ONE IN THE BOOKS: EVERYTHING ALIGNS

Robin Brownlee
October 08 2010 01:16PM

Edmonton Oilers' Jordan Eberle flies through the air after scoring his first career goal on the Calgary Flames during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Edmonton October 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)

I'm not going to throw a wet blanket on the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 waxing of the Calgary Flames because there's plenty of wannabe deep-thinkers doing it already, cautioning, "It's only one game" and "Ooh, don't get carried away." One game constitutes a "short sample size." Derrrrr, the Oilers aren't going to go 82-0?

Whatever, Poindexter. I'm with Jason Gregor when he says "Soak it in." Chances for Oilers fans to yell their faces off have been few and far between the past four seasons, so there's nothing wrong with a fist-pump here and hell ya there after what we saw at Rexall Place. Why not?

With Nikolai Khabibulin ridiculously good in his first game in 11 months, the Oilers speed exposing the slow-footed Flames, Jordan Eberle scoring a highlight reel goal and Steve MacIntyre sending a big-time message with his KO of Raitis Ivanans, it was a bit of a perfect storm.

It's not something that'll be repeated more than a handful of times by Tom Renney's outfit this season -- only elite teams have all the pieces and put them together like this with any consistency -- but what we saw was more dimensions to the Oilers than we have in a long, long time.

We saw possibilities.

WAYS TO WIN

No, this was not a flawless effort. Far from it. Allow 37 shots against a team with more offensive skill than the Flames (just about everybody else in the NHL) and you'll get a different result most nights. There were too many defensive lapses, even for opening night.

That said, the Oilers showed us some promise in areas that have been woefully wanting in recent seasons.

-- Khabibulin's back might yet become a factor, but rust from his layoff obviously isn't. His bad contract and all the "KhabbyBoozin" distractions aside, the man can stop pucks.

It doesn't look like he'll need 10 or 15 games to re-find his game, and that'll be critical in getting off to a decent start. Getting out of the gate didn't do a damn thing for this team last season, but this is a different group. A little success early won't hurt.

-- The Oilers can attack and pressure the puck with more overall speed than they've had in a very long time. And there's some hands attached to that speed. This isn't a pack of Todd Marchant clones. Eberle's goal? Ridiculous. Taylor Hall had his chances. He didn't look the least bit overwhelmed. Some nights he will, as will Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi, but, mercy, they bring some speed and dangle-factor.

-- The lines with change as they always do, but it looks to me like the addition of Eberle, Hall and Paajarvi provide Renney some options in his top nine. And who is this No. 10? Who's that kid? I see some depth.

-- The Oilers will be tough enough to protect the kids and dictate how the game is played. MacIntyre's KO of Ivanans was a jaw-dropping bit of face-breaking, but it happens, as MacIntyre will tell you. What impressed me most was the Oilers willingness to engage and throw down as a team. They didn't even dress Zack Stortini.

SETTING THE BAR

Teams with reliable goaltending, speed, depth and toughness have a chance to get something done. That's not a news bulletin. Teams that consistently draw on all those aspects are special teams.

The Oilers remain a long way from being one of those teams. They won't always get goaltending like that from Khabibulin. Eberle won't wow 'em with highlight reel goals every night. MacIntyre won't win every fight, at least not like he did against Ivanans.

My sense, though, is this edition of the Oilers might be capable of putting together those aspects more often and sooner than long-suffering fans and over-cautious tall foreheads-in-training might have thought. That's just what my old hockey writer's gut tells me.

Yes, it was only one game, but it was a helluva game that produced two points and the kind of energy and buzz that's going to sell like hotcakes with a fan base that's more than willing to buy.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 RossCreekNation
October 08 2010, 11:34PM
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OilFan wrote:

who is MC79 or Tyler ?

A Toronto-based lawyer :)

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#102 RossCreekNation
October 08 2010, 11:41PM
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~Oh ya, did anyone see that fight?~

*Just now picking his jaw off the ground*

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#103 Wäx Män Riley
October 09 2010, 12:09AM
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Great game, great move....i was stunned and sitting on the couch giggling for 10 minutes after (also through the Hemsky goal).

I have to say, and please comment if you noticed, after Eberle's "second goal" (that went off of Horcoff), how awesome was it to see Taylor Hall skate over to be the first one to bear-hug him in celebration. Hall was sincerely happy for him. No actual animosity at all. It's great to see the sense of camaraderie already.

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#104 Wanyes bastard child
October 09 2010, 12:26AM
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I proudly wore my oilers jersey down to Calgary today and it was a funny sight seeing all the down cast looks from the people here :P

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#105 Mike Modano's Dog
October 09 2010, 12:43AM
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Funniest segment I've seen on TSN in a long time...what an awesome night!

Love my Oilers, whether we finish 82-0 or we finish dead last in the league again. Man, are they fun to watch again! :D

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#106 Bryzarro World
October 09 2010, 01:27AM
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@Mike Modano's Dog

Just saw it.... FREAKING HILARIOUS!!! Was laughing my ass off.. Lovin it!!

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#107 Stone Hands McOsta
October 09 2010, 04:01AM
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"That was supposed to be my debut....I don't even know what he got drafted, like 22nd 4 years ago??"

LOL! Brilliant story done up by Rishaug and TSN!!

Think we would have seen a lighter sided story like this within the last 4 years? Not a chance.

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#108 pelhem grenville
October 09 2010, 05:10AM
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anyone up yet?

looking for a link to the TSN video that's the talk of the site

sounds like must see stuff...

thanks 4 your help

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#109 Skidplate
October 09 2010, 05:59AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

anyone up yet?

looking for a link to the TSN video that's the talk of the site

sounds like must see stuff...

thanks 4 your help

Good morning Mr. Grenville, here is the link

http://watch.tsn.ca/nhl/#clip358537

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#110 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
October 09 2010, 07:16AM
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@RossCreekNation

A Toronto-based douchebag

corrected.

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#111 pelhem grenville
October 09 2010, 10:09AM
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...thx skidplate much appreciated...

this IS hijinx like no other...the stuff 'the boys' did back in the day was pretty good but THIS? was priceless!!!

10 & 4 with the deadpan faces?... wow!

Rishaug... nominated for an ESPY ...

a sage in our midst might say "well played"

methinks yes

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#112 Lego
October 09 2010, 12:04PM
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@pelhem grenville

Taylor Hall may be a better actor than a hockey player, he looked genuinely upset.

Best thing I've seen on TSN in years!

If the Oilers can keep having this much fun success will follow!

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#113 aph48
October 09 2010, 12:06PM
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The next guy from Calgary who should be Ko.D is Robin Regeahr. He needs to know that when he hits Hemsky, he should be looking in the rerar view mirror.

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#114 GSC
October 10 2010, 01:30AM
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