Disbelievers

That title is certainly wrong when it comes to the grand scheme of things, but it’s a little nuts to toss Nikolai Khabibulin and the Oilers penalty-kill under the bus one game in.

Let’s start with Nikolai Khabibulin’s gaffe. After a lackluster preseason, Khabibulin’s season opener could hardly have gone worse. In a game where the Oilers outshot the Flames 34-to-21, Miikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves and Khabibulin made only 17. The last goal against was particularly brutal, with Kiprusoff gift-wrapping the puck for Flames forward David Moss with less than a minute left in a 3-3 hockey game.

As everyone here knows, I’m not a believer in Khabibulin; his track record in three of the last four years, along with his propensity towards lower body injuries are the two biggest reasons I’d hoped the Oielrs had pursued someone else.

That said, if you are one of those who believe in the Bulin wall, one game shouldn’t change your mind. After one game, for example, Martin Brodeur has a GAA in excess of 5.00 and a .815 SV% (I know because he’s on my fantasy team). Players have good games and bad games, and while I’m still not a believer in Khabibulin I can honestly say that a 50-save effort in a 1-0 win wouldn’t have changed my mind on him either. Give it ten games, then we’ll talk about what he’s done.

Similarly, I don’t believe in the penalty kill, which went two-for-four on the night, but again it’s too early to change anyone’s mind either way. I maintain that this team needed to bring somebody in, and I don’t think Kelly Buchberger has the coaching chops to propel this unit to even averagish results with the current personnel.

But my message today is that one game is essentially meaningless in evaluating these trends. The evaluation of both the Oilers’ goaltender and special teams will take some time, and if you were a believer during the offseason there’s no reason to change your stripes now.

  • Hemmertime

    I dont like the blue on the sides of the page, sems too lite (might be trying to match this years Blue and orange jersey but on the eyes a deeper blue is nicer), also, I liked the text displayed on Grey background.

  • Hemmertime

    Very rarely do we get to say "if not for our goalie we would have kicked the crap out of them". Oh and how we would have, a great freaking game, hitting, Gagner fight and Hemmer shooting the puck like hes aiming for 50 goals this year.

    Im optimistic and scared sh*tless all at the same time.

  • THREE 1ST NAMES

    1st game i watched this season and enjoyed it thought the oilers were playing hard but both there PK and PP were terrible and Bulin needs to stay in his net and not play the puck

  • MrOiler

    I thought the team looked great on Saturday night. The Flames had two gift/fluke goals and were badly out-shot.

    My hopes are up. I'm already wondering how much improvement they'll show in by the 20 game point.

    So much for the Flames being uncontested division leaders. They were lucky to escape the game without a loss.

  • 6zeppelin6

    I was at the game last night – admittedly did not watch any preseason and don't get to go that often. Was it just me, or were the Oiler defencemen playing further up when on offence as compared to last year?

  • 6zeppelin6

    What I thought was interesting was that Bulin actually looked a little nervous out there. He was playing in a pretty hockey crazy city in Chicago, which would lead me to believe he should be used to the pressure. Hopefully we shall see him calm down and play his game.

    I thought Gagner's post game comments were interesting. He was talking about developing a system and bringing a level of consistency every game, regardless of the results. Good to finally hear the team talking like this.

    Although I was a skeptic at first I think this might be the year where what looks good on paper, doesn't look half bad on the ice.

  • Milli

    I agree, and cannot wait till Tuesday (my first game of the year, hope the wife dosn't get us booted again!!!). The team had energy, was very fun game to watch, until the end.

      • brian glynn

        Totally on both accounts. End of the first period against the canucks last year, seat so good you could touch the glass and we get escorted out because she was a little wobbly…..But, they waited unril we bought 2 more RX beers before doing the deed….gotta love mall security!!!!

    • Pajamah

      Exactly, this is the best game I've seen the Oilers play in their last 40-50 games.

      There was jump, some grit, which takes me back awhile with the Oilers.

      The result was crap, otherwise, I'd love to see that game played all season long

  • Librarian Mike

    True enough that it's only the first game. It's just too bad that his miscue couldn't have been in the 2nd period instead of the last minute of the freakin' game.

  • Jason Gregor

    Nice new site, but I have to type my username and email everytime? Anyway, Jonathan..the the Oiler penalty kills does somewhat suck and Calgary PP is pretty good. Who is left to pick up with our salary cap?