A rare live glimpse of the Calgary Flames pipeline was a positive experience, even if the game wasn’t. With names such as Wahl, Chucko and Negrin out due to injury, and the Oilers having recalled Omark and Chorney, the game didn’t set up well to be a classic. However, the chance to get a live look at the prospects still was a nice treat and allowed for a review. I’ll go player by player, but should note that this was a disappointing game for the Heat and one where I thought the pressure seemed too much. Not many players had what I would consider “good” games.
Leland Irving – Irving looked like a first round pick. Not so much in skill level, but just his confidence not only in himself but his trade. He was almost always in the right spot and good with his movement. Irving takes a lot about how his summer “puck tracking” training is very helpful and it shows. A problem that I’ve had in previous watching of Irving was that he relied too much on his athleticism and was often out of place because of it. This seems to be corrected, but the athleticism remains. I don’t think it’s long until he is in the NHL.
Brodie – Did Brodie disappoint? No that’s not fair. Did he wow, no he did not. Brodie did play the same way he played in preseason, and that was safe and confident with the puck. He mans the blueline very well on the PP and skates extremely well with the puck. His defensive game was a little up and down and I thought there were some bad decisions throughout his game. I’ve seen him play better, but I still thought he was easily one of their better players.
Joe Piskula – Not a Flames prospect and that’s probably a good thing. He rushed his decision and never looked relaxed the entire game. Has some skating ability and puck moving ability though, but not enough to warrant anything.
Gord Baldwin – Played his usual safe/steady game. Similar to Brodie, he didn’t give you anything one way or another it was just another reliable game. Skating has improved, but I don’t’ think Baldwin offers enough to be anything more than an injury call up at this point. He’s not overly physical, not a great skater, not a great puck mover, etc etc. However, at the same time he also plays virtually mistake free hockey.
Seabrook – I liked his game although I’ve seen him play better games. I thought his defence game was pretty sound, but he seemed to hold a little back as well. Because of the type of game it was there really wasn’t an offering for Seabrook to get involved offensively, but I thought he moved the puck well out of his zone and into the neutral zone. Wasn’t overly physical either which surprised me, and I would have liked to see him be a bit more physical.
Chris Breen – I was a little surprised Playfair liked Breen’s game as much as he did. I thought Breen was pretty solid, but I didn’t think his game was enough to get excited about. I did like the Breen/Pelech pairing because the two of them really did well clearing the front of the net and were pretty physical on the forecheckers. Breen skates pretty well for a big man, and for the most part makes sound decisions but there were some occasions where he made some very puzzling decision. None backfired luckily, but for a dman that doesn’t skate all that well decision making is going to be a premium. He’s not a bad prospect and I don’t disagree with Playfair that he could see the NHL. I see a lot of Keith Aulie in Breen.
Pelech- While he certainly did not look like a first round pick, I didn’t mind Pelech’s game. He plays with a lot of confidence and I liked that he jumped up offensively a couple of times. His skating still isn’t fantastic, and I’d be hard pressed to suggest he’s improved since his short NHL stint. I just liked his solid/defence aspect but at this point that’s really all he is offering. I thought Breen and he worked very well together, but apart it may have been a different story.
Nemisz – Such a smart player its really awesome to watch. Unfortunatley, he is smart in a way that a lot of fans are not going to appreciate. When it comes to adhering to the system or knowing where to be Nemisz is exceptional. His skating continues to improve and his top end speed is not a problem, his acceleration is. Its still not quite where you want it to be and IMO he still needs to fill out. He showed some hands and passing ability which creating scoring chances. All in all, like a lot of the players here, he played a safe game but the flash was certainly not there.
Stone – Probably their best forward. Was really the only forward I thought was good in all three zones and it was a pretty nice goal he scored. He would certainly have been in the mix for the 4th line had he been healthy.
Kotalik – Most of the time he looked pretty disinterested and for a guy with his skill level he certainly was not the best player on the ice.
Cam Cunning – I thought he looked very good and is such a battler. I had him in the mix for the 4th line in preseason and I think he will continue to be in that conversation. Probably the hardest Heat player on the forecheck all night and he is very tough to match up with at that level. However, he isn’t the most fleet of foot and doesn’t create much off the fore check either so the upside is minimal.
Matt Keith – Skated pretty well with the puck and was pretty solid with Cunning and Patterson on the forecheck. However, doesn’t create very much and was so/so defensively.
Patterson – Very similar to Cunning, just not as strong. Very strong defensively and played that way. Quick and tough to contain down low, he looked solid for a player playing his first pro season.
Quintin Lang – He really didn’t stand out, which is too bad for an AHL veteran like him.
Bouma – Played very similar to how he did in Calgary, rough and rugged. He tough was tough to contain down low but he didn’t get rewarded or really get much opportunity to finish. I didn’t think his effort level and his jump was quite what it was with Calgary.
Rheault – honestly, very disappointed in his game. I like him a lot in the preseason but he didn’t play with any type of energy like he did there. Looked pretty flat for most of the game and was not sound with the puck.
Meyer – Solid, and really continued his play from the NHL this year. Like Bouma and Rheault I would like to see him create more offensive chances for he and his line mates though.
Cameron – Didn’t like his game and he has a long way to go. His skating is ok but like Nemisz his acceleration isn’t where you would want it. He did show a pretty sound defensive understanding, but was nowhere to be seen in the offensive zone. Not good for a former CHL leading scorer.
John Armstrong – Had a really tough time noticing him, and found myself having to look for him. His skating is back and he is tough along the boards but needed to be even more physical. He really did nothing when he had the puck, but was very solid in the circle and in the defensive zone.
All in all, the team itself played extremely similar to the parent club was playing a few months ago. They were solid positional and understood their game, but the jump/effort just wasn’t there enough through the line up to show much of anything.