In classic Oiler's fans fashion, everyone thinks the Oiler's season is doomed after one game of the season. Granted it was a pretty abysmal game but one game does not a season make. Really when you break it down even further it was one terrible period, without the second period (and excluding the empty net goal) the game would have been 2-2 and I feel like even if the Oiler's had lost in overtime the react that the fans have been having wouldn't be nearly so harsh.
Fans are already declaring that the team isn't making a return to the playoffs, the coaches should be fired, the defense isn't NHL caliber, goaltending hasn't return to 2016/17 form, and forward depth is pathetic. Two weeks ago these same people were singing the praises of the team, declaring our strong preseason showed the team was rebounding from a bad year and taking steps forward. And one game was all it took to turn the bandwagon around 180 degrees.
Oiler's fans you might want to chill out a little bit.
Yes the season opener was a disappointment. I couldn't tell you what exactly happened but the Oiler's were clearly a step behind the Devils and couldn't do anything more than play catch up. The second period was embarrassing for the team, they didn't get a shot until the final minute of play and for most of the period I wasn't sure they would even manage that. Despite that, the Oiler's were still within two goals and did pick up the pace and play better in the final frame.
There were some issues for the Oiler's in the Saturday game that they will need to sort out before heading to Boston on Thursday for their second game of the season. The coaches will continue to juggle with the lines as they try to find some more scoring depth. The Oiler's can't rely solely on Connor McDavid and finding some scoring depth will be very valuable to the club. The coaches seem set on keeping McDavid and Draisaitl on different lines this year and Draisaitl has been searching for some linemates that he has some chemistry with. During the offseason I fully expected Draisaitl to play with fellow German Tobias Rieder but in game one he started with Milan Lucic and Kailer Yamamoto. I had high hopes for the trio but so far it seems like Yamamoto and Draisaitl just haven't clicked. Another player that deserves a shot to play with Draisaitl is Jesse Puljujarvi, a third year player who had a very strong preseason. I would have expected the coaching staff to address some of these line questions in preseason but they didn't seem to be high priorities to them.
The defense didn't look great on Saturday either. I think Evan Bouchard did alright for his first NHL game, he made some mistakes but din't look any worse than the rest of the defensive group. Oskar Klefbom and Adam Larsson will need to pick their game up as the Oiler's will be relying on them to be the two best defensemen on the team each and every game this season. The player who is under the most scrutiny after game one is Matt Benning, the right dman on the second pairing. Benning seems a bit out of water when he is forced to play anywhere above the bottom pair and if he's not capable of filling the role, the Oiler's will need to find someone who is. Right now there doesn't seem to be any other players ready to take over Bennings role so he might be stuck there for a while and if he doesn't magically become a better hockey player, he could be the weakest point on the entire roster and end up costing the Oiler's numerous hockey games.
So in summary, not a great first game but not quite enough for us to call the season a failure just yet. Let's wait until game 2 before we do that.