GDB 1.0: THE RETURN OF THE JETS

 

The Winnipeg Jets return to Rexall place for their first regular season game since March 29th, 1996. The Oilers haven’t lost to the Jets at home in 17 years, the longest undefeated timeline in franchise history. Who cares that they haven’t played since then, the fact is the Oilers haven’t lost to them. 

The team you cheer for hasn’t made the playoffs in seven seasons, longest active drought in the NHL, so you should embrace any winning streak, regardless of the technicalities.

Opening night is the best night for any fanbase, and the Oilers have been pretty damn good in home openers and season openers.

The Oilers will begin their 34th NHL season tonight at Rexall Place and they will open up a season for the 3rd time against the Winnipeg Jets. The Oilers defeated the Jets 4-3 on October 10th, 1985 and tied them 3-3 on October 6th, 1990.

Historically the Oilers are very good in season openers, 19-10-4, and they are equally solid, 19-9-5, in home openers. They are even better, 18-6-3, in season openers at home, so if you play the odds it is a good bet to go with the Oilers tonight.

The Oilers will have eight new faces in the lineup tonight: newly-anointed captain Andrew Ference, Boyd Gordon, Luke Gazdic, Anton Belov, Will Acton, Jesse Joensuu, David Perron and Jason LaBarbera. If you include Marc Arcobello, who only played one game, almost half of their roster is new.

Add in Dallas Eakins and Keith Acton behind the bench, and the Oilers should be a vastly different team than last season.

The good news is that for the first time in four years the Oilers didn’t get younger. Acton, Belov and Gadzic will play their first NHL games tonight, but they are 26, 27 and 24 respectively. All of the Oilers young players are a year older, and as Eakins pointed out on the first day of training camp, this is not a young team anymore.

After five consecutive seasons of top-ten picks, it is time to see some results on the ice. The Oilers need to start showing the potential that fans have patiently been waiting for.

LINEUP…

Smyth-Hall-Hemsky
Perron-Arcobello-Eberle
Joensuu-Gordon-Yakupov
Gazdic-Acton-Brown

Ference-J.Schultz
Smid-Petry
N.Schultz-Belov

Dubnyk
LaBarbera

JETS…

Ladd-Little-Wheeler
Kane-Scheifele-Setoguchi
Wright-Jokinen-Frolik
Tangradi-Slater-Thorburn

Enstrom-Byfuglien
Bogosian-Trouba
Stuart-Postma

Pavelec
Montoya

QUICK HITS…

  • Eberle led the NHL in preseason points with eight, and his linemate on most nights, David Perron, was tops in goals with five. Those two need to bring that production to the regular season and help the Oilers get off to a good start. If the Oilers can tread water until Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner return.
     
  • The Oilers got some good news today, as Gagner said he is hoping to return in five weeks. He lost four teeth, and had six screws and one metal plate put in the left side of his jaw. It wasn’t wired shut, and that is why he could return sooner than the original two months prognosis.
     
  • Nugent-Hopkins was put through a fast-paced, intense skate after the morning skate. He is moving well, and he is pain free while shooting. Once he gets clearance for contact, he could return within 10-14 days.
  • Hall, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins, Gagner, Smyth and Nick Schultz were named alternate captains today. If that isn’t an NHL record for most alternate captains, it must be close. Eakins said they will rotate the "A" every game and the training staff knows the rotation.
     
  • I was a bit surprised Ladislav Smid wasn’t in the top-six, but ultimately I’m not sure it matters. Smid plays a simple game, and I don’t expect him to play any different without a letter on his jersey.
     
  • Hockey coaches and parents, as you get set for another season of minor hockey take a moment and read what George Kingston feels is necessary for young kids to be doing in practice and games. Smart man.
     
  • I’ve felt Ference was the right choice as captain for a long time. This interview with Ryan Rishaug just confirms that. Ference recognize that he can do more with his status of NHL player, than just play hockey. Excellent stuff.

LOOKING AHEAD….

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers excel in season/home openers and they’ll continue that trend tonight with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Perron continues his red-hot preseason scoring by adding two goals, one of a nifty redirection. Gadzic drops his gloves in a spirited first period scrap with Chris Thorburn.

NOT-S0-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: After five months of reading and hearing he is washed up Smyth scores on a goal mouth scramble. Even the most ardent Smyth-hater cracks a smile, because for one night, Smyth is a go-to guy again. The best part about the first game of the season is that it gives every fan hope for a brighter season, and Smyth has become the player many are cheering for. Edmonton fans love to cheer for the blood and gut type player, and on this night Smyth rewards your loyalty.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR   

  • Batfink

    Dubnyk is only 10 percent of our problem.we have lots of talent up front,a much better defence with ferrence and belov(pluus a more experianced schultz)our problems is injuries and team toughness,has been for six years now!once they solve this playoffs they are bound,untill thatwe could always be a lottery team

  • Doomoil

    I love season and home openers and never miss them. The building was literally shaking with energy for the home opener last season. Please, this time, lets not be down 6-1 after the first period!!!

  • Bucknuck

    I am really curious to see what Dubnyk can do with a half decent defence core in front of him. If they could reduce the amount of shots, his above average save percentage would actually translate to wins. At least I hope so.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      I hope you are right, but I am concerned about poor faceoff percentages, and poor depth down the middle counter-balancing the hopeful improvement our defence. I hope that the defence is the strength of the team, in that they can move the puck better cause that’s what has held the offence back for years.

  • Yours truly was in attendance at the Coliseum that late March ’96 night. And it was a night to remember although if the Oil won or not is lost on me.
    What I do remember is how it unwound for that impressionable 17 year old country kid nicknamed “Boris” by the people he attended that game with.
    I somehow ended up in Warburg, drunk, tired and hungry enough that eating an entire box of 24 pizza pops with my best friend/cousin, in a home we didn’t know at 4 in the morning surrounded by strange western Leduc County slackers. It all seemed like a great idea… AND IT WAS.

    Oh how times have changed.

    Welcome back Winterpeg Jets!

    Edit: Prediction: First goal by Perron, oilers come away with a 5-2 victory.

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    If macT was just looking for a straight up fighter why didn’t he just call up the “Dynamite Kid” Darcy Hordichuk??

    Gadzic is a dud compared to Hordichuk as a tbh and 3/4
    #imnotsaying #imjustsaying

  • Mike Krushelnyski

    We are not privy to what often happens in the dressing room, or who are real leaders, but I was shocked Ladi Smid was in not one of the alternates and Nick Shultz was. Shultz, I don’t see as a guy as being here past this season, and very likely will be gone by the trading block. I would of waived him personally cause I think there are definitely younger and cheeper options. Ladi Smid made a pretty bold statement committing to the team, and seems pretty vocal.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    JG,

    The pre-game write up on the Oilers website has Perron listed as day-to-day with an illness. Do you know anything about that?

    Could we still win this game missing three of our top six?

    • Jason Gregor

      He was on the ice for morning skate…Eager spent 25 extra minutes at the end of practice, which usually means he’s not playing.

      Unless Perron got sick after I’d expect him to play.

  • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

    Game Day Prediction

    For One Day…..all Oilers fans put aside their differences and opinions and are united in their love of the team and the game of hockey! And the Oilers reward their fans with a 5-2 VICTORY !!!

    TAYLOR HALL PLAYS LIKE A BEAST…….SCORES THE HAT TRICK…… AND IS UUUUUUNNNNNNSTOPPABLE!!!

    RAISE A LITTLE HELL, RAISE A LITTLE HELL….RAISE A LITTLE HELL!!!

  • OttawaOilFan

    The whole NSOGDP made me crack a smile. Smytty has always been one of my favorite Oilers so just reading that description brings back memories & gets me excited for this season. I’m going with a 3-1 Oil win. Smyth, Hall and Belov with the “Ginos” tonight!

  • vetinari

    Psssst. No one else take the Oilers in StreakCred ’cause I need the win.

    GDP: Oilers 3 Jets 2

    OGDP: We’ll eke out the win on the scoreboard but not in the faceoff circle.

    NSOGDP: Using the new swarm defence, Gazdic and Brown inadvertently miss their target in a dump-and-chase, collide, and end up on the LTIR list by the end of the game.

  • Ducey

    Prediction:

    Dubnyk lets in a softy, then stands on his head and winds up with a .925 save % for the win.

    All the MSM focus on will be the fact he can’t be a #1.

    Sigh.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      So let’s see, he let softies in and lost games last year.

      This year, he’s still going to let softies in but actually win the games.

      Interesting….

      • Doomoil

        oh, so that’s the only reason the oilers lost last year. of course, it’s all so simple!

        the guy with the sixth best save percentage over the last 3 years was the problem all along.

        • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

          Rewind:

          Question/discussion: Is Dubnyk good enough to be a legitimate starting goalie?

          Qualifier: Starting goalie prerequisites: Don’t let soft goals in on a regular basis, if at all.

          Answer: Nope.

          SIM-PLE!

          I’M TH E SMRTEST MAN ALVIEEEEEE!!

          • Rocket

            I think the problem with peoples evaluation of Dubnyk is the propensity of soft goals that he lets in. Its what people see, not the quantifiable statistics that have been out there that have shown conclusively he is a legit number one, and a top 10-15 goalie in the NHL.

            The clearest evidence we have seen is the Dallas game he let that squeaker in, and then stoned a guy point blank on a break that he should not have.

            I think there are two camps people are in. Either they often see the mistakes, the weak goals that deflate a team. The other camp is the fact he is above average in Save % over the last 3 seasons, and in fact top ten over that period. If this team wins people will ignore the warts, like they did for Fleury in Pittsburgh. The only way he shakes negative perceptions is by winning.

          • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

            You’re right. And I’ll put myself into the same camp as MacTavish who said Dubnyk isn’t a legitimate NHL starter and still needs to prove himself.

          • Batfink

            That’s called motivation. Remember MacT is part of the braintrust that has Ryan Smyth on the first line. (I hope I eat my words)

            I’m sure 80 percent of fans would rather have Price then Dubby based on watching him. But if you just looked at the stats you could have a good debate on who is the better goalie. I know there is many variables in play when evaluating goaltending, and I for one know too little about the position to really make a good evaluation.

    • Bicepus Maximus - Huge fan boy!

      I’m not sure of the last time I saw Eager fight? Or make a good decision, for that matter. I’m guessing that’s the reason why.