Well, game one of 56 is in the books and it was far from a perfect showing early.
The Oilers got down early and fought to claw back throughout the rest of the night. There were good things, and there were bad things. But like the title of the article says, here are a few overreactions from game one of the season, and what the Oilers need to do about it.
The Oilers defence is terrible
not a great start, folks pic.twitter.com/4oCWgdHVXR
— zach laing (@zjlaing) January 14, 2021
Take a drink if you’ve heard this one before. The Oilers struggled to defend in their own zone. On at least two Canucks goals the Oilers defensive zone coverage completely collapsed.
On the Canucks first goal of the game, Zack Kassian played the puck carrier entering the zone and neither Adam Larsson nor Ryan Nugent-Hopkins covered a streaking Bo Horvat who had a clear one-on-one with Mikko Koskinen. This goal really falls on Larsson, more than Nugent-Hopkins. He completely whiffed on Horvat entering the other end of the zone as he looked to lay a big hit on Tanner Pearson.
And with that it Horvat walked in unscathed.
The Oilers defence has been a contentious topic for a number of years and night one of the 2020-21 season didn’t get off to a hot start. After the game, Dave Tippett highlighted that the Oilers didn’t do a good a good job on the wall in corralling and moving the puck out of the zone. It was one area of their game that led to good scoring chances from Vancouver all night. Poor puck reads happened all over the ice, and that’s an area they need to clean up.
The good news, however, is that its game one of the season and Edmonton gets 55 more chances to right the ship. Not only that, but tonight the Oilers get a chance to exact revenge. Vancouver’s a team the Oilers can beat but it won’t happen if they don’t clean things up in their own end of the ice.
Edmonton’s powerplay isn’t as good as last year
Edmonton’s powerplay mustered five shots on net none of which were very lethal. The Oilers operated at a record-breaking clip last year so some regression was expected, but boy, they looked rusty. Again this article is all about overreactions, and I’m sure they’ll find their way, but night one didn’t look great.
Having Tyson Barrie on the point has its pros, but it’s clear that him being a right-shot changed some of the flow for the top unit. Barrie’s there for a reason and Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and whoever else is out there on the top unit will adjust. On that note, Alex Chiasson struggled as the net-front player for the Oilers on the powerplay. He’s been solid in the role in recent years, but last night he struggled to connect with the puck when he had some decent chances at the side of the net.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Oilers try somebody out on the powerplay instead of Chiasson. Kailer Yamamoto had a great game last night, and I thought Puljujarvi did a great job using his body to protect pucks all night. Maybe one of those two get a look on the top unit.
It’s still a powerplay that has two of the best offensive players in the entire NHL.
There’s going to be a million goals in every game this year
I mean, wow. In the first five games of the season last night a total of 37 goals scored — an average of 7.4 in every game. That’s a really high number and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see it continue throughout the year.
The good news with that is the Oilers have the firepower to keep up. They scored the 12th most goals last year heavily relying on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but last night the pair combined for only one point (Draisaitl assist on Yamamoto’s goal).
In turn the Oilers got scoring and point from other parts of their lineup. Two defencemen in Darnell Nurse and Adam Larsson scored, while Dominik Kahun, Zack Kassian, Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones chipped in assists.
It’s nice to see the Oilers backend getting some points and it’s hopefully a sign of things to come.
On Twitter: @zjlaing