It was nice to finally get a chance to watch hockey again...that involved the Edmonton Oilers silks. While Edmonton's 7-2 victory over Vancouver did not tells us much, as the Canucks "Young Stars" were awful, I am always up for an Edmonton drubbing of Vancouver.
In what turned out to be a very one sided game, the Oiler youngsters simply imposed their will on the Vancouver prospects. What really stood out from an Oilers perspective, was the shear size of the team and the fact that they dominated the physical side of the game...if not the fisticuffs. It is clear that finishing out of the playoffs the last five seasons, has allowed the organization to fill its cupboards with an abundance of quality prospects and fans are starting to see signs of what the future may hold. While first overall selection Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked very good at times last night, a trio of players stood out: Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton and David Musil.
Lander, much like Magnus Paajarvi at last years tournament, seems to be ahead of the curve. He will need time to get accustomed to playing the game in North America but in a showcase like this, his time in the Swedish Elite League is very evident. That being the case, he was a hound on the puck all night long and showed that he may just have a nice set of hands in tight on his first goal of the night. Positionally he was strong most of the night and he followed the play on the back check in his own zone very well, while battling hard down low. It's only one game but the young Swede seems to be as advertised...if there was any doubt.
As for Curtis Hamilton, he was a bull all night long. The kid seemed to have a nose for the net and was generating something whenever he was on the ice. I can't remember many shifts that I did not notice the number 70 doing something positive out on the ice. He plays with a lot of energy and that bodes well for his future as an Oiler.
That brings us to David Musil and I felt he was the best of the lot. He was calm, cool and collected all night long on the backend and the kid can move the puck. He made very quick tape to tape passes and rarely made the wrong decision last night. He's an imposing figure out on the ice and when he fills out that 6'3" frame, he might just end up being the steal of the 2011 draft for the Edmonton Oilers.
Another guy who I felt was good, was Olivier Roy. While he wasn't tested much by the Canucks, when he was, he looked solid. I have never been the biggest Roy supporter. Whenever I have seen him play, he seems to get rattled easy and starts doubting his ability. While not uncommon with young goalies, it has happened far too often for my liking with the native of Quebec. Last nights performance was a step in the right direction and hopefully Roy uses it as a spring board to a good season.
On last thing, was it just me or does Craig MacTavish behind a Vancouver Canucks bench not seem wrong? I know many an Oiler fan had their fill of coach MacTavish but I hope to god he gets an NHL gig at some point this season. I really want no part of the Oilers battling the Canucks in a year or two from now with MacTavish being their bench boss. The guy bleeds Oilers orange and blue...once an Edmonton Oiler always an Edmonton Oiler.
Next Game: Tuesday, Sept.13 vs Winnipeg Jets 8:30 pm