ONE IN THE BOOKS: EVERYTHING ALIGNS

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.

  • cambosmash

    Brule tweaked his ankle and hopes to be ready by Sunday. If not, definitely by Thursday as per Gregor.

    I was impressed with Paajarvi taking one in the chops and not missing a shift and Hall constantly “moosing” his way to the crease. Penner was a tower of power even though he didn’t pot one.

    Not even “squeeee” could describe how I felt before the game last night.

  • Vanguard

    You know Robin, I’ve been trying very hard all preseason to temper my excitement, but this is just too much!

    First the beautiful destruction of our rivals to the South, and now the Nation’s old school scribe who usually preaches conservative predictions and tempered expectations is now saying his gut is telling him this team could climb the learning curve quicker than we suspected…

    That’s the RB equivalent of Waynes SQUUUEEEE!!

    • DK0

      Yeah i was hoping for a little more then the non existent audio interview and the 8 seconds of video time that showed up on the main oilers site.

      Also what’s the word on Brule?

    • Brownlee offered Tyler to get “his” picks into the little pool. I just looked & Dellow didn’t even put a team in.

      Easy to throw stones, another to pick your own team after the guy you are slagging on gives you the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is.

      • GSC

        Surprise, surprise…

        Poor Tyler whines about not being involved, and when he’s offered a chance to join in he continues to pout and runs home to mommy.

        Sounds about right.

        • I don’t think it’s fair to say Tyler did any whining about not being involved because that’s not the case.

          I do find it telling, however, that he can find his way over here to cut up Gregor and I when the mood strikes him, which is often, but when we put together a pick-’em game, he’s got no interest. It’s not worth his time.

          It’s not a surprise, so let’s not pretend. To the point, Tyler comes to Oilersnation to ridicule and criticize two writers here, sometimes in subtle ways, other times not so much. Look up his last 10 posts, 20 posts, 30 posts here. Try to draw another conclusion.

          No picks? No problem. Didn’t expect any. Let’s try to somehow get along without them, shall we?

          • GSC

            I won’t be losing any sleep over his absence, that’s for sure. It’s too easy to see what his angle is when he does show up, and it’s time others saw it as well.

            On to more important things…

      • Tha Legion

        I actually disagree with him more than I agree, I also don’t like how him and Tencer bark at each other. I just really don’t care for Dellows, he may be a talented writer but the dude projects as an internet tough guy and a little below his maturity for a lawyer. Got it baby?

      • Hemmertime

        Brownlee has banned me … shoot, once, twice. Dont know. I am not one of his sheep.

        That being said, Brownlee is writing his well informed opinion and the article had an air of “fun” to it.

        Mc79 is a douche taking very weak shots at RB for no good reason. Also, still hasnt posted his predictions. His credibility took even larger of a drop today in my eyes.

    • positivebrontefan

      I read it… and your right he can suck it!
      Put up or shut up I say.

      Me thinks we won’t be getting a top pick next year. (puts down empty koolaid glass)

  • Heavyd

    Wow good for you.

    But do we have your picks yet?

    No I guess your scared to get judged on your picks.

    I would hate for you to be my lawyer, Cause if you are like this in a courtroom no way you ever win a case.

  • Sounds like you are sheep to the “number” guys who drink each other’s bathwater. And Staples is far from an MSM guy…

    You don’t like MSM guys, that is fine, so then why bother posting on here. And Tyler is a whiny guy, who rips Brownlee for his picks and then doesn’t even put up any to counter it. How lame.