NHL preseason: Day 5 thoughts
Flyers 2, Devils 1. Ken Hitchcock's line of Kyle Calder, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter continues to impress, and Carter in particular did well here with a goal and an assist. The Devils went with a pretty green line-up.
Avalanche 3, Red Wings 2. The first preseason shootout — oh joy! Former St. Louis Blue Mark Rycroft and Brett McLean, who had last season's quietest 40 points, picked up the goals for Colorado, and youngsters Wojtek Wolski and Paul Statsny chipped in during the shootout. Josh Langfeld, who has been punted around to three different NHL teams in the past two seasons, played decent minutes for Detroit.
Wild 5, Blues 2. The big guns were rolling for Minnesota, who iced a pretty full line-up tonight. Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik teamed up for a goal and two assists, while Brian Rolston had a pair of goals. How about these names for the Blues: Backes, Disalvatore, Glumac, Kahnberg, Mojzis, Polak, Whitfield — let's just say, we won't be hearing from most of them come opening day. When Jamie Rivers picks up the 2nd most icetime, you know it's a lean squad.
Predators 8, Blue Jackets 1. A good, old-fashioned pounding in Memphis. Expect Columbus to look lost without Sergei Fedorov, as they are oh so thin down the middle. Nashville's newcomers did most of the work here, especially Alex Radulov (1 goal, 1 assist) and Ramzi Abid (hat trick). Mikko Lehtonen, a Finnish veteran who should fill one of the spots on the Predators' blueline, also scored for Nashville.
Blackhawks 3, Panthers 2 (OT). Two goals for Bryan Smolinski, who is the defacto No. 1 centre in Chicago (shudder), and big icetime on the Florida side for some impressive rookies — namely Rostislav Olesz, who had a goal and is one to watch this season if he can find icetime among what is suddenly a cluttered forward corps in Miami. No real surprises here.
Oilers 4, Flames 3 (OT). The Battle of Alberta, AHL-team style, needed extra time to settle things, and it was Shawn Horcoff who ended it on a 3-on-4 play in overtime. The most interesting story on the scoresheet was Edmonton's Patrick Thoresen, a native of Norway who's father Petter is regarded as that country's equivalent of Wayne Gretzky. Patrick was a scoring star when he came to the QMJHL as a 17 year old five years ago, but went undrafted (likely due to his size) and played the past three seasons in the Swedish Elite League. Now 22, he has a contract with the Oilers, and at the very least is headed to one of their 36 minor-league affiliates. Thoresen had a goal and an assist last night.
Sharks 4, Canucks 3. It was all Milan Michalek tonight, as the big Czech had three goals and even a little scuffle (pictured) with Vancouver prospect Alex Edler. Not that Michalek needs to impress anyone — he's a lock to start the season on Patrick Marleau's wing. What else... how about rookie Matt Carle getting 21 minutes on a San Jose blueline that was very veteran-less. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault seems intent on resting most of his veterans through these exhibition games, as there were a lot of Vladimir Kutny types playing in this game again. Jesse Schultz, who had 37 goals in the AHL last season, hasn't impressed anyone in preseason so far, and the question of just where Vancouver's goals will come from is not any closer to being answered. Unless the Sedins both decide to pot 45 this year.