The Edmonton Oilers open up their season tonight against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver. This year this team is favoured by some to hoist the Stanely Cup at the end of this season. The Cup can’t be won or lost in the first game.
Although the first game really won’t have a real effect on the Edmonton Oilers Cup hopes, it will be one of many stepping stones to get them there. The first game is also a good chance to take a look at a few things.
It is the first chance to see players give 100% because let’s be real the top-end players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl aren’t giving their best in the preseason. This being said there are three main things I am going to watch tonight as they will have an effect on the rest of the season.
The Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse Pairing
During the preseason Jay Woodcroft was playing Evan Bouchard and Darnell Nurse as the team’s first pairing. Now knowing that Woodcroft is always playing some sort of mind games when it comes to lineups, I am going to assume he is not for this.
Last season Bouchard really found his game after the deadline when he was paired with Mattias Ekholm. I think that Woodcroft is hoping that Bouchard can take that and move it to a more defensive role against higher-quality competition.
History has shown that Darnell Nurse gets the higher quality of players. Now that he is paired with Bouchard this means that Bouchard will now be facing the other team’s top players. This was tried last season, but it didn’t work out well.
If this pairing starts the season off with a bang then the rest of this season will look good moving forward.
Only drafted just over three months ago, Beau Akey is already making a name for himself within the Edmonton Oilers organization.
Last season there was big hype for the free-agent signing of Jack Campbell. Campbell struggled and thank goodness for the Edmonton Oilers Stuart Skinner came in and had a Calder nomination/All-Star season.
This season is a whole new season and if the preseason is any indication of things to come Jack Campbell is due to have a back-bounce season. Out of the two Campbell had better numbers in the preseason.
It is only preseason though. I expect this season’s Edmonton Oilers team to go as close to a 50/50 split as you can do. This means I think that both goalies will be playing well over the whole season.
This will all start tonight. If the goalie who starts tonight is able to play solid and not let in any weak or momentum-sucking goals then that will set the tone for the rest of the season.
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Solid Edmonton Oilers Team Defense
This is the area in which the Edmonton Oilers need to improve the most in my opinion. Last year the Edmonton Oilers had way too many breakdowns that lead directly to goals. This ties into both of the previous points as well.
The top pairing and goalie are going to be two of the biggest contributors to the overall team defence. If both of these groups have a good game then the team will ultimately win the game. This will go through the whole season as well.
As I said earlier in this article, the Cup isn’t won or lost tonight, but starting the season on the right foot is always a good sign. If the three points above look good tonight I will be very excited to see what this team can do moving forward this season.