a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 20 January 2013

01/21/13 Postgame Analysis from Opening Night

It has been 286 days since Oilers fans have seen their team win. April 1st of 2012 to January 20th of 2013. Thanks, lockout. Here are some quick thoughts from the game.

- The Oilers managed to win 56% of the faceoffs on this night, which is an encouraging sign for the season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was 7/14 and so was Sam Gagner. The Oilers will need their top two centers to be strong in the dot if they want to make less use of Shawn Horcoff.

- Jordan Eberle played 22:13 in this game, which is more suited to his importance to the team. Last season he averaged 17:35 per game and played more than 20 minutes just 12 times. He also had a game-high 5 shots on goal.

- Dubnyk silenced a few critics by stopping 27 of 29 shots (0.931 Sv%). If he can stay in the 0.915-0.920 range the Oilers will have a good chance to make some noise.

- Shawn Horcoff had a good game, going 10/16 in the faceoff dot, with 4 shots on goal and a lot of good looks in 19:07 of ice time. It's a shame that the Oilers will probably be forced to buy him out.

- Nail Yakupov showed some jitters, but he also had some dangerous flashes. Once he gets settled in he should be very effective. As it was, he played 16:20 and had one shot on goal.

- Justin Schultz didn't hesitate to assert himself, and the coaching staff clearly let him know that he needs to play his game to have a positive impact. He saw 20:52 of ice time, which is a heaping helping for a rookie in his first NHL game.

- Jeff Petry led the team with 22:42 of total ice time, including a whopping 6:12 on the penalty kill. More and more it looks like Petry will be a real good NHLer.

- Speaking of the penalty kill, the team dressed Corey Potter over Mark Fistric and then played Potter for 4:02 on the PK, 13:33 at even strength, and absolutely zero time on the powerplay. Isn't that exactly the kind of breakdown we'd expect from Fistric? Fistric is more likely to be assertive in that time than most any Oilers defender.

But on the whole it was a good game from the Oilers, who outshot the Canucks at home (albeit a Canucks team on the second game of back-to-back nights), and managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat instead of the other way around. There's no guarantee that things will stay this way, but there are encouraging signs from game number one.

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