It wasn’t the prettiest win, but the young Oilers deserve a lot of credit for battling back from a 2-0 deficit to win their season opener 3-2 in a shoot out.

The Oilers looked like a team playing their first game of the season. They shot wide on many of the best scoring chances, and I’d attribute that to a bit of rust. They took too many penalties, but their penalty killers were solid. Overall there were way more positives than negatives.


  • It is only one game, but right now there are more questions surrounding Cory Schneider than Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk might want the Edler bomb of a shot back, but being partially screened I didn’t think it was an awful goal. After that he was very solid and didn’t give many second chances by kicking out juicy rebounds. Canucks fans will be livid after the weekend and they might have a full-scale goaltender controversy on their hands already. Something tells me Oiler fans love this.
  • Ales Hemsky had an excellent game. He used his speed to back off defenders and created numerous scoring chances. With the top line likely to face the opposing #1 defence pairing most games, Hemsky/Gagner/Yakupov could have a big year. Hemsky is healthy for the first time in three years and if he stays healthy he could pot 35-39 points.
  • If the Oilers keep taking that many penalties Krueger will have to find another duo of forwards who can kill penalties. Horcoff/Smyth and Belanger/Petrell were very good, but he’ll need more than just four forwards. He did mention he plans on letting the young guys get some PK time as the season progresses.
  • If you look at the overall icetime of his bench, I think Krueger did exactly what he wanted, excluding Teemu Hartikainen who only played 6:10. He wasn’t on the PK or PP so it was hard for him to mix him in. Hall, Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins all played over 21 minutes. 15 of the 18 skaters had at least 21 shifts.
  • Jeff Petry was very good. He continued very he left off last season, and he’s shown a willingness and ability to deliver some solid body checks.
  • Eric Belanger got ripped endlessly last season, so it’s only fair to point out how solid he played tonight. He was good on draws, 56%; very good on the PK and the 4th line was effective five-on-five.
  • Nick Schultz blocked nine shots and played his usual mistake-free game. I know many didn’t like the Gilbert/Schultz trade, but Schultz is a better pure defender and that’s why they made the deal. You can debate forever who is a better player straight up, but on this team he fills the defensive D-man role better than Gilbert.
  • Just for fun, Jordan Eberle’s shooting percentage is 20%. And he did that on five shots, which is well above his average of the past two years.
  • The Oilers were 56% in faceoffs. RNH and Gagner were both 50% (7 wins, 7 losses), while Horcoff won 10 of 16 and Belanger won 9 of 16.
  • I thought RNH was a bit off tonight. He missed a few passes that he usually makes in his sleep. He got better as the game went on, and I think the Oilers overall passing will be much crisper on Tuesday.
  • After the Sedins the Canucks don’t have many forwards who scare you. They could struggle to score goals this season.
  • I liked Krueger’s strategy late in the game. In the final few minutes he used Petrell in Yakupov’s spot. Some might say he was coaching not to lose, but I don’t blame him for wanting to get a point. He clearly coached to win by starting OT with Eberle/RNH, then going with Yakupov/Hall and back to RNH/Eberle before going to Hemsky/Gagner. I don’t call that coaching not to lose. Yakupov is a rookie and Krueger wants to put him in positions to succeed. As Yakupov gets more comfortable I’m sure you will see Krueger give him more responsibility, but there is no point in doing it in the first game of the season.
  • That was a big win for the Oilers, and overall I thought they played pretty well. 



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  • Oilfred

    Petry’s progression has been a god send. His play in the last 20 games of last season and in last nights game has really become complete.

    Finally a top pairing that can do it all with Smid developing a little offense.

    I was hoping Whitney could return to form however it doesn’t seem to be the case. I think he can still be an effect player as PP specialist and 5-6 guy.

  • paul wodehouse

    O M G…Jason

    “…It wasn’t the prettiest win, but…”

    After April 7th 2011 we at OilersNation have witnessed, discussed, argued, been trolled magnificently,thrown mudballs at each other, collaborated, whined, pi$$ed on each other, said goodbye, begged for forgiveness…some of us have gotten drunk, been stoned, fired and hired, laid off and moved, allowed to weigh in and shown the way out…anguish and anger have taken over at times with billionaires and millionaires all dropped from Christmas card lists everywhere and you want PRETTY?

    …this first game of a stupid a$$ short season was the start of what most of us have dreamed of for a long long time … it was against the Canucks who’s a team fans of every other team in the civilized world loves to hate…and you want PRETTY?

    Oh the humanity Jason…! it’s a WIN…It’s a Dubya…plus points…we’re ahead of that club now for a while…we’re undefeated in January as someone has noted…your take on this momentous victory last night compared to the yet uninstalled posting of last Aprils’ defeat to the same club is almost as dumbfounding as…OK I won’t go there but again Jason…

    you want PRETTY?

    …I thought THE worst part of this game was watching our latest first overall pick play 16 plus minutes go MINUS TWO and only get one shot on goal …that my trusted mainstream media correspondant, blogger extrordinaire and esteemed Edmonton personality who does more for charity than most wasn’t the prettiest…but

  • Bucknuck

    Potter was on the ice for both goals, and Hemsky scored the game tying and shootout clinching goals.

    My Goat / Star picks are looking about right so far. Frigging Potter.

    • Kodiak

      Ahh…Hemsky was on for both goals against, too.

      I do agree, though. I wasn’t impressed much with Potter. He actually played better on the PK than 5×5. I’d much rather have a defensive, physical Dman like Fistric in Potter’s spot.

  • RyanCoke

    Both sides seemed really rusty except for eberle, he looked dangerous all game. Dubnyk actually probably stole that game for the oil. Vancouver had a lot of grade A chances and Dubnyk made the stops when it counted.

  • John Chambers

    In OT Kruger had Horcoff taking a defensive-zone draw with Taylor Hall on his wing, and when they successfully cleared the zone Yakupov was substituted for Horcoff.

    Great coaching by Kruger to gain possession and then put his weapons out there 4 x 4.

    • Phixieus666

      All right lots of stuff to cover. First off you are perfecty right JC. Saying that Kruger wasted a shift in OT by having Hall and Smyth on a line is complete BS. In order to score you need puck possession and Smyth and Horcoff do that very nicely.

      First goal – I think this is mostly Potters fault, if your going to screen your goaltender you need to take that player out before he has a chance to fire the puck. Potter was by far the worst player on the ice from my perspective. He should not be paired with Whitney. Whitney is not a defensive specialist, he is more of an offensive guy and is best at playing the puck up the ice. If he is playing his game he can’t cover all the mistakes that Potter makes and this my friends is where Fistric should shine.

      Second Goal – To many’s surprise this was not a Potter or Gagner mistake. This one was all on Whitney. Yakupov was clearly in pursuit of the puck carrier and yet Whitney for some reason was following the Yak when he should have returned to the front of the net to maintian position.

      Gagner didn’t have a great game but wasn’t bad either. Hemsky I think is going to have a good season, finally has some good players around him, he’s healthy, and the entire weight of the team isn’t on his shoulders. Dubnyk was great. Schultz was very impressive, he looked like a Vet out there. His timing and when to jump into plays was amazing and that kid can skate. The Yak had a good game, the team really started to settle in after the first period, but Yak was relentless going after the puck carrier. He is going to be a nightmare for a lot of players I’m telling ya.

      Also PP defenseman depth. Sorry but Potter isn’t even third on my list. J. Schults, Whitney, Petry, Potter. That’s the way I see it.

      I’ll just touch on one last thing. Kruger clearly has a specific game plan and doesn’t hesitate to execute it. To say the least I was surprised by the shootout selections. But what became clear is that through the Goalie reviews provided to the coach he has these guys picked out before the games even start and already knows what moves he wants them to try. I think this guy would have made an amazing military strategist.

  • vetinari

    Hemmer, Gagner and Eager looked motivated last night and I like how Krueger went with who he thought was “in the zone” for the shoot out. My gut reaction for the three in shoot out would have been Eberle, Yakupov and Hemsky but it worked out fine. Definitely played like a more cohesive unit except for the second goal but arrows are going the right way.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Great to watch some hockey again and am happy to have Centre Ice being in Ontario (although it was a Canucks feed).

    Just some thoughts:

    – I thought Gagner had a great game showing some speed and some willingness to take the man. Don’t need to drive the guy thru the wall, just remove him from the play.

    – Nice to have a dangerous secondary scoring line for the first time in awhile. A little rusty but that 2nd line showed glimpses of good chemistry.

    – 4th line had some effective shifts and I liked Eager and Belanger’s efforts.

    – Finally, I didn’t mind Potter’s game but if he is going to be the 4th or 5th puck moving Dman, Fistric is the better option.

    • Eulers

      By the way, there was a button at the bottom to switch between the Vancouver and Edmonton feeds.

      Anyways, what impressed me most is that, to a man, the oilers played to their potential. This combined with their elevated potential made the experience of watching the team, dare I say it, ENJOYABLE after years in the wilderness!

  • RyanCoke

    Wow it’s great to see a real NHL game after all this time.
    I have to admit being angry prior to but once game day came I was back on board….(shame on me lol).

    Anyways, I was very happy with the resilience of the boys tonight. They kept pluggin away and the results ended up being awesome.

    Dubnyk played a very good game and the first goal against him was not all his fault either. Being screened (by Potter) will happen during the year. Younster Schultz had a very good debut.
    PK was superb and both Hemsky and Eberle were top notch (honorable mention to Horcoff, Gagner and Petry) Loved that hit by Petry on Weiss…perfect.
    The team played a very good game but can be better as there was some rust and maybe some nerves from some…Yakupov.
    I did enoy the gtame very much but will end this by saying I hope to see more hits next game, especially with by having Fistric play instead of Potter.
    Oh yeah, Congrats to Ralph Krueger on first head coach win in NHL!!!!! GO OILERS!!!!!

  • Dubs was good. One could put some blame on him for the first goal, but Gagner owns him one for the second goal.

    Yakupov will need a couple of games to get comfortable. I have a feeling Hemmer and Nail will be one of the most dangerous second lines this short season.

    Krueger should put Eager on the third with Horcoff and Smyth, and Harti with Belanger and Petrell. Horcoff and Smyth could be lined up against other teams better lines and in that Eager would have higher calibre players to hit.

    I didn’t understand why one of Hall’s shifts in the OT was wasted by putting Smyth out with him.?

    Smid and Petry were solid. Potter needs to sit.

    P.S. If Hemmer ain’t worth 2 at 5-how the #@$% is Joffrey worth 5 at 5.25?

    • Oilers21

      I think that was more Whitney’s fault on the second goal. What the heck was he doing over there? He wasn’t protecting the net nor guarding Sedin either. Anyway, it’s just the first game. A lot of jitters and rust; they’ll shake it off. Gagner played an above average game imho.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Unlike last year’s first game victory, the oil out-played the opposition last night. They were physically superior for much of the game. If the canucks don’t find some secondary offence soon, they may find themselves in too deep a hole to dig out of in the short season. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

    Schultz jr. impressed with the puck, made good decisions and generally looked like a young Zubov.

  • One of the big questions for me this year was, can Petry continue to develop after an already stellar year? After tonight, I have no doubt in my mind Petry is going to be a great defenseman.

    I was also happy to see how well our third and fourth lines played. I really liked the Eager fight because right now Vancouver doesn’t have a second line, and taking the current rent a players off it for five minutes is a great way to make the first and third lines skate their bag off.

    Also, the Dubnyk we got tonight is the one I can only hope for every night. Guy was just calm and solid.

    By no means the greatest Oiler game, but coming back against the Canucks for a win is something I don’t think this team could have done last year.

  • Jamie B.

    Considering Nuge basically played 4 games in the last month, it makes sense that he wasn’t quite “on” tonight. The kids should get back into the swing of things quickly. I hope.

  • Toro

    A lot of the guys who got flak last year ie. Horcoff Belanger Eager I think played really well , seems like Eager played how the Oilers expected him to play last year, I think that concussion in training camp last year screwed up his whole season.

  • Muji

    First, watching that was A LOT of fun! I was actually nervous. The CBA meetings did not elicit these types of feelings.

    Second, I thought we played very well. There was definitely some rustiness/nerves – noticeably from RNH, Hall, Gagner, and Yakupov – but I really liked the “battle” the team showed. They were behind most of the game, but did not show much panic; I think Dubnyk deserves a lot of credit for that.

    Random thoughts:
    – Nice to see Hemsky with a “Don’t forget about me!” performance on the 1st night. It’s crazy how Oilers fans forget that he was the only draw on those terrible 2007-2010 teams.
    – I want to see Fistric in Potter’s place. Unfortunately for Potter, he’s a bit mediocre 5 on 5, doesn’t kill penalties, and is good on the PP (but behind Whitney and J.Schultz on the PP depth chart).
    – Petry and Smid looked solid
    – Schultz x2 looked solid
    – Dubnyk looked solid

    • Talbot17

      I’m by no means a potter cheering section, but i thought he was solid on the PK. Yes PK!

      Found the warmup interesting, the OKC kids had some blueline saucer pass magic going on, while Yak looked like he wanted no part of it. Yak > warmup.

      The players that just “looked good” (with thick beer glasses applied, and excluding the obvious *cougheberle*cough*), I have to point to jschultz and duby. Both just oozed confidence throughout (despite mistakes).

  • Talbot17

    Loved the game, the calls, the coaching. Putting Hemsky in the shoot out shows Kreuger’s mark on this team, he had a good game and he left his mark, confidence for him in a situation where we all questioned what would happen to him. Very good game, i think the oilers beginning the season 3-0 is going to happen #called it

  • Rocket

    I was at the game tonight: Yak looked good in flashes, but you can tell it’ll take a few games for him to feel his way in, the second line look good and Gagner had a very solid game. RNH taking own zones draws against the Sedins – like the call by Krueger. Eager taking Kassian out for 5 was a key play & 55 had a decent game. Only real -ve was Potter and Whitney looked like the weak link

  • Rocket

    Hemsky was a beast out there. Talk about not going gently into that good night.

    Good to see an actual top 6.

    Dubnyk looked pretty good. So did Luongo.

    Also, Eberle is the king of Jordan.

    More hockey please.