Player grades: Edmonton Oilers open season with a resounding thud in Van City

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Oilers 1, Canucks 8

In a week rife with predictions that Edmonton Oilers will win the Stanley Cup this year, the squad took to the ice for the first real game of the season and proceeded to lay a very large, very rotten egg that stunk up Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

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How best to describe it? The Oilers were outplayed, outworked, outcoached, outgoaltended, outdefended, outforwarded, outpenaltykilled, outpowerplayed and definitely outsystemed. The 8-1 shellacking they absorbed matched the worst outcome of the McDavid Era, having been thumped by that same score at Long Island 8 seasons ago in #97’s rookie season. They lost by a similar score in the Taylor Hall/Dallas Eakins water bottle game in 2014. The last defeat by a bigger margin was a 10-2 shellacking to Buffalo Sabres in 2009, when the squad was submerged in the depths of the Decade of Darkness.

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Those days are supposed to be in the distant rear view by now, right? So it’s an abrupt wake-up call to the club and its fans to be run out of a building by a geographic rival that has missed the playoffs in 8 of the last 9 seasons. Led by Brock Boeser’s 4 goals and 2 uncontested goalie screens, Van City had themselves a night.

Give the Canucks full credit, they played a whale of a game, were way harder on the puck and got a couple of bounces along the way. Their opponents on the other hand were nowhere near ready for prime time.

Grade A shots tabluated by the Cult of Hockey suggest a game much closer than it actually was. Player grades will be brutal but brief.

Player grades

player grades

#2 Evan Bouchard, 3. According to the stat sheet he led the team with 5 shots, 9 shot attempts, and 24:41 TOI, earning a secondary assist on the lone goal. But he had a dreadful time of it on the defensive side of the puck, posting a -3 and earning all of that with an individual mistake on each, losing battles on 2 and coughing up the puck on a third. He also took a holding penalty that led to a powerplay goal against.

#5 Cody Ceci, 4. A couple of decent moments offensively, notably a hard shot off a Draisaitl feed that rang iron. But had a tough time behind his own blueline. Beaten on the 3-0 goal that opened the floodgates early in the second, and later for 2 more on the penalty kill.

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#10 Derek Ryan, 3. Very quiet game. 0 shot attempts, 2/6=33% on the dot. Like Ceci, on for 1 GA at evens and 2 more on the PK.

#13 Mattias Janmark, 3. Very quiet game. 0 shot attempts, 2/5=40% on the dot. Like Ceci and Ryan, on for 1 GA at evens and 2 more on the PK.

#18 Zach Hyman, 4. Around the front of the net as usual, but struggled to corral the puck. -2 in 19 minutes.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 3. Edmonton’s new top pairing had its struggles on a night the Oil obviously missed the calming presence of Mattias Ekholm. Made a better door than window on 2 different Canucks goals, and was burned on a bad pinch on a third. Did have some good defensive moments, but nowhere near enough of them.

#27 Brett Kulak, 3. Yet another Oiler who was burned for 3 goals against (2 EV, 1 PK), and was a big part of the problem on 2 of them. Couldn’t defend either Elias Pettersson’s (superb!) lob pass nor Connor Garland cutting to the net front to make the deposit on the 1-0, and was unable to suppress J.T. Miller’s pass on the 3-0.

#28 Connor Brown, 4. A forgettable Oilers debut with 2 shots, 2 hits but -2.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 5. Scored the Oilers lone goal on his patented “executioner’s shot” on the powerplay. Was not on the ice for a single goal against, something of a minor miracle on this night. Took a couple of unnecessary penalties in garbage time, the first of which led to the 7-1 goal. 12/17=71% on the faceoff dot.

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#36 Jack Campbell, 3. Earned the start with an excellent preseason that saw him beaten just 3 times in 3 games, but allowed 4 in under half a game in this one. Did not get a lot of help from his teammates to say the least, but didn’t deal particularly well with a couple of emergencies in close. 16 shots, 12 saves, .750 save percentage.

#37 Warren Foegele, 5. Solid 2-way effort. His line with McLeod and Holloway dominated possession but struggled to finish (6-2 shots, 0-1 goals). His wicked blast off a scrambled faceoff was among Edmonton’s best efforts at even strength.

#55 Dylan Holloway, 6. The team’s youngest player was in many ways its best, at least for 50 minutes. Hustled hard, leading the forwards with 4 shots, adding a couple of hits and a pair of blocked shots. The last of those, a point blast from big Tyler Myers, appeared to catch him on the palm of his hand, ending Holloway’s night with 10 minutes to play. A tough break at any time but especially with a 7-1 deficit.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 4. Just so-so in his first game of the season after missing all of the preseason. Case in point, the last goal in which he hustled hard on the backcheck only to lose the ensuing battle.

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#73 Vincent Desharnais, 4. Mostly steady, but cast a giant screen on Skinner on the 6-1.

#74 Stuart Skinner, 3. Came on in relief but was unable to stem the tide. His best moments came on a second-period penalty kill when he made 3 strong saves but then was beaten on a fourth shot, still just 51 seconds into the penalty. Not much help there. But didn’t much help himself in fighting through screens. Identical stats to Campbell: 16 shots, 12 saves, .750 save percentage.

#86 Philip Broberg, 3. Among those burned on 2 goals against, with a -2 on the night to prove it.

#91 Evander Kane, 3. Seemed a step behind all night. Oilers were outshot +4/-12 and outscored +0/-4 during his 16 minutes at evens. Did muster 5 hits to lead the team, though nothing memorable.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 4. One of just 4 Oilers (also Draisaitl, Holloway, Desharnais) to post an even plus/minus, Nuge struggled on the PK where he was among the culprits on 2 goals against. Led the forwards with 21:17.

#97 Connor McDavid, 4. Did some good work on the powerplay with a couple of dangerous shots and a fine pass to Draisaitl for the goal, but his line struggled at even strength. Was late in providing support to Bouchard on the 2-0, and was unable to cut out the resultant pass that led directly to the goal. Cleanly lost the faceoff on the 8-1. Did land the heaviest Edmonton hit of the night when he creamed Filip Hronek in the early going.

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