Couldn't Do That 81 More Times If You Tried...

If you've ever seen a two year old kid, jump around gitty with excitement over the fact that they're about to get some "candies", only to realize that those candies you thought you had, you finished off the other day so now you're a the only feeling I can compare to how the Oilers lost their season opener Saturday night against the Calgary Flames.

I can't remember so many faces hung in sadness and a collective breath taken so loud, as the one taken at Rexall Place at the 46 second mark when Nikolai Khabibulin brain farted the Oilers to a loss in the first game of the season. Not only did about 18,000 two-year olds not get their candies, but their team lost a valueable point in the standings on a game, that if momentum means anything, the Oilers would have probably won.

For the most part Khabibulin was OK. Not great, but OK. The first goal by Curtis Glencross, was a beauty move after Smid left the front of the net wide open and Glencross tucked it upstairs. I can still see Oilers management looking for a place to hide everytime Glencross comes back to bite the Oilers like that. Kevin Lowe, you should be ashamed of yourself.

The second and third were goals tipped in, with little to no chance for the goalie. The third one not as much, but still, I hesitate to blame it on Khabibulin. The same can not be said for the final goal, which was one of those type of goals, where you're in such shock, you're not even mad -- just amazed.

The Oilers dominated the first and third periods in that game, and were mere inches away from winning with a wide-open net miss by Patrick O'Sullivan, only to see the type of error made by an Oilers goalie that couldn't be made in 81 more attempts if you tried.

I suppose that's the good news. This is the first game of the year. The Edmonton Oilers have 81 more chances to not make that mistake again. If I'm judging solely on effort, style of play and opportunities, the Oilers will be miles better than they were last season, despite this loss.

They outshot the Flames. They outhit the Flames. They were better in faceoffs (for the most part as Sam Gagner was horrid outside of his otherwise terrfic game), and they outworked Calgary. The Oilers had trouble moving the puck from d-man to d-man outside of their own zone and had a section of the second period where they played with their backs to the wall, but what was one really bad goal, is not yet a reason to hang our heads.

How the Oilers come out and respond on Tuesday against the Dallas Stars will tell us a lot, as will how Quinn reacts to some of the players for the Oilers that were noticebly poorer than the rest of the team. Will Gagner with that solid effort stay 4th line? I would bet at the very least, he and Brule switch roles. Will Penner stay off the first line? Jacques wasn't bad, but Penner was excellent.

Will Khabibulin come out and earn a shut-out victory? He'll need to come close, because those fans who gaffed at his 4 year contract when he joined the team, really had a lot to say last night. Khabibulin probably feels worse than anyone about the game ended, and if he has the character I hope he does, watch out for a very strong game on Tuesday.



October 5, 2009 at 10:59 AM comment-delete

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