SUN Hockey Pool

Oiler rookies feel heat

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

CALGARY -- It was like deja phew all over again.

If last night's exhibition game in Calgary looked familiar, it's because we saw it 24 hours earlier in Edmonton.

Home team dresses all its good players, road team dresses most of its rookies. Home team wins in a laugher for the delighted masses. Throw the result out the window.

Well, turnabout was fair play last night when Calgary's A-team lit up the Edmonton Oilers prospects 5-0 at the Saddledome.

Ty Conklin kept it close for as long as he could, doing a solid job, but the Flames scored four third period goals in just over four minutes to run the overmatched visitors out of the rink.

"We have a lot of guys not ready for the big time," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who knew going in that he'd get a good look at what the youngsters were made of against the best lineup Calgary's fielded all pre-season.

"That's the situation you want to put them in; your best lessons are learned, at times, through humiliation, and that's what we chalked it up to in the third period.

"We knew we were in tough going into the game, but you want to put your players in that situation and see if they're ready - a lot of them looked pretty good up until this point. But I've been saying it all through training camp, you separate the men from the boys once you get complete rosters."

The Flames had the big edge in shots through the first two periods - thanks to 13:31 of power play time - but only led 1-0. The shots were 16-7 when Stephane Yelle finally batted one in out of mid-air during a goalmouth scramble midway through the second.

Then the roof fell in in the third. Calgary started rolling and the Oilers looked like they dearly wanted to be somewhere else.

"It is pre-season, but we're coming off a loss and we want to get into the winning habit at home," said Jarome Iginla, who watched Chris Simon score twice, Dion Phaneuf notch a beauty from the point and Shean Donovan round it out for the Western Conference champions.

"They kept it pretty simple for the first couple of periods," said MacTavish. "And then in the third period we didn't have any composure, didn't have enough experience to deal with it.

"The thing that made me upset was a lot of our guys were bailing out, even the veterans."

Not that they had many. The Oilers left Chris Pronger, Mike Peca, Ryan Smyth, Ethan Moreau, Jason Smith, Steve Staios and Georges Laraque at home.

"It's good that the young guys go through that," said MacTavish. "Now they know how much work they have to do."

Edmonton will make its next round of cuts today and will close out the preseason Saturday in Vancouver.


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