Three Key Things: The Oilers came through with a huge Heritage Classic win
Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
By baggedmilk28 days ago
It’s not often you see two teams rolling into the Heritage Classic with four-game losing hanging overhead like a black cloud, but that’s what we got yesterday for the Battle of Alberta edition of the NHL’s annual outdoor spectacular. The good news is that the right team picked up two points, and the other one had a shame-filled ride back down the highway. Oilers take the Heritage Classic.
DEPTH SCORING FROM THE D
When you win a game 5-2 and three of those goals come from defencemen, it’s hard not to get a little bit hockey horny about that level of depth scoring. Kulak, Bouchard, and Vinny Desharnais all contributed at key times — Desharnais picked up his first NHL goal — and it was beautiful to watch because it meant that the Oilers were able to get something done without the Dynamic Duo being the ones to finish. When Brett Kulak scored to open the scoring, all I could think about was how cool it must have been for a hometown kid to score a huge goal like that in front of a packed house in his own backyard. He was fired up, I was fired up for him, and his goal set the tone for what was a very strong showing by Edmonton. And how could you not be pumped for Vincent Desharnais, as his first NHL goal effectively sealed the deal in a Heritage Classic against the team’s greatest rival? I know every first goal is always special, but I feel like Desharnais’ first carries just a little more sexiness given the game it landed in.
EVANDER KANE IS BACK
It’s funny how much can change in the span of a week. Only a few days ago, some Oilers fans were basically done with Evander Kane after a slow start to the season saw him accrue only one measly assist, but in his last three contests, Kane has amassed six points (2G, 4A) and looks so much more like the player we need him to be. Without question, Kane is one of the Oilers’ most skilled players and one that they need to produce regularly, which is precisely what he’s done in the games since being bumped up from the third line. And isn’t it funny how sports go? Some folks were big mad that Kane allegedly complained about his ice time to Scott Oake in the intermission last weekend, but since being thrown back up on the first line, he’s been able to produce points at the rate you’d expect from a 1LW. Big man took a minute to get going, and now I’m excited to see if the train keeps rolling.
WHAT A SCENE AT COMMONWEALTH
Having been to a Heritage Classic before — we went to the 2016 edition in Winnipeg — I had an idea of what to expect from watching an outdoor game, but what we got yesterday was pretty special. From the atmosphere of the crowd to Mother Nature doing us a solid with some decent weather, the table was set for a fantastic afternoon of hockey, and that’s precisely what we got. Long before the puck dropped, the crowd was buzzing and created an atmosphere that’s difficult to describe unless you were there. With 55,000+ fans in the stands, the atmosphere was electric, and it did not let up until the final buzzer sounded, so to see the Oilers reign supreme in a setting like that was like magic for the soul. The best part? The place was buzzing from the moment Brett Kulak opened the score at the 4:19 mark, setting the tone for what was a spectacular experience at Commonwealth. The ‘Let’s-Go Oil-ers’ chants echoing through the air as something that I won’t soon forget. Amazing.
OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING
- When Frank Seravalli tweeted that Connor McDavid would be practicing with the team yesterday, I started to get excited that he would be back on the ice for yesterday’s outdoor game. Not only did he play, but his ovation when he stepped on the ice sent shivers up my spine. I love the fans of this hockey team.
- Make it another casual two-point night for Leon Draisaitl. The guy is a machine and now has 55 career points (10G, 45A) against the Flames.
- You had to love Zach Hyman’s two-point night after he picked up a big goal and added a helper in 18:25 of TOI.
- How cool must last night have been for Stuart Skinner? The guy is a home raised talent, drafted by the team he grew up watching, and stepped up in a huge way when we needed a goaltender to stabilize the net, which is exactly what Stu has provided over the last two years. Skinner finished the night with 24 saves and a .923 save%.
- Wanna hear about faceoffs? Of course you do. I am thrilled to report that te Oilers won 55.6% of the draws on Sunday. Great success.
- I wasn’t so sure about the Oilers’ Heritage Classic unis when they were first released, but after seeing them in action firsthand, I was utterly wrong with my assessment. I thought the jerseys, pants, and gloves looked fantastic, and I could not have been more wrong about my first take.
- Nickelback was awesome. I know that band takes a lot of shit for some reason, but even though I’m not a huge fan, they were fantastic. I had never seen them play live before, and after their mini set was over, I was actually wishing it would have gone on for a while longer. Either way, Nickelback takes too much shit, and I thought they rocked that place.
- We went to the Arkells concert on Saturday night after scoring some last-minute tickets to an NHL event at Midway, and those dudes put on a hell of a show. It was a great night of live music, from their original tunes to the covers they played.
- I took my dad to the game yesterday, and sharing that experience with him was tremendously fun. Stay tuned for more on our adventures a little bit later today.
- 55,411 people attended the 2023 Heritage Classic and I’m thrilled to say that I was one of them. It was a great afternoon, a spectacular result, and a day that I’ll never forget.
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