The Oilers were on the ice this morning, and it was the first time seeing Nail Yakupov wearing #10. It was only in a practice jersey, but it is funny how many people had to look at their sheet to see who was #10 and who was #64. Vladimir Tkachev was wearing Yakupov’s old number and looked much smaller, although he isn’t afraid to go in traffic.
Here are some quick highlights from today.
Team Gretzky practiced in the morning.
Scrivens and Fasth
I didn’t arrive in time for the morning practice session. It was at 8:30 and I’ve seen enough first day skates to know I wouldn’t miss much, but most of it was drills from what people told me. Nothing too serious and no major focus on systems, which is understandable considering most of the players won’t be in Edmonton.
Team Messier then played Team Kurri in a scrimmage. They played for 30 minutes, flooded and then played another 30 minute game.
Bachman, Tuohimaa and Bunz
Brossoit, Rimmer and Bouchard
- Pouliot scored 20 seconds in. He deflected a Marincin shot past Brossoit. The play started in the D zone with an excellent outlet pass from Schultz to Draisaitl.
- Schultz was the most dangerous player on the ice. He made four or five excellent passes in both the offensive and defensive zone. He and Marincin moved the puck quickly and accurately. It was only a scrimmage, but Schultz looked really good.
- The young D-men struggled with some bad puck decisions, mainly due to the pro players getting in on them quicker than they are used to. The biggest challenge for young players is making quicker decisions under pressure.
- Nurse takes a puck in the face, just under his eye and shrugs it off. Kid is tough. When you watch the preseason notice the difference in Nurse’s game to Marincin. Marincin is very calm in his play and movements now. Nurse at 19 is much better than Marincin was at 19, but today the difference I see in their game is how much more calm there is in Marincin’s game to Nurse’s. Which is understandable because you can’t teach experience.
- Teddy Purcell looks much different in #16 than Darcy Hordichuk.
- Jason Williams has excellent hockey sense. He knew where to go and if the Oilers get hit by injuries, he will be an option to look at. He has 455 NHL games under his belt, but he hasn’t played in the NHL since 2011/2012.
- Tkachev has the same skating posture as Ales Hemsky. Hunched over and low to the puck. He isn’t as smooth or fast as Hemsky, who is an incredible skater, but he has the same posture.
- Most of the period was sloppy, which is the norm for the first on-ice session.
- Chase and Houck exchange some verbal pleasantries after Houck gave him a solid slash.
- Acton takes the first penalty. He got his stick up in Lander’s face and Team Kurri went on the PP.
- They didn’t do much on the PP, and didn’t get one quality scoring chance.
- Pouliot scored his 2nd of the game on a nice pass from Perron.
- Yakupov rips one short side past Bunz. No celebration from Yak to the disappointment of the crowd, who were very supportive.
- Draisaitl leads a two-on-one with Perron, but looks pass all the way even though he had a clear lane to the net. A classic case of a young guy respecting a veteran too much. Happens all the time.
- Khaira gets a wide open shot from the slot and rips it past Bouchard, but hits the goalpost. First time I noticed Khaira all day. Has good size, but will need to work on his footspeed and skill development in the AHL this season.
- Draisaitl’s line was the most dominant all game, which isn’t surprising considering his wingers and the overall quality of competition. He showed his elite passing skills, created turnovers and scoring chances.
- Arcobello gained muscle and about eight pounds. Says he feels much stronger and is confident he’ll win one of the vacant centres spots. He told me he is entering the prime of his career and has to take advantage of this opportunity.
- The players who should have stood out, did. Those with NHL experience — Perron, Pouliot, Yakupov, Schultz and Marincin — were the best in my eyes.
- Overall it was a usual first day of camp. The NHL players stood out.
- The real battles for the centre position, the RW spot on the 4th line and one D spot will start Sunday with two preseason games.
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