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.
  • Schmidty

    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…

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    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

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    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.

    • Jason Gregor

      Of course Renney won’t do it all the time, but he showed confidence in the kid. That could pay off as the season progresses. And even the best D-men will give the puck away. Very few play a perfect game.

      Picking out one giveaway, and stating that was the norm last night, is very misleading when talking about Peckham’s game. He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t a trainwreck in his zone. I guess some people can’t enjoy the game for what it is; entertainment.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    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!

  • Paq Twinn

    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!!!

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    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?~

  • S.Tambellini

    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!

  • Ryan14

    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.

    • Jamie B.

      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.

  • smathalen

    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.

    • Let's Rebuild

      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.