New Kid(s) In Town
New addition Petr Sykora's 5-on-3 PP goal at 17:49 of the first period heldup as the winner in a 3-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames.
The flow of the game was marred by a steady flow to the penalty box, 17 PP's awarded combined with the Flames taking the edge nine to eight, and the Oilers newly minted special teams unit won that battle and subsequently the game.
That's the new NHL and the Oilers may be in lockstep with how to play it.
The Oilers seemingly take no ultimate solace in the fact they were one winaway from the '06 Stanley Cup. They'll say it helped them realize their own potential and understand the sacrifices necessary to make a long run in the spring, hopefully they'll also eventually pay sufficent homage to luck, but they don't carry the 15 wins on their respective lapels. More proof to that was the fact they raised their Conference Champions banner with their players still in the dressing room.
After a slow and scrambly early start highlighted by Smith paying tribute to Igor Ulanov by firing a puck up the middle the Oilers settled down and began to flash the skill which trickles down throughout their forward corps. After an iffy call that resulted in Iginla being awarded a penalty shot, did you hear he's lost 12 pounds off his old fat frame, the Oilers clicked just 30seconds after Roloson followed Jarome across the crease to keep the game scoreless.
Hemsky whistled down the left wing and past Mark Giordano, the newest member of The League's Greatest Defense Ever TM, and Kipper was a fish out of water when Sykora drilled the rebound into an empty net. Iginla put his team down two men a little while later and the Oilers unveiled their new five forward PP unit and Sykora notched his second of the period off a slapper from the left side.
It was 2-0 Oilers and we were all waiting for this new Flames offense to kick in.
Sadly it was not to be and here's a hint why the Flames really don't or can't score a lot of goals. He might have saw just 2:17 on the PP but if you're a Flames fan do you EVER want to see Marcus Nilson on your PP? I enjoyed it though and I hope it becomes a trend.
The second period really became bogged down with all the penalties and at the very least it gave us a chance to see what MacT will do with his PK unit. The first five guys will be Moreau-Pisani-Smyth-Horcoff and then Reasoner chiming in as the 6th guy. I expected to see Thoresen see a little time on that unit and I'd imagine he will if one of those guys happens to be serving an infraction.
The Oilers made it 3-0 midway through the third when Tarnqvist sniped off a beautiful rush from Hemsky and Iginla closed out the scoring a little under four mintues later.
Edmonton's been taking it rough in the last two BOA's and if they're about to push for a divisional crown then they have to win no less than five of these eight matches. Thursday night was a good start and if all these penalties continue to be called then I like the Oilers chances of makingsome big waves early in this campaign.
- It could've been a lot worst for the Flames. Kipper made three huge saves on Torres alone. Hemsky was Jagr-esque on some shifts. Minus 68's strength mind you but he did have some stretches where you couldn't take the puck off his stick. It's hard to imagine that Sykora-Torres won't have at least 50 goals combined if this line stays together and if Hemsky was a lock for 30 goals I'd put him in the top 10 scoring at year's end. He looked faster on this evening and even more confident and the kid has never lacked confidence when it comes to playmaking.
- By my eye it looked like the Stoll line played the Iginla line as much as the Horcoff unit did. I thought MacT would use the last change to go power versus power but maybe he didn't want the other coach to dictate his forwards icetime or maybe he's just confident enough in the depth of his charges.
- I think MacT showed all his cards in terms of his PP plan. Early on with the game scoreless he had Bergeron on the PP point but once the Oilers had the lead he went for the throat with the five forwards and I think that will always be the plan with a two man advantage unless it's late in the 3rd and the Oilers are winning. The only time he went with two dmen on the point was with the Oilers leading midway through the final frame. I've mentioned lately that I expect this PP to be Detroit good and the first game did nothing to sway me from this point.
- Where does Lupul fit in? That should be one of the most interesting sidebars of the season. Some are wondering if the Oilers have too many offensive players but I don't think there's any such thing. With Hemsky-Pisani already in house on the right wing and Mikhnov and Schremp in the pipe it might not be a bad idea though to eventually float Lupul for ayoung dman who could be both affordable and effective for say the next three seasons.
- You may have to trade more than just a prospect for another dman because Ladislav Smid doesn't look to be ready. It's also a damning statement towards the abilities of 7th rearguard Jan Hejda that he couldn't draw in over the former Anaheim prospect.
By The Numbers:
Tjarnqvist - 25:37 TOI and a team leading and whopping 10:45 on the PK.
Lupul - 14:37 TOI and a "did he really play that much" 5:57 on the PP
Stoll - 19:33 TOI and a paltry 6:58 at ES which was the third lowest total amongst all Oilers forwards. Only trailing Stoll were Thoresen, 6:17, and...
Winchester - :32 TOI. Maybe it is better than Pouliot started the season in the AHL. Thoresen looked quite capable as an 11th forward and the 12th spot looks to be less than important.