PGD: Baby Battle

The Calgary Flames finish off their time in Penticton tonight when they take on the Edmonton Oilers prospects at the Young Stars Tournament (8:30 pm, Sportsnet Radio FAN 960).  The Flames have yet to win a game at this tournament while the Oilers have yet to lose; Edmonton is coming off a 2-0 win over Winnipeg on Tuesday night while the Flames lost 4-3 to the Canucks Monday in overtime.

A number of Flames will play their third game of the tournament, including the entire first line and the goaltender.  It’s done in an effort to let management see certain players in different situations, and to maybe decide if certain guys are ready to get a spot at main camp.  There have been a few performances so far this tournament that may very well be worthy of getting larger looks.

The Lineup

It’s good to see the top line from Monday’s game stick together, and the pairing of Max Reinhart and Patrick Holland will play their third straight game alongside each other.  Reinhart has been the best player for the Flames so far in this tournament, as he’s been good in all three zones and has driven his line consistently.  Holland has been right there with him, scoring twice on Monday and playing well off Reinhart; Baertschi has been pretty darn good too, as he’s skilled and stronger than a lot of people thought.

Patrick Holland-Max Reinhart-Sven Baertschi
Carter Bancks-Dustin Sylvester-Greg Nemisz
Lance Bouma-Mitch Wahl-Turner Elson
Logan MacMillan-Roman Horak-Ryan Howse

Watching Wahl in his second game will be a good case study, as he’s trying to get his timing back to where it was prior to his major concussion a year ago.  When something knocks you out of action as long as Wahl was out, that timing is something that will take some time to return.

Four of the six blueliners will play for a third time, which happens because of on ice peformance and out of necessity.  Chris Breen got banged up at some point during Calgary’s 6-1 loss to the Sharks prospects on Sunday, while Tyler Wotherspoon hasn’t been able to play the entire tournament as he recovers from an injury.

John Negrin-T.J. Brodie
Peter Kosterman-James Martin
Joey Leach-Reid Jackson

Joni Ortio will get his third straight start in between the pipes, the only goaltender to start all three games to this point, and likely the only goaltender to play every minute.  No knock on the two tryout goalies here with the Flames, but Ortio needs the time: the Abbotsford Heat do not play any preseason games, so this is essentially that for Ortio.

The Opponent

Last year, the Oilers decided not to play Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle in their game against the Flames at the Young Stars Tournament; well, this year, it’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sitting out for Edmonton against Calgary.  It was the plan all along, and likely has nothing to do with the opponents, but it still kinda sucks not to see the number one overall pick in action against the Flames.

Last night, Nugent-Hopkins was the best player on the ice in Edmonton’s 2-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets.  What was really interesting was watching him go head-to-head with Jets first rounder Mark Scheifele, as the Oilers hard matched Nugent-Hopkins against him for the final 40 minutes.  No knock on Scheifele, but he wasn’t quite at the same level as his 2011 draft mate.

Phillippe Cornet-Anton Lander-Tobias Rieder
Curtis Hamilton-Tyler Pitlick-Antti Tyrvainen
Brett Ferguson-Chase Schaber-Toni Rajala
Drew Czerwonka-Colin Smith-Cameron Abney

Brandon Davidson-David Musil
Wes Vannieuwenhuizen-Jeremie Blain
Martin Marincin-Tyler Schmidt

Lander is a really interesting guy to watch, as he’s thick but very skilled and has deceiving speed.  He, Hamilton, and Nugent-Hopkins have been the three standouts in the tournament so far for the Oilers, at least in my mind.  Lander spent two seasons in Sweden before heading over to North America, as opposed to coming over right away.

Tyler Bunz was very good in net for the Oilers last night, stopping all 23 shots to earn a shutout in the tournament; he’ll rest tonight as Adam Brown gets the start in net.  He’s spent the last three seasons with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.  Last year Brown went 36-22-1 and then 6-4 in the postseason.

The Story

Hey, anytime the Oilers and Flames go at it, it’s fun to watch, and tonight should be no different.  I’m looking to see how things progress for guys like Reinhart and Holland and I’m looking to see if other players have taken any steps forward.  I think of Ryan Howse and Mitch Wahl specifically; it’s interesting to see Howse on a line with Chilliwack teammate Roman Horak to start the game tonight as well.