The Oilers opened up the preseason with two games vs. the Flames; a  3-2 win in Calgary and a 6-5 shootout loss in Edmonton.

I don’t put much stock into preseason scores, and I believe that the first few games of the preseason give us a better view of who can’t play more than who can.

Here is what I noticed while watching the game live in Edmonton…


  • Hall scored 24 seconds into the game (the replay showed it wasn’t in), but moving to centre means Hall will more often be the trailer into the offensive zone than the puck carrier, and that likely means he’ll get more shots off the rush. He’s got a great shot, and that could be one of the benefits of him playing centre.
  • Omark, Yakupov and J.Schultz looked good on the PP. Schultz missed a wide open net, but they moved the puck around nicely. Of course they did it against a less-than-NHL-lineup, but their skill and offensive instincts were noticeable.
  • Omark is a decent skater, but he glides too often when he enters the zone. He’ll need to keep moving his feet to be a threat on the rush.
  • Flames scored on their first shot, as Ben Street came off the right hash marks and beat a screened Dubnyk. It was very noticeable how much shorter Dubnyk’s pads are. It will take all goalies some time to get used to the shorter pads, and you did notice a bigger hole in his "five hole." He didn’t get beat there, but the gap was obvious.
  • Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Andrew Ference wore an "A". Doubt it means much, because I don’t see 83 and 94 having letters this year, but I thought those wondering who will get the "C" might be interested.
  • Smyth scored on the PP, just outside the crease…Surprise, surprise. Grebeshkov made a great pass to Smyth, who slid a backhand home. I wonder if Smyth will get a bit of PP time this year to replace Horcoff who took draws and was usually slotted in front of the goalie on the man advantage last year.
  • Darnell Nurse will be a good player in a few years. He’s got good hockey sense and he looked very good playing with Ference.
  • It is weird seeing a forward wearing #6 like Jesse Joensuu. Every time I saw him, I thought of Jeff Beukeboom. Joensuu had good skill for a big man, and he’s good at protecting the puck.
  • The first period was scrambly, as expected for the first preseason game, so it was hard to gauge the "Swarm" defence. I did notice they had two, and sometimes three, guys go to the puck carrier, but that left the wide D-man wide open, and the Flames got a few open looks from there. They didn’t turn them into a quality chance, but I’m sure as the preseason continues the players will get more comfortable at when to swarm and when to lay back.
  • The 4th line scored late in the first as Brown, Martindale and Platzer and mucked it up in front of the net, before Platzer banged home a rebound. When they announced Brown assisted on the goal, and his picture came up on the scoreboard, with his new moustache, the crowd roared. Many fans appreciate Brown for his abrasive style, but I bet they respect his stache as much or even more.
  • I know it was only a few inches, but the more room behind the net will allowed guys to get to the front of the net much quicker. I believe it will lead to even more goals in the paint.
  • Oilers outshot the Flames 13-8…and they controlled most of the play. If you are keeping track Hall went 1 for 5 in the faceoff dot.

2nd PERIOD….

  •  Mike Brown continues to have a strong game down low. He’s created turnovers by getting on the Flames D quickly.
  • Arcobello bangs home a rebound after Joensuu and Yakupov had the initial shots. Karri Ramo’s rebound control was brutal tonight. Flames have to hope it was just a preseason game, and he’ll live up to his billing of "best goalie not in the NHL." Of course, his GM said that, so I’m not sure how valid it was.
  • Dubnyk faced 13 shots in 28:15, and stopped the final 12 he faced. Looked okay, but wasn’t tested very often.
  • Olivier Roy gets beat on first shot he faces, and Wideman beats him clean to the blocker.
  • After watching many guys do it in the first period, Joensuu uses his reach and beats Reto Berra with a quick wrap around. I’m a big fan of the shallower nets.
  • After great pass in the first period, Grebeshkov allows Street to beat him wide easily and go to the net. That will be the risk with Grebeshkov. Good at moving the puck, but defensively he can struggle. He makes great plays with the puck, and if he does more of those than bad defensive plays he likely plays in the 3rd pairing. I’d like to see Anton Belov play live to see if he can push Grebeshkov.
  • J.Schultz is lower to the ice when he skates this year, and he’s looked stronger. I know it was preseason against weak Flames team, but Schultz looked very good.
  • Call me old school, but I miss the days when a Flames and Oilers preseason game involved some emotion, hits and fights. This game has had ZERO animosity.
  • Hall went 3-for-3 in faceoff dot and was 50% after two periods.


  • Yakupov’s first steps are still lightning fast, but doesn’t look like his top-end speed is much faster than last year. He seems calmer on the ice though, which is to be expected. Made many nice, smart, short passes in the game.
  • I’m going to follow Brandan Davidson’s progress closely in the AHL this year. He’s big, strong, and makes smart plays.
  • Flames tie it with three goals in four minutes. Roy hasn’t looked great, although Oilers really struggled getting a grasp of Eakins new defensive system. They were outshot 22-14 after goalie changes midway through 2nd period.
  • The entire team seemed lost in their own end in the third period, and the Grebeshkov/Musil pairing really struggled.
  • Hall got some PK time. Won a key draw. I wonder if he’ll see PK time in regular season. I wouldn’t have him as one of my top-four, only because I’d rather him play EV and PP, but the odd shift late in a PK might be a good idea.
  • Keegan Kanzig, Flames draft pick, is a huge. He needs to refine parts of his game, but I feel for the kids who will have to play against him in the WHL. He’ll scare some of them.
  • Grebeshkov made a ridiculously good cross ice pass to Yakupov in the final minute. Berra made a great save on the one-timer. Grebeshkov’s passing in the offensive zone tonight was great, however, his play in the defensive zone was the opposite. It was an typical eventful game for Grebeshkov. Lots of highlite reel plays, both good and bad.


  • J.Schultz blocking shots in the D zone and making a great pass in offensive zone. He’s been the best Oiler tonight.
  • Hall gets a hat-trick; in the form of minor penalties. Playing centre means Hall will be around the puck carrier more, and tonight was the first time he’d ever taken three minor penalties in an NHL game. He’ll fix that as he gets used to playing centre.
  • Oilers lose in the shootout. Omark makes a great deke, but couldn’t beat a sprawling Berra, while Hall’s shot/deke would have been reviewed (in regular season) to see if it crossed the line. Sven Baertschi and Roman Horak both scored for the Flames.


  • As the preseason continues, I suspect you will see the Oilers play with more intensity. The Oilers weren’t hard to play against tonight, and Eakins will want that changed.
  • Eakins watched the game from the pressbox, to get a better overview of the game, while Keith Acton ran the bench. I’m sure he liked his team’s play in the offensive zone, and cringed at their defensive zone play, which was to be expected after only one day of practice, and one scrimmage.
  • Omark is going to have to beat out Joensuu or Jones to make the team, and after last night he’ll be ranked lower on the depth chart. It is early, but for guys who have to out play others to make the team, the harsh reality is they can’t have any average or weak games. I don’t see Omark making the 23-man roster.
  • I got a brief overview of the Oilers/Flames game in Calgary from a scout. Ryan Jones, David Perron, Will Acton, Martin Marincin and Jeff Petry got good reviews.
  • Joensuu played well, and showed at times he can make plays with the puck which is exactly what Craig MacTavish is looking for from his bottom six forwards. I wonder if Joensuu will get a look alongside Hall, Gagner, Eberle, Hemsky or Yakupov in the coming games. I don’t see him as a top-six forward, and barely a regular 3rd liner, but his size might get him a look.


  • Gret99zky

    I agree Omark will not make the 23 man roster.

    He needs to be better defensively.

    The whole team took the 3rd period for granted and it cost them. Long shifts and no compete.

    Hopefully they can learn from this and Eakins places a check in the “not good enough” column.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I rate Omark higher than you do here JG. I thought he showed well in the “puck possession” dept., which is high on the list of things Eakins is looking for (and so am I).

    That doesn’t mean he makes the team, or leapfrogs Joensuu or Jones (though I may well have him ahead of Jones at the end of camp).

    I’m surprised you and LT haven’t mentioned the colossal blunder people watching at home were experiencing as the live feeds kept going out or blocking out of towners. It was a frustrating IT night.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Potter is a better Dman than freakinGrebeshkov and makes half the salary. Hopefully Mactavish comes to his senses and finds a way to rid himself of Garbagekov’s contract.

    Just as I thought, Hall will surprise himself at how well he adjusts to C. Great development for the Oilers.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    If the whole team buys in to what Eakins is preaching here, things could go north rather quick. To be the fittest/hardest working and more talented team most nights, will usually get you the win in this league.

    If the players buy in, they won’t lose 10 games after the Nude Year. Ah, that there’s some fine tasting Koolaid.

    • Batfink

      I agree. You can tell Eakins has some outlandish theories about a hockey game being 3 x 20min periods and you’d better show up! Dammit, it’s crazy, but just might work…..

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Went to the game in Calgary last night and was pretty impressed with the Gordon/Perron/Jones line. They were all over the puck and gave the Flames huge fits in their defensive zone. One thing I noticed about Perron is that has a lot of quickness in tight on the opposition like Ebs does. Very elusive. He’s going to be a treat to watch for the next few seasons. Fedun was solid to, very calm feet and a smart passer.

  • Batfink

    The oilers need to develop a cult of winning. Allowing Roy to blow the lead just continues the losing trend that is edmonton. Wake up and make sure winning becomes all important because the Oilers already know everything their is to know about losing!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    It appears Gregor your leading the charge for this years ‘whipping boy’ of the Oilers? Nobody’s game gets picked apart more than Grebeshkov’s!

    • Jason Gregor


      I pointed out how he made some great offensive plays, but he also made some equally bad ones in his own end. Pointing out facts isn’t whipping him.

      He makes great plays with the puck, and if he does more of those than bad defensive plays he likely plays in the 3rd pairing. I’d like to see Anton Belov play live to see if he can push Grebeshkov.

      If that is “whipping” a guy, then I’m not sure you’ve read the Nation very often. That wasn’t very critical at all.

  • 1983 and This Year

    I was in the Dome last night.

    Perron looked dangerous every shift. He cruises through the offensive zone with the puck effortlessly, and found guys with cross ice lasers. When the guys getting set up didn’t convert, he took things into his own hands and sniped one from the dot. It’s going to be an absolute shooting gallery with Yak on the receiving end.

    I’ve never seen someone take a faceoff as low to the ice as Gordon. Dominant face off man and a real steadying presence. Wore an “A”.

    Larsen impressed me with his offensive ability. He even led the rush at one point, but was exposed at others. Puck moving defenceman I wouldn’t mind being on the squad.

    Jonesy had absolute jump in his game, scored one, drew a penalty, then absolutely demolished a guy from behind in open ice with a elbow to the back of the head. Possible suspendable offence in the regular season, but he was a beauty.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Online watching was a joke. Living in portland, or I couldn’t watch the streams on the Oilers site. Initially I couldn’t resolve the Oiers vide subsite. Fortunately I have two IPads so I was able to watch some stuff on the apps and the flames stuff. At least i could listen to the rexall game.

    As a NHL centerice live subscriber, I hope this doesn’t foreshadow a frustrating year of watching the team online…

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    I know it’s early, but so far Marincin has been very impressive. As Gregor says, can’t wait to see what Belov does because all indications were that he’d be a strong 5-6 and possibly top 4 in the best case scenario.

    As I see it now the top 4 are as always, with 5-6-7 going to N Schultz temporarily (if the Oilers want him to look more marketable) and 2 of Marincin-Grebs-Belov. If MacT is serious, and Grebs doesn’t pick it up, he should have no fear of putting him on waivers if Marincin and Belov outduel him. Potter stil a bit of the unknown in terms of what the team’s plans are, but I see him as #8 right now with possible push to #9 if Marincin and the Russian duo prove their worth.

    Ideally, you trade Nick right now and accept that he’s not going to net you anything valuable (or put his ass on waivers). This not only frees up cap space for later moves but clarifies the intended D pairings going forward. Top 4 again no secret, with bottom pair taken by Belov/Marincin on the left – Grebs(asked to play RD)/Potter on the right. First call ups at this point Fedun at RD and Davidson LD (no offense to Klefbom).

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Nice game summary, Gregor.

    Your comment on Omark’s skating is dead on–he needs to keep his feet moving. He looked hesitant and got caught flat-footed going both ways a few times.

    Lots of coaches and players over the years have mentioned how important it is to keep moving, even if just skating small circles to keep in motion (Gretz did it constantly).

    Omark’s board play was strong–he won the puck vs 2 Flames on one shift, and held his own against much bigger players on several plays. He also has chemistry with Yak.

    If he can improve on his D game and chip in on O, maybe he stays?

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I only caught the 2nd half of the edm game last night, but in that time I sure noticed examples of the few areas of Hall’s game I really didn’t like last year (there was a ton to like).

    Specifically, not protecting the puck, especially near the offensive blueline. ie. costly turnovers.

    For me, one of the most interesting story-lines for the year will be to see the affect Eakins has on Hall’s tendency to play high risk hockey. From a distance, it seemed to impact his success/icetime in the Worlds, will likely be a focus point by Eakins, and is the key unknown in predicting his place (or not) on the Olympic team (we all know his speed/skill from the left side should make him a lock).

    He’s played this way for as long as I’ve watched him (world jnrs), so hopefully he acknowledges it as an issue.

    Lets hope we don’t need to experience many of the game changing “spezza in OT” types before it he does, and it’ll be sooner than later when its a faded memory a’la StevieY 🙂

  • BillHK

    I’d like to see an in depth write up comparing Joenssu vs Hartikainen. I was surprised that Hartikainen left for the NHL this year when his chances of being in the NHL were actually pretty good.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    Jones gets a tonne of love for the hair and the energy but he’s not nearly as a good as a hockey player as Omark. Linus will be a cheap and solid edition to the bottom six, likely the bottom 3. Having solid puck pocession in the bottom 6 is imperative.

    Jones is purely a dump the puck in and freeze it on the boards type of player. Linus can cycle and create, all while maintaining true pocession. Regardless of what he showed in the game, he’s better than Jones. He just isn’t as endeared to the fans.