The Oilers will not go undefeated in the 2015 preseason, after a 5-2 loss to the Canucks. They returned to reality after six consecutive victories. The Oilers, especially the defence, had a tough time handling the speed of the Canucks.
- I don’t think it has anything to do with his conditioning, Nikitin
simply can’t keep up with speed of the game. His lack of mobility was apparent all night. I can’t see anyway he is in the top-six on October 8th.
- His partner, Andrew Ference, struggled just as much and it was a tough night for the two veterans. Maybe it was just one game, but they were a step behind all night. I can’t see Todd McLellan playing them as a tandem in the regular season. This was only Ference’s third preseason game, so I’m guessing he’ll have another chance to knock off the rust on Saturday. He told me after, “I felt terrible out there. My timing wasn’t there. We were a bit behind all night, when it came to little battles and reacting.”
- Hall and McDavid are starting to show chemistry. Their speed gave the Canucks problems all night. Draisaitl started the game with them, but Slepyshev played the final 30 minutes beside the two #1 overall picks. One of the two will start the season with Hall and McDavid. I’d rather have Slepyshev in the lineup than Klinkhamer, so I’d keep Korpikoski on fourth line for now.
- Odd night for Talbot. He had no chance on two point-blank shots from the slot, especially Weber’s goal where Sekera put it right on his tape, and then one goal went in off Gryba’s skate and the other ricocheted off Virtanen’s face. His best stop was a glove save off Sutter on a breakaway. I’d play him on Saturday to ensure he feels sharp for the start of the season.
- Great shot by Yakupov. It is rare to see a forward streak down the wing and beat a goalie clean. Yakupov and Lander had a few good shifts late in the second. They Oilers need their line to be a difference maker in the regular season, and I suspect they will get some favourable matchups.
- Pouliot has had a quiet preseason. He got better as the game went on, and I believe he plays best when he is involved physically like he did in the third period. With Eberle injured they will need him to add some secondary scoring like last year.
- Schultz continues to do small things well. I’ve yet to see him get beat cleanly in a one-on-one battle. He will lose a few, all players do, but so far he’s been much more competitive than in the past. It is baby steps, but he has looked much better than last year.
- Bo Horvat is an exciting player. He looked great. Virtanen did as well, and he has a great chance of cracking the Canucks lineup. Sven Baertschi picked up four assists, and I barely noticed him. He made quiet, smart plays.
- The Oilers allowed three goals in the first two minutes of a period. They were not mentally ready.
- They were not in the face of the Canucks often enough. You hope it was only one game, but McLellan said, “We weren’t inside the Canucks equipment enough. That might sound
strange, but you are can play three feet off of it or you can be involved in it.” He also said he thinks they can do it, but they need to be committed to it. This will be his biggest challenge, because this team has not played inside the opponent’s jersey for years.
- It was not a good night for the Oilers, and thankfully for them it is still the preseason. I wasn’t over-hyping their wins, and I won’t claim the sky is falling after one loss. Tonight was a healthy reminder this team only had 62 points last year. There will be some tough nights in the regular season, but the Oilers must ensure they are rare, not every few games like in previous seasons.
- What were your thoughts?
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