The Edmonton Oilers held their own against a Vancouver lineup that will look very much like the roster that the Canucks will open their 2011-2012 campaign with. In a game that featured great goaltending performances from both Nikolai Khabibulin and Roberto Luongo, Vancouver were able to pull out a hard fought 4 -1 victory over the Oilers. The score was 2-1 until the last minute of play, when Vancouver potted two, one in an empty net, to seal the deal.
Magnus Paajarvi was the lone Oiler to beat Roberto Luongo, with a power play marker in the second period but Luongo was unbeatable the rest of the way. The Vancouver netminder was in mid-season form right from the get go. He stopped four odd man rushes in the first period alone and continued his strong play throughout the game. Edmonton's starter Nikolai Khabibulin matched Luongo save for save until he was beaten by Jannik Hansen five minutes in the thrid period.
- Paajarvi was easily the best skater on the ice. He was flying right off the bat and he apparently has another gear in his stride because he has been even more explosive in the pre-season, then he was last season. The young Swede seems a lot more willing to shot the puck and is no longer backing off from physical contact. Perfect example being his goal on the power play, he fought for the puck in front of the net and finally was able to bang in the loose puck.
- Nikolai Khabibulin was strong once again and played arguably his best all around game to date. Both he and Devan Dubnyk look sharp heading into the season so regardless of who starts on October 9th, look for the two to share starting duties to open the season.
- In their final chance to make an impression, forwards Anton Lander, Lennart Petrell & Teemu Hartikainen all had strong games and were noticable all night long. Unlikely that Harikainen remains with the big club but Petrell and Lander seem like the could both break camp as Edmonton Oilers.
- For reasons only known to the Edmonton Oilers coaching staff, the club employed the ridiculous "diamond formation" penalty kill tonight. The same formation that wreaked havoc with the clubs penalty killing last season, until they finally abandoned the formation...a headshaker to say the least.
- The group of blueliners had their troubles last night and I don't see it improving anytime soon...unless they bring in reinforcements.
- Did I happen to mention the Oilers brought back the "diamond formation" penalty kill?