Smith reflects on Oilers' awful record in series openers

Jun 1 2022, 4:25 pm

Mike Smith has been a pretty solid goaltender for the Edmonton Oilers over the last three seasons and has continued his strong play throughout the team’s playoff run.

But he’d be the first to admit he’s prone to having a few stinkers here and there, and for whatever reason, they’re often in the first game of a series.

Since 2020, the Oilers have scored 20 goals across those five game ones, an average of four goals a game. The only problem? They’ve given up 31 goals, and are now 0-5 in Game 1s since Smith joined the team in the 2019 offseason.

“Obviously, we don’t like game ones,” Smith said following the Oilers’ 8-6 loss on Tuesday night to the Colorado Avalanche. “We’re a resilient group that doesn’t just roll over and die. That’s an encouraging part. When you’re giving up touchdowns in the last two series’ game ones, I think it’s not a good sign.”

Smith did back his Oilers to turn things around in Game 2.

“I think it shows a lot about our team that when we’re down, we’re not out of the fight and we’ll continue to battle right to the very end and play for each other. That’s a good sign, but lots to clean up.”

Here’s a look back at each of the Oilers’ last five Game 1s.

Game 1, qualifying round vs. Blackhawks, 2020: 6-4 Chicago

Heavily favoured in the series against Chicago, Edmonton had one of its most disappointing playoff performances ever. The Blackhawks made the NHL’s 24-team qualifying tournament as a 12th seed but dispatched the Oilers in four games.

Game 1, first round vs. Jets, 2021: 4-1 Winnipeg

Game 1 against Winnipeg served as a sign of more bad things to come for Edmonton, as they were ultimately swept out of the first round of last year’s playoffs.

Game 1, first round vs. Kings, 2022:  4-3 Los Angeles

Edmonton and LA fought down to the wire in Game 1 in the first round this year, with the Game winner coming moments after a Mike Smith gaffe behind the Oilers’ net. Ultimately, the Oilers recovered from this one, later winning their first series since 2017.

Game 1, second round vs. Flames, 2021: 9-6 Calgary

In a game that lived up to all the expectations of a Battle of Alberta, Edmonton came out on the wrong side of things in this year’s series opener. But they had the last laugh, winning the next four straight and claimed provincial bragging rights for the next year.

Game 1, third round vs. Avalanche, 2022: 8-6 Colorado

The latest installment in the Edmonton Oilers’ playoff experience, the narrative is still yet to write itself. Can the Oilers bounce back, or is it the sign of more trouble to come?

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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