accomplishing a whole lot. Can make opposing defenders look downright stupid. Has been at or abover 1PPG his last three NHL seasons.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Owen Nolan

Was a superstar in his own right only a few years ago, until knee injuries (and allegedly arthritis) hampered his play. Also adding to his problem was his long (approximately 2 year) layoff. A source close to Nolan told me he thought Nolan would have a much better year and that there were some personal issues (some of which have already been mentioned in the press) as well as layoff effects that affected his play, but that all those problems are now gone.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

David Moss

Got his ‘cup of coffee’ in the NHL last season and showed some real potential. Uses his body effectively and plays bigger than his size. Has a pretty good nose for the net, scoring 10 goals in 41 games. Has to show consistency and will have to fight for a 2nd line roster spot this year. This picture is a great example of the way Moss plays – down and dirty.

Pisani out indefinetely

I think God must hate the Oilers, or maybe just the city of Edmonton.

EDMONTON (CP) - Edmonton forward Fernando Pisani will be out of the Oilers lineup indefinitely after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, the club announced Tuesday.

Ulcerative colitis is type of inflammatory bowel disorder.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me through this difficult time, especially my wife and family," said Pisani, who is currently undergoing treatment. "I appreciate all the wonderful words of encouragement I have received, including messages from my teammates. I look forward to returning to the Oilers."

"We are very concerned about Fernando's medical condition and we wish him nothing but a full and healthy recovery," said Oilers General Manager Kevin Lowe in a statement.

Pisani, 30, had 14 goals, 14 assist in 77 games with Edmonton last season. After scoring 14 goals in the 2006 playoffs, Pisani was rewarded with a four-year, US$10-million contract in the off-season. (source)