Welcome. ladies and gentlemen, to the final pre-season game of the year as our beloved Edmonton Oilers get themselves set for October with one last tune-up against the Calgary Flames.
Can you believe we finally made it through the pre-season and all that’s left until the big dance starts is one last game against the heathens from down Highway 2? What a journey we’ve all lived through, huh? After two horrible weeks of TV-less games (honestly, the stream hasn’t been that bad) that don’t really mean anything outside of player evaluation, we’re only four short sleeps away from having these nights mean something for real. Isn’t that exciting? Of course it is. There’s nothing quite like the hope of a new season, unending possibilities filling our hearts with joy and Stanley Cup dreams, and my body is ready for the rollercoaster. I will readily admit that I am powering through jug after jug of Oilers Kool-Aid and it’s going down mighty smooth right now — I can’t wait to get this thing going.
As for tonight’s matchup, what I’ll be most interested in watching is how hard these two teams go at it, especially with both sides icing what will be pretty close to their opening night lineup. While I have no doubt that both the Oilers and Flames will be trying to win this hockey game, it’s fair to wonder if the regulars will be going at it with 100% intensity when the biggest goal for everyone is probably to make it to opening night as healthy as possible. Then again, there are still jobs at stake so you’d have to think there will be at least a few guys that will be out there trying to mix it up. For guys like Tomas Jurco, Gaetan Haas, and Joakim Nygard, tonight’s game against the Flames will be their last chance to show Dave Tippett they belong and I’d expect that they hit the ground running as a means to lock up a job.
Jurco – Draisaitl – Kassian
Nygard – Sheahan – Gagner
Granlund – Haas – Chiasson
Khaira – Cave – Archibald
Nurse – Larsson
Lagesson – Bear
Manning – Benning
At the time of posting, the Oilers haven’t announced what the forward trios will look like yet so I gave it my best guess based on who’s playing tonight. The defensive pairings solid, though, as is Koskinen getting the full game to work the rust out.
Gaudreau – Monahan – Lindholm
Tkachuk – Backlund – Frolik
Mangiapane – Bennett – Lucic
Rieder – Jankowski – Czarnik
Giordano – Brodie
Hanifin – Hamonic
MacDonald – Andersson
— Baggedmilk – Pre-season Beet writer (@jsbmbaggedmilk) September 27, 2019
1. One of the biggest stories of the pre-season has been the emergence of the pre-season champ, Tomas Jurco. From start to finish, Jurco has been scoring timely goals and making plays to the point that I almost can’t see any scenario where he doesn’t make the team. That said, where he slots in the lineup is a different bowl of oatmeal.
2. There’s no doubt that Mikko Koskinen remains one of the biggest question marks on the minds of Oilers fans as we draw nearer to the regular season. That’s not to say that he’s played poorly, he’s let in a few weird ones but nothing too crazy, yet still wonder if he’s going to be able to provide the level of goaltending that it’ll take us back in the playoffs. I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I suggest that a strong performance from Koskinen tonight would go a long way with the fanbase.
3. I don’t care if you’ve heard me say it before but I’m going to say again here now, I can’t help but cheer for Ethan Bear as he comes out of nowhere and steals a spot on the roster. I mean, how can you not hope he crushes it.
Watch this goal from Thursday night’s game:
I haven’t seen an Oilers defenceman walk the line and rip a clapper home like this since Sheldon Souray was around. No, I’m not comparing the two players but I am saying that this kid walked the line and blasted the puck in a way that I haven’t seen in a decade. What the future holds for Bear is obviously unknown, but I’ll be pulling for him as we all figure it out together.
4. Tobias Rieder signed a one-year contract with the Flames yesterday worth $700,000, and you’d have to think it’s a safe bet that he’ll outperform what happened here in Edmonton. After making it through the 2018-19 season with zero goals, it will be interesting to see how Rieder bounces back from the worst season in his professional career. Personally, I don’t expect him to light the world on fire or anything like that, but I do expect him to score against the Oilers any time these two teams play — that’s just how the universe seems to work.
5. Earlier this morning, the Oilers announced that they had released Anton Burdasov from his PTO, and I can’t help but wonder if things might have been different had he been around for the entirety of training camp. I thought that Burdasov showed some flashes that might have been of interest to the coaching staff, but he was fighting an uphill battle to win a job considering his late arrival. Onward and upward, Burdman.
Game Day Prediction: You can tell that neither team is giving it everything he’s got, but the Oilers close out the pre-season with a casual 3-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Mikko Koskinen gets beat on the glove side, but only once.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Between periods, the Flames run a promo for a free gym membership for whoever can hike up to the gallery level at the Saddledome without a sherpa or dying. If you’ve been to a game there, you know what I’m talking about.