Seeing things

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:46 PM ET

CALGARY -- If you saw what you were expecting to see, then you tell yourself, "By gum, I was right."

If you didn't see what you expected to see, then you say, "Good golly, it was just the first game. It doesn't mean a damn thing."

It's been like that in hockey forever and it's pretty much the tale of two cities as the Oilers headed here last night for the Flames home opener after Edmonton won the season lid-lifter at Rexall Place.

"It was like Christmas and opening up the package to see what you have,'' said Oilers GM Kevin Lowe of getting what he was hoping he was going to get.

"Our first taste of it looked pretty good.

"Jarret Stoll's line was a handful. Ales Hemsky's line was a handful. And you know Shawn Horcoff's line is going to be a handful.

"It reminded me the way it had been playing against Detroit.

Sooner or later, no matter what you did to try to stop them, one of their lines was going to get you.''

COMBINATIONS

If what you saw for openers is what you'll watch all season, coach Craig MacTavish might be able to go wire to wire with the same line combinations

"The potential is high,'' he said.

"I've never had this many options. They can only pick their poison,'' he added of a team trying to defend against his lines.

Raffi Torres said he kept looking at Dion Phaneuf, the outstanding Heartland of Hockey product who partnered with Robyn Regehr on the Calgary blueline.

"You could really see what we have going here by looking at Phaneuf.

"It took its toll on him. By the end of the game he had that look of 'Here we go again,' '' said Torres of Phaneuf's 29:20 of ice time.

Tonight in Calgary, the Flames have to re-think how they play their two top defencemen.

The way Hemsky, Petr Sykora and Torres busted out of the gate, they looked like the Oilers No. 1 line.

"We moved the puck around pretty well,'' said Hemsky.

"Raffi should have had at least two of his four chances. He's got to be looking at having a big year,'' said Lowe.

Torres considers himself one of the luckiest young men on a pair of skates playing with Hemsky and Sykora.

"Anybody they put on that line with those two is going to have some fun. In the opener I had two or three I should have scored,'' said Torres.

"It's unreal what they do, especially Hemmer. He sees the ice so well. He sees what other people don't see. He was two or three feet from the net and he passed it way back to me and I had a better opportunity.

"That's the thing with these two together. I've got to be ready for anything. Sykora is a playmaker, too.''

Sykora, an 11-year veteran, is visibly thrilled to be playing Oiler hockey with 22-year-old Hemsky in the city where he was drafted.

"Something new is going on for me right now.

"I love to be able to come back to the city where I was drafted with a chance to play offensive hockey.

"Playing with Hemsky is very special for me.''

PASSING UP

There he was, a player with 29 two-goal games but no hat tricks, passing on a good scoring chance to try set up Hemsky for a better scoring chance with three minutes to play in a game in which he scored the first two goals.

"You score way more goals and points when you are not being selfish,'' he said.

"And the more goals we score, the more it opens it up for the other line,'' he said of Ryan Smyth, Shawn Horcoff and Joffrey Lupul.

Or maybe tonight Alex Tanguay will show up for the Flames and Calgary will have the offensive boost they expected despite their donought lines (no centres) and be able to say that's what they thought they were going to see and, by gum, they were right.


Videos

Photos