The Edmonton Oilers are finally halfway through the preseason, and at this point things are going to get more intense as the roster takes shape. Friday night's 2-1 win over Calgary showed us a few interesting things.
Let's start with one of the lines that truly stood out: the trio of Warren Foegele, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Ryan McLeod that made up the third unit.
This line was active early and generating chances, while Foegele had a beautiful rush towards the Flames' net on a sequence where he did everything right but score. At five on five, the trio also had a 90.00 Corsi for percentage.
Foegele's play was something you want to see more of, and in multiple areas, he received praise from Jay Woodcroft after the victory.
"I saw a much better game from Warren Foegele. I thought he was involved, he was physical, a big part of the penalty kill and having some success, and that's an area his game he wants to continue to grow because he knows it's ice time as he moves forward".
When it comes to securing a place in the Oilers' bottom six, an area with little space, showing that he can do more for Jay Woodcroft is going to be important for Foegele to prove he should remain a member of this roster.
Friday night also saw the preseason debuts this season of two guys who wear Nos. 29 and 97. The debuts of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl this preseason showed something that everyone in the hockey world knows: these guys are a step above the rest.
McDavid played 20:47 on the night and showed that his hands are still among the best in the league, even without recording a point. Draisaitl opened the scoring for the Oilers, and the trio of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Kailer Yamamoto on the top line had a solid 76.92 percent when it came to scoring chances for at five on five.
Defensively, two Oilers stood out for good reasons in the form of Evan Bouchard and Ryan Murray.
With Tyson Barrie not playing this game, Evan Bouchard took over duties quarterbacking the top powerplay and did not look out of place whatsoever in the role. Even though Edmonton failed to score on the man advantage, the unit was getting solid chances.
Bouchard also made one of the bravest plays you'll see anyone make in a preseason game to keep the puck inside the offensive zone.
The passing ability of Bouchard is something to be impressed with, as well, as his puck-moving skills continue to get better.
The continued improvement of Bouchard on the blueline is a strong sign for the Oilers, but it gives him a shot at possibly staying on the top powerplay unit and challenging Barrie, with the role not yet set in stone, according to Woodcroft.
"I think there's competition there," Woodcroft explained post-game.
"We're always looking for ways to get better and improve; we're not just presupposing that we pick up where we left off on the powerplay; there's work to be done there. We're trying to see different people in different spots".
When it comes to Ryan Murray, if he's able to stay healthy, the 29-year-old might end up looking like a solid depth addition for the Oilers. While playing on his off-side, Murray did not allow a single high-danger chance against at five on five -- even though this wasn't the full Flames NHL roster, seeing that level of play from a veteran defender is still great.
With the intensity picking up, there will be some hard decisions to make before the season opener vs Vancouver for this Oilers coaching staff and front office.