by Lisa McRitchie on 01/21/13 at 01:45 AM ET
Only two rookies in the opening game of the 2013 Edmonton Oilers season. Two rookies, but still a plethora of youth.
Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz would see their first NHL minutes in Vancouver, looking for their first goals against elite netminder Roberto Luongo. These are the things memories are made of.
Neither Yakupov nor Schultz would score their first goals, get their first penalties, or even register a point, but both experienced what it feels like to play in front of an NHL crowd, and against a team that has been Canada’s best chance at the cup in years.
Schultz didn’t appear to have any cobwebs in his game, having come from the Oklahoma City Barons where he had a real shot at rookie of the year in the AHL. In the NHL, there will be ups and downs, and most certainly learnings, but overall, Schultz will be an exciting player to watch.
Yakupov made a few rookie mistakes, but that’s what is to be expected. Going first overall doesn’t mean that you will step into your first NHL game and be a superstar and play a perfect game, it just means that your road to the NHL is a little shorter than for most.
And you have to remember, training camp was extremely short, and of course there were no pre-season games. So you have to expect some players to need a little more time to find their groove than others.
Jordan Eberle wants you to erase all doubts that he is not a goal scorer. Too many people have said that he will never ever get close to the shooting percentage he had last season. Jordan Eberle says differently, and says that with his first goal of the season, the Oilers’ first goal of the season.
Having led the Oklahoma City Barons in scoring, Eberle has not skipped a beat in the adjustment back to the NHL. Eberle will benefit from playing the Oilers’ power play this season with Justin Schultz and Shawn Horcoff, and consequently so will the Oilers goals for count.
In his first game with the reigns, and running his game plan, head coach Ralph Kreuger gave Ben Eager the go ahead to drop the gloves, something that we would normally see as a punishable offence under Tom Renney. This isn’t to say that we expect a fight a game, but expect the Oilers to be a more physical team this season, especially with the addition of Mark Fistric who was a healthy scratch the first game.
Few would have predicted the Oilers to take two points from this game, let alone a shootout win, but it's a welcome change. A start to the season like this is enough to give playoff hopes back to a wintery season. But that's hopes, not expectations.
And if nothing else, Yakupov is extremely excited to be here:
Great feeling after my 1st game in NHL my first 2 points Thanks a lot boys !!!:) Lets keep it going :):):)
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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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