OILERS AT CANUCKS G1 (12-13) 20.1.13

There was a picture in the newspaper, a guy who looked like my Aunt Stella standing in front of a strange looking logo on a billboard beside a highway and selling a new hockey league. I was a kid. The newspaper was king in my home–my father followed all world events that way: when he spoke of the DiMaggio streak you’d think he had been there but the truth is he got the news by reading the papers in a Radisson SK cafe every Saturday when he went to town.

The man who looked like Aunt Stella was Bill Hunter, the highway was the Yellowhead and the new league was the WHA. When you’re a kid “new” means “good” and when you’re old it means something you’ll need to adjust to, so I warmed to the new league right away. About 9 months after I’d heard of the Alberta Oilers, Ron Anderson was scoring the first goal in WHA history for them:

whagameoneThe goalies were Ken Brown (Oilers) and Les Binkley (Nationals) and the Meloff penalty came when the defender attempted to play the puck with Binkley’s stick. That got some play in the newspapers the next day. Jim Harrison and Al Hamilton were the big stars, I liked Bill Hicke because he was part of the original Oakland Seals expansion club. Followed that team on the radio mostly (Rod Phillips began broadcasting in year two if my memory serves) but they did have some television games.

The Oilers NHL debut is a pretty famous boxscore because so many incredible players made their NHL debut on the Oiler side. Jim Matheson has the game story here and Terry Jones has an outstanding companion piece next to it that I can’t link to but would highly recommend. Among the Edmonton Oilers who would debut in the NHL during the 1979-80 season:

  1. Wayne Gretzky
  2. Mark Messier
  3. Kevin Lowe
  4. Dave Hunter
  5. Brett Callighen
  6. Blair MacDonald
  7. Dave Semenko
  8. Risto Siltanen
  9. Ron Chipperfield
  10. Eddie Mio
  11. Jim Corsi
  12. Peter Driscoll
  13. Ron Areshenkoff
  14. Bryon Baltimore
  15. Ron Carter
  16. Don Cutts
  17. Bob Dupuis
  18. Kari Makkonen
  19. Mike Toal

The veterans on that first NHL team (Stan Weir, Colin Campbell, Al Hamilton, Bobby Schmautz, Dave Dryden, Bill Flett) were for the most part unable to provide leadership for one reason or another (Hamilton was injured, Schmautz wanted to be traded, Dryden was pretty much done and Flett was all done) but this year’s veteran group is stronger and deeper. Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff are along for the heavy lifting and Ales Hemsky is going to have an enormous season if he can stay healthy.


I think Ralph Krueger, Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Craig MacTavish and Mark Fistric are excellent additions to this hockey club. Why?

  • Krueger: Smart guy, he’s already impressed me by not hiding Gagner on the 4line or talking about Hemsky needing to be tougher. The only “news” that got through during camp was Ryan Whitney telling Jason Gregor he needed to be a better man because Krueger was disappointed in him. Do you think the players felt the same way about Pat Quinn? He’s a motivator and a communicator and with young men like the Oilers cluster that’s going to sell all day.
  • Nail Yakupov: We should be prepared for him to be the most outspoken of the #1′s and possibly the best (seriously). Yakupov has immense skill and the one thing that has stayed with me is a comment from Stu MacGregor about the kid always hitting his spot when shooting. This guy is a sniper and he’s going to have an impact.
  • Justin Schultz: I think he’ll help the PP and am curious about him defensively. There was so much attention paid to his defensive game that I think we maybe forgot this was a first year pro. If you’re expecting perfection, you’re going to be disappointed but that’s on you. Manna from heaven.
  • Craig MacTavish: A wonderful addition because he’s the bookend to Lowe’s emotional leadership. MacT is the voice of reason and I do believe he’ll be an enormous help for coach Krueger.
  • Mark Fistric: I think this is an important addition in that he’s tough but not stupid. Fistric doesn’t have insane PIM totals but can blow up sorties with a big hit and stay out of the box. Oilers need some of that Jason Smith-Steve Staios toughness and Fistric–while not the same quality of defenseman–can certainly do that without hurting the team with silly trips to the penalty box.

There are many questions and the answers flow beginning tonight. Bless you Oilers, we’re behind you.


  • RNH-Hall-Eberle
  • Gagner-Yakupov-Hemsky
  • Horcoff-Smyth-Hartikainen
  • Belanger-Eager-Petrell
  • Smid-Petry
  • Schultz-Schultz
  • Whitney-Potter
  • Dubnyk
  • Injured: Sutton, Khabibulin, Jones, Peckham.

I’ll update if anything changes.

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629 Responses to "OILERS AT CANUCKS G1 (12-13) 20.1.13"

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  1. bookje says:

    I noticed Halls’s body language seemed off and that RNH was first off the ice in in the warm up. They both seemed they they “just weren’t into it”

  2. bookje says:

    Btw- I think Ralph fixed Eagar and Belanger!

  3. wordbird says:


    thought Schultz the younger looked great. calm.
    Harty seemed kinda invisible (although he barely played it seems).

    Eberle and Hemmer were god-like.

  4. delooper says:

    Bookje, your J is slouching. It could use a haircut.

  5. Romulus Apotheosis says:

    LMHF#1: Ralph wimped out and played Belanger instead of Hartikainen at the end.

    Harti looked good!

    but I gather K was concerned about losing FOs and Belanger actually looked pretty good too.

    Oddly, Harti was listed as a C in the scouting report LT posted the other day, so maybe he can take a draw or two.

  6. Rocknrolla says:

    JP, Rom,

    Agreed, great that Justin had the awareness to dodge that hit. I’m guessing when he watches that tape he will realize how much steam Weiss was coming in with.

  7. Ducey says:

    Captain Happy: It’s a long (half) season.

    He’ll show his try colours bye and bye.

    Not so happy…

  8. striatic says:

    i was happy with Potter tonight. it’ll be interesting to see if Fistric draws in for the first home game or if Potter will have to stumble first.

  9. hags9k says:

    Quick observations.

    I like the lines.
    First, Eberle was fantastic and Hemsky was soaring tonight. I thought the chemistry on line 2 was real good. Gagner was really good all over the ice, and you can see how dangerous Yak is going to be. Keep those 3 together please.

    Nuge and Hall were a bit underwhelming but I thought that the line finally got on track in the 3rd when they could smell the winner. Hall’s effort was really high all night…

    Both Schultz were good. Justin is so smart. Manna from above for sure.

    Good scrap Eager.

    Thought we were the better team most of the night but penalties slowed us up. PK was huge.

    DUBNYK!! yeah baby! real good game! The best news of the night.

    And now the down arrows…

    I thought 5/6 D had good games. Whitney leaves the questions unanswered…

    Did Hartikainen play tonight?

    Horcoff…god love ya, those hands fell out of the cement tree and hit every branch on the way down. Still a beauty.

    In all, thank god for the return of Edmonton Oilers hockey! 2 big road Pts! GOILERS!!!

  10. Woodguy says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    I wonder if Nostradumbass saw that one coming?

    I think I’ve read every comment, and Steve Smith wins the thread with this one.

    Looks like it will be a fun hockey team to watch.

    Nice not to grip my chair every time the 4th line hit the ice.

    Oilers need a top 4 dman, Whitney doesn’t look good.

    I really hope Lowe’s comments about growing all their own D was just paper fodder.

    Probably is.

    I hope.

    Go Oilers!!!

  11. hockeyguy10 says:

    For me, the highlight of the night was 93-14-04 playing the Sedin line to a draw in the offensive zone in the last minute of the game. If they make a step and can go power vs power in this league, we are in good shape, defense be damned.

    ^ This. Plus I would add the Oilers got two points tonight from a game they wouldn’t even have got to overtime last year.

  12. Dr. Oil says:

    Is it possible Harski got injured when Ballard threw his trademark hip-to-the-lateral-knee check? He seemed to bounce right back from it but maybe it left some lasting pain/damage. Ballard is a useless pylon and I have no idea how he keeps getting away with those checks.

  13. delooper says:

    Hall had some nice defensive plays tonight. Too bad about his penalties but he wasn’t all that bad.

  14. hags9k says:

    I’m not one to complain about a win but I hate the nucks so I’ll say it. Damn it would have been sweet if Nuge buried that one in regulation.

  15. "Steve Smith" says:

    Nostradumbass: Also, Rieder with 1G/1A tonight. Scored the tying goal and assisted on the OT winner.

    Honest to God, I’d put Hemsky and Horcoff ahead of him. Maybe Petry too. But no complaints about Eberle.

    As I said earlier, aside from Whitney I don’t know that I could identify an Oiler I thought had a bad game.

  16. iwin76 says:

    Nice start. Game was a bit choppy, but to be expected. I thought Dubnyk was good, first goal was stoppable but not the sitter some are describing.

    Was really impressed with the Schultz’s. Justin was as advertised, calm and dangerous. I LOVED Nick’s game, so solid, hard on the puck, and no mistakes. Moved it well to, excellent on the PK. Really impressed, only saw his name come up a couple times in the thread but I thought he was the second best D overall after Petry.

    Whitney looked slow, and frustrated, but still has one of the best breakout passes around. Should be a thing of beauty with all the thoroughbreds up front. Potter was blah, would rather see Fistric.

    Smid and Petry are legit top pairing. So solid, hope they keep it going.

    Hall/RNH/Eberle had their moments, and sawed off the Sedins for the most part. Ebs just keeps going, maybe it’s not so unsustainable. Hall and RNH looked out of sync and a step behind, really.

    Gags/Hemsky were flying, both looked great. I thought Yak needed to get his feet moving and looked hesitant, but it’s his first game. Not a stellar debut but there’s better days ahead.

    The old goats looked great, 10 and 94 both had solid games. Lots of chances, and tons of possession. Harski looked fine too. Fourth line had some excellent shifts, and played well enough to justify a regular shift. Eager and Belanger looked like the guys I thought we were getting last year.

    Two points in Van is a good thing any day, and I can’t really say it was undeserved.

  17. digdeepnbleedblue says:

    Hockey is sloppy right now. Everywhere. Nice to see the boys pull that one out, though. Shit! It was good fun! Beer, hockey and a pub. NHL, you had me at hello.

    Some thoughts: Yak is gonna be good. Same with Schultz. Hordichuk shoud’ve played. I wanna see our new toy. Hard to chastise after one game. And…I feel complete. At least 47 to go.

    Jus’ wanna add that Doan is a hockey player. Warrior.

  18. DeadmanWaking says:

    Had the game on the radio while I hand sharpened all my straight-edged kitchen knives, right down to the sixes and sevens. Seasonal kitchen chore. When I got to the ceramic hone, I could really hear the guys skate (yes, I bring my own coconuts when my squeeze competes in the riding ring).

    Then for the third period I cooked up a big batch of spicy Kentucky Thai-d Chicken. Hemmer popped one in while I was dangling raw chicken over Hot Shimmering Oil. Damn! Dangerous time for a come-back knot-up Hemmer dance.

    The broadcast crew liked The Dirty Russian in the early going, both Schultzes, Eberle, and Hemmer. They also liked Krueger letting the thoroughbreds run in the overtime frame. I felt less tense down two goals midway through this game than I did for the final two periods of the WJC where we held the lead and actually beat the Americans.

    Shocking on the replay to see how little respect Luongo gave Eberle’s backhand in tight. Sometimes the radio feed describes it exactly right, sometimes not. The Stauffer crew described the goal as “Luongo not expecting Eberle to go roof-daddy off the backhand”. Not expecting? On the replay it looks more like Lou completely crossed it off his Bingo card. He was set for a panicky stuff through the crease to the far post, or a quick chip into the near slot. Mark down one more unhappy vote from among his peers that Eberle’s dying-second shooting percentage is a statistical fluke.

  19. PunjabiOil says:

    Excited when Jones is back.


    Petrell out, Hartikainen slides down to the 4th line.

    Would also consider swapping Yakupov and Hall for a run.

    Still think they’ll need to upgrade a centre. I like Gagner, but was pressing to trade Gagner for help on the blueline, and signing Jokinen.

  20. BONVIE says:

    Captain Happy,

    The part I liked the best is the starting goalie, the coach wanted to protect the third Sedin sister from getting a second shelling, so he started Loungo who played very well imo.

  21. hags9k says:


    Jokinen doesn’t really fit with the age of the group. Everyone seems to want a 1 and 1A C like Pitts but with the wingers we have we would have cap problems. I seem to be the only one who sees 89 as the perfect 2C for this team. And for those with concerns about his size check out Willis’ article on centers from cup champs. My only beef with Gags is we don’t have him locked up long term.

  22. "Steve Smith" says:


    Apparently, the plan was always to start Luongo tonight – not starting the same guy back-to-back, and all that. Although I’m hoping for a Schneidplosion as much as the next guy (it would be nice if it took place after a Luongo trade).

  23. hags9k says:

    “Steve Smith”: BONVIE, Apparently, the plan was always to start Luongo tonight – not starting the same guy back-to-back, and all that. Although I’m hoping for a Schneidplosion as much as the next guy (it would be nice if it took place after a Luongo trade).

    All along with the rumours I’ve been hoping they will put all their eggs in the Schneidbasket and then have the Schneidsplosion.

  24. till_horcoff_is_coach says:

    Gagner with a great game. He was patient and aggressive all night. Second goal was made from selling the forehand pass before dropping it backhand to hemsky with speed.

    JSchu looked good… highlight of the night was leaving Weiss diving face first to the end boards.

  25. khildahl says:


    No, you’re not the only one. :)

  26. dessert1111 says:

    Wow, what a thread! Should’ve stuck around.

    The Oilers, overall, looked very good to me. The only guy who really gave me some worries was Whitney, to be honest. It’s still his mobility. It’s only one game but things like mobility I don’t think will improve much. The Oilers could use a top pairing guy still but as long as he’s kept in the bottom pairing it might be passable. Overall the D looked pretty good to me, the best in years.

    RNH didn’t have a great game either, but I honestly don’t think he has been playing super well all year.

    Everyone else had a good game. The Gagner line was posing as a #1 last night. I’m not sure if it’s because they drew easier competition than the RNH line, but they looked to really take it to the Canucks. The 4th line played well too. When was the last time anyone said that?

  27. 48 percent body fat says:


    I’m with you on the cap hit idea of a number 2 center. Also in regards to his size he is listed as our biggest top six forward right now. Hall will likely turn out to be bigger. But don’t single out one when they are all small. Who were you all cheering for in 07-09 when all we had were he and hemmer, and we all ragged on Penner.

    Finishing last has spoiled us. Lest we forget.

    Also since camp and last night RNH looked kinda slow. Any rumors on injury or something.

  28. jp says:


    managing editor of canucks army.

    Wow, that’s quite a diatribe. He’s right about the Paulina Gretzky coverage, but otherwise – Wow. I imagine he enjoyed watching last nights game. I’m looking forward to many more Canuck defeats at the hands of the “useless” Oilers over the next few years.

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