Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Preseason: Oilers @ Canucks.

MattM and I attended this evening's game at GM Place. While it was a decent game overall, the 1-2-2 that the Canucks employed after they took the lead made for a pretty dull finish. A few comments:


- We dressed an awfully young lineup and it showed. With the exception of Strudwick, even the legitimate NHLer's were only second and third year Pro's (37, 77, 12, 13, 67, 51, 46). Once the Canucks took the lead the team really deflated.

- The Powerplay had some nice puck movement and I'll be interested to see how the 37-77 pairing fairs on the second unit.


- PDO mentioned it over at PJO's , and I have to agree, Colin McDonald is a MacT type player. Every time he picked up the puck he moved it up ice with both speed and power. He also wasn't afraid to put pucks on the net. So much so that by the end of the night Matt and I were referring to weak shots from the outside as "McDonald's".

- Trukhno by my eye had a rather up and down game. He showed considerable passing skill and an ability to operate in tight. However, he was noticeably slow and often turned the puck over needlessly (while not under a lot of pressure). I liked what I saw from him but I'm not as impressed as others in the Oilogosphere. I think his game is a long way from 'NHL ready'.

- Bryan Young was not as good as MattM or I expected. After one full year in the 'A' we thought that his game would have a bit more polish. He had pretty much the inverse of 'calm feet'.

- Matt Roy hasn't changed one bit. I noticed on two separate occasions that he turned his back on his forecheckers. The guy showed some grit but he's just not an NHL defenseman.

- Strudwick was solid and hardly noticeable. I think he's a good fit for the 6/7 spot. I do however also think that Smid's job is safe.

- Gilbert Brule put together a very solid game. He played with a lot of energy and his checking style is nearly identical to the recently departed number 14 (he takes those quick short strides just before laying his shoulder into his target). He doesn't however have the obvious flaws in Torres' game: puck handling, agility (Torres has good top speed but doesn't move well side to side), and shot. I was very impressed with this kid, at just 21 years old I think he's set the bar for the 12th F spot.

- Kyle Brodziak looked like a man amongst boys. His skating has improved and he doesn't seem to have regressed from the Brodziak we saw late last season. I think he was the best Oiler forward.

- Jordan Eberle was a boy amongst men. You can see the talent but he's just not there yet.

The Rest:

- Not really much to say, Gibby and Grebs were feeling each other out and had pretty poor games. Sesito, Spurgeon, Young, Taylor, Benson looked out of place and will be cut soon. Stortini played the pest role perfectly and Potulny had his moments but was overshadowed by Brule.

- Roloson was playing with a lot of fire and I was very impressed with his gamesmanship.


Boondock said...

Weird. I was at the game tonight and have pretty much had an identical take on Roy, Trukhno, McDonald, Brule, Strudwick, etc.

As good as Brule was last night, I'm thinking it might be in Brule's best interest to start the year in Springfield in an offensive role. Guy has hardly touched the puck in his two NHL seasons. A year on the 4th line with Brodz/Stortini probably won't be much better for him. Thoughts?

kinger said...

As good as Brule was last night, I'm thinking it might be in Brule's best interest to start the year in Springfield in an offensive role.

That's exactly how MattM feels. However, I do think MacT is more of a 'keep the best guy up' kind of coach. He's certainly shown in the past that he's a staunch supporter of merit based promotion, as opposed to draft pedigree or contractual obligations.

Lowe on the other hand has shown that he puts protecting assets first. If Brule makes the team in under 20 games he will be waiver eligible. Also, if Pouliot or Potulny do not occupy the 12 and 13 F spots one of them will have to pass through waivers to be re-assigned.

I've always been a BPA guy (my fantasy hocking drafting record reads as such) so I lean towards keeping Brule up on the big squad. I'm not convinced of the logic that sending him down the minors will be good for his confidence or his game. I've heard him in a couple interviews and he gave me the impression that he's not exactly thrilled with the prospect of getting sent down to Springfield. Sure, sending him down to rediscover his offensive game sounds good, but what if it has the opposite effect (crushes his fragile confidence and eliminates the positive effects of the 'change of scenery').

In the likely scenario that we have an injury in the top 6 (Regehr, meet Hemsky), Brule will have ample opportunity to move up from the Stortini-Brodziak line into a more prominent role. Also, as we saw late last year, Brodziak has a lot more to his game than just grinding. I can see Brule getting his confidence back by playing a Glencross-like role just as easily as I can see him getting it back beating up on AHL scrubs. However, in the former scenario there is no risk of negative reaction from a demotion to the minors (for the first time in his career).

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