CALGARY – For a while now, the message for T.J. Brodie has been to shoot the puck more—which is exactly what he did on Sunday night.
Brodie scored the only goal on a slapshot as the Calgary Flames opened up the pre-season Sunday night with a 1-0 split-squad victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
“Something that I want to work on this year is shooting more, getting shots through,” said Brodie, who had four goals last year while his defence partner Mark Giordano potted a career-high 14 despite missing 18 games to injury.
“Watching Gio last year, when he got that puck in the slot, it’s usually in the net or a good scoring chance,” Brodie said. “I felt a lot of the time I’d pass those up and pass the puck off.”
The power-play goal came off a cross-ice set-up by Max Reinhart to Brodie, who picked the top corner on Viktor Fasth.
“There’s only T.J. in the entire building that still doesn’t know how good he can be if he starts shooting the puck,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
The 24-year-old Brodie, who is in the second year of a two-year deal that will see him make $2.5-million this season, is viewed as one of the Flames rising stars.
“Hopefully tonight, it’s a good little reminder for T.J.,” Hartley said. “This guy can produce lots of offence for us and he can help us a lot on the power play. His mobility, his vision, his shot, can be big factors for us.”
The goal was the 16th shot on Fasth, who at that point in the game had been the far busier of the two goalies.
Free agent signing Jonas Hiller got the start for Calgary and spent a majority of his time watching the action take place 180 feet away. Hiller was only tested twice in the first 35 minutes of the game before turning aside six shots in the final five minutes of the second period.
Hiller was replaced to start the third by Brad Thiessen, who was perfect on eight shots to share the shutout.
With 19 stops through 40 minutes, Fasth gave way to former Flames draft pick Laurent Brossoit in the third period, who stopped all eight shots he faced.
“Let’s start with the obvious, Viktor was outstanding and I thought Brossoit came in and did a pretty nice job,” said Todd Nelson, head coach of the Oklahoma City Barons, who on this night ran the Oilers bench.
Missing the likes of offensive catalysts Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who were back in Edmonton, the Oilers weren’t able to generate many dangerous chances.
“In the first period especially, you saw that Calgary did a great job of getting in the shooting lanes and blocked a lot of shots, got their sticks on a few pucks as well. And then when we finally did have an open shot, then we missed the net.”
Of the two sides, the Flames deployed a more star-laden line-up. Up front, sophomore Sean Monahan—who led both teams with five shots—centred Calgary’s No. 1 line with Jiri Hudler, Calgary’s leading scorer last season, and newcomer Mason Raymond.
The game also marked the long-awaited home-ice debut of 2013-14 Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau. The talented five-foot-nine Flames left winger played on a line with Joe Colborne and Devin Setoguchi.
“This was my first game here and I waited three or four years to play a game here and finally getting the chance to do that, I’m really happy with the outcome,” Gaudreau said.
Gaudreau acknowledged he has noticeably less space to operate at the NHL level and it’s something he’ll just have to adjust to.
“All the players here are a lot more smarter. It’s obviously a big jump from college or the rookie tournament so space is going to be more limited, but you just have to adjust and with the little space I do get, I need to make sure I’m making plays.”
Hartley has no doubt that the 21-year-old will do just that as he gets comfortable.
“I liked his game,” said the Flames coach. “With the puck, it’s the same whether he plays in rookie camp or college or at the NHL level, he has that ability with just a little head fake or shoulder fake that he’s going to push off defenders and suddenly he has 10-15 feet in front of him that wasn’t there two seconds before.
“You can’t teach this. This is a gift and he has it. Very poised, very patient with the puck.”
The Flames are next in action Wednesday night when they play the Arizona Coyotes in the Kraft Hockeyville game in Sylvan Lake, Alta. Edmonton’s next game is also Wednesday when they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Jets.
Notes: The Oilers won the other split-squad game in Edmonton, 3-1 over Calgary. … The Flames have 62 players left in camp (35 forwards, 21 defencemen and 6 goaltenders). … Calgary’s other line combinations were Brandon Bollig-Reinhart-Josh Jooris and Morgan Klimchuk-Corban Knight-Garnet Hathaway… The Oilers lines were: Nail Yakupov-Marco Arcobello-Teddy Purcell, Jesse Joensuu-Boyd Gordon-Matt Hendricks, Mitch Moroz-Jujhar Khaira-Chris Baltisberger and Iiro Pakarinen-Anton Lander-Steven Pinizzotto.