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What was that?

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
8 months ago
“We’ll see what comes out the gate tonight.”
Jay Woodcroft didn’t show his cards at the morning skate when asked who’d get the start in goal for the Edmonton Oilers in the team’s season opener against the Vancouver Canucks. Of course, Woodcroft had no way of knowing Jack Campbell and everyone who filed out behind him would fall on their faces when the gate swung open on the way to an 8-1 loss.
Campbell, the story of training camp after giving up just three goals to go 3-0 with a 0.99 GAA and a save percentage of .971, took the crease Wednesday looking to put a confidence-busting first season in Oilers silks behind him. Instead, he took a mercy hook from Woodcroft in favour of Stuart Skinner after giving up four goals on 16 shots in less than 28 minutes.
That bit of business wasn’t all Campbell’s fault as he didn’t play poorly, but it certainly was his problem as his teammates provided zero help. The Oilers couldn’t get out of their own way in front of him and the Canucks led-wire-to-wire in a game that Woodcroft’s team had absolutely no sniff in after the Canucks jumped out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back.
The penalty kill gave up three goals. Brock Boeser scored four times, including one on a lucky bounce. The Oilers power play didn’t get much done. This was an embarrassment – one the Oilers have to put in the rear-view mirror before Saturday’s rematch with the Canucks at Rogers Place. Hands up everybody out there who saw this result coming. 

WHAT THEY SAID

Oct 11, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser (6) and forward J.T. Miller (9) celebrate Boeser’s goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
“We laid an egg tonight,” Woodcroft said. “We all own it. We’re all in this one together, and the bottom line is we’re at a pre-season level of work ethic and a pre-season level of execution, all of us, and we got a lesson in regular season work ethic and regular season battle level.
“We were not good enough tonight to a man, every single one. I saw us lose a ton of battles. Things that are normally hallmarks of our game did not show up . . . to a man, none of us were good.”
Woodcroft was trying to change momentum when he pulled Campbell, but that didn’t work. Skinner didn’t get any more help than Campbell and he ended up giving up an identical four goals on 16 shots, although two of those came shorthanded.
What the Oilers have to do now is gather themselves, especially Campbell, who has a history of beating himself up mentally when things go sideways. We saw that happen last season. While Campbell looked like a different guy in camp, this was unquestionably a tough night right off the hop. How will he respond?
“You get ready for the next one,” said Connor McDavid, who picked up an assist on Leon Draisaitl’s 4-1 goal but didn’t get a lot done. “Obviously, we’d like to learn from some of the breakdowns and get ready for the next one.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

What came out of the gate last night was the Oilers worst defeat since they took an 8-1 speed-bagging from the New York Islanders on the road during McDavid’s rookie season, 2015-16. That edition of the Oilers was lousy, finishing 31-43-8, while this one has been picked by many to win the Stanley Cup.
With 81 games to play, none of that matters nearly as much as what this team shows us when the puck drops Saturday. On to the next one, gents. 

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