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Monday, September 19, 2011

"Let the Games begin"

Ladies and Gentleman, Boy's and Girls, get ready for
Oil Country to go Crazy mad hockey on you!

With the Joey Moss Cup now behind us for 2011, the season is about to start. The Oiler's first two pre-season games take place tuesday night September 20th/11 with split squad games. One at home and one game away. It's showtime! While the team's opening roster has not been fully decided yet, the action begins and this will be the first competition of the season for the Edmonton Oilers Veteran's and Rookies. This is where, the rubber meets the road. It's where boys become men, or they go home. There is nothing like the fresh smell of sweet Oiler hockey to get the juices flowing.

Got the chance to get out to the Joey Moss Cup and see some of the players for myself tonight. Was a enjoyable game to sit back and see some hockey once again. Hitting was limited, but it gave you a early indicator of where fitness wise, skill wise and game ready the team as a whole is right now. Some players will soon be sent back to jr hockey, some will maybe just be let go, others will be assigned to the Stockton Thunder and others to the OKC Barons. The remainder will get ready for the regular season. In the meantime some players are going to show the coach's and management exactly what they got. As much as the game was a early sign of some of the skill sets the players possess, it also is too early to read too much into what was seen. A game against another team is what the dr is ordering if your looking to really see where this team is compared to last year.

I am sure if your reading this post (many hours following the game Sunday afternoon) you have already saw highlights on the net, on tv or read the many articles that have already hit cyberspace. Interesting thing about watching player's and then giving your evaluation? You can sometimes hear two different opinion's yet they saw the same game. It's all perspective sometimes, other times it can be difficult to follow so many players at the same time, so you may have only caught a glance of the play that actually occurred. Some players I was unable to cover as I just couldn't possibly get enough notes down to cover everyone.

Some of my take home thoughts on what I saw today in the Joey Moss Cup
'blue/white scrimmage'

Linus Omark
needed some time to get his legs under him. Was not that noticeable until near the end of the first. Worked hard on the back check which was an important area he was needing to improve on in defensive zone coverage. On a couple occasions played some with Nugent-Hopkins in a give and go, but otherwise a quiet night. Renny sound pleased in his post game interview with Omark.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
I would actually say that I felt Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked to have the best game of the group if not for a 3rd period giveaway that almost resulted in a goal. Otherwise he looked good in the faceoff circle (I estimated he was 5 for 8 in the dot) as well did a superb job on the PK on a couple occasions. Late in the third with team white pressing RNH took on Hall one on one and held him at bay. If anything, he is looking good at his defensive zone coverage. This was an area he did well at already, but few have given him credit for. He made a few nice offensive plays, however he didn't seem to find much chemistry with the two swedes. He displayed his brilliance and skill at puck retrieval on the forecheck today which had some "ahhs" from the crowd. Definitely is good at slowing the play down. Interested to see how he does tuesday night when the speed picks up more, the checks start coming and he really starts competing for the centre spot.

Magnus Paajarvi
Played a great game and as usual, was reliable defensively and strong on the forecheck. Makes the game look quite smooth and seems to be ready to go for the year. Hopefully he carries right on from where he left off last year.

Tyler Pitlick
Great game as he continues to start really ramping up things. Has seem to really get his feet under him and played very well in the centre spot today. Looked to win more faceoffs then he lost and definitely will be trying to make it hard to play him.

Ryan Keller
showed some good foot speed early on. Can tell he has played the game awhile as he seems to find the holes needed to get into for scoring opportunities. Looks tough to play. Should be a excellent replacement in OKC this year. A player to get excited about if your a Barons fan.

Antti Tyrvainen
This guy doesn't seem to know the meaning of 'Quit'. Tough on the puck, skates hard, tries to find the open lanes but will battle hard in the corners. Was hilarious at the end of the game where O'Marra had an open net to shoot into, except Anttti furiously slapped his stick on the ice to give him the puck for the empty netter. Basically stole OMara's goal. I can see the two working as a fourth line in OKC this year.

Gilbert Brule
wow, is all I can say. How can Los Angeles actually say he was not fit to play and void that trade? If I was them, I would be kicking myself for turning away on that deal. I know, there are other reasons that probably came into play, but it was a mistake in my opinion. Brule was flying today. He was good on the forecheck, on the backcheck, shooting from all angles and digging hard in the corners. You can tell, he is not giving up his spot without a fight. From what I saw tonight? If Brule stays healthy, he will be playing opening night (I know, it's only a scrimmage game)

Lennert Petrell
Deceptive quickness out there on the ice. Was very noticeable early on in the game but looked to fatigue some as the game wore on. Not really agile on his edges, but definitely likes to get in on the forecheck. Not sure he will have much of a chance to play in Edmonton, but definitely will get some good opportunities to get noticed in OKC.

Cam Barker
From my eye, made one big give away in the offensive zone early but was probably one of the better defenders in the game though. Very smooth skater and excellent puck mover. Was able to get the puck up to the forwards with ease. This is his year to impress, so let's all cross our fingers he lives up to his draft and early career hype once again.

Taylor Chorney
Taylor looks to be still getting his skating legs under him. Made a few errors throughout the game and mostly in the defensive zone. Have a hard time seeing him supplant Petry in the opening night roster.

Kirill Tulupov
Really like his game. Works hard in the corners but today's scrimmage makes it hard to show his tight checking game. Nailed Eager in the corner with a good check at one point. Eager had a few words with him following, but with being on a PTO , I am sure he is more worried about impressing. Could be a player who pushes hard from OKC this year if he is able to get in and be signed to a contract.

 - Taylor Fedun
Along with Barker, Fedun really showed well. His poise with the puck and ability to think the game with maturity was a delight to see. I like his game. Looks to be a excellent prospect. Another great find for the Barons this year.

Alex Plante
Great big wingspan that covers alot of the ice. he did well positionally when I was following his play but his foot speed still does not seem up to what he is going to need to be at, to be successful in the NHL.

Olivier Roy
Played the second half of the game. Let in a top glove hand shot, but held strong the rest of the game. Very stable and confident in the crease as he was able to keep his focus and not get lost in all the excitement. This is an area, that Olivier has struggled so this was a good sign to see today. Pretty sure he will be playing with the Stockton Thunder this season but I think he very well may be ready for back up duty in the AHL. Many people are talking about him falling on the prospects list for goalies, but I wouldn't count him out. He has a lot of fight in him and looks to have matured quite a bit over this last year.

David LeNeveu
Had one questionable goal scored on him but played fairly good. Seems to be really good with his leg work, with kick saves and all. Looks to maybe be a goalie that can cough up a few too many rebounds possibly.

Taylor Hall
Had his legs on him today as he was flying. Could tell he was still trying to get his timing down on the plays. I'd be interested to hear what he has to say about being chased down on the PP late in the game by Nugent-Hopkins. Eventually he lost the puck to him but was a good battle. Hall is the type of player who builds momentum. The further along we go, the more people like what they see in Hall's game.

Anton Lander
Lander seemed a little lost out there with Hall and Eberle. It's not that he did anything terribly wrong, but was caught a few times out of position chasing the puck. I am sure it's a big adjustment coming to a new country and starting to settle in some and get used to new systems. Again , as I mentioned before, I know it's early, but I see Lander taking some time in OKC to hone his game some. He is a quick learner, so if that happens, I expect him to exceed expectations.

Jordan Eberle
What a player. Thinks the game real well. Was really snake bitten Sunday afternoon though. Had several chances that he couldn't quite bury. The hands will come, it's still real early. Still hoping to see Eberle play with RNH. I really think they would feed well off each other well.

Ryan Smyth
The guy doesn't seem to age. He plays the game the way he has been taught. He knows where to go, how long to stay, when to let off the forecheck, when to get on the forecheck. Tough in the corners and on the puck and can still get to the puck well. His speed doesn't look any worse for wear either.

Eric Belanger
Belanger looks like he likes it here. Reminds me lots of Jason Strudwick in his demeanor. Nice guy, and very confident with the puck. Set up the nice goal with Hartikanen. I like those two together, they would have some chemistry it looks like.

Teemu Hartikainen
Scored a sweet goal on a nice feed pass from Belanger. Teemu seems to have taken over where he finished off at the end of last year. He was quite noticeable out on the ice most his shifts and for good reasons. Hartikanen is going to really be pushing for a spot on the NHL club. Should he not be able to break the loaded forward line-up, the Barons will be more then happy, to get whatever time they can with him in OKC.

Ben Eager
man, this guy can skate. many times bigger guys don't look quick on the ice but still do well in getting from point A to point B, but Eager looks quick. Looks like a pretty big boy flying out there, and has some decent puck skills to boot. Looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table each night.

Chris VandeVelde
Chris had a lacklustre game to me. I like him a lot but he did himself no favours in securing a centre spot on the Oilers with this audition. Barely noticed, except when losing face-offs. Hopefully since he starts slow but comes on later, all guns will be firing as each practice and game continues.

Tanner House
Tanner played a decent game. Did not notice any mistakes in his game and seemed to execute the plays well. Is very confident with the puck and really likes to control the play. Scored a beauty goal with a nice top glove hand shot. I see Tanner doing quite well in OKC this year. The Barons are going to have some nice talent in their line up with skill like Tanner offers.

Ryan Martindale
Played his time on the wing Sunday afternoon. Great big body presence he brings. Here is hoping he doesn't go back to jr but right to OKC to get started on his pro development. At this stage , I see no need to send him back. he needs to development at a pro level with pro coach's.

Jeff Petry
I know many have called for Petry to be sent down to OKC instead of someone else because he has waiver eligibility. I can't see this happening. Petry has started strong and looks to only continue. I know it's the first scrimmage but he looks miles ahead of some others in his development at this point.

- Yann Danis
Let in a couple in a a half games work. Can tell he is a smart goaltender who has learnt to play a more simple game. Good positionally and had good lateral movement.

All in all, a good fun time was had at the Joey Moss Cup. Next up? First pre-season games Tuesday evening. With the good young talent we have been drafting, the veteran presence that is being brought in and the growing stable already in place, 2011/2012 is looking to be a year of forward progress. So if your ready...."Let the games begin!"

2011/2012 Season Preview

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