The Oilers are 19-8-5 (actual ties) in home openers including a perfect 3-0 v. the San Jose Sharks. They beat the Sharks 3-2 in a shootout in 2008, 3-2 in 1993 and 5-2 in 2003, so with it being 2013 it only seems fitting they open their home schedule v. San Jose.
I know technically this is the 2012/2013 season, but their home opener is in 2013 so just go with it.
Both teams won their season openers on the road, Edmonton in Vancouver and San Jose in Calgary, and both will try to become the 9th NHL team to start the season 2-0.
Shawn Horcoff, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall and Ben Eager weren’t on the ice for the optional morning skate. Eager’s eye is swollen from his fight against Zack Kassian on Sunday and he won’t play tonight. The other three were just resting.
Whitney – Potter
"We’d like to incorporate him into the PK tonight," Krueger said about Paajarvi. When I asked Krueger about having more forwards involved killing penalties he said he plans on using more, but felt they weren’t ready for the season opener. He wants to ensure his young guys are well-versed and completely understand the system.
In Vancouver, Krueger and Steve Smith didn’t want to disrupt the ryhthm of their defence and they didn’t try to hard to match lines. When I asked Krueger his strategy for home games," I look at each game as a different story. A lot of it will depend on how the game is unfolding."
Ladislav Smid liked the strategy in Vancouver because it allowed the defenders to stay in a consistent flow. He also joked that it was nice not having to defend the Sedins every shift. Smid and Jeff Petry both relish the opportunity to try and shut down the opposition’s best line, and tonight they expect to see a lot of the Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau/Joe Pavelski line.
Krueger was very complimentary of Corey Potter today and explained why he has him ahead of Fistric. He likes his body positioning and how he moves the puck. I’m curious to see when Fistric will draw in. The Sharks have a big team, but they aren’t overly physical which is why Krueger replaced Eager with Paajarvi. Paajarvi was amped up to play and he is hoping to make a good impression early in the game.
Joe Pavelski is the only right-handed shot in the Sharks top-six, and he’s enjoying playing the wing with Thornton and Marleau. "Joe demands the puck a lot, so I’ve had to alter my game a bit and learn to dish it off, but it is easy because I know Joe will get it back to me in a better position."
The Sharks are without Brent Burns and Jason Demers, and Matt Irwin looked very good in his first NHL game in Calgary. "We put him with Boyle from the first day of camp to make him feel comfortable," said Sharks’ head coach Todd Mclellan. "We wanted to instill some confidence in him early by putting him with Boyle and on the PP with Thornton. I saw his confidence grow all week and he looked good in game one."
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers are a perfect 4-0 in home openers/season openers v. the Sharks. They’ve won all three home openers in Edmonton and they also beat the Sharks in San Jose to open a season. The Oilers speed will be an issue for the Sharks and they win 4-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: It will feel like a playoff game for fans. The building will be loud, the Octane will unveil a few new routines and with an 8 p.m. start many fans will be a tad "louder" when the game starts. Nail Yakupov scores his first NHL goal and follows it up with a triple fist pump.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: When they Oilers start announcing winners of the signed Oiler Jerseys, at least three diehard Oilersnation readers will win. They will instantly brag about it, rightfully so, in the comments section. And knowing Nation readers they will pick guys a jersey like Kurt Brackenbury #15, Stan Weir #21, Dave Brown #32, Jim Dowd #34 or Marty Reasoner’s #19. The Nation readers set trends, they don’t follow them.
GET OFF YOUR WALLET
You have five days left to win a $5,000 shopping spree at United Cycle or any of the 99 other prizes in the Nation’s First Annual hockey draft. It is only $20 bucks with a portion of the funds going to charity. Bragging rights are on the line boys and girls, so enter today. We are almost sold out.
I`m doing my show live at the Pint off Whyte today and at 2:10 Jessie strolled in and handed me a pair of tickets to tonight`s home opener. He wanted to give to a diehard fan. What a guy.
I will be giving them away at 6:30 p.m. You have to be here to win. Good luck.