GDB 2.0: Can the Oilers bounce back? (8pm MT, HNIC)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
Is there anything better than an Oilers game on a Saturday night? No. That’s the answer. And after the way the season opener ended on Wednesday night, you’d have to think the Oilers are chomping at the bit to exact a little revenge against the Vancouver Canucks.
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I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that Wednesday’s 8-1 loss was one of the worst games I’ve seen in quite some time. From start to finish, that game was as bad as it gets. Not only did the Oilers get blown out by an opponent they should beat more often than not, but their overall lack of execution in all three zones was truly puzzling to watch. We know this is a good hockey team, but in that game specifically, the boys looked like they had never played together before. Passes were either a foot long or a foot short, their offensive game was nowhere close to good enough, and the D-zone coverage was an adventure at best. That’s a stark contrast to what we expected from the team that showed up early for captains’ skates, ya know?
“Sometimes, you need those moments. You need games like that,” Leon Draisaitl said following practice on Friday afternoon. “Obviously, we didn’t want that to happen, no doubt about it, but it did, and we’ll learn from it and move on. Sometimes, it’s good to get smacked a bit and get back to working and doing the little things.”
The good news is that it’s pretty hard to imagine the Oilers being anywhere close to as bad as they were on Wednesday, making me feel pretty good about the possibility of revenge. Losing one game shouldn’t bring us anywhere close to freak out time, but if I’m being honest, I need the team to look at this rematch as an opportunity to show us all that the game they were spitting in the summer was more than hot air. Obviously, the first step to getting there is levelling up the execution from the crease outward, but if I’m being honest, just beating the Canucks may not be good enough for me. I think I need to see the boys play with a little more fire and passion. I think I need to see them play as pissed off as we all were when the opener wrapped three nights ago. Is that unfair? I don’t think that’s unfair.
Let’s see what the numbers say.


POWER PLAY%25.0%50.0%
PENALTY KILL%50.0%75.0%
AVG. SHOTS/FOR27.032.0
TEAM SAVE%.7371.00
CORSI FOR%54.7945.21
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




Kane – McDavid – Brown
RNH – Draisaitl – Hyman
Holloway– McLeod –Foegele
Erne – Janmark – Ryan
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Ceci
Kulak – Broberg
If I’m being honest, I really didn’t care what the line combinations looked like for this thing outside of Ekholm drawing back in because the real problem we had on Wednesday night was a total lack of execution. You could have had Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri playing beside Connor, but what would it matter if they couldn’t get the puck up the ice with any kind of efficiency. If anything, the Oilers were more likely to pass the puck directly to a Canucks player than they were to one of their teammates, and those are the details that absolutely need to get cleaned up. That said, it will be interesting to see how Woody approaches his line combos as it didn’t take very long for him to pull out the blender when things weren’t going well.


Kuzmenko – Pettersson – Garland
Di Giuseppi – Miller – Boeser
Joshua – Suter – Beauvillier
Höglander – Lafferty – Studnicka
Hughes – Hronek
Cole – Myers
Hirose – Juulsen
The Canucks have to be feeling pretty good coming into this thing after the way they performed on home ice three days ago. Even though I don’t think Vancouver necessarily brought their A-game, what I can tell you for sure is that they did a pretty good job of keeping the Oilers’ attack at bay. What I’ll be watching for tonight is how the Oilers use the last change to get Connor and Leon into favourable matchups that they can use to their advantage. Talking to David Quadrelli from Canucksarmy yesterday, his worry about game two is that Rick Tocchet won’t be able to shelter Hirose and Juulsen quite as well as he did on Wednesday, leaving the door open for the Dynamic Duo to create a little mischief in the offensive zone.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers avenge Wednesday’s loss with a decisive 4-2 win.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: Angry McDavid comes out tonight and powers the captain to his first multi-point game of the year.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Warren Foegele gets a breakaway in the second period and drains the shot as if he’s never missed one before.

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