The Edmonton Oilers arrive in Vancouver after an impressive home opener. Connor McDavid’s epic performance, including what might be the goal of the year, still shines bright as one of the top stories in the NHL. Cam Talbot and the defense looked calm, cool and collected, the top line was unstoppable and the rest of the group held their own against a very good Calgary Flames team. Early days, but this young season is a feel good for Oilers fans, perhaps building on the strong playoff performance of last spring.
We have a long way to go in order to know this team well enough to make sweeping statements, but there are outside pressures that may also come into play. Entering the season, Edmonton’s questions include things like:
- Will Kailer Yamamoto nail down the 2R spot, or be replaced by Anton Slepyshev?
- How long will Jesse Puljujarvi stay in Bakersfield?
- Is Yohann Auvitu a strong fit at 7D?
- Will Andrej Sekera return before Christmas and will he be close to 100 percent soon after he gets back to the NHL?
Ideally, Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan have all kinds of time to make decisions on these things and get a good answer on Sekera. Nine games of Yamamoto perhaps solves 2R, or maybe one of Slepyshev or Puljujarvi answers the bell. Maybe Yohann Auvitu sparks the power play (one of the few items we could call out from Game One, although that’s wildly unfair based on small sample size) in a big way and the 7D issue is asked and answered.
I keep coming back to Las Vegas. The Golden Knights won last night in their franchise debut, looks like Vegas fans are going to enjoy a fun ride this winter. The team remains wildly out of balance, with nine defensemen on the roster while their best one (Shea Theodore) is in the minors.
This can’t stand, man.
The Golden Knights also have a brilliant veteran winger in James Neal, he of the two goals last night for the club. Although Neal is a massive part of the current team, general manager George McPhee will be shopping veterans for youth all year and perhaps there’s a deal to be made.
The equation for Peter Chiarelli is a difficult one to figure out. Does he run with the department of youth up front and bet on Gryba/Auvitu getting the Oilers over the bridge to a healthy Andrej Sekera?
Or is there a “James Neal and Nate Schmidt to the Edmonton Oilers for…….” trade that can be made in the near future? I understand chemistry and not messing with success, but the Edmonton Oilers are pursuing Stanley and that’s serious business.
A point to ponder.
Maroon – McDavid – Draisaitl
Lucic – Nugent-Hopkins – Kassian
Caggiula – Strome – Jokinen
Khaira – Letestu – Pakarinen
Klefbom – Larsson
Russell – Benning
Nurse – Gryba
It will be interesting to see if Kassian stays on the fourth line or if he move up to take some at-bats in Yamamoto’s place with Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. *****UPDATE****** Jack Michaels just tweeted that Yamamoto won’t be in the lineup tonight.
Sedin – Sedin – Vanek
Baertschi – Horvat – Ericksson
Gagner – Burmistrov – Boeser
Granlund – Sutter – Dorsett
Edler – Tanev
Del Zotto – Gudbranson
Hutton – Stecher
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
- ALWAYS90FOUR: I love the Canucks –I really do — but this Oilers team looks dangerous, and this could be a season where no team has an answer for Connor McDavid. His end-to-ender on Wednesday was a thing of beauty and reminded some of a player that once tore up the Pacific Coliseum. Vancouver is probably going to lose their opener, but they just don’t have the firepower to keep Edmonton at bay. Source
GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Canucks begin the game with great determination and play a physical, ‘in your face’ style against Edmonton. The Oilers have the horses, and score a beautiful power-play goal (Leon to 97 for the shot, Lucic cashes rebound) for a 1-0 score after 20.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Canucks score twice, both with the man advantage, and both by Sam Gagner. Edmonton scores just once, a Zack Kassian breakaway that sees the puck cross the line one zillionth of a second before time expires. Bob Costas and his slide rule are called in to make the final judgment on the goal.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The third period is all Oilers, with Connor McDavid, Ryan Strome and Leon Draisaitl scoring goals. The Canucks start running around in the third, leading to several fights. Sam Gagner and Zack Kassian stand together during the final bout (Nurse versus some guy) and chuckle about the past. Final score: Edmonton 5, Canucks 2.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Team Site, 10/07/2017, 11:15am MST