From the moment when members of the Canadian military rappelled down from the Rexall Place rafters, the Edmonton Oilers were seemingly taking no prisoners.
And they did just that, ushering in a new era with a 4-0 pounding of the team’s provincial arch nemesis, the Calgary Flames.
Rookie Jordan Eberle electrified the sold-out crowd scoring his first NHL goal – a statement goal if you will – demonstrating the crafty stick-handling skills and shot that earned he and his country gold and silver medals in the 2009 and 2010 Junior Worlds respectively, not to mention the CHL’s 2010 Junior Player of the Year honours.
Undoubtedly, Goal of the Year stuff!
Receiving a sweet touch pass off the boards from Oilers’ blueliner and former Flame Jim Vandermeer, Eberle put the pedal to the metal, swooping in on veteran Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, before rippling the twine top shelf on the backhand.
No greasy garbage initiation goal for this rookie, who is already being touted as a strong Calder Trophy candidate. The Regina, Saskatchewan native also pitched in with a helper on a great shot that bounced in off captain Shawn Horcoff, parked in the Flames’ crease.
Gilbert Brule and Ales Hemsky also scored for Edmonton, while embattled goaltender, Nikolai Khabibulin, stopped 37 for the shutout, in his first game in close to a year, since undergoing back surgery.
Playing on a line with Taylor Hall, Eberle and this year’s first overall draft pick dazzled the crowd, seemingly tapping the chemistry the two created during the World Juniors last year.
Edmonton tough guy Steve MacIntyre punctuated the one-sided affair, knocking out his Flames’ pugilist counterpart, Raitis Ivanans, with a pair of right-hand bombs. Ivanans lay on the ice for several minutes, before requiring some help from his teammates to get to the dressing room.
Nonetheless, full marks for the victory to the Oilers, who, at least for one night, lived up to the mountain of pre-season hype following the club and its rookies.
The future, or so it appears, looks pretty bright for Edmonton. Next up for the Oil are the Florida Panthers, who visit The Drug Store Sunday.
In the meantime Oiler faithful, chins up…sticks down!
About the Author
Written by Scott Pattison
Scott is an award-winning sports writer whose career spans more than 20 years. He's proudly covered the Oilers since moving to the Alberta capital in 2000.