Sunday, October 9, 2011

Home opener thoughts

Sunday October 9th 2011,

The Oilers open the season off against a Pittsburgh team that has so far beaten 2 teams that the Oilers have had a hell of a time with over the last couple seasons, the Flamers and the nucks. They already have 4 points to the Oilers 0 and with guys like Malkin looking to take the team over in the absense of Sidney Crosby so far the penguins have been a force.

Well tonight we got a good example of what happens when an unstoppable force runs into an immovable object. There were alot of great things I saw from this team tonight but I am going to start with the goaltending.

Dubnyk got the start and he made no bones about showing the fans, the coaching and the team alike that he is here and he wants to stay. He did everything a tender needs to do a game besides score goals. He looked to be in the best shape I have ever seen him in and his speed and reaction to plays seems to have taken another step. If there is ever a time where the team is going to feel comfortable getting rid of Khabibulin the time is fast approachng.

I could sit here all night and blabber on about some of the amazing saves I saw tonight but there was plenty more to talk about.

One thing that stuck out for me was that the team as a WHOLE seems to want to be harder to play against. I think I saw a miracle out there but late in the second period an Oiler player knocked down a Penguin and actually took the puck. What was even MORE crazy about that was when the player turned around it was HEMSKY!!!  I just about died when I saw that. (yes I tuned in late so I may have missed more of that)

Then there was Smid. I dont know if maybe my eyes were giving me fits but I actually saw him being tough. and wouldnt you know it but it was BEFORE the whistle went. I have been hoping to see him do that for so long I had given up hope that he would ever figure out the difference.

Barker looked to me to be a step behind everyone else and I am still unsure what we are going to see out of him in the long term but Sutton looked to be every bit the beast I hoped he would be. Again it is nice to see some real toughness back there one the blue line and Sutton made sure he patrolled his side of the ice with authority.

RNH Looked like crap in parts, and he looked lilke a star in others. I am going to chalk it up to a steep learning curve making the jump from junior to the NHL and Ill be fair to say that for the most part he has looked like he is adjusting pretty well. What I liked the most was even though he was being pushed around a fair bit he seemed to simply focus in on the puck and just kept driving toward the play. I dont see him having to score alot of his goals in the "dirty" areas in the long term but it WAS nice to see that he is driven enough to go there if he has to.

The rest of the team as a whole seemed to be pretty well on par with what I expected to see. Again I didnt see the first period OR that first goal so I can't judge that at all. But from where I sat, the PK is miles better than it was last year. The team is using its speed much more effectively and they are actually capable of out playing the other team... something I thought was at least another year away.

Maybe its too early to say but I dont think this team is going to be sitting with a lottery pick this year. Playoffs? I doubt it, But 30th? Id bet against it. In my opinion there is too much there and they are still putting it together. They cant possibly be that bad again.

Then again, maybe its late and im just excited from the first game of the season...

Until next time.

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