Oilers give embarrassing effort in blowout loss to Canucks: ‘We laid an egg’

Brock Boeser scored four times and J.T. Miller collected five points to help the Vancouver Canucks dominate the Edmonton Oilers in their opener 8-1.

VANCOUVER — The much anticipated season opener turned out to be, as Brett Kulak so eloquently described, “Sh***y.” 

An Edmonton Oilers team that vowed to be better defensively was indeed excremental in its own zone. 

Jack Campbell had turned it around, until he was left watching from the far end of the bench in his season-opening start, wearing the ball cap of shame. 

The best power play in hockey history went one-for-four, while the penalty kill was eviscerated on a three-goal night by the Canucks power play. 

And the mighty Oilers began their season with an 8-1 paddling at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks

You picked who to win the Stanley Cup this season…? 

“I saw us lose a ton of battles. Things that normally are hallmarks of our game did not show up. It was a preseason level of intensity, a preseason level of execution,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “There are a lot of things wrong with what we just saw out there. You saw it. Our players saw it. The coaches saw it. Our managers saw it. Not good enough. 

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“We laid an egg.” 

It was an egg at 5-1. That it ended 8-1 was more of a cow patty, from an Oilers perspective. 

They — more pointedly, Connor McDavid — were sour that the Canucks ran their top power play out there late in a 6-1 game, but it should be said the power play opportunity came courtesy of a needless McDavid cross-check that reeked of frustration. And it was followed by a wicked Leon Draisaitl slash that Oilers fans would bemoan, had that lumber landed on the back of their fallen player’s leg. 

When you play this bad it’s not a good look to criticize anyone but the guy in the mirror, and Darnell Nurse knows it. 

“Simply wasn’t good enough,” he said. “They brought a higher level of compete. Not good enough.” 

OK — let’s not overreact here. It’s one game into an 82-game season. The Oilers had won five straight in this building, and they get the Canucks again on Saturday at home. 

They fumbled on their opening drive. Let the first ground ball of the season dribble through their legs. 

Perhaps what we saw was an Oilers team that is making the switch from a man-on-man defensive scheme, to a more passive zone system. They were one step behind in a nobody-knew-where-they-needed-to-be display — a group of players who were thinking before they reacted, a cardinal sin in a sport as fast as this one. 

Nurse retreated to his net front on the Canucks second goal, as the new plan dictates, and when Brock Boeser walked in from the circle Nurse was too far away to help. He became a screen and the Boeser was well on his way to a season opening, four-goal night. 

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“We’ve been playing the system for over a month now,” Nurse said. “You’re still ironing out kinks, but I think we’re all smart enough in this room to be able to adapt and play better than that.” 

For Campbell, this was a disappointment. His team gave him nothing by way of support, and he gave them just about the same amount back. 

No amount of goaltending could have rescued an effort this derelict, but for a guy coming off an outstanding pre-season like Campbell, a few big saves might have been better than none. 

“We hung both guys out to dry tonight,” said McDavid, who took the “we have to learn from this route,” rather than stamping his feet and gnashing his teeth. 

As the captain, he sets the tone, and this was one of serious reflection. We suspect an effort on Saturday that will be McDavid led, with plenty of followers. 

But, still…. Eight to one? 

“Not sure how to explain that start to the season,” McDavid said. 

It was, alas, a total team effort. 

Evan Bouchard could not have been softer. Kulak can lay claim to two early goals against. Evander Kane (minus-4) was slow, and went minus-4. McDavid wasn’t close to good enough without the puck. Draisaitl’s passing eye was strangely off. Neither goalie gave their team a save. 

Connor Brown was indeed Zach Hyman Lite, but the problem was that Hyman was even lighter. 

You name an Oiler, and we’ll tell you how they stunk. 

Captain’s skates started on Sept. 5. Then they had a full training camp, and eight pre-season games. 

Then they skate out for the opener in Vancouver, and play like a bunch of guys who just met each other out in the parking lot for the first time. 

“Everyone’s in the room, eager to play game one,” Kulak said. “We’re in here, preparing and excited to go out there, and that was the outcome. 

“It’s sh***y.” 

Oh boy, was it ever.

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