2020-21 Game 1: Canucks at Oilers

by Lowetide

When I was a child, NHL hockey games arrived on Saturday night. That meant finding something to do until 6 o’clock. My brother and I had chores (he was four years older so had the tougher ones) that included bringing in enough coal for the next 24 hours (coal is filthy, the soot would get everywhere), feeding the goats (my brother couldn’t drink cow’s milk) and then the two of us playing in the driveway or basement depending on how damned cold it was that day. Stampede Wrestling mid-afternoon (I took a helluva beating, four years is a gap), then Bugs Bunny (love that show to this day) and then the HNIC intro would arrive. Sometimes the game you were going to get (Montreal hosting Rangers) according to the TV Times would be replaced by the one you wanted (Bruins in Toronto) and that was a good day.

After the game, my brother and I would go outside and replay the game. I loved it, but he always got to be the Bruins. Periods ended when he had to hit the can or Mom yelled it was time for bed. I looked forward to the day when I’d be older and could be the Bruins and he had to be the Leafs, but it never came. My brother grew up, got a job, bought a car, and found the fairer sex. I would find my way too, but the time in between was a lonely one. Not much shakin’ but coyotes and a car every 12 hours when you’re 17 miles north of Maidstone in 1973.

Those wonderful Saturdays of my youth come flooding back to me every year, my mind drifts to that place 17 miles north of Maidstone where my world changed in a hurry. The comfort of the hockey game on Saturday remains, then and now, connecting me across the years to the things I held dear in youth. It’s hockey night in Canada.


I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here is our recent work.


  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—Connor McDavid—Zack Kassian
  • Dominik Kahun—Leon Draisaitl—Kailer Yamamoto
  • Josh Archibald—Kyle Turris—Jesse Puljujarvi
  • Tyler Ennis—Jujhar Khaira—Alex Chiasson
  • Darnell Nurse—Ethan Bear
  • Caleb Jones—Adam Larsson
  • Slater Koekkoek—Tyson Barrie
  • Extras: Kris Russell, William Lagesson, Evan Bouchard
  • Mikko Koskinen (Mike Smith)
  • LTIR: Oscar Klefbom
  • IR: James Neal, Gaetan Haas
  • Taxi squad: LW Joakim Nygard, RW Patrick Russell, LW Tyler Benson, LC Ryan McLeod, LC Alan Quine, G Stuart Skinner.

Koekkoek starts ahead of Russell tonight, that’s a good sign that the late free-agent signing has emerged as the best available partner to Tyson Barrie. It could be injury to Russell, or performance related, it shows the increased depth available to coach Dave Tippett this season.

One hopes Mikko Koskinen starts and we see the top two lines get major minutes while the game is in doubt.

The third line in Game 1 2019-20 was Jujhar Khaira-Colby Cave-Josh Archibald and they played 7:16, going 7-17 Corsi, 4-6 shots, 0-1 goals and 0-2 HDSC. Better results are expected from the new No. 3 line, as Archibald gets two new linemates.

The fourth line same night was Markus Granlund-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson, who played just 2:01, 0-2 Corsi.

I’ll be watching for aggressive forechecking, strong special teams, Tyson Barrie’s five on five usage and how long it takes the coach to shuffle lines. This is two points, that’s what’s important tonight.


I received a dm yesterday urging me to hammer on about Jesse Puljujarvi’s number change. No. The event does gives me a chance to remind everyone that this blog tries to chronicle the important news of the day. I don’t think JP’s number change, or the reasons behind it, are terribly interesting. I don’t care. I do think it’s important for Puljujarvi to have success, so if No. 13 suits him, then that’s cool. If it matters to you, fill your hat. If you’re interested in why JP is such an important player for this team, you’ve come to the right place.


In the GDT of G1 2019-20 I wrote “today, another season begins and I believe this year in Edmonton will be a lot about rookies before the campaign ends. Ethan Bear is in the NHL tonight, and there’s a watershed on the way.”

That’s why Puljujarvi is important, and Evan Bouchard and Ryan McLeod, too. The number doesn’t matter. Never did.


This is a far bigger deal than a number. I’ve mentioned several times that it’s unlikely Edmonton gets through the year with the Koskinen-Smith tandem, and Anton Forsberg is a suitable replacement. Stuart Skinner is unproven, so Ken Holland has to find a replacement. This is an opportunity to upgrade (doubt the Oilers will grab Alex Nedeljkovic) but the key is that the acquired goalie has already cleared waivers. Anthony Stolarz, former Oilers goalie, is a candidate among many.


I see this as a playoff team, warts and all. The moment Leon Draisaitl moved to center and his line began delivering five on five outscoring, Edmonton moved into another realm of contention. It changed the team’s ability to win hockey games, even with inconsistent goaltending. Consider the Oilers of one year ago and the impact represented by the five on five outscoring by center:

  1. McDavid line: 62-58 (+4)
  2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (first half, 15-19); Draisaitl (second half, 33-16): 48-35 (+13)
  3. Riley Sheahan line: 17-37 (-20)
  4. Gaetan Haas/others: 13-19 (-6)

Getting the top three lines above the Mendoza line is vital. I think that McDavid number is about to rocket.


At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we continue a day long preview of the Oilers-Canucks game this evening at Rogers. At 10:20, Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will discuss the roster, the new faces and the Oilers goaltending situation. At 11, Joe Osborne from OddsShark will talk NFL weekend, NBA this evening, NHL tonight and the Oilers chances this year. At 11:25, Thomas Drance of The Athletic discusses the Canucks roster and expectations, plus the recent news on J.T. Miller and Jordie Benn. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. It’s all happening!


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Give Kenny a mic and walk away for an hour😉


Its game day – hopefully a better one!


The biggest flaw in the team’s game, they constantly play the puck to the boards under pressure. This forces the next guy to collect it off the wall, and costs precious milliseconds…successful teams make tape to tape passes consistently and those milliseconds compound against the opposition…has been our downfall for years, especially on the back-end. Lots of guys looked rusty in the first period, Nurse, Bear, Yamo even McD seemed to be bobbling lots of pucks…but a few other guys looked gassed late in shifts…Turris…Barrie come to mind…what’s their excuse after new contracts and half a year to get their cardio up. There’s a lot of pressure on this squad, Internal pressure from McDavid’s intensity and desire to win, external pressure from the fanbase, lots of guys within a year or two of new contracts….let’s hope tippet can harness the nervous energy and get pucks moving tape to tape.


Need to show up tomorrow night from puck drop. No lollygaggin. Bring yer lunchpails. Walk the talk.

Scungilli Slushy

It is amazing that regardless of who populates the roster or who stands behind them the team plays the same way. Except perhaps for the odd run of playoff games.

Burgers called, it’s in the water.


The Oilers played like they were in the dog days of winter midway through an 82 game season, not the first game. No fire, oxygen throttled, incomplete combustion, the illusion of hockey team visible through a cloud of smoke. Will they burn brighter in game 2, we wait.

Bulging Twine

Chiasson missed two open net feeds


I thought there are some good signs.

Kahun – Draisaitl – Yamamoto is a thing. They played good. +1

McDavid did McDavid things and he’s gonna be pissed tomorrow the way his birthday game went.

Canucks had better intensity overall, the Oilers were a little sleepy.

since this whole season is backwards I’m gonna say a opener loss is a good thing. These Canucks are legit though, the Oilers better get to work if they want to beat them tomorrow!


On the positive side, can totally see why Slater won the job.

really liked his game


The new guys were alright.


You can always tell what column Spector (*spits*) is going to write for tomorrow morn from his leading “questions” during the post-game.

Last edited 9 days ago by Munny
Gerta Rauss

Apparently the Friedman hair dye was a bet with Bieksa or some such


Thank you. I thought he’d been getting plugs implanted. Dye makes more sense. And he’s gone keto or quit drinking or something. He’s lost weight.


Random Thoughts: Drai was the Oiler’s best player. If I could keep only one of the two star centers, it would be him. McDavid is not yet in his groove, and his whole line seemed lacking in coordination. Birthday blues? Yamamoto may not survive the frequent beating he takes along the boards and in front of the net. Too much time on his ass along the boards. Turris looked slow and a bit out of shape. Not enough intensity. Barrie was disappointing and clearly a defensive liability. His passing was crisp but his skating was sluggish.Koek looked good, as did Larson and Bear. Kahun showed some sparks. I think we are going to like him. He pokes his nose into the tough areas. Puljujarvi was a bit off, and seemed too tentative. He will arrive when he learns how to assert himself physically in an intimidating way. He still needs better stops and starts. Kassian seemed out of shape, out of gas, and on the periphery. Nugent-Hopkins was quiet and not in positions to shoot the puck.

It won’t happen, but I would replace Ennis with Nygard, Barrie with Bouchard, and Khaira with Macleod for the next game. More speed would be helpful. I think Bouchard may already be better than Barrie. I realize Barrie is still getting to know his teammates and adjusting to the new environment.


A few years ago – Tyson Barrie was a dominant skater.

i have no idea what happened but sluggish is the right word.

i am almost shocked he is only 29. Maybe rust.

Bulging Twine

Definitely didn’t look like the Colorado player. He used to be so dynamic. Not sure if it was since that dirty Matt Cooke blew out his knee in the playoffs. I think he was good after that, maybe not. But ya’, I agree, didn’t look dynamic. One game


I don’t think he plays quite that loose any more. He did turn it up and sally forth when they were down two late in the game. Got swarmed in the corner when he decided to carry it deep, which was the Canuck’s strategy on everyone all night.

I expect we will see him actually shoot the puck on the powerplay next game. Pretty sure. THAT was very un-Barrie-like.

Harpers Hair

So the Canucks will go with Demko tomorrow…what do the Oilers do?


Yeah I’m pretty sure they start Smith. He’s their other goalie after all.


Do you think Tippett is shy about deploying Smith lol?

Harpers Hair

He should be.


I suspect Mike Smith will have to earn some of the 2 million dollars the Oilers are paying him.


Tippett has it as Larsson’s fault over Kass. Suck it, Godot.

Tipp sounds pissed. He should be, he’s living through Groundhog Day.

Last edited 9 days ago by Munny

Tippett might be close to getting a nickname.


I think you’re probably closer…


I’m not impressed with Kassian’s game. I didn’t think that goal was his fault (Larsson should have read the situation better), but the rest of his game was just kind of blah. And although Larsson made a mistake on that goal, I liked his game otherwise. Same with Puljujarvi, he shared some blame on that 3rd goal, but I liked his game in general. Maybe we’ll see Puljujarvi on the 1st line sooner than we thought. Kahun is a gamer, as is Yamamoto. That’s a killer line. Nurse had a great game. I really liked Koekkoek tonight, too. Turris was fine as 3C. I’d like to see him play with Neal and Ennis eventually for a skilled veteran 3rd line. I’m not going to get too excited about a loss in the first game after no exhibition games. They have things to work on. I didn’t see a lot of urgency until it was too late. That’s always concerning. I kinda feel like they should be encouriging each other from the bench a bit more. I would expect they kind of have to be their own crowd. Get each other pumped up a bit, start playing for fun.


Looks like the same sluggish team that got booted out of the playoffs last summer. Lots of guys sleepwalking, especially in the dzone.
Draisaitl line was good. Thought McDavid showed some flashes and so did JP.
Nuge was invisible tonight, as were most of the dmen. I did think Jones looked good.
Koskinen has to be better, or it’s going to be a long year.
The only thing worse than the Oilers was the play by play. That guy is terrible. Almost makes we want Bob Cole back.


Oooh Singh or Cole… that would be a tough choice. Both would be a form of torture. I’ll be listening to the radio next game despite the fact that listening to Michaels is like trying to drink from a firehose.


Michaels will be doing the regional TV broadcast tomorrow


That saves matching the radio and TV, thanks. And who knows, I might end up hating him more than Singh. Michaels is a lot to take.


Micheals is the new T.V. guy for non-national broadcasts.
Cam Moon, long time radio play by play guy for the Red Deer Rebels is the new radio guy.
He has a great WHL voice

Material Elvis

Agree with everything you said. Execution was really poor all around. Goalie needs to be much better. I do think they will improve with a few games; I’m not too worried (okay maybe a little worried about the goaltending).

66 hertz rental

I love this site as it’s a taste of home cooking for me but trying to follow the thread was painful (windows laptop). I know Ryan has put in a tonne of good work here so I feel like I’m a being a bit of a prick but following the action was the furthest thing from intuitive and smooth. Yes I did the oldest and newest dance but it didn’t seem to solve the problem.

Oh yeah hockey, we are told the oilers are fast but they seem to lose the majority of race’s and chase’s. Win far less than 50% of the puck battles and get caught looking (in photo just like 2008-2020).

I do believe in Tippet and Holland but are they being tuned out? There is just no structure in the d-end. Can it be fixed…maybe but our defensive personnel make the same mistakes over and over again. Koekeok was our best defenseman. The new guy who signed a peach of deal for us was our best d-man and it wasn’t close. This team man, breaking hearts and dreams since 92.

I hate myself for the despair I put out there but fella’s it’s coming from the heart.


Agreed. This all seems too clunky for GDTs, which rely on speed and ease for commenting.


It’s much easier to deal with a loss if the work ethic is there. PP understandably rusty. 5 on 5 no excuse for that effort.


Well, that was less than encouraging. There was some solid hockey played but, as we are very used to, MAJOR mistakes leading to high danger chances against and goals.

Oh well, another chance tomorrow night.

I saw Nurse, Drai, Bear, Kahun, Jones, Koekkek, Kassian, Kahun good tonight.

I saw Larsson bad tonight.

I saw Nuge and Turris and Barrie meh

I saw McDavid and Jesse OK.


Yamamoto was one of the best players on the ice tonight


He is worse along the boards in his own end than Eberle. But then Kassian and Ennis are worse along the boards in their own end then Eberle too, and those are the first two that should be taxi-squaded.


And Yessee had an up and down night.

Some real good, but some real bad. Forcing the pass into the slot comes to mind.


Yes, I missed inserting Yamamoto in the good and, yes, Jesse had some good but also some bad, hence the OK (originally had him at “meh”).


I think if i had to call it, I’d say more good than bad tonight, for a first game back. But I do think you were better off going with meh… one of the few baddies was real bad and it’s clear he still has some habits that need to be worked on.

But man what natural talent too.

It seems weird to say this considering 97 and 29 are on the team, but there are stretches he gives us where I wonder why he’s not the most dominant player on the ice every time he gets a shift. It’s there if he wants it and can figure it out.

Last edited 9 days ago by Munny

You apparently missed Kassian’s general cluelessness and lack of effort on the 2nd Boeser goal.


I agree with most of those grades but would add Barrie, Ennis and Turris to give Larsson company in the doghouse.

Connor was still good but by his standards, he was meh.

Koskinen like any goalie will only start to look great once the team is committed to playing great defense. We had some looks at their end but they had too many WIDE open looks.

Get em tomorrow!


Agree for the most part….but I think you are being too kind to RNH and Kyle Turris.

Mr. Turris is down to playing on the 3rd line in the NHL and facing the likes of someone called Adam Gaudette.


Kahun is okay. But when one has the most dominant line in the league that can create and sustain momentum every third or fourth shift, it is nuts to break it up.

Hopefully the OIlers aren’t too far behind in the standing by the time Tippett figures this out.

Draisaitl is a the rhythm section, and Tippett keeps turning down the bass hoping for extended guitar solos from McDavid…but that only leads to mediocre rock-n-roll

Turn up the bass. Put Nuge back with Draisaitl.

Last edited 9 days ago by godot10

Kassian taketh away. Kassian giveth. And then he taketh away again. Standing still cluelessly and then politely waving at Boeser on the last goal.

Bulging Twine



Talk radio should be fun tonight…..How does a team down it’s top scorer and a top six dman out beat us. I can hear the players already,we have to come out harder,be smarter blah,blah


I think we need to keep in mind this is the first game in a long ass time, with no preseason. Yes, the Canucks are in the same exact situation, but still… one game does not a season make and this team isn’t as bad as they played tonight.


There is always some kind of wackiness in the standings the first week of a season, every season.


That said, I am not impressed with the home team tonight.


PP1 back to the original formation with 93 as bumper and 97 on left wall and the Oil are having trouble getting established in the zone.

They then rotate 97 over to the right side and get some possession.

Last edited 9 days ago by Munny

By the 10th game against the Canucks Koskinen will be no better than a ripped shooter tutor and Smith will be in the corner ‘showing leadership’


Fuck they’ve had some chances the past minute of play and now a man advantage… do we decline?


I think Travis Green is a very very good coach and seems to have his team playing hard in all three zones. As an Oilers fan I see a team with inferior talent always out working our team. Very frustrating. I think we are an easy team to play against.

Ice Sage

I don’t agree – canucks and many other teams have about the same level of overall talent, it’s just more balanced and better deployed. Tippet was supposed to help with this?


When you start with 2 of the top three players in the league that should give you a head start on the talent level. Goaltending is weak for us but the rest of our skill talent throughout are line up is pretty deep up front and average on the backend.


Would Travis Green have these Oilers working hard in all 3 zones?
You’re correct Green is a good coach, but I just don’t know

SK Oiler Fan

I know this is basically preseason, but this can’t be how Tippet asks them to defend. Going to need smarter players. They’re going to let up 40 shots and 12 grade A chances tonight against an average offensive team

Ice Sage

Same as it ever was.


Soooooo…getting out worked 5 on 5, and goaltending less than stellar. Deja vu?


Mike Smith Thursday’s on tap, we may be trading for a Forsberg 😂 fucking Carolina


“The Oilers down by two, the Canucks up by that amount.”



Mill Street’s Cobblestone porter for the home stretch. Not small town crafty but at least I know its quality.


Kahun has looked good to my eyes tonight.


Canucks structure is workin for them , Oilers need chemistry


Kahun had a ton of ice in front of him when he made that pass to Drai.


Sweet Potato point blank stoned.


Have to give credit for that rocket from Larsson. Still seem lost defending.

Admiral Ackbar

Larson goals > Hall goals


Our 3rd line and 4th line really contributing here….


Laaarrrrssssoooonnnnn!!!! 🙂


Adam Larsson looking like a stone cold sniper


“Double agent” seems more appropriate tonight.

Gerta Rauss

Larsson stinks..!!!

No wait….goal..!!!


Big goal by Larsson on what has been a tough night for him.

Great work by Drai and Kahun on the cycle.

Crazy Pedestrian

From what I’ve been seeing, It really does seem that Vancouver’s style of hockey works perfectly against the oiler’s style. Oilers may need to reunite the best line in hockey to get back into this.

but I’m betting the Canucks lock it down now. Wouldn’t be surprised if Vancouver wins tomorrow too. Oilers too loose.

Last edited 9 days ago by Crazy Pedestrian

Who’s rated to go first overall this year…..to early🤬

Ice Sage

I almost fell for the ‘new and improved Oilers’ propaganda this year.
At least no fans will be trudging to the LRT disappointed tonight.


I know we are trying to spread the wealth but Nuge with Mcdavid just never works as well you’d think it would


I would generally agree with this.

Admiral Ackbar

They’re getting pumped. And the way it’s happening feels all too familiar. McD gets smothered. Leon with a fly-by… man this team loses in a bad way… it’s hard to watch them chase endlessly.


Hey the boys are losing. I forgot how much i missed this feeling.


Feels normal again

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