While tonight’s Lightning-Oilers game was trumpeted as the preseason debut of Taylor Hall – the top pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft – another top Edmonton prospect stole the show. Magnus Paajarvi* took over tonight’s exhibition, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist on an Andrew Cogliano goal to help the Oilers win 5-2.
Here is an entertaining clip of Paajarvi’s first goal, which features the shifty winger catching some Lightning defensemen flat-footed and then getting very lucky that his fanned-on shot found pay dirt.
Now, that’s not to say that Taylor Hall was chopped liver in this one, though. The top pick scored an unassisted powerplay goal via a backhand shot 7:57 into the third period. Jen Sharpe of the Oilers’ official Web site described the scene in her live blog of the contest.
Midway through a Tampa Bay team penalty for too many men, Ellis skated out and attemped to clear the puck. But Hall while crossing the blue line, Hall pulled the puck out of mid-air, deked around the goalie, and tapped it into the net to make it 4-1 Oilers.
Hall received a standing ovation for his feat, and two minutes later, Paajarvi made the crowd cheer even louder. Despite being down a man, the Swede star skated up the right wing and fired past Ellis to score shorthanded, secure a hat trick, and register his fourth point of the game.
Taylor Hall had plenty of scoring opportunities before he found the net, but my guess is he’ll be pretty happy if other players such as Paajarvi end up being the team’s best players on some nights once the real games begin. Preseason successes can often generate delusional dreams among fans like a flirtatious stripper, but don’t blame Oilers fans for fantasizing a bit about the team’s newest prospects.
It’s been a while since they’ve had this much positivity to cling to.
* – I’m still disappointed that he dropped the “-Svensson” from the end of his name. This factoid should be integrated into his nickname in some way; maybe we could call him “The Anti-Hyphen” or “The Skate-ist Formerly Known as Paajarvi-Svensson” …? No? OK, I’ll retreat to my hockey dungeon then.
Note: We’ll have recaps of tonight’s other preseason games a little later tonight.