THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?

Jason Gregor
October 08 2010 01:51AM

Many of you awoke this morning, sat up quickly and said, "Did that happen, or was I dreaming?" Then you realized you were still wearing your Oiler jersey, and the last time you wore it to bed was after game six of the 2006 Cup finals. The fact is, no Oiler fan would have dared to dream what unfolded last night at Rexall Place.

If you were one of the lucky 16,839 at the Rex, you witnessed history; The first ever shut out in a season opener.  You also saw a highlight reel goal, that has to be in the running for greatest first NHL goal, a thunderous KO and an atmosphere of belief and utter happiness that hasn't been in Edmonton on opening night since probably 1984; when they raised the first Stanley Cup banner.

Rexall was electric last night.

The crowd was into it early, and the Oilers responded by outshooting the Flames 19-9 in the first frame. How many of you forgot what it was like to watch entertaining hockey complete with hustle, skill, hitting and desire from the Oilers? Based on the comments from fans in the building, here on the Nation at via twitter I'd say many of you were floored.

Taylor Hall almost had the Cinderella start to his career early in the first, when he was robbed on a one-timer by Mikka Kiprusoff. The fans were trying to cheer their way to a goal for the new #4, but it wasn't meant to be for Hall on this night. In the first period he had three shots, two great scoring chances, took a penalty and had the most icetime of any Oiler forward at 6:45. A pretty solid first period of pro hockey I'd suggest. He will learn to take shorter shifts in the future, but that's a story for another day.

But tonight wasn't about Hall. Instead his new roommate, Jordan Eberle, earned himself a Highlight Of The Night on TSN with a beautiful shorthanded goal. After dominating the Flames in the first, Calgary responded by outshooting the Oilers 18-7 in the 2nd, and seemed to have the momentum going into the third.

Unlike last year, hell the previous four years, the Oilers didn't fold their tent or try and hold on for dear life, instead they came out attacking and Eberle buried his shorty 1:24 into the 3rd and Rexall was alive. The reaction on Shawn Horcoff's face as he congratulated Eberle spoke volumes; the FUN is back in Edmonton.

"I said to someone that has to be one of the best first goals in the history of the league. I mean, toe drag, step over the stick, backhand shelf. Good for him," said an amazed Ryan Whitney.

The building was still rocking when only a 1:19 later Ales Hemsky raced down the right wing and ripped a slapshot through Kiprusoff. Yes, Hemsky took a slapshot and scored on it, and then if you watched his reaction, even Hemsky was caught up in the excitement. How could you blame him. Hemsky hasn't had this much skill around him at any point in his career, and he seems like a new person. Two minutes and twenty-one seconds later it looked like Eberle had his 2nd of the night, but it was ruled after the game to have gone in off Horcoff's body. What mattered is the Oilers had their 2nd PP goal of the night, and a commanding 4-0 lead.

Throughout all the excitement of the offence, Nikolai Khabibulin was quietly working on a shutout. He ended up with 37 saves and the first ever season opening shutout for the Oilers. The Oilers have only been shutout once in a season opener, October 3rd, 2001 when they lost 1-0 in Calgary. Khabibulin was square to the shooters all night, and I don't recall him having to make a spectacular save, probably because his rebound control and puck control (pushing shots to corner) was exceptional.

And to cap off the night, Steve MacIntyre Ko'ed Raitis Ivanans with a thundering right  with 2:20 remaining in the game.

I can't remember the last time an Oiler knocked a guy out like that. It was a strange 30 seconds. When Ivanans went down the building and Oiler bench went nuts, but after a few seconds, when he didn't move, the tone changed to concern. I'll give those fans credit who cheered when Ivanans eventually got to his feet, even though he was clearly on Strange Street and needed to be helped off the ice, it was nice to see him get up.

"At first it is huge excitement, and then you are worried about him a little bit. I don't know if he is going to remember any of that to tell you the truth. You hope the guy is okay, obviously. It's the toughest job in sports, what they (heavyweights) do. But it was pretty impressive for Mac tonight, he hit him right on the button," said new captain, Shawn Horcoff.

It was an exclamation point on a dominating evening for the Oilers. For Oiler fans the game had everything; scoring, lots of speed, big hits, four fights and a shutout.

Even the most optimistic fan couldn't have dreamt a better scenario.

For one game, okay let's be honest for at least three days, Oiler fans will be proud to cheer for the Copper and Blue again. When the horn blew to end the game, it seemed the euphoria from what you'd just witnessed almost instantly erased the past four years of losing. (Now those feelings might resurface later this year, but for now you have banished them to the back of your memory, hoping they never return.)

As much fun as this game was for the rookies and veterans, it might have been more fun for the fans.

I was told that within minutes after Eberle scored his highlight reel goal, five fans bought an Eberle jersey. I don't doubt this because I ran into Wanye after the game and he was sporting a brand new #14 retro jersey. True story. He said it was the first jersey he'd bought with a name on the back since Bill Ranford's #30. And he didn't have any beer spilled on it, so I knew he must have just got it.

After the game I had ten different fans approach me with, "Do you think they can make the playoffs?"

After a performance like that I can understand why fans want to believe this team can get back to the dance. Rather than rain on your parade and suggest, "It's only one game," I say put on your new Eberle jersey, or Hall, or Paajarvi, or MacIntyre and soak it in.

It is too early to worry, or care, about making the playoffs,  just enjoy the ride because it seems likely that they will be highly entertaining, and for Oiler fans that is all they want. 

Just say, "Thank you boys, may I have another?"

POST GAME NOTES

  • Gilbert Brule left the game after Theo Peckham collided/fell on him inside the Flames blueline. Tom Renney didn't have an update after the game, so we'll find out Brule's status at tomorrow's morning skate.
     
  • After the game Renney said he wanted to get Paajarvi on the ice more, but he played 15:53, 6th most amongst forwards. Renney wants to play the kids. Hall had 16:59 of icetime, while Eberle played 16:11.
     
  • Penner only played 13:48, which seems surprising. He didn't kill any penalties.
     
  • Hemsky played 2:02 on the PK tonight, that has to be the most in his career.
     
  • Andrew Cogliano was 50% in the dot, going 5-5. If Cogliano can stay around that mark he and Renney will be happy. Brule was 5-1 until leaving with his undisclosed injury. Horcoff was only 38% going 6-10, but the Oilers finished 52% as a team.
     
  • Theo Peckham blocked six shots, had three hits and got into a spirited scrap with Tim Jackman. He played 2:46 on the PK, and after Oiler powerplays, the coaches weren't afraid to put him and Vandermeer out against Iginla's line. Peckham was solid and showed why they kept him over Petiot and Belle. Renney likes his toughness.
     
  • Ryan Jones had two big hits on Bouwmeester and played feisty all night. If he can play that way most games he'll be an asset.
     
  • Kurtis Foster didn't have a shot on goal. He only took one, a one-timer on the PP that missed high and wide. In fact Smid, Vandermeer and Peckham didn't register a shot either. Whitney and Gilbert had two each.
     
  • Did you notice who Renney had on the ice at the ensuing faceoff after MacIntyre's KO? He had Vandermeer, Peckham, Penner, Fraser and Jones; guys who can handle themselves with the gloves off. Renney wanted to make sure if the Flames tried to redeem themselves through fisticuffs, that the Oilers would be ready. Nothing happened, but don't underestimate the "old school" thinking of Renney. He doesn't want his team to get pushed around or intimidated this year.
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Ambassador humantorch
October 08 2010, 02:25AM
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Suck it, Calgary. That is all.

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#2 1983 and This Year
October 08 2010, 07:54AM
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And unto the Oilersnation that night a child was born. And they called him Jordan. And he was good.

A lock for one of the top 5 goals of the year on the first night of the season. The bar I was in went nuts, and I was in Calgary!

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#3 Hemmercules
October 08 2010, 08:00AM
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I think Peca was right when he was trashing Jaybo a couple weeks ago, that guy didn't look anywhere close to a 6 million dollar dman to me.

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#4 Puritania
October 08 2010, 11:56AM
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It's sad after such a great K.O. that the bleeding hearts are going to jump all over it and cry about how fighting should be taken out of the game. Calm your nerves ladies, hike up those panties, put on a pot of tea and go watch battle of the blades.

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#5 borisnikov
October 08 2010, 09:05AM
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Thank you Stu 'Magnificent Bastard' MacGregor!

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#6 S.Tambellini
October 08 2010, 09:20AM
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As a sidenote -- what kind of trash organization allows a rookie defenseman to wear 66? Is nothing sacred anymore?

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#7 GSC
October 08 2010, 02:26AM
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That game was a pleasure to watch, I can't think of another way to describe it.

Most fun I've had watching the Oilers in a long time.

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#8 smathalen
October 08 2010, 02:54AM
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Overall, the team looked good - even from here in Europe. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves, as I'm sure the season is going to have plenty of ups and downs. Looking at all the Facebook status updates from my friends in E-town, you'd think the Oil just won the Stanley Cup. A little temperance, that's all.

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#9 Let's Rebuild
October 08 2010, 03:51AM
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mattyfinch wrote:

fist?

i live in calgary, and watched the game with a room full of pouting flames fans. Man did it make up for last year :)

I was flying home(Edmonton) and I was on a layover in the Calgary airport during the third period, and it was pure magic. A Flames fan got off another plane, saw the score, expressed some colorful expressions and stormed off in a huff, pure magic.

I was able to see the entire game thanks to PVR's and it was fun to listen to the CBC anouncers talk about the new explosive offence of the Calgary Flames during the second period.

This is the best I 've felt since game six of the SCF on 2006, pure magic.

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#10 Cervantes
October 08 2010, 08:48AM
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Also, all this talk of "we need another high draft pick"... really?

Rookies: Hall/Eberle/MPS (also Omark & VV didn't look too far off NHL ready)

Young un's: Gags/Cogs/Brule/Storts/Dubs/JD are all in their early 20's

Slightly less young un's: Peckham/Smid are both coming into that time when Dmen learn to shine.

Coming into their prime: Hemmer/Penner/Gilby/Whitney

As good as they'll get: Horcoff/Khabby

This Oilers team is young, has stacked OKC with talent for callups, has at least 9 players who will be coming into their game over the next year or two, and at least 4 who are going to be smack in their primetime vet years PDQ. On the farm we already have almost-nhl-ready defensemen in Plante and Petry, and good centres in Pitlick and VV, ready to step in and start being studs over the next few years. Given the low odds of drafting the next Johnson or Green, versus a dman who'll need years to develop... I say we have most of the tools now. Some fine-tuning, learning, and a few trades to round things out and up is what we need. Yeah, it'd be nice to have a team full of top-10 picks, but realistically we already have our shot at our Toews/Kane. There's no Ovechkin or Crosby due up this year, and the dmen prospects look good but not Doughty... I don't see an immediate game-breaker in there, is what I'm saying. If this season doesn't implode, I see fine-tuning at the deadline and over the summer, not dive-for-five and hope to hit gold.

I'm not saying Cup this year. But I am saying that the prospect pool doesn't have an immediate (1-2 year) answer for a pressing need, and as such it makes more sense to trade or sign for the pieces we need, rather than tank, waste a year, and get a top10 who won't be up to speed when our main core is rolling.

Depending how the season goes, I expect we'll see Gagner and maybe Brule moved for a larger power forward, and Tambo will be on the hunt for a stud d-man to help anchor things, and then we'll let this group grow and learn together.

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#12 Chris.
October 08 2010, 09:39AM
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I saw Hemsky pull a near double shift on the PK... and it was Hemsky that cleared the zone. Props to him for keeping his feet moving, scoring a nice goal, and playing a complete game in all three zones. Great statement game by a guy who is finally getting it.

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#13 Westcoastoil
October 08 2010, 10:06AM
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Gregor what did you think of Foster last night - hard to tell on the tube b/c big guys always look like they're moving slow, but can he play in the 4 spot all year?

~ I really missed not seeing Sully wrist one into Kipper's chest from the top of the circle last night. sniff sniff ~

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#14 book¡e
October 08 2010, 10:19AM
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Is it possible that we saw both the NHL goal of the year and the NHL fight of the year last night?

I am not saying it is for certain, but despite being game one, both could hold up. Eberle's goal was amazing, that it was his first NHL game and first NHL goal makes it that much better - he should retire today.

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#15 DK0
October 08 2010, 10:25AM
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My star pick of Macintyre is officially a lock as BEST PICK EVER. He could not play a single game again the rest of the year and all I would have to do is point to a youtube clip of him murdering Ivanans. My god that was ridiculous

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#16 book¡e
October 08 2010, 10:27AM
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#17 VegasOilerFan
October 08 2010, 10:54AM
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Was it me or did I see more Oilers forwards back checking this game then I did all last year? Love how Peckham blocked shots. I think with the additional help from the forwards and D that are willing to block shots our defense might be "OK" not great but serviceable.

This was a great game for all the Oilers from start to finish.

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#18 laughing pug
October 08 2010, 11:24AM
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Is it just me, or does Pajaarvi looks just a LITTLE bit like a Who from Whoville? Cindy Loo Who's cousin maybe?

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#19 common sense
October 08 2010, 12:04PM
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Smack daddy. Smack attack. Mr. Mackenzie can go write about trades and all his "insider" stuff cuz he doesn't know squat about fighting. You want a soft, no fighting, no brain damage potential league then you can take your candy tsn a** and fly down to Europe and cover the SEL or the Swiss league.

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#20 mattyfinch
October 08 2010, 02:08AM
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fist?

i live in calgary, and watched the game with a room full of pouting flames fans. Man did it make up for last year :)

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#21 JimmyOiler
October 08 2010, 02:08AM
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Win or lose, they're going to be fun to watch this year.

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#22 encore
October 08 2010, 02:09AM
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Things are looking great, its gonna be a up and down season, but it will be hella exciting.

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#23 cheunger
October 08 2010, 02:12AM
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FIST!! whooo what a night! but wait.. lets go straight downhill from here.. we need another top 3 pick. lol

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#24 dimensha
October 08 2010, 02:32AM
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Woooo! Damn that was a fun game to watch!

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#25 Ryan14
October 08 2010, 03:13AM
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I cannot remember the last time the atmosphere was so ecstatic in Rexall. You could feel the excitement in the air.

The last 30 seconds at the end of the game where everyone in the arena just cheered was amazing. That in itself showed the passion Edmonton has for the Oilers.

I wonder how Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi felt about the fans.

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#26 Jamie B.
October 08 2010, 03:28AM
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Ryan14 wrote:

I cannot remember the last time the atmosphere was so ecstatic in Rexall. You could feel the excitement in the air.

The last 30 seconds at the end of the game where everyone in the arena just cheered was amazing. That in itself showed the passion Edmonton has for the Oilers.

I wonder how Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi felt about the fans.

I heard Hall and Eberle mention how loud the crowd was in their post-game comments. I wanted to tell them JUST GET US TO THE PLAYOFFS, IT CAN GET SO MUCH LOUDER.

Not this year, we need another good pick. But soon, soon ...

Still awake! I came home from the game and watched it again on my PVR. Thank god I don't have to work tomorrow.

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#27 J-Will
October 08 2010, 04:04AM
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I did not want that game to end. I wish it was 10 periods of hockey instead of 3. What a game!!

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#28 pelhem grenville
October 08 2010, 04:48AM
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what can go wrong now?

making the playoffs that's all.

this edition of the Flames isn't a good hockey team right now ... matter of fact they'll suck 'til they get healthy.

dig the delirium citizens...but pinch yourselves!

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#29 beaumatters
October 08 2010, 06:22AM
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@pelhem grenville

Nice excuse. Got a tip for you, they will suck healthy.

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#30 17
October 08 2010, 07:03AM
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Win or lose, if they can put out efforts like that on a nightly basis I will be happy.

So glad I was there for that game, I have not heard the crowd like that since the '06 playoffs.

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#31 billyjoebob
October 08 2010, 07:16AM
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Looks like Calgary's going to get the 1st over pick this year!!!!!

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#32 Paq Twinn
October 08 2010, 07:18AM
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Simply incredible. Eberle's goal will go down as the best 1st career goal in NHL history and will be talked about in the same air as Bobby Orr's against St.Louis, at least in this city anyway. Can't wait Sunday, GOILERS!!!

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#33 Big Dumb Oilers Fan
October 08 2010, 07:23AM
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Once the final horn went I just had to rewind my fancy-dancy PVR and watch it all over again.

Mmmmmmmm....

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#34 Oilchange64
October 08 2010, 07:28AM
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It's only one game, and maybe we should thank him for helping the team get here, but you have to wonder what Souray thinks/feels this morning.

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#35 The Towel Boy
October 08 2010, 07:34AM
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It's 10 hours later and I'm still in awe of what I saw last night. I hoped this morning that it wasn't a dream and it looks like it was real - there's highlights of it all over the internets!

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#36 jayoilfan
October 08 2010, 07:40AM
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I almost teared up at Eberle's goal. It was one of the most beautiful goals I've ever seen.

I watched the whole game but didn't notice Brule left early. Hope he's okay.

Man is this year going to be fun! I work with some flames fans (I live in Calgary) and boy, are they jealous of the young talent we have. I won't rub it in their faces today too much as they didn't give me much greif last year when we didn't even win one against them.

I can't let last night go to my head, gotta stay calm, reasonable and cautiosuly optimistic. As Wanye says --

SQUEEEEEEE!

Go Oilers Go!

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#37 OilW30
October 08 2010, 07:42AM
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Don't forget the part where Peckham threw the puck behind the net and right to Iginla. Put him out against those guys and he's going to get exploited.

But, hey : ra ra ra, right?

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#38 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
October 08 2010, 07:47AM
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I so wish I had a DVR I would love to watch it all again I am sure none of you will be deleting that one any time soon. If I was at Rexall I would have bought an Eberle jersey after that goal as well!!!! Thanks Oilers for the most fun I have had watching TV since 2006.

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#39 Alternate
October 08 2010, 07:47AM
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Is that pic from last night? Weird how there is three kings jerseys, A Bruins, Sabres and i think i see two Ducks jerseys there too. I never got wearing a team not playing's jersey

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#40 BUCK75
October 08 2010, 07:50AM
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17 wrote:

Win or lose, if they can put out efforts like that on a nightly basis I will be happy.

So glad I was there for that game, I have not heard the crowd like that since the '06 playoffs.

I totally agree. That was the best game I have seen in th e3 years I have had my season seats. The Columbus game last year when Hemsky/Penner tore it up is a pretty distant second now.

~4, goals last night, we should be able to get around 300 goals this season?~

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#41 Schmidty
October 08 2010, 07:50AM
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Gregor's right...noone would have predicted that COMPLETE THRASHING. Shutout, knockout and speed on every line that made the Flamer D back off all night! It was great to see the whole team play together and answer some questions that went unanswered in preseason. We will have our best skilled players on the PK like the good old days, Gilbert/Smid are the shutdown pair, Whitney/Foster are the PP/offensive pair, Jones IS an agitator and Fraser can actually play the game of hockey a little bit...

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#42 yegCopywriter
October 08 2010, 07:53AM
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That was an absolutely incredible night to be at Rexall.

When Mac KO'd Ivanas, I grabbed my head in disbelief so hard that my cardboard helmet was annihilated.

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#43 Hemmercules
October 08 2010, 07:54AM
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I could watch that goal 100 times and it never gets old. The best feeling though last night was to see every Oiler confident and actually working hard.

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#44 BUCK75
October 08 2010, 07:56AM
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Why did they call of that first goal of Penner's? They didn't even show a replay in the building?!!?

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#45 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
October 08 2010, 08:05AM
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Amazing game all around.

Probably not the time, but it's big bugging me. I'm thinking Gagner made a big mistake losing 7lbs this summer. To me anyways, he doesn't look the slightest bit faster and he's probably been knocked off his feet a dozen times between last night and pre-season.

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#46 puckheadshockeyworld
October 08 2010, 08:16AM
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Renney wants to give Paajarvi more ice time and it would be well deserved. Paajarvi is fast, creative with the puck, he's goes into the corners, battles along the boards, forechecks and backchecks like a son-of-a-gun. Mark my word, Paajarvi's play this season will eventually lead to the Oilers trading Dustin Penner, especially with Penner's contract up after 11-12. Penner could possibly fetch us an upper-echelon young defenceman, which the Oilers sorely lack right now. Overall, great game to watch last night. I know it's only one game and my expectations are modest, but I have not seen an Oiler club play with such speed and offensive accumen since 1990-91, Mark Messier's final season with the Oilers. This is going to be special.

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#47 andrewmk20
October 08 2010, 08:17AM
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This is exactly what Oilers fans want to see. Exciting hockey at a higher compete level. If they play like this consistently throughout the season, win or lose, I will love watching them play, especially after 4 tough years of rather painful and sometimes inept hockey.

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#48 andrewmk20@hotmail.com
October 08 2010, 08:22AM
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@puckheadshockeyworld

I agree. Especially because if the Oilers can get a top pairing defenceman then they can look to draft a center in the first round. Because with the defence where it is the Oilers would seriously need to draft Adam Larsson over guys like Couturier and Nugent Hopkins, that is if they get the top pick or even a top 3 pick again.

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#49 Manfly
October 08 2010, 08:25AM
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totally enjoyed the game. we are a fast fast team and Calgary had fun trying to keep up with us. good game by Eberle and i hope we see much more. good on Big Mac for his knockout too!! :)

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#50 Cervantes
October 08 2010, 08:27AM
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Great game. Tops on things I noticed were that all the PP units have different looks. Horcs screening, or Hemmer doing his halfwall dangle, or Brule/Cogs pushing it around... I like that we don't have once standard PP setup. It kept a veteran flames PK on their heels and we got several good looks. I noted Hemmer and Gags out there killing a penalty together, but we did have our entire 4th line in the box at the time... still, they didn't look bad. I think I'd rather have a 78%PK and 10 shorties than an 80% with none. The flamers pushed back in the 2nd as good as any solid vet team can, and the Mighty Oil didn't break, which was nice. I didn't mind the Peckham/Vandy combo. I still kinda wished for Belles speed back there, but it wasn't bad. Deficiencies seemed to be a lack of shooter from the point, although that could also have been good flames getting in the shooting lanes. Hard to tell. Most Oilers looked dangerous tonight, which felt pretty darned good.

However, the pessimistic notes: last years Oil started 6-2-1 or something like that, so don't get too much baby batter in your pants yet kids.

And after last night, I still have to say that the Oilers asset that has the best combination of trade value and being expendible: Sam Gagner. If he were straight-up replaced with Stoll V2.0 this would be a better team. I like Sam, but I can't deny that fact.

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