Calgary Flames vs. Edmonton Oilers @ Rexall Place
After ending the 2009-10 season in the lowest of lows, the Oilers come back to redeem themselves with a little rejuvenation. But the Flames have a little something to say about that.
The headline to start tonight's Battle of Alberta was the NHL debut of Edmonton wonders Magnus Paajarvi, Jordan Eberle, and Taylor Hall. Who wouldn't want to see these three? Whether you're a fan of Oil Town or not, these kids have highly touted reputations laid before them. And they played to every syllable of their reps.
Taylor Hall produced some good chances in his official first NHL game. Being the most-touted of the three, Hall proved to be quite valuable despite not appearing on the score sheet. Paajarvi had been a very good body at the blue-line. Playing in the Swedish Elite League had taught the young defenceman the skills in competing with the big boys. Paajarvi created some good plays for great scoring chances, but all were stopped by Miikka Kipprusoff. That didn't mean he was no good. On the contrary, Paajarvi was good. Paajarvi tonight was a good example of the brand new style of defencemen coming into the NHL. Play makers, scorers, strong defencemen, and able to play a good tw-way game without forgetting either of their responsibilities; that is the way many saw Paajarvi tonight.
But those two could be easily mentioned if not for Jordan Eberle. 41:24 into his first NHL game, Eberle scored his first NHL goal. It wasn't no regular goal either; it was a SHG that emerged from a great break-up from Jim Vandermeer in the defensive zone. But what a first pro-goal! The toe-drag on that puck was beautiful! I for one would remember that goal for a good while. And then he had to top it off with a wrister for Shawn Horcoff's PPG 4 minutes later.
No Battle of Alberta would be complete without a couple of fights. Fight of the night: the one between Steve MacIntyre and Raitis Ivanans. Right off of the face-off with 2:20 left on the clock, the two were chirpping until the gloves were dropped. A good bit of fisticuffs before MacIntyre delivered a heavy right-hand on Ivanans! The crowd was electric after the bout, but classy as the fallen was carried off by his teammates off the ice.
A new era has arrived in Edmonton. A different captain, a healthy Nikolai Khabibulin in goal, some fresh new faces, a new coach; a lot of changes has given them a new light on the new season. I don't doubt that it's a new season for the Oilers in Oil Town, and I doubt that last season will repeat itself.
(1) Jordan Eberle
(2) Nikolai Khabibulin
(3) Shawn Horcoff
My 3 stars:
(1) Jordan Eberle
(2) Shawn Horcuff
(3) Miikka Kipprusoff (the only reason the Flames were only 4 goals behind and not more)