THANK YOU SIR, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER?

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.
    • Crash

      Listned to the afternoon show on the Fan 960 yesterday. Staios, Sarich and Conroy were all healthy scratches.

      Listened to some of their post game show too last night on the drive back to Red Deer. Not a happy bunch and many have already given up on this season. And many were wondering if Sutter spent over 7mil to get Staios, Sarich and Conroy, why were they in the press box.

          • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

            But if you take into account that the cap is based on days up on the big squad and the fact that 2 years ago they had to go with 14 players, you’d think they would be more careful with their money.

          • Crash

            Many Flames fans were calling for Darryl Sutter’s head last year….I don’t imagine it’s going to get any better for him this year. Especially with Feaster breathing down his neck.

            For Sutter’s sake the Flames better get it going.

            So much for the 7 – 0 preseason.

  • Wow… Smac got mad… shook the elbow pad off and jab….bomb… end.

    Many many cool moments in the old barn last night but one that felt good for me… the two captains having a puck battle along the boards in front of the flames bench. #10 schools #12 with tenacity and determination and the fans not only noticed… they showered some RX1 love on the 13th version. Hands up for “who saw that coming”?

    The eberle goal was flat out surreal… it happened.. the barn was kind of comprehending the awesomeness, happy but somewhat stunned.. then the replays and the” f**k was that sick ” level of euphoria set in. Awesome!

    Overall it was fun to watch…. when an Oiler dman hit any winger in stride it was all the flames D could handle to keep them from flying right by. Even Jbo who skates as well as anyone in the league took a couple hanging on for dear life penalties.

    Peckhams going to get someone killed with those 6 feet behind or in the skates outlets but he mans up well along the boards and in front of the net.

    Before eberle scored he dawged a couple backchecks but after that goal he was all over it.

    I liked MPS game… he uses his speed very well on the back check and goes to the tough areas like a mofo. He got drilled quite a few times but kept after it.

  • Puritania

    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.

  • Puritania

    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.

  • Crash

    Fantastic game last night! Although Khabibulin had the shutout, he really must work on his puck handling skills. From the game opener last year to a couple of “Oh Geez” moments last night. Last night he got a tad lucky… but… I have a feeling there will be some not-so-lucky nights.

    Hall definitely must learn to shorten his shifts. You can tell both Hall and Paajarvi were pressing after Eberle got his points.
    It may be a long year, but that was an exciting game to watch!

  • Bandwagon jumper

    I know I am a little late with this comment but…

    I was truly excited to be watching the oil for the first time in a long time. And I wasn’t disappointed.

    Wow, what a great f ‘ing game. That type of hockey is fun to watch.

    I know it is just one game, but I think we have to give up on the idea of getting the first overall pick in 2011 draft.

  • db7db7db7

    Edmonton Oilers
    NHL_Oilers Edmonton Oilers
    Brule says he feels fine. Didn’t skate today as a precautionary measure. Expects to play Sunday.
    9 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply

  • Golden Seals

    WOW****

    Eberle goal. The quick hands in tight space with speed reminded me of Pavel Bure.

    Seriously, how many current NHLers could score that goal. No more than a handful I guess.

  • Golden Seals

    Last game i went to with that much excitement was game six versus Carolina. Thanksgiving weekend and i give thanks for being present for that display….especially versus the Flamers!

    The music still needs some work!