Three pre-season games down, five more to go. Final Score: 4-0 Flames
After struggling to find where the game was actually being shown — only on the Oilers site chez Baggedmilk — I finally saw the beautiful visual that is the Edmonton Oilers squaring off against the Calgary Flames. Instantly, my mind flew back to that beautiful May night when Connor McDavid picked up a perfect pass in the slot from Leon Draisaitl, beating Markstrom with a low snipe on the glove side to win the series in five games. It was beautiful. I still remember the fist pump I threw in my living room that looked almost like a Tiger Uppercut from Street Fighter. I scared my missus, my dog, and I spilled half of a beer all over myself, but you know what, I wouldn’t change a damned thing about it. After soaking up that memory for more than a minute, my focus snapped back to the present and onto the pre-season game that featured only four Oilers players that actually participated in that playoff game. Needless to say, the vibe wasn’t quite the same.
As for tonight’s matchup, I really didn’t think the Oilers had much chance of winning when I saw that the Flames had more than a handful of their regulars playing, so I figured the next best thing was to focus on a few specific players. Up front, Warren Foegele has everyone’s attention leading up to the 2022-23 season and I want to know how he’s going to respond. There’s also Jake Virtanen who caused all kinds of noise on his way into town but very little on the ice so far. I wanted to see how Dylan Holloway would match up against a lineup full of guys that he could legitimately be facing a few short weeks from now. The answer, to my surprise, was that our side did a decent enough job of finding ways to trade punches and bend without breaking against a team that outclassed them on paper. I mean, I’m not saying anyone was particularly excellent but I am absolutely saying that many of our boys found a way to fight above their weight class. Even though the Flames veterans easily won this hockey game, I’m guessing we’re about the see the exact opposite result when the pre-season flips back to Edmonton on Friday.
Things Worth Mentioning…
- The pre-season should be no more than four games.
- Brett Sutter opened the scoring (1-0) for Calgary after finding a loose puck near the crease and chipping it up and over Calvin Pickard.
- Michael Stone increased Calgary’s lead (2-0) with a blast from above the circle that beat Skinner clean on the glove-hand side.
- Mackenzie Weegar added a third Flames goal (3-0) after rushing down the right side of the Oilers zone before snapping a well-placed wrist shot that beat Skinner just inside the far post.
- Jonathan Huberdeau added an empty-netter (4-0) and Flames fans in attendance were happier than they probably should have been.
- Did anyone else find it even the smallest bit funny that the Flames didn’t lay the boots on the Oilers given how many of their NHL regulars were playing? I know the shot clock was lopsided but I still had a loving chuckle about the way our depth chart kept them mostly at bay.
- Calvin Pickard played very well to kick off the night, stopping nearly double the shots that his counterpart faced at the other end of the ice. Pickard played just over half the game, stopping 16 of 17 shots which was good for a .941 save%.
- Finishing off the back half, Stuart Skinner was back between the pipes for his second appearance of the pre-season, and much like the first go around, our mustachioed hero looked steady once again.
- I think I like the idea of Jason Demers more than the reality of having Jason Demers. While I would absolutely say that he’s still making nice passes and moves the puck well, I don’t know that I see where he fits when you already have Evan Bouchard and Tyson Barrie in the lineup.
- As much as I liked Dylan Holloway against the Jets on Sunday, he was much quieter against a more veteran-heavy Calgary lineup. As expected, he wasn’t able to fly by the Calgary defenders quite as easily but I did appreciate the flashes of speed that I saw through the neutral zone. Our boy has wheels.
- At this point, I’m thinking of starting a Markus Niemelainen fan club.
- I like Dmitri Samorukov and I wonder what the Oilers are going to do with him given that he has to clear waivers to make it to Bakersfield this year. They might be able to sneak him through when everyone does their roster dumps but are they willing to risk it?
- I’m really trying to keep an open mind about this Jake Virtanen experiment but this is the third straight game from him where I haven’t really noticed much of anything at all. In 15:29 of TOI (including 3:11 on the power play), Virtanen registered one shot on net and even though that wasn’t any better or worse than his teammates, he should be doing more given that his NHL career is on the line.
- Third straight game without a power play goal for the Oilers as they missed out on all three opportunities with the man advantage. The good news is that the PK was able to handle their business and kill off all three shorthanded situations.
- Why did I have to watch this game on the Oilers’ website? I didn’t even get a YouTube stream? Le sigh. I ended up finding the game on the NHL app — it was streaming for free — but the struggle to get there took way longer than it should for a night when the points don’t matter. Why can’t we get the game on TV when both Alberta teams are playing? I saw the Leafs and Habs were on.
- RIP Coolio.
- In case you’re wondering what’s happening with the site relaunch, it’s looking like the changeover will be complete for late this week but I’ll make sure to jump in the comments and let everyone know if not another article.
Coming up on Friday night, the Oilers get back at it with a rematch against the Flames at Rogers Place with the puck dropping shortly after 7 pm MT.
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