Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Sharks blow the Oilers away in the first, then coast to a 6-3 win.
There was a fair amount of hype leading up to the Oilers home opener. Not only was the home crowd getting their first taste of NHL hockey in 7 months, but it was also their first chance to see Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz. Combine that with a strong season opener vs the Canucks and there was a lot of excitement heading into puck drop.
Within 10 minutes, the game was out of reach and the Oilers had no answers.
Everything went wrong for the Oilers almost right off the bat. Ales Hemsky got tagged for a weak penalty when he got tangled up with the Sharks defenseman. 12 seconds later Perty got called for tripping when Marleau tried to skate through his stick and tripped. Down 5 on 3 early on, the Oilers PK immediately surrendered 2 goals and looked awful doing it.
The PK overall was just shredded by the sharks PP. The Oilers defensemen were exposed the whole period and gave up way too many opportunities in front of the net. All three pairings struggled early, with Petry and Smid chasing too far out to the boards and leaving the slot open for a Marleau goal. Schultz squared both chased behind the net at the same time which resulted in an uncontested goal by Couture. Potter, Corey and Whitney had an awful time trying to get the puck out of their own zone for the 6th goal of the first period.
Devan Dubnyk didn't help much either on the night. It was one of those games where no goal was truly his fault, but you still need him to stop 3 or 4 of those. If he can do that, it's a whole new game
The PP continues to look dangerous. They work the puck really well from both sides of the ice, and have some phenomenal passers. The pass from Gagner to Yakupov on the rookie's goal was a thing of beauty. They also just failed to connect on another fantastic play later on in the 3rd period as well. Having 2 units that can put up PP goals is a fantastic luxury.
Both Yakupov and Justin Schultz got their first career goals out of the way. Not really the kind of game you want your first to come in, but it's out of the way and that's one thing they don't need to worry about going forward.
Taylor Hall. He's pretty much at the point where you expect him to do something incredible and he's just a treat to watch.
Basically everything that happened in the first 20 minutes of the game that didn't involve the Oilers PP. They were dominated at even strength and on special teams. All of the concerns about the blue line had their coming out party. Not just Potter, Corey, Whitney and Justin Schultz, but everyone. Petry and Smid had their worst game in ages. Nick Schultz had his worst game as an Oiler.
The first period was a case of everything going wrong. The Oilers were on the other end of a few of these last year (the 2 Chicago trouncings come to mind), and it's important to not read too much into this game. It was bad, so get over it and move on.
Take everything that I just said about not reading too much into this game and throw it out the window when it comes to the PK. It was simply atrocious and based on the way the Oilers have been talking, could be an issue for a while.
There's been talk about being more aggressive on the PK, and last time the Oilers were this vocal about having an aggressive PK it ended up running at 67% efficiency more than halfway through the season.
The Oilers were chasing all over the ice, especially their D and left the middle of the slot wide open for several easy goals. When your D chases around on the PK, it leaves odd man situations in front of the net, which forces your forwards to drop low, which then opens up the slot for the opposition. There is no need to chase a forward to the half wall if you are the defenseman. He will not score from there. It's reminiscent of the Chinese fire drills the Oilers PK would run 2 years ago, where half the team ended up out of position after a couple of passes by the opposition PP.
An aggressive PK is when you read passing lanes and attack them as they transition. It's not playing Timbit's hockey and running around after the puck carrier. Again, it's only one game but this is perhaps the one thing I am generally concerned about.
Take this game and toss it out the window. The Oilers aren't nearly this bad and it's tough to come to any conclusions about this club based on this game.