We all got a really good look at the OKC Barons on Saturday night, and I have to say that Oilers fans would be well served by a full season’s viewings of that AHL team. Now, that’s not going to happen, but we can be secure in the knowledge that development is happening and the group will be stronger because of this year.
I thought the lines clicked well:
- The Million Dollar Line: Lots of good things, including Hall’s moon shot that used a part of the net never seen before. Lots of fast breaks and creativity, suspect Hall will eventually move off the line and Hartikainen will move back up (spread out the offense). Man do these guys carry the puck well.
- The Euro Line: Effective night for this trio imo, not a lot of finish (sorry) but some jam (sorry again) and Paajarvi driving to the net. I do think Hartikainen’s PF forward mode has been clicked to “on” position–he seems to get a piece of everyone now, even on the forecheck.
- Arc de Triomph line: Arcobello is a clever bugger and might be well suited to a minor league “Reasoner” role–the guy who mentors the kids, in this case Pitlick and Hamilton. I liked their forechecking game and suspect both kids will post some crooked numbers when they get more prominent roles (when the lockout ends).
- Dutch cleanser: VandeVelde has impressed with his checking ability, as has House. Byers has looked addled, but that might be me (I’m not fond of the “2 minutes for boarding” types). The line has 2 capable AHL PK men in VV and House, and of course the Oilers love their enforcers. I like this 4line.
- Schultz-Fedun: A nice pairing, both right handers handled the sorties well imo. Schultz seemed very aggressive on Saturday night during the three periods. Fedun was cheating towards his own blue all night–makes sense. This pairing could work all year imo.
- Zahn-Teubert: I thought both played well, and at this point Teubert is probably the first callup. Zahn is a load out there, no doubt. I don’t think there’s a puck mover on this pairing, but remember Martin Marincin is at the ready so that’ll help.
- Henry-Plante: Plante has played better recently, suspect he has had some injury issues early in the year. Henry is a calm guy back there, good pickup for the Barons. KISS pairing.
Yann Danis played well, I thought the broadcast spent way too much time on the Heat goaltender without giving credit to Danis. Abbotsford took 19 shots in the third, and the only goal came from (imo) a coverage lapse by Anton Lander.
Solid game overall, and very enjoyable after watching “8-track television” online feeds–although I’m thankful for anything hockey. Bottom line: Oiler fans should be pleased with their young players, and the won-loss record isn’t the important item. Progress is being made. That’s the key.
If the Oilers can graduate one or two useful players from this experiment that’s a major win. Now, who are they? That’s the question. History tells us it could be Teemu Hartikainen or Magnus Paajarvi, but it could also be Teigan Zahn or Tyler Pitlick.
One final thing: how did Eberle avoid getting an assist on the Hall goal?