During the first few days of training camp Dave Tippett focused a lot on skating and conditioning. The players are all in good shape, but game shape is different. Yesterday he added in some special teams work and today they had their first scrimmage. After three practices at the NAIT arena the Oilers moved to the downtown community rink for today and tomorrow, and Saturday they will skate on their home ice for the first time this camp.
Evaluating players in practice is difficult. Scrimmages are a bit better, but still not the same as games, but with no preseason games this is all we have this year, so here are some thoughts on today’s scrimmage.
Here are the rosters.
Absent: James Neal and Gaetan Haas.
First period notes…
- Tyler Benson looks like he has added some speed in his long stride. Looked quicker getting in on forecheck.
- Griffith opens up the scoring on a nice pass from Kahun. Griffith was wide open in the low slot and wasted no time taking the pass and ripping it upstairs. This was Kahun’s first skate with the team and his hands are clearly ready.
- Wasn’t a lot happening. McDavid had one rush where he circled low in his own zone, took a short pass from Lennstrom and wheeled through the neutral zone. Jones did a decent job of keeping him to the outside. Later in the shift, McDavid dangled his way into the high slot, cut to the left and shot back to his right off the outside of the goal post.
- Reid Wilkins was supposed to track shots on goal in the first…he forgot and randomly picked 8-6. He was rusty like the players.
Second Period Notes (Teams switched ends like a normal game.)
- Pace was much quicker. It is obvious the coaches have emphasized direct passing. Both teams were moving pucks to players, rather than off the boards, and rarely was it chipped in. Lots of holding the puck, and regrouping, rather than dumping it out.
- Referees letting them play as Bear got his stick in stomach/arm of Lagesson as he exited the zone.
- Nuge was wide open in the slot between the hashmarks and ripped it off the post. He looked skyward. McDavid line took over in the second period. Had the puck for long stretches on every shift.
- Nygard can fly. He shows bursts of speed that tantalize you, but it often doesn’t end with a scoring chance or shots on goal. I think there is a player there, but he is in tough on the Oilers left side.
- No flood. Tippett yelled from the crowd to keep playing. He wants players to feel the burn a bit. Makes sense with no preseason games.
- White gets a powerplay. Yamamoto joins the four regulars as Chiasson is on team Blue. Turris/Archibald, then Khaira/Shore and Benson/Puljujarvi were the three PK forward groups.
- Second PP unit for white scored just after the PP expired, as Nygard slaps home a rebound into a wide open net. Bouchard, K.Russell, McLeod, Nygard and Ennis were on the second unit for team White.
- On the ensuing shift, McDavid scores. Found a hole through Smith. White leads 2-1.
- If you were wondering why McDavid and Draisaitl’s lines were on the same team, I assume it was to work on the PP, but also to get them used to playing a lot of minutes. Team White had three lines, team Blue had four.
- The Benson/Khaira/Chiasson line has been steady all game. Have had puck a lot when on the ice and haven’t had to defend for long stretches.
- Bouchard’s ability to shoot the puck hard with little windup or arm movement is impressive. He is so calm with the puck, and I really like how he defends the rush.
- Jones was involved in both ends. He was very active and also aggressive at standing up attacking forwards. He and Larsson had a solid scrimmage.
- The final eight minutes the pace slowed down. Getting up to game shape takes time.
- Puljujarvi and his new lucky #13 slaps home a rebound as team Blue ties it with the extra attacker on the ice.
- Turris has an early chance for Blue, misses the net and a few seconds later McDavid takes a pass from Draisaitl and snaps home the winner.
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