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Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 1.0 Wrap-up: Can’t save ’em at the Scandinavium

Final Score: New Jersey Devils 5, Edmonton Oilers 2

THE RUNDOWN

The New Jersey Devils are one of a handful of teams around the NHL that are going through an existential goaltending crisis. Starter Cory Schneider is still out recovering from an injury that reportedly plagued him for well over a year, leaving them with hilarious Twitter personality (but mediocre starting goaltender) Keith Kinkaid and the maligned Eddie Lack.

Given that Kinkaid’s career has been characterized more by his emoji-filled game recaps than by his stellar play, this should have been a significant tactical advantage for the Oilers. Between Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl alone, the speed and offensive skill should have been totally elusive for a guy who allowed four goals the last (and only other) time he faced Edmonton.

In a game ripe with recent controversy a la blockbuster trades and excited Swedish fans, though, things… didn’t go quite as planned.

FIRST PERIOD

It didn’t take long for the Devils to get things started.

Just under a minute into the game, Kyle Palmieri managed to walk right in on Cam Talbot, going top shelf to make it a 1-0 game:

The Oilers seemed to get things going briefly after that, with a beautiful sequence from McDavid giving Milan Lucic an easy net-front goal on their first power play of the game. It was an incredible individual effort from the captain, who nearly went end-to-end before circling behind the net to feed Lucic out front.

The Oilers would manage to maintain their 1-1 score for the rest of the period – but in the following two frames, the wheels really came off.

SECOND PERIOD

Hoo, boy.

The Oilers had only managed seven shots on goal in the first period, despite getting three different power-play opportunities.

When Jesse Puljujarvi took an interference minor just prior to the two-minute mark in the second, though, the Devils took no time pulling back out in front. Kyle Palmieri scored his second of the day after the Devils took control of the face-off, getting a feed up high from Will Butcher to rifle one past Talbot again.

From there, the Oilers would allow their first of two more consecutive goals from the same player, with the 33-year-old Travis Zajac scoring just over a minute later to put the Devils up 3-1.

Despite now being down by two goals, the Oilers managed just four shots all period, which about sums it up.

THIRD PERIOD

Travis Zajac would score his second of the game five minutes into the period, joking after the game that youngster Miles Wood’s speed helps him compensate for now being so slow.

Not all hope was lost, as the Oilers managed to get one more goal in before the game ended. Milan Lucic corralled the puck after a save by Talbot, turning the play back up the ice for an ominous-looking 3-on-2 by himself, McDavid, and Leon Draisaitl.

His pass to McDavid moved the play up the ice, then McDavid passed it quickly to Draisaitl in the offensive zone to beat Kinkaid cleanly in order to pull back within two goals.

Ultimately, though, the slight burst of offense from Edmonton in the final period of the game was still lukewarm at best. With just eight recorded shots on the period in their desperate bid to stay in the game, the Oilers allowed one final goal by Stefan Noesen in the final two minutes of the game to close things out.

TAKEAWAYS

  • It wasn’t Talbot’s best showing, but there’s a small consolation in that it wasn’t exactly a lights-out performance from Keith Kinkaid on the other side, either. The Oilers still fundamentally lacked the defensive support to really give Talbot a helping hand, but it wasn’t like their back end play was somehow letting down an elite offensive drive. Like last year, it looks like there’s still a concerning lack of secondary offensive support on the roster – and that’s not Talbot’s fault.
  • The power play wasn’t enough to stymie New Jersey’s defense, who shut down the man advantage every time Edmonton got a chance to get something going. Although their first power-play was ultimately successful, New Jersey managed to prevent another goal for the remaining three power-play chances; if Edmonton had managed to get things rolling there, the game could have gone quite differently.
  • I’m not exactly optimistic about what Mikko Koskinen can do, but that becomes an even bigger problem if Talbot continues to struggle like he did last year. The entire team lacked playoff presence (excluding Connor McDavid, obviously), but Talbot’s play for large stretches last year was a big contributor to their low season finish. It’s only the first game, but his performances will likely come under scrutiny if he continues to lack that game-changing edge Edmonton saw his first year with the team.
  • It was pointed out by Jason Gregor on Twitter already, but the Oilers need to up their communication if they expect to hang with… well, anyone this year. Their passing looked disjointed and lacked much of an air of confidence or completion, which could leave the team scrambling when they face some of the even more dominant opponents out west. New Jersey wasn’t the easiest opener, but Edmonton’s going to find even more trouble trying to navigate through Nashville’s defense or suppress San Jose’s impressive arsenal.

TWEETS

 

  • Ko-D

    The team played like they were scared to fail. Stiff, indecisive and slow. Slow because they are thinking too much instead of just playing, being creative and having fun. Too much pressure is out I n these guys, they are just young hockey players playing a game that is more and more a coin toss who wins.

    • Reg Dunlop

      Let me tell you, if you think that game was just a coin toss you need to go to rehab. That hot mess was as one sided as any game I’ve seen the oil involved in. If Talbot had been last-year-bad and NJ hadn’t called off the forecheck pressure the oil would have lost by double digits. It was not the pressure to succeed, it was the puck pressure applied by a motivated, aggressive, well coached opponent. I thought the oil might struggle this year but should finish ahead of gutted teams in full rebuild like Ottawa and Vancouver. The oil never fail to surprise however. Last place bound.

    • Ted

      I agree with you … The players are over coached and have no loosey goosey carelessness that is free flowing and fast! This is due to also their bad defense and goaltending so they are scared to make mistakes! Living for the day Talbot can actually steal a game for this sickening defensive crew! Long long long season ahead!

  • toprightcorner

    Not sure about all you nutjobs complaining about Lucic tonight, he was not even close to the problem. He did EXACTLY what he is supposed to do.

    1) drive to the net and find an open spot, not just stand 6″ from the goalie – check
    2) He is slow, so minimize skating with the puck and make quick passes – check
    3) if Draisaitl or McDavid is on the ice with you, get them the puck as soon as it touches your stick, forecheck hard in the corners and find an open spot in front of the net. – check

    Things he can’t do from last year

    1) don’t skate through the neutral zone of the ice with the puck, slowing down the entire rush – check
    2) don’t make east-west passes exiting the zone or in the neutral zone, they always get picked off – check
    3) don’t skate by the net in the offensive end, find an open spot and get ready for a pass and if that won’t happen, cause some havoc – check

    Lucic played exactly like he was told to play and didn’t do any of the crap he did last year. His goals score in the first game and preseason, he has been in the right place and arrived when he should have. The only thing he needs to work on is getting more engaged in the puck battles in the corner and when he comes out with it, make a quick safe pass. he still circles out and holds on to it too long before making a play and that play is harder because the defense had time to set.

    The people complaining about Lucic either didn’t watch the game, they don’t understand hockey, or Lucic slept with you mom.

    99% of the blame is on the defence – nothing on Lucic, top 4 player today

  • JariCurry

    Hopefully just an unprepared flat effort. Many excuses to be flat, but NJ looked way better in the first, and blew it open in the second. Not worth panicking yet, but not a confidence inspiring first game.

  • Rufio Barcoli

    The Hall v Larsson needs to be put to rest.
    What is the point of bringing it up all the time?
    What’s the agenda?
    Today both of them had the same amount of points.
    Let’s move on.

      • Beut

        It’s not the past that bothers me. It’s the present. The present should have a top six of McDavid, Hall, Draisaitl, Nuge, Barzal and Eberle. That is what we should be watching instead of this garbage and the man who made it happen is still on TV blaming injuries and an ‘imperfect storm’ of bad luck. It ain’t luck and it ain’t gonna get better.

        • Oilman99

          Great top six but it doesn’t do you much good if you can’t get the puck out of your own zone. You think the defence is bad now, things would be even uglirr

          • Beut

            Perhaps, but the only defenceman we would be missing for that top six would be Larsson and I’m guessing that overall we’d be far better off. Plus we could’ve signed Demers and drafted someone like Carlo without bleeding talent. Toronto was pretty much in the same boat and they took a different (smart) approach and they’ve blown right past us. And for the people saying we wouldnt have taken Barzal so it doesn’t matter, then that’s just another example of bad management. He was higher than 15th on everyone’s list so you take him. Plus there were plenty more great options on the table far better than taking a left shot AHL defenceman who had shown nothing to date.

      • Rufio Barcoli

        I find it hard to believe that people think Oilers could have had; McDavid, Draisailt, RNH, Hall, Eberle and Barzal.
        12+8+6+6+6+3-4(?)=41(?) in salary in the top 6?

        The GM didn’t trade a Hart winner. He trade a a selfish brat at an all time low. Hall much like Eberle wore out his welcome with most of the fanbase and the teammates probably.

        I am not aware of any disastrous trade he made this off-season.

        • jesse says yep

          plus Hall and Ebs would be needing new contracts and Barzal’s final ELC bill would be coming due meaning at least two of these players were going to be traded. Also how would this have affected the expansion draft. We gave up a first and a second for Reinhart and sent him to Vegas and lost nobody of importance

        • Leichs

          Yup, past comments from players like Strudwick and Ferrance hinted pretty well that there were definitely some issues going on with him here. Both him and Ebs needed to go. I’m not mad that we traded them, I’m mad we traded them for such garbage especially considering that apparently GM’s didn’t even know Hall was on the block lol. That’s a good GM right there, don’t shop around. Take the first offer you get.

        • Beut

          If you find it hard to believe, then please read an article by Willis showing what are team could have been on The Athletic. We actually would have saved salary. I’m sorry I don’t have the link. Of course when the contracts are up we would have to trade something but I’m guessing a good GM could properly fix the defence when dealing from such a stacked top six. Look what it took to get Karlsson.

  • Jon

    I’ve never felt more discouraged after a season opener. I really don’t know why I bother watching this team. All it does is put me in a bad mood. Just terrible year in and year out. I hope I look back on this comment later in the season as premature and inaccurate, but common sense that won’t be the case.

  • Serious Gord

    Interesting no one has commented on Klefbom and Larssons play. Two Swedes in their home country either played an average game (larsson) or were worryingly invisible (Klefbom). The oils top d pairing has to be a lot better or the season is going to be yet another disaster.

    • Clayton

      Thats because the Oilers don’t have a top pairing. They have two second pairings. That has been the problem for the D for many years. Lacking a legit #1 and #2 means guys are all slotted wrong. IMaging how solid the D is if Larsson, Klef, Nurse and pick any of the others are your 3/4/5/6. Suddenly the Oilers D is solid.

      • Serious Gord

        I agree. And the be extension the third pairing is an AHL quality pairing.

        I would differ just bit perhaps – Larsson could be an adequate #2 d-man if had a stellar offensive #1 to play with.

        That’s why for three years in a row I have posited that the fortunes of Oscar Klefbom are THE most impactful (save the goaltender) of any player on the team. If, as he seemed to be doing two seasons ago, he is maturing into a first line offensive-minded d-man, then paired with Larsson they could be an adequate first pairing , especially if the forwards are capable of scoring at will.

        But IF he doesn’t do that either due to injury (last season) or due to regression (what we witnessed yesterday?) the oil are condemned to miss the playoffs yet again.

        In sum, it’s only one game, but Klefbom’s awful play – timid, fumbling – was a bit of a shock to my eyes (and I bet the oil coaching staff). No time to panic yet, but Klefbom has to get his act together pronto.

    • MrBung

      It was game one that looked like most of the games from last season with most of the same players from last season. Looks like just an extension of last season. We all know how that ended.

    • oildawg99

      Agreed -the fan meltdowns on this thread are pretty funny – I mean I get it as it was a bad game. Remember game one last year when the Oil looked lights out? It is a long season folks…. Let’s try supporting the team instead of dragging them though the mud

      • Leichs

        How about they stop dragging us and our emotions through the mud? Stop lying and telling us they’ve learned and they are hungry. As per Klefbom yesterday: “They were hungrier than we were”. Ohh so after a year of finishing 20 points out and being the most disappointing team in history, and having 50 family and friends in the crowd you cheer you on, the other team is hungrier still? Kk sounds good Klef

  • KootenayDan

    They never fail to dissapoint us do they? same old issues no defense no depth. I am glad Chia traded a Hart winner to fix the defense. Benning, Brodziak and Kassian do I need to say more. Talbot was not the problem but could have been better.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    So what does Lucic have to do to please this entitled fanbase? Seriously what does he have to do? Doesn’t he have to hit more? Score 70-100 points? What does he have to do? Because he was the best Oilers player yesterday and most of you are still unhappy with him!

    And what’s with this “if Lucic is your best player, it’s gonna be a long season” narrative? Are you implying that Lucic isn’t effective anymore? Here a hint clowns! He scored 50 points in his first season here, and was in pace for 55 last year before his confidence got crushed!

    I’m sick and tired of people ragging on him. Did he personally offend you? Did he snub you at a party? Did he murder your family? What is wrong with you people!

    And to those who are sticking up Milan…thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Ths rest of you make me sick. Consider this my last post on this site. I’m done trying to be the positive guy, and get trashed and downvoted for my efforts.

    • Serious Gord

      HE needs to show that he still has a ‘Beast-mode’ button. In Boston every four or five games he was a wrecking ball on the ice, terrifying the opponents and putting them off of their game. Those beast games created a similar mood among opponents when he was relatively quiet. and that tone gave him and his teammates more time and space to score points.

      If he is just a decent point-getter he will have failed at what I think is his primary purpose and what Chia paid the big bucks for. Yes yesterday he had a good game offensively. But the team lost in no small part because he didn’t bring the beast.

      • BobbyCanuck

        NO, the team lost, because as usual 80% of the team did not show up to play, this has been going on for so long, it was fine when the 20% of the team that did show up was Wayne, Mess, and Kurri, but that was a long time ago, and this team needs to have all hands contributing if they want to win.

        McDavid and Looch were the only players that played well last night

  • oil.99.97.11

    Maybe if someone who coached or managed this team showed they were as pissed-off as their fans by that kind of performance (again!!), I might have an ounce of respect for them. Until then, it’s ALL on them!! It just doesn’t look like anyone gives a sh*t!!

    …and the over/under on the Oil being down 1-0 is now 59 seconds, 2 shots or less.

  • A-co

    Just watched a pile of hilights from games yeaterday and there were a pile of beuty power play goals scored across the league….maybe the players should stop listening to the coaches and just watch hilights packages to come up with something on their own….maybe maybe???

  • Digger

    Inexperienced players throughout thier line up don’t know how to react to playing on a world stage (nhl), where opponents want that puck at any cost. Any success to this point has come from pure physical ability. They need to figure out how to deal with the immediate threat in front of them (pressure from forecheckers). From there the natural talent should kick in.

    • IRONman

      If the Oilers have no McDavid, how many point would they got last game? It’s really sad that 97 is the only generator on the team. Could we use Hall? Ya. And Barzal? Ya. The trades made by PC are hurting the Oilers now. That is why fans are pissed. Do not kid yourself that Hall and Barzal would not put the Oilers in the playoffs. Klefbom and Larsson are 2nd pair D. Call a spade a spade. Pc needs to find top pair D. Bouchard and Nurse could be top pair but how much time? I will always be a fan of 97. The look at the end of the game is a look of absolute sickness of losing. I feel the same 97. Okay Pc make another trade or find a new job.

  • GK1980

    I understand the first ration but it’s one game. A new coach isn’t going to make this team better. The players need to figure this out on their own. Period.

  • Oiler Al

    Its only one game …relax…. ITS GOING TO GET WORSE! Someone better figure out this sink hole before it gets too deep. Surely Burger Bob and Pistol Pete have not done it four years later!Excluding 97, this team seems like its never ready to play hockey….. Energy and hockey IQ are in bad need on this team.

  • madjam

    Oilers reasonably beaten by a better faster team , as is the case in most of our losses over last year , and seemingly carrying into present season . Our preseason was pretty limited in the caliber of opposition and number of teams we played against .

    • Leichs

      We also played guys that worked hard, won battles and skated hard to make good impressions. Guys that actually wanted to be there and love the game. Benson, Jones, Marody, McLeod, I will even add Bouchard, Bear and Yam. These guys are the reasons we won our preseason games. Guys like Kassian, Benning, Nurse, Drake, Leon, basically every single one of our vets outside our top line were invisible all preseason and still are continuing into the season.

  • OILERSORDEATH

    It’s funny you read some of the post on Leafs nation after the loss to the Sens and they all ready want everyone fired lol!! What a joke. Sounds like more teams other than the Oil has the same issues ahahaha!!

  • JariCurry

    I could tell from Mcdavid’s pregame hair and overall demeanor that the boys were done. Think of the Saturday night they just had: hanging in Sweden with your millionaire bros. Swedish girls. Enough said. I would be out late too. Hopefully a lot of team bonding. They will remember those threesomes forever……up and up from here!!

  • Ohlyr

    It was difficult to watch that game. So much hope and promise before the 1st game. In reality, they are almost the same team as last season. Poor goaltenting, suit up and roll out half their lineup of slow sub-par skaters who get beat to the puck in the corners and along the boards. It was discouraging. New Jersey schooled us, in the way the new NHL is with speed and skill. The loyal Fanbase deserves much better.