Preseason Games Nos. 1 and 2: Splitsville

Today is the first day we will see NHL players doing their jobs in a competitive format since last June, and it’s been considerably longer than that since we saw anyone do it in a Flames jersey. Whether that’s a good or bad thing remains to be seen, I suppose, but as far as the competition goes, well, you may want to temper your excitement.

To give you an idea of the type of rosters both Canucks squads are going to be rolling out tonight, all one needs to do is look at their top lines. In Calgary, Joel Perrault, a 27-year-old veteran of a whopping 89 NHL games, runs the pivot for the formidable duo of Jeff Tambellini and Jannik Hansen.

But Canucks kept the big guns back home. They will start with a line featuring, from left to right, the ghost of Peter Schaeffer’s unimpressive career, brainless thug Rick Rypien (his dad was a boxer!) and Victor Oreskovich, whom the Florida Panthers of all teams relegated to fourth-line minutes last year.

The Flames, on the other hand, are bringing MOABs to what Canucks brass clearly intended to be a snowball fight. Among the names of those playing in Vancouver tonight are Rene Bourque, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Mark Giordano, which is sufficiently impressive. But they’re icing a more-or-less NHLer-laden roster for the home crowd in what must be an effort to placate those that would show up to the Saddledome tonight with torches and effigies ready to go if there’s even a hint that Olli Jokinen is still fairly bad.

Speaking of our dear Pumpkinhead, it’s interesting that they’re already giving the top line of Tanguay-Jokinen-Iginla a go, perhaps in hopes of creating some sort of time vortex that would pull the universe back four years when that unit would have been considered formidable, rather than the broken-down remnants of a rapidly-yellowing Darryl Sutter wishlist that is, honestly, a bit mauve-ish already.

Of note too is that despite Vancouver rolling out two rosters, they saw fit to avoid using either Sedin twin, Roberto Luongo, Dan Hamhuis, Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson, Alex Edler, and so on and so forth. Although it is comical that even with a bunch of 19-year-olds in the lineup, they’re not going to give Darcy Hordichuk any more than like eight minutes a night because he really is awful.

I figure most of the stuff to watch for tonight mostly has to do with the blue line. Issues worth tracking include whether Robyn Regehr seems particularly engaged, since he spent so much of last year appearing to be rather the opposite, and what in the name of Lanny McDonald Jay Bouwmeester is doing paired with Matt Pelech — or more specifically, if this means he’s about to usurp Adam Pardy’s regular lineup spot like everyone figures he will.

Ah well, if nothing else, it’s real live NHLish hockey. You’re gonna love it.


  • Could have gone either way honestly. In the preseason you let the star player get the breakaway at home, but that is just my bias opinion. Iggy looked to have his toe VERY barely on the blueline though. Tough call for the ref no matter which way he called it he would have been yelled at by one of the benches.

  • from my good friend goad (a canucks supporter but openminded to good players) has been watching gio and says
    “gio with two minors, a missed 4 min high stick and a turtle. not watching him anymore.”

    lol. poor gio.

    • Robert Cleave

      It was very nice. The Flames won an O zone draw, Kronwall handed it to Hagman near the blueline, and he then skated around a couple of players to score. Very nice play.

  • Greg

    Does it disturb anyone else that our “core” players could barely beat Vancouver’s farm team, and our “supporting” cast seems to be beating up on them?

  • BobB

    Kotalik looks good with Backlund. Pelech is a lock and I’m interested to see some more of Kronwall.

    The vets played keep away like they we’re teenagers babysitting 10 year olds and that’s how it should be.

    Glad to see Phaneuf is the same ol douche. heh.

  • BobB

    Watching these two games (or parts of both) certainly does make one realize just how much 5-6 “d” talent the team is rich with.

    I thought Pelech looks damn good. Unless the wheels fall off, I’d be penciling him in already. But add to that, Kronwall, who seemed sharp in the other game, and potted a goal, Negrin who looked stable and intelligent and Pardy, who we all know can handle himself in the NHL. and suddenly you’re thinking…sheesh.

    How Staios, especially considering his contract, has any value to the team is beyond me. He looked old and slow in the first game to boot.

    Goaltending, is always interesting for me.

    Kipper looked good, solid, but a little slow and he got a bit mixed up on that goal, but heck…it’s preseason. He really looks like he’s been working on ‘walling-up’ in the offseason. Trying to close those small holes.

    Karlsson impressed me. He’s very calm, and composed. He wasn’t tested too much, and for such a freakish giant, he doesn’t know how to use his size. For example, Vernon, may not have been that great, but if Karlsson had his size, he’d be doing other things in life. He still plays way too deep and stretches for too many pucks. Someone needs to tell him he’s 6’6″.

    Irving looked really nervous. He struggled significatly all night to find a groove, but his skill worked for him. The goal he allowed is more of a fortunate bounce for the nucks than slow lateral movement for Irving. He was there, it just went off his pad and straight back. He was a little too-far rotated.

    Kotaliks goal was nice, but he’s still soft, soft, soft. Hagman’s as well. Both those guys just need to do it 20-25 times in regular season. Tanguay looked good. Iggy picked it up. Gio had a bad night. Reggie looked like the old Reggie. He almost killed himself and some prospect going for a huge hit.

    Oh well, we don’t have Lack (more impressive than Karlsson? same size?) but at least we don’t have Shantz and Weiman.

  • icedawg_42

    recap from my point of view:
    period 1 – Groan – offense looks like last year, Reggie gettin’ physical. Joker’s skating at least…backchecking hard, if not overly effective. What the heck is Jbo doing crashing the net? Saddledome beer is hardcore as always. Van’s prospect goalie looks pretty I see why there was so much chatter about him at the prospects tourney

    period 2 – Backlund from Tangs SHG – very nice. Tanguay REALLY took off on that one, great burst. — Yup, still hate vancouver.

    period 3 – Saddledome beer is hardcore – thought I just saw Kotalik drive the net and score…i’ll check the replay, nope – he lost the puck and the canuck d-man put it in. Oh well, here’s hoping he can do some legit scoring later.
    Weak wrap around goal on Irving, but he makes a wild save a bit later to make up for it.
    nice shot Iggy – short side!
    Never got out of the parking lot this quick – must be preseason.
    Sounds like I missed the more impressive of the 2 games.

  • Oyo

    im defs happy that pelech came to play tho. take sarich and staois’ spot. no one really talked about sarich to much??? howd he do????

    i hope the orginization will recognize that these younger guys need to move up and the older guys cant be kept just becuase they are vets.

    please be smart flames. please.

    was the top line any kind of dominant last night???