by Lisa McRitchie on 10/15/11 at 05:00 AM ET
Despite many games, there have been a number of things to talk about when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers this week. The Edmonton Oilers are about to complete their first week of the 2011-12 NHL season. In that first week, 2 games played, and one player out due to injury. This is not exactly the start that the team or the fans would like to see. Some things are getting better, some things need more time, and it seems that some things never change. A change in the next game that would be most welcomed, would be two points in regulation. Against the Vancouver Canucks, and with the current Oilers’ roster, that may be a tall order.
The fanfare for opening night inside of Rexall Place wasn’t as big as other years, but the excitement was still palpable. The Oilers arranged for local band, and Oilers’ fans Ten Second Epic to play a special concert outside of Rexall Place prior to the game, and the Oilers had some videos on the evolution of Oilers’ hockey. Is this the year that the Oilers don’t finish dead last? Most fans would say yes, and can’t wait to get to some exciting hockey.
In the first game, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins got his first NHL penalty for tripping, but was able to follow that up with his first NHL goal and it was after this game that people really seemed to appreciate what Nugent-Hopkins brings to the ice. There is still speculation as to whether or not Nugent-Hopkins is ready for the NHL, but there are more and more people thinking Nugent-Hopkins is here to stay and that he may just turn out to be a very special player.
Devan Dubnyk got the starting job, and was spectacular. He let in the first goal, but then was lights out through the rest of the night. To many, Dubnyk’s start hinted at a change in philosophy in the team, but perhaps this indicated Dubnyk’s development and readiness more. Some members of the media have mentioned that last year Dubnyk’s issues centered more upon consistent effort and focus. This is something that can be improved upon with experience and maturity as a player.
The Oilers would have to wait several days before their second game in Minnesota, and there was hope that perhaps one of the injured, day to day players like Ryan Whitney may return in time for this game, but alas, that was not to be. Whitney is still listed as day to day and the Team 1260’s Jason Gregor has an over under on Whitney’s return as October 26th. Most people, including me would like to see this happen sooner than the 26th, but Gregor is very close to the team and could be laughing if his prediction comes true.
The first period was good hockey; it looked as though the Oilers may beat the losing streak they have had in Minnesota, especially when Ryan Smyth scored his first goal as an Oiler (again) in the first and the Oilers seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Sadly, Ales Hemsky left the game after the first period, and would not return. Friday, we learned that the perhaps fragile winger would be getting an MRI and may be missing games due to his sore shoulder. And the Oilers did lose this game in a shootout, despite a good performance by Nikolai Khabibulin.
The Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be a guest on after hours. As the Oilers do not play many CBC games, might as well enjoy the ones we get.
It looks as though Devan Dubnyk will get the start in net, and rightly so. Dubnyk played the opening game, but that was nearly a week ago. With both goalies off to identical stat starts, it’s a thing of beauty that both goaltenders can keep their team in games and it may be a matter of even rotation for the next short while. Khabibulin is aware that he has disappointed the Oilers and the fans through his on and off ice history while with the team, but every year is a fresh new start.
In terms of line combinations, if Friday’s practice was any indication, the top line may be Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. Up against the experienced Vancouver Canucks, things could get interesting and mistakes may be magnified. Time will tell.
Monday night at Rexall Place is Smytty bobblehead night. The first 10,000 fans in the building will receive this coveted item, and I suspect there will be lineups to get into the building. The game is of course against the Zack Stortini-less Nashville Predators. The Predators assigned Stortini to their AHL affiliates the Milwaukee Admirals.
On Monday, Oilers’ defenceman Taylor Chorney was placed on waivers for the purpose of re-assignment to the Oklahoma Barons. Shockingly, Chorney never made it and was picked up by the St. Louis Blues. The Blues do have Carlo Colaiacovo on IR, but still the move didn’t seem as logical as it must have to the Blues. Chorney will have to play in the NHL, or the Oilers can claim him back should the Blues try to send him down. Through all of this, it is the Barons who will be most affected. The team needs another defenceman, especially now.
Speaking of Chorney, Aquila Productions has released a promo for the highly anticipated Oil Change Season 2. The first episode will air on Edmonton Citytv on October 21st, Rogers on the 22nd, and will most likely be available on the Oilers website for viewing after that. Unfortunately after contacting Aquila, I can tell you that they do not have any plans to sell season one on DVD… yet. If the interest in the show and in obtaining DVDs continues to grow, it may make sense to sell copies of every episode.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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