Post game report from Rexall…

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The Oilers defeated the Flames 3-1 at Rexall, but lost 1-0 in Calgary. Here is a quick recap of the game in Edmonton.

Here is what I took from the game:

1st Period

  • If tonight is any indication the most refreshing off-season signing for the Oilers was Rich Meyers. He is the new director of game presentation, and he’s in charge of the music. After years of my ears bleeding from terrible song choices, Meyers’ song selections were strong. He and the Oilers won’t unveil all the new things they have planned to make the in-game atmosphere more entertaining until the season opener, but tonight was better than any regular season game in the past decade. Well done Rich.
  • Bogdan Yakimov will play in Edmonton in the near future. He is excellent at protecting the puck and using his size to keep the play alive. Twice he used his big frame to shrug off the defender, take the puck to the net and create a chance. Very impressive first period.
  • Keith Aulie was brutal in the first. He was fighting the puck and looked out of sync all period.
  • Marco Roy finished off a nice pass from Draisaitl on his first shift of the game. The 2nd rounder put himself in a good position to receive the pass, and Draisaitl put it right on his tape.
  • A new season, but some things never change. Former Oiler Curtis Glencross scores as he deflects a point shot through Scrivens.
  • Schultz got a lucky bounce when his pass in front went off a Flame and behind Ortio. Schultz was very active in the offensive zone. In my interview with Ramsay he stressed the importance of playing as a five-man unit all over the ice and he expects the D-men to join the rush and stay up in the play if the Oilers have possession.

2nd Period…

  • Hall and RNH have been used on the PK. So far the Oilers have shown a willingness to carry the puck when down a man, rather than just dump it down the ice. Maybe that was because of the quality of lineup the Flames iced, but it looked like the memo will be to possess the puck when you have time on the PK. I saw the D-man carrying the puck up ice looking to make a pass rather than just a dump on numerous occasions.
  • Oilers PP had two D-men, Hunt and Schultz with Hall line. Schultz played on left, his off-wing and Hunt was on the right. Nikitin shoots left and we could see him there during the season. Ramsay told me the first priority on the PP will be too get pucks on net. He wants guys to shoot.
  • Nugent-Hopkins scores on the PP… comes off the right boards and snaps a shot to the far post. Nice quick release.
  • Chase didn’t look out of place alongside Hall and RNH. Looked more comfortable on every shift.
  • Right now I don’t see how Nurse can beat out Klefbom or Marincin. His game isn’t as mature or calm as those two. That isn’t a knock on him, but rather a positive that the Oilers won’t have to rush him. He can keep developing his game in junior.
  • Tkachev pressures Wideman
    and then Yakimov gets the puck and makes a nice pass to Perron in the
    slot. Excellent scoring chance created by an offensive zone turnover. The
    Oilers didn’t do that often enough last year. Tkachev has good skills and
    instincts. The concern, of course, is his size. His #64 jersey looked huge
    on him. He has skill, but the concern is what happens If he doesn’t grow. It will be extremely difficult for him to succeed in the NHL even if
    he gets to 160 pounds. The Oilers need to sign him before the season starts, or he will be draft eligible next year. I hate sitting on the fence, but I see pros and cons of signing him. I’d sign him.

  • Oilers back on the PP. First
    unit, Draisaitl line didn’t do much, but RNH line comes out and Ortio
    stoned Hall twice. Chase didn’t look out of place with them at all, and
    when Eberle takes his spot that unit will be dangerous. They moved the
    puck quickly from side to side and depending where they attacked from,
    both Chase and Hall spent time in front of the net. The PP has way more
    movement. They weren’t standing around for extended stretches like last
    year.

  • Draisaitl has been good on faceoffs. He has won 7 of 11. Yakimov has won 4 of 5.

3rd Period

  • Based on what I’ve read on twitter so far, I’m happy I’m watching this game instead of the one in Calgary. Sounds like a snoozefest down south.
  • Bachman comes in for the third period. Scrivens was fine, but he wasn’t really tested.
  • Platzer takes a holding penalty in the offensive zone and Flames go on the PP. Great part about preseason, is guys who usually don’t play in situations get a shot. Westgarth gets the final 30 seconds of the PK with Acton. They don’t give up a shot.
  • Yakimov another excellent display of passing in the neutral zone to spring Tkachev. He makes a nice move through his skates, but never gets a shot on goal. Flash is good, but if it doesn’t lead to a shot on net, then it’s just flash.
  • Roy will need to work on his skating. Not explosive enough yet.
  • Schultz catches Baertschi from behind as he is in on partial breakaway. Schultz does look faster, but Baertschi didn’t look good all night for the Flames. Looked slow to me.
  • McGratton has let three slapshots fly tonight. You forget how much skill the tough guys have, because in regular season they don’t play much.
  • Yakimov continues to impress me. I’d like to see him later in preseason against more NHL caliber lineups, but he looks like he is ready to be a go-to guy in the AHL this year.
  • Ortio with another solid stop off a deflection. He has been good in goal for the Flames.
  • Oilers get a late PP… RNH unit starts…Takes 40 seconds to get possession…best chance was RNH with a slap pass that Hall redirects. RNH has looked really good setting up on the right wall. Draisailt unit finishes off PP, and Perron gets a great chance in the slot. Good pass from Draisaitl and Pouliot.
  • Chase takes a 10-minute misconduct late in the game. He went after Glencross, giving him a jab with his stick, but he missed him. For years Glencross worked over the Oilers young stars, so it is nice to see Chase stand up for himself.

Overall it was a normal preseason home game. The Oilers had a more talented lineup and it showed. The other thing I noticed is that Schultz played a lot with RNH’s line. Schultz looks faster and he put on eight pounds up muscle and said he feels stronger. I spoke to Schultz after the game about joining the rush and being aggressive and he said he and Ramsay have already had many conversations about it. “I’m excited. That style suits how I want to play.”

I’ve said all summer that I believe Schultz will be much better next year. He is stronger, faster and most importantly he has more experience.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

        • phiko73

          Don’t be worried about Yak just yet, he was lined up against brodie/gio all night. There aren’t many players that thrive when they can’t escape that pairing all night.

        • phiko73

          Tkachev is a new breed of player, his size shouldnt be too much of a factor. This isnt the old days of having Hatcher, Chelios and Blake clutching and grabbing and mugging players out there. Guys like Zuccarello are playing to the strength of the rules. Tkachev did not look too out of place out there and his compete level is up there. The guys I’m excited about are Draisaitl and Yakimov. Both in the mold of Joe Thornton. Big and strong on the puck, both were jumbo in the circle and can take the puck hard to the net. Exciting watching those two work down low.

          • Rob...

            The size of the player may not matter much in the regular season, but in today’s NHL you have to plan your roster for both the regular season AND the playoffs. Those playoffs are governed by a different rule set that favors the bigger, fit players.

          • The Soup Fascist

            Sorry. The game has not changed enough that a guy who is 140 lbs can compete through a season.

            IMO, Tkachev has struggled more and more as he has moved through the levels this fall. He looked phenomenal against the rookies in Penticton. He looked O.K. against the Golden Bears. He was very “meh” last night, IMO. What happens when he plays against an actual NHL team?

            Granted Kevin Westgarth may not be my number one choice as a linemate for he and Yak 2.0, but he is soooo small. The Enmax Energy kid is going to be bigger than him on many nights.

            Not saying he is not worth the contract, especially one that is buried. But please lets not turn this kid into the “next big thing” only to turn on him when he does have issues. Sign him, send him back to junior for as long as you can and let him grow. Revisit in a couple of years.

          • Zarny

            Sorry but unless the NHL becomes a no-touch league size will always be a factor. Zuccarello is a hobbit that still has 15-20 lbs on Tkachev.

            That will be a factor…end of story. Just like size will be a factor for Gaudreau and any player that is only 5’7″.

          • The Soup Fascist

            I saw Tkachev play in Penticton. Fun guy to.watch and he play smart relative to his size but dont kid yourself this guy is very small and at least max junior years plus 2-3 in the AHL away from any sort of NHL action. Hes 140 lbs man!

        • ThinkingOutLoud

          I don’t get the blanket “Tkachev is small he needs to gain weight” statement Gregor. Watching the game last night he never really seemed to get knocked off the puck. He’s a smart enough player that he can avoid getting hit and has good enough vision to dish the puck when someone tries to come crush him.

          • Jason Gregor

            I don’t get the blanket “he’s smart enough to avoid being hit,” statement. Oilers have many smart, small, skilled players. How has that worked out the past few years?

            Is Tkachev smarter, with better vision than Eberle, Yak and RNH?

            No team drafted him, but now you and others believe his skill is so high that he will be able to succeed being that small. Okay.

            We’ll see. But until last week no one was talking about him, but now after a decent rookie camp he’s suddenly a can’t-miss-prospect.

            I’ve seen this movie with Schremp and Omark… Be realistic, don’t overrate the kid. It isn’t fair. He has skills, but if he doesn’t get bigger and stronger he has no chance of competing against every day NHL defenders. None.

            • Dan 1919

              Thank you for the sobering comments, I was going to say something almost identical but thought I’ve posted enough contrary comments on this thread.

              All the best to him, but he did in fact get pushed off the puck quite easily when they got a hold him, and that was not NHL defense. Put him against the SJS, ANA, LA’s of the world…

        • Dan 1919

          Tkachev talk is interesting. It’s pretty clear the middle ground is the correct answer. It’s also pretty clear most of the people involved in the discussion are in fact sitting in the middle ground, but are failing to concede that their “opponent” is also pretty darn close to the middle ground.

          1. He’s really small. That will probably hold him back.

          2. He’s really skilled. If he can translate that to the NHL game he could be very valuable.

          3. We can sign him and review in a year/two. Maybe he gets bigger, or becomes so skilled by age 20 that he goes to the AHL, dominates for a year, and is on the roster by age 21/22.

          I think at this point nearly everyone is on board with giving him a contract, and praying the next two years are good to him.

        • Reg Dunlop

          People are suckers for an underdog but COME ON. The little Russian might eventually play in the Swiss league but signing him to play here is akin to Bill Veeck putting a midget up to bat. A novelty at best.

        • pkam

          Tkachev. Sign him and send him back to junior. Give him a strength and conditioning coach and suchlike to increase his physical strength in the next 2-3 years.

          How many flyers have we taken on players who have turned out to be Ahlers or otherwise? Who’s to say where the talent level on this kid will rise to. he could be a solid AHL guy or he could be the guy we look back at in 10 years and say Boy were we lucky to sign this kid. (Pavel Datsuyk anyone?)

          Just saying you have to have faith and believe in a player so that player gains confidence from knowing that you support him in his efforts. How many times have you seen a kid everyone says won’t make it prove the critics wrong. Too many. Why. Because someone showed faith in them.

          Confidence is a huge factor in the development of players. From management down a player has to know that the team has his back.

          Tkachev is an opportunity in waiting. How many times you think he has heard over his lifetime that he would not make it because he was to small.

          David slew Goliath because he had faith in himself because someone said to him I believe in you.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Re: Tkachev…… Not sure this guy is a fit for Oilers, now or 2/3 years down the road.

          That’s not say he can’t be an NHL/AHL, pro, there are many examples of guys that played in the NHL carrying a similar frame: Gerbe, Desharais,Gionta Gibbons, all are in that 5.7 and 175 lbs range, once they have developed.There are others.

          Oilers playing in the Pacific Div, need more size than that.

          Tkacev, may not want to spend the time in America honing his skills. Likely dash to the KHL where the game is softer and money would be better than AHL. Hello Omark.

        • oilerjed

          @ Jason Gregor

          “Yakimov continues to impress me. I’d like to see him later in preseason against more NHL caliber lineups, but he looks like he is ready to be a go-to guy in the AHL this year. ”

          It seems that YAK 2.0 is being awfully consistent with this type of effort and result. Why is it always followed up with him being a good bet for the first call up? He is older and more experienced that Draisaitl why does he seem to have next to no chance it cracking this team? Draisaitl has been showing well but is not knocking anybody’s socks off. Acro 2C and Yak2.0 3C?

          • pkam

            Yak2 can be sent to the minors and Drisaitle can’t. If we send Drisaitle to Europe, we have no control over his development, and when we have injuries and opportunity for a young player, we can’t bring him in. And not likely but we possibly can lose him to one of the Europe league.

            Unless Yak2 shows much better than Drisaitle, it is no brainer to keep Drisaitle and send Yak2 down to OKC.

          • The Soup Fascist

            What has Yakimov done that is in any way superior to Draisaitl?

            I get not wanting to rush Draisaitl, but I don’t see how Yakimov is close to the skillset of Draisaitl. If you are sending Drai to junior or Europe or to the wing, you need to trade for an experienced older NHL 2C. EVen if it is a bad contract. The key is short term (1 – 2 years), I would think.

            This leaves room for the young guys in short order, does not handcuff you and does not cost a ton to trade for.

            • oilerjed

              @PKAM and Soup Fascist

              Its not about Draisaitl’s skill set but his experience and suitability to the NHL this year. Consensus seems to be to send him back to junior for 1 more year and from the reports around training camp he is showing well but not great. So yes I would say send him back.

              Again all of the reports from camp so far have put Yak 2.0 as a quality player that has yet to show any problems at this level of competition. And since we are not likely getting 2 centers before Oct (maybe not even 1 by the sound of it) Acro seems to be getting a push and we have room for 1 more. All things being equal between the two, Drais and Yak2.0, I would say keep the older more mature guy. Let Drais stew in the WHL and keep his contract on ice for one more year.

              • The Soup Fascist

                Has it been determined if he is not on the big club where he will go or more accurately can go?

                There has been speculation about Europe if he did not make the Oilers. I am not sure if that has been confirmed. I wish the AHL was an option as that would be likely the best development track.

                WHL is a terrible option. He put up 105 points as an 18 year old. Playing against 16 and 17 year olds is going to do zero for his development. Europe is a different game. Big ice / less physical. I really don’t like that route, either.

                If he is not going to be overwhelmed by the NHL, like it or not that is the best option. Your opinion is certainly reasonable. I just don’t think there is enough benefit in terms of contract efficiency to justify the negative development curve.

              • pkam

                I have to disagree with you in terms of maximizing the development of both players.

                Other than the 1st game in Penticton, Yak2 is not any better than Drisaitle. Not sure where you read the reports that suggest that.

                If Drisaitle can go to AHL, then I will say let the two battle it out.

                Since Drisaitle cannot go to AHL, unless Yak2 is obviously better, it is the best for the two players and the club to keep Drisaitle here and send Yak2 to AHL.

                Yak2 will be the 1C or 2C and has lots of TOI in OKC. He also has the opportunity to be recalled when injuries occur. If we send Drisaitle away, we have no control over his development.

                And coming from Europe and never plays in NA, a year in OKC to adjust to the NA games isn’t a bad idea. Wonder if Paajarvi and Lander will benefit for spending their 1st year here in OKC.