The McDavid era begins with something familiar: A loss

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It was Connor McDavid’s first NHL game, but in a lot of ways things didn’t look much different for the Edmonton Oilers. Visiting one of the toughest teams in the Western Conference, the Oilers struggled to get to scoring areas and ultimately found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 score.

The Goals

Never has a faceoff loss been more effective. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins kicked off the best Oilers’ power play ever by losing a draw, and found himself credited with a goal as a weird bounce banked it’s way past Brian Elliott. 1-0, oh yeah!

Teddy Purcell loses the puck in the offensive zone, and that’s not good, but losing the puck in the offensive zone shouldn’t automatically equal a breakaway against. The perpetrator here appears to have been Oscar Klefbom, who made a slow change and left a hole in the Oilers’ defensive coverage. Vladimir Tarasenko knows exactly what to do in those situations, 1-1.

Klefbom really didn’t have a good night; here he goes for a bit of a wander and finds himself in no man’s land on what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Justin Schultz went down to block a pass to the crease but in doing so took himself out of the equation, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins couldn’t fix what was left. 2-1 St. Louis.

Troy Brouwer would add an empty net goal, which we aren’t going to bother showing you. 

Quick Hits

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  • Cam Talbot looked really good. Thirty seconds into the game Schultz lost a battle on the side boards and Klefbom couldn’t seal off the passing lane to the front of the net; the result was a one-time chance for Tarasenko from point-blank range. Talbot had no business facing that kind of shot so early in the game but he turned it aside and continued to play well throughout. There weren’t any stinkers against, and there were quite a few lovely saves. 
  • The reader may be getting the impression that Klefbom and Schultz struggled. That impression is correct. To be fair, both players saw some tough minutes but in the first 10 minutes of the game alone the duo had seen five shots against, including point-blank one-timers by Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera. According to the stats sheet, Edmonton was out-shot 15-3 at evens with Schultz out there and 14-3 with Klefbom on the ice at evens. 
  • McDavid was quiet early, quiet enough that the constant focus on him was really beginning to grate. He had his moments later on, though, particularly early in the third period when he took an outlet pass from Anton Slepyshev, rocketed down the ice and got himself into scoring position to unleash a tough shot on Elliott. I wouldn’t worry about him, not even a little bit.
  • On the whole, this wasn’t a bad game from the Oilers. The Blues came out hard right out of the gate in their home opener, and really pressed after it was 1-0, but Edmonton was hardly outclassed. It’s a little early to worry that the sky is falling. 

Todd McLellan’s Take

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