Yikes, this was not a great game by the Calgary Flames’ prospect group. They were handedly outplayed by the Edmonton Oilers’ prospects who sent wave after wave of pressure on the Flames, and were it not for it being a preseason game and Dustin Wolf standing tall, this scoreline could have looked much worse.
The Flames were not completely out of it. They had stretches where they looked quite good, but really couldn’t generate many quality looks. Again, just like in the first game, they struggled with the final pass or the final shot, only able to get a grand total of one goal in the first two games of the tournament.
The Flames prospects did not start this one on time, struggling to contain waves of Oilers’ pressure early on. Just three minutes in, Noah Philp got the Oilers on the board to give them a 1–0 lead.
The Flames managed their wheels under them about seven minutes into the first and started pushing back with some decent looks. The first line of Jakob Pelletier, Cole Schwindt, and Adam Klapka as well as the second line of Walker Duehr, Connor Zary, and Emilio Pettersen were the ones really leading the way for the team.
Calgary would tie it off a nice shot from Jack Beck after Yan Kuznetsov pinched to save the play in the offensive zone. Lucas Ciona was causing all sorts of chaos right in front of the net to create the goal. A great team effort.
The Flames would continue to apply pressure through the first, but could not solve Olivier Rodrigue in net for the Oilers. It would end 1–1 at the end of the first.
The Oilers really took the game to the Flames in the second, and would strike about eight minutes into the frame. It would end 2–1 Oilers after two. The Flames managed just a couple shots on net in the second, but hit two posts including a breakaway by Duehr which he just couldn’t convert. Not a great period.
The Flames tried to push back in the third, swapping Zary and Schwindt at centre, but the Oilers would get a third goal off of Dylan Holloway to take a 3–1 lead. Holloway would add an empty-netter to seal this one for the Oilers. Not a great showing by the Flames.
Flames that stood out
This was really not a great game for the Flames’ prospects, and while it is a preseason game of just prospects with absolutely nothing on the line in the standings, this game left a lot to be desired.
The bright spots in this one were definitely Walker Duehr and especially Connor Zary, who were both excellent for the Flames. Duehr had multiple chances where he used his size and speed to get inside positioning on Oilers’ defenders to get chances on net. He also had a great individual effort which beat the goalie but not the post.
Zary was dynamic at both ends of the ice. He was electric offensively, creating chances for himself as well as for his teammates. After a very rough last season, it is great to see him really pushing to show the team why the selected him in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. If the Flames were to have a chance in this one, it would have come off of his stick, but he simply was not able to beat Rodrigue.
Wolf had a pretty good game, but was mostly hung out to dry by his team. He did his job to keep this one close, and did not allow any soft ones, but the Flames offence just couldn’t get the job done at the other end of the ice.
It’s hard not to single out the Flames’ top forward prospect in Pelletier in this one. He has had every opportunity to elevate his game offensively, but just hasn’t been able to do so. And while he has been quite good defensively and on the penalty kill, offensively he just hasn’t shown enough at this point to really deserve the title of the Flames’ best forward prospect in the tournament so far.
On the blueline, Jeremie Poirier again was dynamic for this team. He showcased his hands and skating ability up and down the ice, and was the Flames’ best defenceman again in this game. He is going to be a very tough cut for the Flames in training camp, but will be a huge asset for the Wranglers this season.
Quietly, Poirier’s defence partner Ilya Solovyov also had a great game. Not as flashy as Poirier, Solovyov is a very good, well-rounded defenceman who plays with a lot of sandpaper. He continues to steadily impress for the Flames on the blueline.
What’s next for the Flames?
The Flames have one more game in the tournament—a Monday afternoon tilt against the Winnipeg Jets’ prospects. It’s just a round robin tournament, but the Flames’ coaching staff have to do something to light a spark under this team. They have looked disjointed up and down the ice, and while there have been some good moments, they aren’t getting enough out of their guys at this point in a way they really should be.
The Flames don’t have a weak prospect pool by any stretch of the imagination, but this is the second game in as many nights that they have looked second best on the ice. That’s a really tough look for a team who has marvelled in the last few drafts (perhaps 2022 aside).
In the Flames’s final game, I would love to see them start Daniil Chechelev in net. They already know what they have in net in Wolf, and they know he’s going to be their starter for the Wranglers this season. This is a mostly meaningless game against the Jets that could be a good opportunity to give Chechelev a look.
It would also be nice to see them play some of their prospects that were rested in this one. Cameron Whynot and Parker Bell have yet to see any game action this tournament, and the Flames left Lucas Feuk and Cole Jordan out of this game after they played in the first game against Vancouver. The team can use the rare ice time wisely to see all four hit the ice in the final game of the tournament.
No matter what happens, there have been a lot of individual highs and lows through this tournament, and while it doesn’t much matter at the end of the day, there is a lot for the Flames’ coaching staff and management to take away going back to Calgary for training camp next week.
Photo by Marissa Baecker via NHL.com