OILERS WIN….

 

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.

QUICK HITS

  • 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. 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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  • Phixieus666

    Even this was a good start and a great road win, there still is a question of how good our defensive core is. Vancouver is a very soft team with no second line. Our defense had the luxary last night of playing a Vancouver team with two third lines. Not a very big defensive test. Also, with exception of Kassian and few other Vancouver forwards, Vancouver really has no fowards that will punish you physically. Seeing the Oilers play a bigger team like San Jose for example will really show how good our defense is.

  • 2004Z06

    What the hell happened to Petry in the off season? He looks like he bulked up a little bit and was a hitting machine last night. I don’t think I have ever seen him play so physical. LOVED IT!. Was the first game and everyone but Hemsky, Gagner and Eberle looked a bit rusty. I did think that Belanger, Eager looked pretty decent too. If this is where we are starting this year….I am pumped about the potential.

    • JitanPren

      According to Rishaug this morning in his quick Mandate ~8:30 am on the Team 1260 morning show, the Oilers were disappointed with his upper body strength coming into last season and put him on a program to get stronger. You could see him become more physical towards the end of last season, and it has continued into this season. Ever since I saw him in his first game with the Oil I felt he could be a special player – his skating and puck handling was evident from the get go.

      Whatever program they have him on they need to get the pipecleaners in the minors/juniors (Marincin and Gernat) on asap.

  • Phixieus666

    Great to see guys like Hemsky and Eager step up their game and play a team game.

    I think that for too many years Hemsky was paired with rock hands Horcoff and the results showed. With a centerman that can actually make a play, Hemsky may just have a decent year.

    Yakapov will be fine after about five games…….the kid looked and played nervous all game long. When he decides to calm down and pick his spots better, look out!

    Justin Shultz looked fine, but I suspect he will need to gain at least 10 to 20 lbs before he can work his own end properly and with some authority. At some time he will not be able to elude or spin off a big check……..I hope that he does not get squashed. Jeff Petry will be our dominant defenseman for year to come.

    Good to finally watch a game.

  • Phixieus666

    Most thoughts repeated ad nauseum above. It’s a little early to celebrate BUT it was great to watch. I didn’t get why Fistric sat and Potter played… Anyone hear????

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      There’s a lot of speculation… but a couple of reasonable stabs might be:

      1) Potter was playing in Europe and Fistric hasn’t been playing anywhere… as we’ve seen a lot of the players (look at VANs last 2 games) who haven’t been playing are a little rusty.

      maybe K trusted the game-ready player?

      2) K is planning on platooning Potter and Fistric and will swap them depending on the game situation.

      VAN is a lot of things, but they aren’t a “tough” team. They are irritating and cheap, but not tough. Hence no Fistric and no Hordi.

      maybe K was playing to the game situation?

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    Great game!

    not in terms of execution, but in terms of finally getting to watch the Oil, and getting to watch them win and fight back.

    Hemsky was amazing.

    That line got exposed badly by the Kassian goal by staring at the puck. Looked to me like the blame lies primarily with 89 and 6 who let Kassian wander into the slot without taking note.

    Yak and Hemsky both played the goal right. Yak pressured the puck, it was his man, Hemsky backed off into the neutral zone to not crowd the puck and be ready to break out of the zone.

    On the first goal, Hemsky was already off the ice. Not sure why he got a minus. 44 seems to have screened the shot, but didn’t play it terribly. Looks like that one was mostly on Dubs.

    @JG

    Completely agree on lack of crispness on the shots: 10, 19 and 93 all had beauty chances that could have been improved by better shot selection.

    Also… I think people are getting ahead of themselves on the nucks. They are still way better than most teams in the league and when Kessler and Booth come back, they will be even better. Still, I’m sure they’d love to get something out of Raymond and Burrows.

  • OilClog

    Hemsky still looks like our best forward, and may still see the stiffer competition if he keeps it up. Opposition coaches worst nightmare, two rolling scoring lines.

    Eager.. Welcome back

    Belanger.. Please continue to enhance your trade value

    The PP1 unit needs to calm down and position themselves better. Hall should be down off the left post.. Always. And Horcoff is useful but let the burnout begin? I’d force RNH to take those faceoffs, they need to win these battles themselves. Teemu would be far better infront as if he gets hurt.. We won’t lose much.
    Horcoff gets hurt, we get Belanger covering his duties.. Yikes.

    Dubs is solid, playing to his strengths.. Huge. Reminds me alil of Ranford with a few of his poises, but he’ll never have that glove hand like Billy’s.

  • Very optimistic after this first game, Coach K used the young guns more this year than Renney did for two years.

    Yak and Hall in OT ! what whoa creativity – no way!

    Guessing Hartikanen lost minutes when the 4th line was removed for the final five minutes due to Eager’s fight with Kassian, bumping Belanger up to the third line – otherwise he gets more minutes.

    I just hope in the transition into this short season that Ryan Smyth is removed from the PK and Eberle (or Hall) is inserted.

    Smyth does just fine as a third line and occasional PK PP. We need at least one of the young guns to start killing penalties. Teams that win Cups have their stars killing penalties especially when you are losing..need that threat of the shorty

    The present tandems of Belanger/Petrell and Horcoff/Smyth are fine if you are winning or tied but if you are losing Oilers going to need more snipers on the pk.

    • Romulus' Apotheosis

      On Harti… I agree about the 3rd.. he was pulled for more senior players…

      but I think he lost most of his minutes because the Oilers couldn’t stay out of the box… Harti isn’t on special teams… yet.

      • Phixieus666

        I also think that Harti will be used less in games with teams that are more skilled. When playing with bigger more physical teams I think he will end up on the PP and shifts in the top 6. This also allows Kruger to conserve him a bit for such a tight season.

  • Oilers21

    I know I’m late to the party but I thought that was a great win. Incredibly small sample but it looks like a totally different team than last year. We didn’t fold faster than Superman on laundry day when going down a couple of goals. Everyone forechecked and actually fought for the puck. The kids looked dangerous all night. The third line played great. Plus we beat Vancouver which since I live in Victoria is the greatest of all accomplishments.

  • TKB2677

    Great game by the Oilers. It was only the first game so I’m not ready to put my chair down along the parade route but coming back from being 2-0 down in a hostile environment was usually a given the game was over. So the fact that they were able to came back makes it all that much better.

    One thing I want to see is Cory Potter in the press box. I really don’t care if the Canucks weren’t an overly physical line up. They traded for Fistric because they lack defencemen like him. The big, strong, physical Dman that can clear the front of the net, play tough and most importantly, get some of the opposition players looking around a bit wondering where he is on the ice. Potter does NOTHING of what I described. They have 3 puck moving Dmen already – 1 per pair. Schultz, Petry, Whitney. They can do without Potter and his average puck moving skills. He isn’t the greatest defender. He isn’t physical at all, he isn’t a great penalty killer. He isn’t EVER going to be ahead of Schultz or Whitney on the PP units. So what exactly is his purpose?

    When Kassian layed a clean, decent hit on Hall. Yes, it was great that Eager went after him. That’s his job and I am very glad to see him do that. BUT, what Eager did was expected and it doesn’t really do anything. A bigger, much better response would of been having a guy like Fistric – who is known for being able to do this very well- lay a hard hit on one of the Canucks better players. That carries a lot more weight than Eager doing the expected, obvious response.

    It’s only 1 game so I’m not going to freak out yet. I am hoping they kept him out for what Kruger mentioned was because he has only been there a short period of time. I am expecting Fistric will be in the line up on Tuesday playing a bigger team like the Sharks. Plus he is an Edmonton boy, so I would hope like hell Kruger dresses him.

    • geoilersgist

      What Eager did though was absolutely great. Kassian was having a heck of a game and Eager removed him from it for 5min at a crucial point of the game. That is exactly what Eager needs to do every game.

      Couldn’t agree with you more on Potter though. Just because Renney had a love for him I hope Krueger is just boosting his value so he can be shipped away for a bag o’ pucks.

      • Clyde Frog

        Kassian was interviewed by sportsnet and he said that he initiated the fight with Eager. Kassian said he wanted to give the Nucks some energy. Kassian said he might be a little smarter next time because exactly that he was taken out a game where he was playing pretty good with the Sedins.

  • Oilers21

    throughout the game I kept thinking “Oilers need some size on that second line” One of Gagner or Hemsky needs to get replaced on that line with some size that can keep up with Yakupov..Don’t need to trade hemsky or gagner..but somehow gotta get some skilled size with grit on that line..maybe try hartakeinen.

  • I never had any issue with the gilbert/schultz trade. Watched Nick develop in PA as a Raider and hes always been an all in character guy on and off the ice.

    In a couple conversations this summer with wild guys, losing schultz last year left a big hole in their room. Hes a solid player and a “glue” guy. further evidence that good guys dont always finish last… (we hope). Ha!

    *Although seth jones would look just fine in oilers silks!*

  • TKB2677

    I have to say I LOVED how Kruger coached last night.
    He played the bread and butter all game long. THE KIDS. Saw Nuge talking defensive zone faceoffs late in the game. Saw Nuge, Eberle AND JUSTIN SCHULTZ out in OT several times together vs the Sedin’s. Never EVER would you see that happen with Renney.
    Saw Yakupov jump over the boards and play with Hall once the faceoff was won IN OT! Never EVER would of seen that with Renney. I don’t even think Schultz or Yakupov would of even stepped foot on the ice with Renney in the last 3 minutes of the game, let alone in OT.

    So refreshing!! I hope it lasts.

  • With Nuge having a solid 50% night in the circle, I would like to see Horcoff taken off of the PP and replaced by Teemu. That would cut back on some of Horcoff’s minutes and hopefully get Teemu into the game. Failing that, maybe Magnus would be a better fit on that 3rd line while helping out on the PK.

    Overall, I am happy with how coach K coached that first game. The players seem to know their role moreso than in past seasons.