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Season Opening Roadkill from the Edmonton Oilers

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
That was quite the inauspicious start to the season for the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers have skated together as a group since September 5th, but that extra time together wasn’t noticeable after a decent first eight minutes where they outshot Vancouver 5-2 but then fell apart and got crushed 8-1 by the Vancouver Canucks.
The seven-goal deficit tied the franchise record for the worst season-opening loss. They lost 9-2 to Calgary on October 4th, 1991. Last night’s performance was one for the ages, and they are now 3-7-1 in season openers on the road.
They got outworked.
They didn’t get enough saves.
They got outworked.
They didn’t bury their scoring chances.
They got outworked.
They lost too many one-on-one battles.
They got outworked.
Their penalty kill allowed three goals on six chances.
They got outworked.
You get the point.
Last night was the Oilers’ 3,400th NHL regular season game.
It was the 56th time in franchise history they’ve allowed eight or more goals against.
Edmonton allows eight goals in a regular season game 0.16% of the time.
They’ve lost by seven goals 15 times in franchise history. You witnessed a game that happens 0.004% of the time last night. Lucky you.
Dishing up a turd burger in game one feels much different than if it was game 47 in mid-January. Everyone knows it is only one game, but to play that poorly on opening night creates much more angst and anger amongst the fanbase than if it happened in game #27 in early December.
It was the ninth time in October the Oilers allowed 8+ goals, and the first time since 1997.
October 24th, 1979, Oilers lost 10-2 in New York v. the Rangers.
October 12th, 1982, they lost 9-4 in Calgary.
October 24th, 1982, they lost 9-5 in Winnipeg.
October 26th, 1983, an 8-3 loss in Toronto.
October 23rd, 1985, they lost 9-3 in Winnipeg.
October 4th, 1991, (opening night) they lost 9-2 in Calgary.
October 13th, 1995, they got spanked 9-0 in Detroit.
October 3rd, 1997, (home opener) they lost 8-2 to Detroit.
October 11th, 2023, they lose 8-1 in Vancouver.
The good news for Oilersnation is Edmonton made the playoffs every year except 1995-96. I expect the Oilers will again this season, but last night was a reminder of how bad things can be if the Oilers don’t show up. Head coach Jay Woodcroft summed it up nicely.
“Bottom line is we were at a pre-season level of work ethic and a pre-season level of execution, all of us,” said Woodcroft. “We had a lesson in regular season work ethic, and regular season battle level. we were not good enough. To a man, every single one of us, not good enough. There was a lot of things wrong with what we just saw out there. You saw it, our players saw it, our coaches saw it, our managers saw it. Not good enough. Not good enough. We have better. We know it.”
When Jack Campbell got pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots, I viewed it as mercy pull more than him playing poorly. Maybe you could argue he gave up a juicy blocker rebound on the third goal, but the Canucks scored on the second rebound.
In came Stuart Skinner and he didn’t fare much better, also allowing four goals on 16 shots. It was fitting both goalies had identical Sv%, because this loss was a complete team effort. They simply weren’t good enough, in every facet of the game.
I’m sorry, but if Mattias Ekholm played the result wouldn’t have been much different, unless he is a miracle worker who can inject work ethic into the veins of his teammates. There is no need to panic or look for scapegoats or saviours. The Oilers soiled the sheets. The entire team didn’t play close to the level they are capable of.
They have today off with their autograph session tonight, then a practice tomorrow before Saturday’s home opener against the Canucks. How they respond after an uninspired game one will tell us where this team is at. They wanted to have a good start (first 20 games), and they can’t let one game derail that goal. Their only focus should be ensuring they are prepared to match the work ethic and execution of the Canucks on Saturday.

THIS AND THAT…

— Brock Boeser became the 12th player to score four goals against the Oilers in a game and first in 21 years.
— Some stats that stood out to me from SportsLogiq last night.
In the first period the Oilers’ puck battle win% was 38.5%. It was 44% after two periods. It ended up being 50%, but that was due to them winning more in the third period when the game was over. It matches Woodcroft’s comments about their lack of work ethic.
The Oilers’ puck management was atrocious. Vancouver had 11 scoring chances off turnovers. The Oilers had one. Oilers need to be infinitely better managing the puck on Saturday.
High-danger scoring chances were 16-10 for Vancouver and slot shots on net were 16-11.
— Zach Hyman led the Oilers in controlled entries with eight and tied with Leon Draisaitl for the most controlled exits with seven. That is great for him, but Hyman is usually not the leading puck transporter out of the zone or into the offensive zone.

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