Friday, October 09, 2015
Game 1 - A Solid Showing
On night in which Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid made his long-awaited NHL debut, it was a childhood friend of the 2015 first overall pick who stole the spotlight in yesterday’s showdown with the St. Louis Blues. Fellow rookie Robby Fabbri scored what proved to be the eventual game-winner midway through the third period, as the Oilers dropped their season opener 3-1 to the reigning Central Division winners.
Cam Talbot was outstanding in his first start since being acquired from the New York Rangers at last summer’s NHL Entry Draft. The 28-year old netminder was by far and away Edmonton’s best player on the night, stopping 28 of the 30 shots fired his way and giving his team every opportunity to start their season off on a winning note.
While the Blues did manage to hold McDavid off the scoresheet in his debut, the 18-year old did show signs of life in the third period but was unable to sneak a puck in behind starter Brian Elliott. Despite all the hype surrounding a potentially dynamic duo of McDavid and Taylor Hall, the two have yet to develop any sort of real chemistry and their struggles continued on Thursday.
With Jordan Eberle on the shelf with a bad shoulder, the Oilers were banking on the likes of Teddy Purcell, rookie Anton Slepyshev and Nail Yakupov to help chip in on the offence. Now it may have only been one game but none of the three created much of anything up front and Purcell ended up being on the ice for all three St. Louis goals.
As per usual, Edmonton had their issues in their own end of the rink but the mistakes did not occur with near the regularity they had in 2014-15. While Todd McLellan and his coaching staff have made play away from the puck and the defensive side of the game a priority wit this group, they are well aware of the job they have in front of them. There will be no quick fix and the former San Jose Sharks bench boss appears to be perfectly ok with that. One can’t help but wonder if the majority of this fan base feels the same way.
Oil Notes: Defenceman Griffin Reinhart was the third Oiler making his NHL debut on the night and the former Edmonton Oil Kings captain did not look the least bit out of place. While he did take a pair of minor penalties in the opening frame, the 21-year old led the team in even-strength minutes. Reinhart and partner Eric Gryba combined to give the coaching staff a solid third pairing option and to their credit, McLellan and company used it to their advantage…limiting the workload of Mark Fayne, Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz, and Andrej Sekera.