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:

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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.

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        • hallsyoilerforever5

          Draisaitl’s vision is fantastic. His skating isn’t too bad. I definitely like the line of him, Perron, and Pouliot. Hall and RNH were buzzing all night as usual. Schultz made great defensive plays. PP wise : Far more aggressive, and they actually shoot the puck ; with one timers from the point. ( I like it).

          Major props to the new oilers DJ as well. Actually some solid tunes and no cotton eyed joe/Adele.

        • The Last Big Bear

          MacGrattan has been around the NHL long enough that it’s starting to rub off on him.

          We saw it from Domi and Brashear too. Tough guys who start to show flashes of skill after 5-10 years in the NHL. Not that I’m expecting anything from McGrattan, but you don’t post Gordie Howe hat tricks in the NHL without having a bit of talent.

          Wish I had seen the game in Rexall, the game in the ‘Dome was a debacle of pre-season proportions.

          Also, I love Cotton Eyed Joe.

        • Mangiant

          Why should Tkachev gain weight? I’d rather see him at 140, slippery & fast than 160 and slower.

          Not like 160 is going to give him any better a chance against a big guy anyway.

          • Jason Gregor

            You think gaining weight means they get slower? Not sure why you think that. Schultz gained 8 pounds and he is faster, because he is stronger and generates more power.

            Thinking Tkachev can compete at his size in the NHL is wishful thinking. He needs to grow and get stronger before he has a hope of playing here. He is at least three years away, which is fine. The Oilers have a lot of small, skilled forwards.

            • Mangiant

              Everyone uses the “needs to gain weight” blanket statement for anyone under 200. The kid is 5’9, so you’re right, it’s already a long shot.

              As soon as anything (such as improper weight gain) reduces his speed or agility, his chances of making it just got worse.

              His goal should be to get faster and more agile. Weight gain is just a (potential) byproduct.

              • Jason Gregor

                For young guys proper weight gain means added strength and power, which is needed. Tkachev has to get faster, bigger and stronger.

                Players who gain weight are put on proper programs. They don’t just add 10 pounds, they add it in areas that will benefit. The nutritional programs they are put on are very specific to their body types.

                He is 141 of course he has to put on weight. It’s not like he is 190 and people say he needs to get to 195. Big difference.

          • Aitch

            It’s not that he should gain weight, he probably just will naturally. He’s only 18. It’s quite possible that he may not have even started to thicken up yet. I know I was 145lbs at 18. Probably taller than Tkachev, but still skinny as a rake from the waist up.

            Give the kid his max time in junior and then a shot at the pro game. Could be a steal. If you want to get better, you have to take chances on the outliers. Those that pay off are those that end up tipping the balance.

          • Craig1981

            160lbs isn’t exactly bulky. Theo Fluery was known it be small but very speedy…..he was listed at 5’6″ 180lb.

            At 140lbs he wouldn’t have a chance…..at 170-180lb maybe.

          • Jason Gregor

            Yes, when the final rosters are made… The backend will be much heavier, which is what I said needed to happen. They have more skill and size which will help.

        • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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!

        • Aitch

          I was at the game in the middle of 119…i was close enough to get a great look at them all and I’d say Draisatl’s skating isn’t a concern and Nuge’s shot was way crisper and harder than last year.

        • HardBoiledOil 1.0

          i still think that Keith Aulie was signed to play in the AHL this year and not to play for the Oilers. judging by this game, looks like the AHL may be the best place for him.