How are everybody’s fingernails doing after that one?
After months of waiting the first Oilers game of the 2019/20 season has resulted in a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. It wasn’t the easiest of games to watch but, as the game went on, it become increasingly entertaining.
Leon Draisaitl opened the scoring in the first period on a slick feed from Zack Kassian and all was well in Oil Country. The Oilers were noticeably more structured in the defensive zone, adjusting to Dave Tippett’s new system and Mike Smith looked solid in net to start the game.
The second period opened things up a little bit. Connor McDavid left a scrum in the corner without a helmet and, due to the NHL’s new helmet rules, he had to basically remove himself from the play to re-attach his bucket. During this time Alexander Edler was able to get off a one-timer from the point which buzzed over Mike Smith’s right shoulder. The game was tied 1-1 after 40.
Then the third period roller coaster of emotions started. Vancouver came out of the intermission gates running and had Edmonton scrambling for much of the first half. Canuck newcomer, Tyler Myers, was able to get off a point-shot that got tipped through Smith’s five-hole to give Vancouver their first lead of the night, 2-1. It was after this goal that many Oiler fans, myself included, started to hear that losing song that we are so used to hearing, but Zack Kassian had different plans.
Just a hair over a minute after Vancouver took the lead, Kassian took a feed from Draisaitl and fired a beauty over Markstrom to tie the game at dos.
With the Oilers back on even terms the final half of the third period became tense. It was anyone’s game once again...but only one of teams on the ice had Connor McDavid. The Oilers captain took the puck in the neutral zone, split the Vancouver defence and deposited a sweet, sweet goal in the top corner of the net. 3-2 Edmonton Oilers with 5 minutes left in the game. The last few moments were all Vancouver but Edmonton was able to hold on with the a little help from the crossbar.
3-2 win, the Edmonton Oilers improve their record to 1-0-0 and are currently tied for first place in the Pacific Division (let me have this).
- Mike Smith had a very good showing in net tonight. He turned away 31 of 33 shots faced and came up big on multiple occasions (including a very nice toe save on Elias Pettersson). Apart from his puck-stopping ability, Smith also showed off his puck-handling skills, even drawing a “Too Many Men” penalty after shooting the puck toward the Vancouver bench. I know Koskinen is the supposed to be the starter but I think Smith earned himself another start.
- Dave Tippett was busy with the lines tonight. At times we saw Draisaitl reunited with McDavid and other times we saw McDavid with other lines. Pretty strange but I trust that there is some method to his madness.
- The Oilers went 4/4 in the penalty kill, which is a positive sign after finishing second-last in the league last season.
- Lots to like about the positioning in the defensive zone. Of course there were some breakdowns, but for the most part I liked what I saw. Rust is to be expected as they continue to buy-in.
- Connor McDavid was fighting the puck for most of the game but got better as the night went on and, not to forget, he added yet another amazing goal to his highlight reel.
- Best Oilers: Draisaitl and Mike Smith impressed in more ways than one
- Worst Oilers: Khaira and Colby Cave were rather disappointing.
I’ll see you lovely people after the Edmonton Oilers host the LA Kings on Saturday, October 5th at 8pm (MTN) — You can catch in on TV at Sportsnet or by radio on 630 CHED.
Cheers to an opening night win!