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BLOG: Penalty enforcement softened in season opener

After a pre-season replete with penalties, the Oilers home opener only saw three minors

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Talk of strict penalty enforcement around the National Hockey League prompted pre-season water cooler conversations. 

But in the Oilers home opener on Wednesday, only three penalties were called. Two were holding the stick infractions and the other was a hooking minor.

It's a stark contrast to what was on display in the exhibition campaign. In one of the Oilers two split-squad tune-ups against the Calgary Flames, Edmonton was awarded 12 power plays. 

"It's still a trend around the League," said Oilers forward Mark Letestu. "They're still cracking down. I don't think the officials in our game put the whistles away."

Instead of believing the officiating was going back on its word, Letestu thinks the Oilers played a disciplined game.

"For the most part, we did a pretty good job keeping our sticks on the ice and eliminating the hack and whack," he said. "It's something we focused on really all camp." 

Video: PRACTICE RAW | Strome

The power play specialist and shutdown penalty killer does think there will more opportunities to come.

"I expect us to be on the power play more and to kill more penalties. That's just the way it went (on Wednesday)."

Ryan Strome thought Edmonton's puck possession caused so few penalties. 

"I thought we had the puck a lot of the game," Strome said. "I thought we checked with our legs and we skated. When we do that, we're going to limit our penalties."

Strome added shifting referees will call games uniquely.

"Every referee is going to call the game differently and I think they have a good feel for the game," he said. "I don't think it will be quite the same standard as the pre-season."

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