2021-22 Preseason Game 1: Oilers at Flames

by Lowetide

No matter how old I get, and at this point there’s so many candles on the cake the only place you can celebrate my birthday is the fire station, the excitement of preseason and leadup to opening night of a season is a highlight of the hockey calendar.

It starts tonight, in Calgary, and Oilers fans will get a chance to see a young group of Oilers impress enough to hang around for another game. The big guns remain in their holsters, waiting for a later game in the process of becoming NHL-ready for another long season.

We have the hockey!

THE ATHLETIC!

THE FARM

I keep reading about Ken Holland’s barriers getting in the way of the department of youth from Bakersfield, but I see the competition added by the general manager as being something less than formidable. Let’s have a look at the certain, uncertain and distant bells, complete with yesterday’s demotions, and see how many former Condors have been blocked.

CERTAIN OILERS

There are 17 certain Oilers, I believe all are locks and am never wrong on this (more in a moment) while also always being wrong on this. Injury to Kris Russell is the closest thing we have to an alteration of this list and he should be ready with plenty of time to spare. This forward group is fantastic! Don’t expect too many names from this list to play tonight in Calgary, I’m hoping to see Bouchard, Foegele, Yamamoto and Puljujarvi.

UNCERTAIN OILERS

We know Stuart Skinner plays tonight, and it’s a good guess men like Benson and Perlini, along with McLeod and Marody, could play. I’m hoping to see Berglund, Tippett says he’ll get several games through preseason. This is the biggest part of the season for these men, absolute must for some of these players to make the NHL grade. Waivers and another year in the minors is not the goal.

DISTANT BELLS

Several cuts yesterday, the Oilers are now down to five goaltenders, with Konovalov slated to share the net with Skinner tonight. Tippett also suggested (riffing off a Matty question) that young Xavier Bourgault had a good chance to play tonight.

I was a little surprised that Rybinski exited camp so soon, that’s an indication the club may have other plans for Bakersfield Condors at center. Malone and Esposito are locks, Holloway will be when healthy, Rybinski would be a reasonable option for a spot in the AHL. It could be another organization came calling, or that Holland has a line on a significant pivot. McLeod heading to the Condors might also be an option, but I’ll tell you I don’t see it.

I’d like to see Broberg, Lavoie and Maksimov, but the Russian hasn’t been around so far and I’m not sure when his Covid-19 protocols will allow him to be part of the main group.

GUESSING GAME

The Oilers didn’t have any preseason games one year ago, so the last time we saw a Game 1 preseason was 2019-20, against the Winnipeg Jets (September 16, 2019). My guesses for “Certain Oilers” that night were:

  • Goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen
  • Left defensemen Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Kris Russell
  • Right defensemen Adam Larsson and Matt Benning
  • Centers Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Riley Sheahan
  • Left Wing Leon Draisaitl, James Neal, Markus Granlund, Jujhar Khaira
  • Right Wing Zack Kassian, Alex Chiasson, Sam Gagner, Josh Archibald

So opening night, the following names weren’t in the lineup or listed among the healthy scratches: Riley Sheahan (injured) and Sam Gagner (minors).

The uncertain Oilers who played opening night: Joakim Nygard, Colby Cave, Ethan Bear, Gaetan Haas, Brandon Manning, Patrick Russell and Tomas Jurco.

It’s a mighty long way from tonight, Game 1 of the preseason, to opening night 2021-22. I know everyone has their favourites but it doesn’t work that way. Things happen, usually injury, and veterans often rule the day. Now, back to the subject mentioned earler: Older players blocking Oilers youngsters.

THE PIPELINE 2021-22

  • Evan Bouchard will turn 22 in October and he’s been NHL-ready for some time. There’s no one blocking him from a roster spot, and he’ll get some chances to show what he can do on the power play. The Oilers need him to move up the depth chart and he may well accomplish it. A wonderful story to follow this season.
  • Tyler Benson is in a fight with Brendan Perlini, and both men are looking good early. I think we’re seeing the Holland style of development here, as the 2016 second-round pick would have made the NHL grade by now under previous management going back a long way in this organization. I don’t look at this as a block, however, because Benson should be able to weather this kind of competition. He will get lots of opportunity, and so far the young winger has done everything possible. Being challenged isn’t the same thing as being buried.
  • Ryan McLeod has a clear shot at an NHL job and with the team’s focus on speed, I can’t see him getting sent out. If he shows reasonably well, the No. 4 C job is his and if McLeod moves the needle offensively and physically, it’s possible he we see him play on the third line at some points in the year.
  • Cooper Marody is going to get a look, but he brings pure skill and I do think he’s blocked by the depth chart. Of course, the men who are blocking him are Jesse Puljujarvi (23) and Kailer Yamamoto (22). Both are younger than Marody, so I think we can overlook the prospect block angle on the skill lines. One can always hope that coach Dave Tippett will construct his fourth line in a way that Marody could replace Alex Chiasson’s minutes, but they aren’t similar players and one expects we’ll see either Josh Archibald or Colton Sceviour grab that fourth RW spot behind JP, KY and Zack Kassian.
  • William Lagesson is getting a full look, and his status as a bubble waiver player is based on his play a year ago. If he steps up, the organization would be thrilled.
  • Stuart Skinner gets a push due to the Alex Stalock news, and the club consistently talks about Skinner as an option. He’s No. 3 goalie now, that can change to backup goalie in a heartbeat. I re-watched his NHL debut this morning, he had some rookie jitters but you can see why they like him. Skinner stopped eight of nine to start the game and his feet were moving way too much. He’ll settle in given another shot. I think his trajectory is similar to Laurent Brossoit.
  • Filip Berglund is earning time based on early play, there’s no pressure and no job but an injury could put him in the conversation if he can play well as the competition increases in preseason.
  • Philip Broberg is going to get a look in preseason, but the Holland plan would involve time in Bakersfield and I don’t think that’s blocking him.
  • Dylan Holloway and Dmitri Samorukov are hurt, so no blocking of a prospect with either man.
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Randle McMurphy

Riley Sheahan scores Kraken’s first ever goal.

Randle McMurphy

You know who’s havin one beer and then another tonight…..

Connor and Leon.

Expect another house party video to leak tomorrow. 🙂

JimmyV1965

Not surprised the young guys beat the old vets. Guys like Backlund and Lucic going 50%. Was really surprised just how bad the Flames defence played. They gotta be better than that, even going half speed.

Bank Shot

I think we can expect them to play poorly a lot this season. Not a lot of forward passing ability on that blueline.

Foege Foegele Torpe

OriginalPouzar
 September 26, 2021 8:32 pm

Broberg is taking a bit of a beating tonight…. all night.
********
I say its good for him, he needs to get used to the physicality of the North American style of hockey.
Swedes are typically tough dudes, but the SEL is full of gorgeous flowing hair & chiseled good looks.
Plus you know how much those handsome guys love their “stick work”

winchester

I decided to key in on 3 players. Can Bouchard deliver? Easy answer.

Then Marody. He is a quiet player, let little give and go’s, little chip plays, little stick lifts at the right time. Good coverage on the backchecks. That line was great and Marody did his part, he may get better as we progress.

Then Shore. For all the talk about prospects skating, i think they can all beat Shore up and down the ice. Poor Devon and all the verbal around his 2 year deal. But it reminded me of the previous year when Hollands first signings were P Russel, Haas, and Nygard. “what are you doing??” Then proceed to bring better players in or pass on better players. It may prove to be similar situation this year. (only in regards to Shore, and only maybe)

The best two players for depth wingers appear to be Benson and Perlini. Just because they are trying out for the same position Im not keeping Shore and sending one of those two down.

Last edited 19 days ago by winchester
SwedishPoster

Marody is a great facilitator of offense, a lot of subtly smart plays and moves to open up the ice. Benson is more noticable but I’m not truly convinced he’s more efficient. McLeod can fly but we’ll see if the offense ever arrives at the NHL level, in tight situations his hands tend to freeze up a lot of the time and he whacks at pucks rather then controlling them. We’ll see, he has a history of figuring out how to produce at different levels over time.

Marody might be too subtle for his own good though, easy to get lost in the shuffle when you’re that player type and a late round pick(from a different org as well). I hope he at least makes it as the 13/14th forward and gets a proper NHL look before being journey man’d out.

The D group just owned that Calgary team. Looked much better than their Flames counterpart despite the NHL game count being way higher for the Calgary group. D depth is rounding up nicely despite question marks at the top of the D lineup.

Pretty typical that the younger group with more to play for wins early in preseason but from a pure tools perspective the Oiler guys were impressive in comparison.

OriginalPouzar

Gubrandson at $1.9M is one of the “best” signings of the off-season – relying on him and Zadarov to shut down, that heartens me.

Randle McMurphy

Wow. I know it’s preseason, but that was impressive. I agreed with pretty much everything Peter Loubardias said. Oilers young guns playing as a 5 man unit, structure, great flow, forechecking, backchecking, etc.

I know it’s just one game, but man these guys played the system to a T.

I haven’t seen many of these guys, and most of them played above my expectations.

Would be nice nice to keep all these guys somewhere in the org.

Foege Foegele Torpe

Woodcroft is a fine coach,
Would be really nice to keep him as part of the org. as well

winchester

Bourgault – so tentative to engage physically, yet he still owned the boards. Im so impressed with this draft pick now, we have a good NHler coming along.

Bling

Only caught the third period. Some observations:

1950 – Excellent pass Turris to Perlini for a 5 bell chance that draws a penalty. Nice cut inside by Perlini, I liked that.

1930 – Nice pass Turris to Bouchard for one timer

1925 – Nice back pass Turris to Bouchard for a one-timer. Just wonderful placement of the shot by Bouchard, low stick-side right through two Flames players.

~1800 – Lagesson nice jump up and speed burst with a good chance off the wing. Someone made a good cross-seam pass there, didn’t catch who.

1526 – Partial break by Flames player, weak shot, but solid positioning by Konovalov. Out of his net and square to the shooter.

1410 — Beautiful quick up by Bouchard under pressure underneath his own goal line. Konovalov with a very nice gentle stop of the puck, Bouchard put it on his player’s stick right above the goal line while evading traffic.

1230 — Good poke check by Bouchard in the neutral zone to turn a puck over. Love that step up play from the D!

~1300 — Nice play Bouchard to Koekkoek for a chance. Good read by EB. Good shot on goal.

~740 — Nice pass Bourgault down low in the o-zone to find the D up top. Smooth.

550 — Ryan excellent intercept on PK

520 – Konovalov excellent lateral split save. Good positioning, good awareness, good rebound control. Never lost track of the puck, covered right away.

500 — Good wheels by Ryan near the end of a PK shift to force a near partial breakaway.

430 — Broberg failed clear near end of PK.

~ 400 — Kemp with a very nice chance off an excellent pass by someone.

~300 — Lagesson with options near the o-zone point and a poor pass into Lavoie’s skate, possession lost.

220 — McLeod beauty wrap around

216 — Five star chance for Benson on an excellent pass by Marody.

—–

Random thoughts:

Konovalov seemed very comfortable handling the puck. Don’t remember this from the scouting report but I thought he was quite adept.

Bouchard is tremendous. Buttery soft hands, excellent awareness. He looks quick against this level of competition.

Turris with some nice plays.

McLeod/Benson/Marody with a good shift late but a little disappointing the rest of the period.

Ryan has game and skates well against this level of opposition.

A tad disappointed with Broberg. Only one game, but puck skills seem a solid step behind the other Oiler D. Jitters? SSS, not worried.

Bourgault is a smooth operator.

dessert1111

My rough rankings from the game:

Up arrows: Benson, Turris, Ryan (if he counts), Bourgault, Hamblin, Bouchard

Neutral arrows: McLeod, Perlini, Sceviour, Cracknell, Koekkoek, Berglund, Kemp, Skinner, Konovalov

Down arrows: Marody, Shore (did he play past the first period???), Lavoie, Broberg, Lagesson

OriginalPouzar

I agree with most of that but give Berglund a big up arrow.

dessert1111

I thought he played well but I have high-ish expectations because of his age and pro resume – feel like he delivered but didn’t scream “too good for this competition” like Bouchard and Ryan did.

Kert

I was about to post the same thing about Shore. I think I heard his name once after the Lucic double minor.

€√¥£€^$

This background on Oilers TV is a colour scheme and pattern I absolutely love! I see the makings of a 3rd jersey with this splat pattern with the Todd Macfarlane gear logo. Anyone out there who does jersey or graphic design as a hobby or as a profession picking up what I’m putting down?

Last edited 19 days ago by €√¥£€^$
Material Elvis

Kemp is a better passer than I expected.

meanashell11

I have been pleasantly surprised with his passing but also his calmness. Looks very mature out there.

OriginalPouzar

Kemp is an under-rated puck mover and passer – he doesn’t have great offensive instincts once he is in the offensive zone but his primary skill is puck retrieval and puck movement.

Many think that he’s a big bruiser type d-man, like Matt Greene, but he’s actually not that physical, just really smart defensively (and positionally).

If he can get his boots up a couple of tiers, a full couple of tiers, he’ll have a chance in a few years.

CMcD4PM

I can’t help but enjoy thinking about Flames fans at the Saddledome paying actual cash money to watch this game.

rich tm

Benson wuz robbed.

dessert1111

From what I saw he shot it right into the goalie instead of the open cage

Material Elvis

Werner robbed McLeod on the wrap around and Benson on an open net one timer.

David

Benson shoots it into the goalie instead of the gaping net. That would have been the icing on a solid game.

Admiral Ackbar

Unfair of me, but he’s got to put that home. Kid needs to send multiple messages to make the team out of camp….

David

No doubt. I’ll sing Benson’s praises all day, but he needs to bury those chances. Tippett is not going to hand him anything.

dessert1111

It’s so unusual to have a winger with elite passing skills but such a weak shot. Needs to spend 8 hours a day on it next off-season. But he should still make the team.

Bank Shot

He’s not a finisher. Passing is his forte. Needs to play on a line with one to be at his best I think.

Material Elvis

Konovalov with an outstanding lateral save.

Admiral Ackbar

What impressed me was how calmly and effortlessly he did it. That was Price-esque composure.

David

Broberg played that one on one against Backlund pretty well.

Last edited 19 days ago by David
Derek

Backlund gonna get in trouble for not dumping the puck in and chasing on that 1 on 1.

Ryan

The Flames are putting on a clinic for what happens when you have all rikibox d who can’t transition the puck..

flyfish1168

phlegms broadcast crew making so many excuses. They have the most NHL players and games played. So what if the Oilers have players that have been in the organization longer. YYC vets has been shameful tonight. backland lucie Anderson and vallimaki been bad period

OriginalPouzar

They did make that one excuse, which was odd, but they have been praising the Oilers all night long – I’ll give them that.

flea

Vets will never give 100% in preseason, typically the younger team will win as those players have more to play for.

still, for the first time in front of their fans in nearly 2 years, you think you’d get a little boost from that.

Who knows, preseason means nothing but the bit of this game I’ve watched has the Oilers dominating.

flyfish1168

I agree. But you don’t want to be beaten like a rented mule. These guys are competitive. 1st game back with fans. Ill-prepared for a veteran bunch

€√¥£€^$

By my count the Flames had 8 newbies (2 goalies) & the Oil 7 ( I included Broberg who spent 2-3 weeks with the team more than a year ago and Berglund, who hadn’t been back to North America since his last development camp at least 2.5 yrs ago) including a goalie who doesn’t speak English. It was at least 67% of the Flames NHL blue line out there with their entire bottom 6.

The Oilers 3rd line Center, top AHL line and every 4th line “prospect” ran their show with the help of their #5, 7-10 & #13 blue liners.

The Flames are really going to struggle this season. Markstrom will need to be a top 3 goalie if they even have hope of a 0.500 season.

flyfish1168

I count 4 of their top 7 Dmen playing tonight. backland and dube their 2 & 3 line centerman in tonight’s game. lucie, ritchie ,lewis and Richardson as 4 of their bottom 4 wingers playing. That BAD

Material Elvis

Announcer excuses starting: The Flames have more new guys in their lineup than the Oilers do. Are these guys reading HH’s Twitter or something?

David

The only guy likely to start in the Oilers top 9 opening night who is playing tonight is Ryan. Who is new to our organization.

Material Elvis

Bouchard showing his high level vision. Instead of mindlessly throwing the puck on net, he pulls up and feeds his D partner for an open shot.

winchester

Bouchard was brilliant wasnt he. Best player tonight.

Seismic Source

Konovalov looks really small. Is he short?

Ryan

He looks like Arturs Irbe.

Tarkus

But with much better puck handling.

OriginalPouzar

Yes, the main knock in him is his Sarros/Khudobin like size.

Kert

5’11”. I’m not worried about it. Halak, Khudobin and Saros are making it work, he can too.

BornInAGretzkyJersey

Dobber Prospects has him listed at 6’0″ as does NHL.com.

Reja

Tretiak was 6 foot we finally have a Goaltender in Konovalov that has actual reflexes. I have a feeling this kid is going to carve up the AHL this year.

Ice Sage

Well, there was Scrivens…

winchester

Hes not the last player to find out its raining, but hes close.

OriginalPouzar

I would encourage Cooper Marody to make some plays.

Kert

How about that pass to Benson with about 2:15 remaining? He must of heard you.

Side

Tyler Pitlick left the game due to an injury. Who could have seen that coming?

OriginalPouzar

He missed a good chunk of last year didn’t he? I think he played one full season and the better part of another but reverted back to IR last season, I think.

Material Elvis

Lower body, of course.

Bulging Twine

Man! That guys body keeps letting him down

OriginalPouzar

Perlini has come on strong after a not so good for half of the game.

Oil2Oilers

Man beating the Flames, even in a meaningless preseason game, is good for my mood.

Kert

Broberg has missed a lot of passes, one timers and little stick handling plays. I wonder if this is going to be a ‘Mikhnov’ situation where we find out he needs glasses or something.Hopefully it is just jitters and he dominates the AHL then comes up ready.

OriginalPouzar

He’s had an uneven game – some decent plays and also quite a bit of chaos – as it often is with a 20 year old d-man.

Giggleplex

A lot of whiffed passes and shots. I wonder if he needs a new stick.

Last edited 19 days ago by Giggleplex
Seismic Source

Bouchard is going to give our pp so many more options. I hope he anchors the second unit, he can get pucks through regardless of who he plays with.

OriginalPouzar

I preume that Bouch and Nurse will be 2/5 of PP2.

David

What is this second pp unit you speak of?

OriginalPouzar

Flames are robbing the Oilers of a chance to evaluate Skinner vs. Konovalov.

OriginalPouzar

As far as the one major battle in camp (11F-14F), through two, things have gone exactly as I had it going in:

4th line: Benson/McLeod/Turris

Extras: Shore/Perlini

Waived: Marody

dessert1111

Sceviour has looked decent

flyfish1168

shame vets look bad

David

I don’t think Benson is best utilized in front of the net on the PP. You want the puck on his stick, utilizing his vision and passing.

godot10

McLeod, Marody, and Turris are not net front guys. So Benson gets it by default.

David

I’d rather have the puck on Benson’s stick than any of those guys.

Material Elvis

Nice effort by Perlini. Gudbranson is going to be the Pacific Division Santa Claus this winter. Gifts for all!!

David

I approve of calling him Santa Claus henceforth.

Ryan

Not sure against this comp, but Benson does look quicker.

David

He’s no burner but he can get around well enough. Not everyone is a McDavid or McLeod.

Side

Sutter hockey!

Material Elvis

The hilarious part is that there are several Flames regulars getting schooled by, essentially, the 20-21 Bakersfield Condors.

Side

Right now in the Flames locker room, Sutter is drawing plays up on the whiteboard which are pictures of stick people wearing flaming C jerseys elbowing, hooking and slewfooting stick people wearing Oiler jerseys. Some of the Flames players are following along intently, others are realizing their helmets are on backwards and are busy trying to fix them.

Drai by Shooting

This would make a great cartoon.

OriginalPouzar

Does it count as a plus play if your takeaway was stripping Gurbrandson?

Nice play Perlini – important as he was getting vastly outplayed by both Benson and Turris before that.

dessert1111

Man this version of the Flames looks like trash. And I think they have more NHLers dressed tonight.

OriginalPouzar

Broberg is taking a bit of a beating tonight…. all night.

dessert1111

Yeah, most of the Oilers looking really good, but he has been pretty uneven. Clearly skilled but unpolished.

dessert1111

Encouraged by the Bourgault pick.

Been keying in on Benson – skating looks fine to decent at this level at least, but his one shot I noticed was a muffin.

Might be hard to evaluate Konovalov…

David

I think that shot was a essentially a dump in.

OriginalPouzar

Bourgault’s play down low, to get separation and get the puck back tot he point, before his goal, was fantastic – great puck skills and IQ.

Seismic Source

This game will do nothing to make help cuts. Everyone looks pretty good.

OriginalPouzar

Well, to me, there is clear separation for Benson over Perlini and Turris over Marody at this point.

Well, as I type that, Perlini scores on his own quick strike rebound.

Material Elvis

Current shots on net are 30-9 Oilers. The 3-0 score is flattering to the Flames.

Oil2Oilers

Bourgault is more than welcome to make scoring against the Flames a life long habit.

maudite

Bouchard is definitely clear of this level of comp.

OriginalPouzar

The Oilers, as a team, are definitely clear of this level of comp (and the flames have a more NHL lineup than the Oilers including their locked in 2G to start the game).

Material Elvis

Bourgault scores!

Ryan

A fine Bourgault!!

Last edited 19 days ago by Ryan
OriginalPouzar

Wow, some shifty work by Borgault down low and gets it back to Bouch for another puck towards the net – nice play by the kid.

Ooooop, and now Bourgault snipes the 3-0 goal.

What a shift by the kid.

Nice pass by Ryan.

Material Elvis

Hamblin is a nice little player having a good game.. Decent wheels, good hands, not afraid of contact.

Material Elvis

McLeod with another great chance; a deflection in the high slot that just missed.

OriginalPouzar

That was off a nice pass by Perlini – his best play of the evening so far.

Oil2Oilers

If Barrie gets so much as a hang nail this year he will lose his PP1 role to Bouchard. The kid sacrificed his youth to the Nuge school of PowerPlay witchcraft.