Oilers' Woodcroft on embarrassing opening night blowout: 'We laid an egg'

The Edmonton Oilers may be coming into the year as Stanley Cup favourite, but they sure didn't play that way Wednesday night.

Getting stomped all over by one of your rivals isn’t the best way to start your season when you are supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender.

The Edmonton Oilers visited Vancouver to open their 2023-24 season on Wednesday night as a club heralded to be the team in line to snap Canada’s Stanley Cup drought, only to be handily defeated by the Canucks in an overwhelming 8-1 final.

As head coach Jay Woodcroft so eloquently put it, the team just didn’t play with non-exhibition effort.

“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 Woodcroft, via Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. “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. … We laid an egg.”

Wednesday's season opener could not have gone worse for Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Oilers trailed 4-0 just 10 minutes into the second period after Brock Boeser scored a natural hat trick in under 20 minutes — while the Canucks sniper added a fourth later in the game to set a new career-high and add insult to injury for Edmonton.

Leon Draisaitl did manage to add a tally on the power play shortly after Boeser’s third, but the Canucks kept on roaring and scored four more before the final whistle sounded. All but five Vancouver skaters earned at least a point in their resounding win, with Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and J.T. Miller leading the way with four each.

Darnell Nurse tried to excuse some of the effort on the team’s new system, but in the end, knew it was nowhere near good enough.

“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.”

Others, like Oilers defenceman Brett Kulak, put the embarrassing loss into simpler terms.

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

“It's sh-–y.”

The Oilers will get an opportunity for quick revenge as they host the Canucks on Saturday in a home-and-home to start the season. After that, Edmonton's schedule will work in their favour, as they're set to face some teams projected to be playoff outsiders including the Nashville Predators and Philadelphia Flyers.

There is a path to redemption, but Edmonton's start certainly wasn't what they were looking for ahead of what is expected to be a fruitful campaign.