Sloppy play leads to sloppy results. Final Score: 5-3 Canucks
After months of waiting for hockey to come back, it’s hard to properly express how excited I was to be able to watch tonight’s game. The anticipation almost felt like it did back in the summer in the moments leading up to the start of the COVID Cup and we all thought the Oilers were going to absolutely steamroll their way through the Blackhawks. The Kool-Aid was going down smooth back in August and I’d argue that it was flowing with even more momentum as we’ve inched towards the start of this new season, making the puck drop on tonight’s game feel like an orgasmic explosion for our collective brain feelings. Okay, okay, that was gross, I know, but you get the idea. From the time I woke up until the moment the puck dropped, I anxiously waited for the game to start, pacing around my house like some kind of Oilers-obsessed weirdo. So when it happened, it’s hard to describe how happy I was.
After more than 300 days since the Oilers last played a regular-season game, it was hard not to be fired up about the opportunity to watch them play again, and I was endlessly hopeful that they would be just as jacked to get back on the ice. Not to mention, having the first game of this new season pencilled into the late slot meant that that the anticipation had extra hours to build before the opening faceoff, making the wait feel kinda like what happens with a kid on Christmas while they wait to open presents. That all said, I also wasn’t exactly surprised to see a sloppy game that was ripe with mistakes considering that neither team has played all that much hockey in almost a calendar year. Even so, the Canucks were able to cash in on the chances created from those mistakes while the Oilers could not, and when the shots and chances were as even as they were, those extra couple of saves by Holtby and posts by our guys ended up being the difference.
Without a pre-season to work out any kinks that always come along in the early weeks of a new campaign, mistakes were bound to happen but I think I’m being kind when I say that there was certainly room for improvement in terms of effort and execution. I know it wasn’t great, but it was only one game. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- Kailer Yamamoto tied the game up at one apiece (1-1) after Leon Draisaitl set him up on a tee in the high slot, perfectly executing the one-timer while also being off balance/falling. Up until that point, I thought the Oilers looked flat but Yamamoto’s first of the season really seemed to give them some life… at least for a minute. Without question, Yamamoto was easily one of the best Oilers forwards tonight and his tenacity was fun to watch.
- Only 10 seconds into the third period, Darnell Nurse picked up a pass in the high slot from Zack Kassian and ripped a wrister through traffic and up over Holtby’s glove to tie the game (2-2) for the second time.
- Down by two and in desperate need for a goal, the Oilers were able to generate some sustained pressure, cycling the puck effectively until Adam Larsson fired a shot through traffic that beat Holtby (4-3) up high and brought the Oilers back to within a single goal with more than 10 minutes left to look for the tie. Goal aside, I liked Larsson’s game for the most part and thought he was one of the better defencemen in his own zone if you subtract the hit attempt on the first goal of the night.
- After what was unquestionably the longest offseason in his hockey career, I was eager to confirm the rumours that McDavid looked even faster than ever, and I have to say, that he did not disappoint despite his lack of points on the scoresheet. The guy is a one-man highlight reel and after the way he played in spurts, there’s no doubt in my mind that he is going to be a handful in the North Division once he knocks all of the early-season rust off. Happy birthday, Connor!
- Mikko Koskinen got the start tonight and I was looking for him to start his year by answering some of the questions we all have about the Oilers’ goaltending tandem, and I felt like he stepped up early on by keeping his team in with a bunch of key saves. However, as the night went on, Koskinen couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding, allowing a flurry of goals that all but eliminated the team’s chance at a comeback whereas his counterpart found a way to make a few more of those same stops. I definitely wouldn’t hang this “L” on Koskinen, his teammates gave up way too many opportunities in front of him, but he needed to find a way to keep them in the game and that just didn’t happen. Koskinen finished the night with 30 saves and an .857 save%.
- I know it’s only been one game, but it’s pretty obvious to me how well Tyson Barrie can move the puck, and I think he’s going to be a lot more effective when doing that as time rolls along. I’m hoping that after some time and at-bats with his new teammates, he’s going to use that skill to send McDavid on the kind of breakaways that make the North Division goalies poo themselves.
- Dominik Kahun and Leon Draisaitl had some nice chemistry going on between them, and I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to find a way to build upon that as the season rolls along.
- After more than a year away, I’ll readily admit how happy I was to see Jesse Puljujarvi back with the Oilers again. Frankly, I never expected that we’d see the day and I’m looking forward to seeing how the experiment plays out in his second tour of duty. Puljujarvi finished the night with 13:13 in TOI to go along with one shot and a takeaway.
- Shout out to the Oilers for wearing ‘MOSS’ as their namebars in warm up tonight, and the tribute to him ahead of the game. A classy gesture to honour a legend.
- Edmonton killed off both penalty chances they faced, which is a nice start for a PK unit that was very effective last season.
- Oilers won 52% of the faceoffs tonight which is always something I like to see.
THE FACE PALMERS
- The Oilers had a sloppy start to this hockey game, and had it not been for some big stops from Mikko Koskinen, the boys could have easily found themselves in a much deeper hole. Had a real pre-season vibe, ya know?
- Bo Horvat opened the scoring for the Canucks (1-0) after he found himself in all alone on Koskinen after the Oilers simply lapsed in their coverage. I don’t know why Horvat had enough time and space to make a sandwich on the play (Nuge lost him and Larsson went for a hit despite being the last man back) but that’s exactly what happened and he made us pay for it.
- Would it surprise you to hear that Nils Hoglander scored his first NHL goal (2-1) against the Edmonton Oilers? You wouldn’t, would you? I didn’t think so. As for the goal, I really didn’t like Jujhar Khaira’s coasting on the play as he very well could have eliminated Hoglander’s stick from the play had he been hustling.
- Only moments after Darnell Nurse tied the game at two, Adam Gaudette restored the Canucks’ lead (3-2) with a clapper from the high slot as he made a quick move towards centre of the ice that gave him a little bit of space away from Kyle Turris. Koskinen was moving across the ice and gave it a solid effort, but he just couldn’t pick up the one-timer that was coming in hot.
- Only a 1:51 after Gaudette’s goal, Brock Boeser extended the Canucks’ lead after neither Yamamoto nor Draisaitl could get the puck out at their own blue line, allowing for an uncontested look on the net that Koskinen wasn’t able to bail them out on. Boeser added another goal late in the third period (5-3), restoring the two-goal lead and officially popping our fun balloon.
- The powerplay struggled mightily tonight, getting very little done in terms of pressure or chances on their four attempts with the man advantage. I know some of this was
- If there is something that the Oilers really need to work on right now, it’s their ability to execute the simple passes and plays before trying to sex things up a little bit. I found that they gave up some easy chances on goal to try and look for a harder play.
- Canucks won the shots war by a 35-31 margin.
- I don’t like how often I agreed with Kevin Bieksa tonight. It made me feel weird and I don’t know what to do about it.
Great tribute s tonight, Joey & John Muckler. I remember both growing up . Enjoy the tribute s oilers fans . Nice touch to the start of hockey season @GenePrincipe @EdmontonOilers @DolynnyTV pic.twitter.com/GPwYBGtgJh
— Hockey Fan 🙂 (@hockeybrod30) January 14, 2021
Man it sucks that *that* Joey Moss moment – touching, in spite of the tarps – had to happen in an empty building.
— Thomas Drance (@ThomasDrance) January 14, 2021
VHS. I worked there pre-DVD!
— Reid Wilkins (@ReidWilkins) January 14, 2021
So what, he thinks he's 63% as good a Gretzky??
— (Formerly known as) Matt the Framer (@fivestargc) January 14, 2021
— Surveyor Brett (@BLuchanski) January 14, 2021
No matter what he says he is wrong. HES WRONG
— Derek (@YarbeeZy) January 14, 2021
Boeser makes it 5-3. Not Koskinen's fault, but his problem with five goals on 35 shots in season opener after so many questions about goaltending coming in.
— Robin Brownlee (@Robin_Brownlee) January 14, 2021
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