The way this season has started for the Oilers has made me think of something an old Newfie friend of the family would say:
“Lord Thunderin’ Jesus b’y! Wadda ya’at b’y?” – Mr.Rose
Now from all accounts, I guess that language is a bit “colorful” down east? I couldn’t tell ya to be honest, I haven’t talked to a Newfoundlander in years, at least 10 since I left Canada. To me it’s just normal like the way the Oilers started the year 0 and 4…
A 3-1 loss in St.Louis is not the ideal way to start the season but there’s no shame in losing to Hitchcock’s hammers. Then there was the 2-0 shutout loss to the Predators where I think everyone felt was another, if you could call it, acceptable loss. The Oilers were in it for the most part and except for a couple brain farts I reckon it was a good showing. The 52 shots against debacle that was the game versus the Dallas Stars needs no further words wasted upon it and lastly, we went back to Edmonton for the home opener against the Blues which ended in another loss despite having the orange surge in full effect.
But then everything changed!
The first installment of the Battle of Alberta… The boys walk into Calgary’s barn and blows the doors off the bloody thing. Connor McDavid’s powers are at their peak as he was clearly the best player in that game lodging 3 points versus the piss poor Flames. Taylor Hall was also in beast mode as he also picked up a trifecta of points.
All of that is fine and dandy but there was one more underlying beauty… Yakcity rising and the discovery of the ConYak Connection! Nail Yakupov and Connor McDavid are not attached at the hip. You know that guy in beer league that’s so good, he just tells you to get open and he’ll get you the puck… This guy is Connor McDavid, his beer league is the NHL, and Yakupov is that guy being told to get open.
Next up… The Vancouver Canucks. I’ll be honest, this was one that I thought the Oilers might drop due to it being on the hind end of a back-to-back. But to my surprise they continued to play with that same piss and vinegar that they’d started off with back on the 9th of October. McDavid and Yakupov continued their dominance of the Pacific Division with a masterful play from 97 to bank the puck off the boards to himself whilst splitting two Canucks defenders then only to find Yak coming off the right wing boards into the slot for a laser of a shot that damn near lit the net on fire behind Ryan Miller.
The Canucks did tie it up later in the first with a goal from Mike Johnson’s fluffer, Matt Bartkowski… God those Sportsnet commentators were down right horrible for the Flames/Canucks games… Give me Hughson/Simpson or Cole/Neale… Anyways there was a point in the OT right before Korpikoski scored where it was Yak, Korpikoski, and Sekera on the ice for the Oilers. I thought to myself “Game Over!” because they were out there versus the Sedins and Alex Edler… Lucky for us Sekera got Hanky the Swedish Poo to cough up the puck and the rest is history.
- Cam Talbot/Anders Nilsson: I’ve asked this a few times on Twitter with varying replies but when is the last time we seen a goaltending duo that we could honestly say made us feel secure. Was it when Dwayne Roloson was playing with Jussi Juice backing him up? Earlier with Curtis Jospeph and Bob Essensa or even earlier when it was Fuhr/Ranford or in the beginning with Moog/Fuhr?
- Hallsy’s back: I love the way he’s playing recently. He’s taking charge and playing like the difference maker we all expect him to be. His attitude in the post game interviews is much more positive and I might just be writing a little bit less anti-Hall posts this year if he keeps it up.
- Connor McDavid: I’m still shocked that he’s an Oiler and today I was thinking. My dad was a few years younger than I am now when Wayne Gretzky came onto the scene and I get the feeling that Connor McDavid will be to me what 99 was to my dad.I’m not sure if my father said this to me regarding Gretzky or if it’s just a common sentiment but it applies to 97. This McDavid kid is something special and as a fan you need to cherish every moment he’s on the ice. What he is doing as an 18 year old is something we haven’t seen since Wayne and I remember Crosby breaking into the league. I can honestly say that McDavid has him beat on all accounts. If Connor had an aging legend like Mario Lemieux to play alongside in his rookie season I would fully bet my house on him winning the scoring race in his first year.
- The ConYak Connection: It’s on like Donkey Kong! We’ve found a linemate for Nail! Bob Stauffer was saying on yesterday’s Oilers Now! that Yakupov was at his best the year before his draft year when he and Alex Galchenyuk were tearing up the OHL. Maybe Connor McDavid was the key to unlocking the treasure chest that is Nail Yakupov.I think we can all agree that Yak isn’t the most refined of NHL right wingers but we can also agree that he’s a very hard worker and that he’s a sniper in the purest of definitions. Meaning he’s going to lurk in the weeds a bit and wait for that perfect moment to Release the Yakken! He’d better, I mean if he can’t pick up 25-30 goals this year beside McJesus, then he’s outta here. Edmonton will cash in on him in a heartbeat.
- Matt Hendricks: I said this guy should’ve been named Captain because he exhibits the qualities of a veteran leader. He’s got two years left on his deal making the transition to McDavid perfect. I said this before he was moved to the top line right wing position… Of course we learned this week that he has gone on IR with a foot injury but during his time on Hall’s and Nuge’s right flank he was DYNAMITE! crashing and banging and opening up space for his superstar linemates and causing all sorts of havoc in Ryan Smyth’s office. I loved it. Rob Klinkhammer tried too but it was to no avail.. He’s no Hendy.Do you think that perhaps this is the shade of player the Oilers need playing with Hall and RNH? The “heavy” player… I tried to make a list of guys that play that style but are more suited to top 6 minutes and I came up with this:Tommy Wingels, Lance Bouma, Andrew Shaw, Chris Kreider, Brandon Dubinsky, and Mark Stone.
Oh, I forgot about this guy, Tyler Pitlick… Just a call-up away…
What do you think?
- I Hate the Schedule Maker: Could October be any tougher a start for the Oilers?
- Slepy: The Anton Slepyshev experiment is over. I can seriously see him being sent down within the week. There’s not way he’s going to be having monster games versus the likes of the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Capitals and if he’s just going to be marinating in the bottom 6, bring up an older player from Bakersfield like Iiro Pakarinen or Ryan Hamilton. (PS: Draisaitl has 1pt and is -4 in four games)
- Big Contracts Attached to Veterans: Teddy Purcell is doing nothing so far. It’s been 6 games and he’s been up the lineup and now he’s at the bottom. It’s time to do something with him because he’s hurting the team when he’s out there. Andrew Ference is another one but he’s only played one game so maybe it’s a bit unfair to lean on him so hard here but that one game was really bad. Maybe he’ll get another shot here this week vs the Red Wings or Capitals but honestly, is that a good idea?How will Chiarelli address this if the Oiler can’t improve on their record? Too many teams are looking for defence right now… I guess the question is, what happens when Eberle returns?
- The Defence: First game out and there are already signs of trouble on the backend. Giveaways, not being able to get the puck to the forwards efficiently, bad pinches… Woof! Klefbom is getting eaten alive, Mark Fayne moves slower than time itself, Sekera is doing his best impression of Santa Claus with all the pucks he’s giving away and Jultzy is reverting back to old form a bit…
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