GDB 32.0: FOND MEMORIES

The Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes don’t have much history, except for that outstanding seven-game series in the 2006 Cup finals. The ending wasn’t great for the Oilers and their fans, but the 24 games between April 21st and June 19th created some outstanding memories.

I’m guessing most Oiler remember where they were when Pisani scored shorthanded, in overtime no less, to send the series back to Edmonton for games six. Game six was the best atmosphere in an NHL arena that I’ve ever experienced. It was Saturday night, 6 p.m. start, but the building was packed by 4:30. The emotion and excitement inside Rexall Place was intense, heart pounding and euphoric, all before the game even started.

One of the coolest parts was when the fans showed great respect by singing the Star Spangled Banner prior to belting out Oh Canada. 

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Or how about the goal at 4:00 of this video…I’d say it is the nicest goal of  Ryan Smyth’s career, and it came in game six of the Stanley Cup finals. 

It was a magical run. Shirts off for Horcoff was an actual thing. The Human Rake was a beast on the blueline. Fernando Pisani was a local here in Edmonton, especially in Little Italy. The Oilers had an outstanding combination of skill, experience, toughness, size, grit and a strong desire to win.

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The Rake should have won the Conn Smyth despite losing. He did everything, including scoring on a penalty shot in game one of the Finals.

The forward group had skill in Horcoff, Hemsky, Samsonov, Pisani and Smyth. Grit and toughness with Peca, Torres, Stoll, Moreau and a 4th line that found ways to contribute with Murray, Winchester, Laraque, Dvorak, and Harvey.

Behind the Rake, he played 31 freaking minutes a game, Spacek played the best hockey of his career, while Smith and Staios were all heart and determination, and made the opposition battle for every inch on the ice. The 3rd pair was a mixture of Greene, a big, strong, young D-man who played 10 minutes a game, and Tarnstrom and Bergeron who played 13 minutes a night, mainly ES with 2 min of PP time.

Roloson was a journeyman goalie, who battled on every shot, and Jussi Markanen played very well considering the situation he inherited between games 2-7 of the Cup Final.

Overall, it was an epic journey, and even though the Oilers lost, I’d bet that for most of you reading this, it was the best time of their hockey fan life. Some of you are lucky enough to have been around for the five Cup runs, but the 2006 run was so unexpected that many fans have told me it was the best two months they’d ever experienced, despite the gut-wrenching game seven defeat.

Of course the ending sucked, but that shouldn’t overshadow how fun and exciting the previous two months were. That loss likely toughened you up enough that you’ve been able to sit through eight subsequent seasons of losing.

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As you get set for a game 32 of an already frustrating season, take a moment to remember who freakin awesome the ’06 run was. For fun, do a quick comparison of those teams, and you will see how many changes the current Oilers need to made  if they ever want to reach the Stanley Cup Finals again.

LINEUP

Perron-RNH-Eberle
Hall-Gagner-Yakupov
Joensuu-Arcobello-Hemsky
Gazdic/Smyth-Lander-Jones

Craig MacTavish was the coach in 2006 and saw first hand the type of 12 forwards you need in order to win. This group’s natural maturation will help, but it is clear he’ll need to change over at least half of the aforementioned group before this team can win regularly.

Ference-Larsen
N.Schultz-J.Schultz
Belov/Marincin-Potter

We all know MacT’s biggest test will be re-shaping the blueline over the next few years. Marincin has looked decent, and I think he is on a solid developmental curve at this point. How far he can improve from here will determine if he can become a solid NHLer, or just a fringe D-man.

Dubnyk 

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TUESDAY TIDBITS

  • Chris Kunitz had 25 and 21 goal seasons in Anaheim, (60 and 50 points) before being traded to the Penguins. In his first three seasons in Pittsburgh he scored 50-13-19-32, 66-23-25-48 and 82-26-35-61. If you combine last season and the first 32 games this year, Kunitz has tallied 80-39-44-83 and that is why he is in the mix for team Canada.

    His best 80 game stretch has come at the best possible time for him to be considered for the Olympic team. Playing with Crosby helps, for sure, but over the past 80 games only Ovechkin (54), Stamkos (43), Tavares (40) and P. Kane (39) have scored as much as Kunitz.

    I understand why he is in the conversation for the Olympic team, but he wouldn’t be my first choice. Seventeen of his 39 goals have come on the PP, only Ovechkin has more 25, and if he does make team Canada, is he going to be on the first PP unit? I doubt it. That is a factor.

    Kunitz and Crosby have chemistry and Kunitz;’ 83 points are 6th most over the past calendar year. He is producing, and often a player who is playing the best right now will make it over someone who played great two years ago. Kunitz deserves to be in the conversation, but he is a bubble guy at best.
     

  • Speaking of Crosby, he only plays :38/game on the PK, while Malkin, Kunitz and Neal don’t play PK. Craig Adams, Brandon Sutter and Pascal Dupuis are the three main guys, while Tanner Glass is 4th at 1:14/game. The Penguins don’t take many penalties; they’ve been on the PK for only 151 minutes this year, 7th best in the NHL.
     
  • The Oilers have been on the PK for 181 minutes, 23rd most in the NHL, but they’ve had 192 minutes of PP time, 2nd most in the NHL. The Oilers spend more time on special teams than every other team in the league. They have played 373:33, about an average of 12:04/game. The PP and PK are 13th and 15th respectively, and the only way the Oilers can win is if their PP sits top-five, because their 5-on-5 play is horrible.
     
  • The Oilers have given up 72 goals 5-on-5, but they’ve only scored 47. The organization needs to stop focusing so much on the PP, stop believing that the PP is the engine that drives the team, and realize that until they improve at ES they won’t win. It is painfully obvious.
     
  • The Oilers have scored 22 PP goals, and allowed 19 PK. Their special teams basically cancel each other out.
     
  •  Richard Bachman was re-assigned to OKC today. Jason LaBarbera will be sent down once Bryzgalov has another practice or two. Jeff Petry practiced, but won’t play. He is day-to-day.

TONIGHT….

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The ghosts of game-six past will appear and help the Oilers win 4-1.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Hurricanes are 0-3 when the second game of a back-to-back is on the road. The Canes have outshot teams in the first game of those sets, but they’ve been outshot 78-104 in the 2nd games. Oilers will outshoot the Canes 33-24.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Riley Nash, Oilers first round pick, 21st overall, in 2007 will be booed every time he touches the puck. If Ladislav Smid can be booed, there is no reason that a former draft pick you refused to sign in Edmonton can’t. When you don’t have much to cheer for, the fans need to find something that will entertain them throughout the game. Riley wears #20, in case you were wondering.

DAY EIGHT…MONTH OF GIVING…

Thank you to the Edmonton Rush for donating their VIP package yesterday and to Robert for bidding on it. Through seven days we have raised $22,450 for charities.

Today’s package is unique. There are two items up for grabs, and the winning bid can choose which one they want.

Supply and install one High Efficiency Furnace or a 13 Seer Air Conditioning System courtesy of
G & H Heating and Cooling Solutions.

This is what you get with the furnace:

  • One high efficiency furnace
  • All venting
  • All electrical connections
  • All drains
  • All sheet metal modifications to maximize performance of new equipment.
  • City permit and City inspection fees
  • Removal of old furnace

This is what you get with the Air Conditioning System:

  • One 13 Seer Central Air Conditioning System
  • All electrical connections with outdoor safety disconnect
  • Anti-vibration pad
  • One heat/cool thermostat
  • City permit and inspection fees

You will receive a site visit from one of their comfort advisors before installation to take measurements and determine proper size of Air Conditioning system/Furnace for the home and where it will be installed.

To bid you can call 780.444.1260 between 2-6 p.m. today. Thanks in advance for your bid. All proceeds will go to Operation Friendship Seniors Society.

 

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

 


  • ValleyviewSports

    I gotta disagree with Gregor in saying that “of course the ending sucked. but that shouldn’t overshadow how fun and exciting the previous 2 months were.” It’s the other way around. We were in it to win and the heartbreak of the Justin Williams empty-netter and the realization that it wasn’t happening for us…that stinging feeling overshadows all the magic that lead up to it. As an 18 year old at the time, nothing stands out more in my high school graduation year than the collective dejectedness of all my friends in the 24 hours after the game. I want the Oilers to win this game more than any other game so far this year to say the very least.

    • Jason Gregor

      How could it happen the other way around, unless you actually thought they were a Cup contender before the playoffs started.

      The win over Detroit started it, and then it grew with wins over San Jose and Anaheim…If those don’t happen, you don’t feel the excitement of the Finals or the gut wrenching defeat…

      • ValleyviewSports

        I’m saying the suckage of the ending completely overshadows all the joy and elation leading up to it.
        Of course, it was an amazing run filled with incredible memories. The one memory that stands out above them all is the fact the we didn’t get it done in Game 7. That sucked.

      • pkam

        To be honest, I thought we were going to be swept by Detroit before the playoff started.

        Never did I think we could get to the 2nd round.

        And even after we beat Detroit, I still didn’t believe we can beat the Sharks and that trio.

        It was after the 2nd series I started to believe we really had a chance, I thought if we could beat the Wings and the Sharks, we could beat any team.

        • A-Mc

          I was the opposite to you!

          I figured we had a good shot vs Detroit. Somehow the Oilers seem to show up vs Detroit, despite Detroit easily being the better team. I had faith in the Oil and their ability to win those games!

          And we all know the Sharks tank every season, so i wasn’t too worried about those schlubs either. It’s everyone else that had me shaking in my panties….

  • OGP: the Oilers underestimate the hurricanes in the same way they underestimated the flames. Result? The very talented Mr. Skinner scores a natural hat trick and Cam Ward holds the oilers to a single goal, scored by… Obviously, David Perron.

    I hate being the pessimist, but the Oilers have left me in this sad state after a dreadful 8 years and counting.

    /wrists

  • A-Mc

    Favorite 2006 Playoff run Memory:

    Helping this guy slam a 15 pack of Kokanee in the alley just off whyte. The Fuzz were out in full force and this guy was trying to bail his 15er before he got arrested. My friend and I happily obliged.

    2nd favorite memory: A bunch of us were walking to the pub on Whyte and my friend kicked me in the ass. Po-Po saw it and took him down. haha what a goober. This is around the time where police were getting a little aggressive because of shenanigans gone-wrong from games prior.

  • A-Mc

    Perron-RNH-Eberle

    Hall-Gagner-Yakupov

    Joensuu-Arcobello-Hemsky

    Smyth-Lander-Jones

    it is clear he’ll need to change over at least half of the aforementioned group before this team can win regularly.

    my 6, eberle, gagner, joensue, smyth, lander, jones.

    I kept hemsky because he will be a good sign at 3mil.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    “He is producing, and often a player who is playing the best right now will make it over someone who played great two years ago”

    This is undoubtedly part of the logic used in picking these teams, but it is really poor decision making.

    “Riding the hot hand” is more of a crutch than a linchpin in a small sample size. It is simply unreliable, esp. as a forecaster of the future. How often is today’s “hot hand” tomorrow’s “cold”?

    Pretty much every single time.

    “The Oilers have given up 72 goals 5-on-5, but they’ve only scored 47. The organization needs to stop focusing so much on the PP, stop believing that the PP is the engine that drives the team, and realize that until they improve at ES they won’t win. It is painfully obvious. “

    While I completely agree that ES results should be the motor every team wants driving their outcomes… I’m not convinced this isn’t a straw man.

    I’ve certainly heard Eakins, after a particularly bad game of special teams, say he wants to focus on the PP/PK and hold a practice to that end… more than once even.

    But I don’t see any evidence that the organization believes the PP is the engine that drives the team. That certainly doesn’t seem to be reflected in Eakins/MacT’s philosophy or public statements.

        • Your someone who’s too concerned with literal accuracy or formality.

          It’s a negative term that implies someone is showing off book learning or trivia, especially in a tiresome way.

          “You don’t want to go antique-shopping with a pedantic friend, who will use the opportunity to bore you with his in-depth knowledge of Chinese porcelain kitty-litter boxes”.

          This my friend is you! Now F..K off.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Ha!

            Thanks. If only our problem was that I didn’t know what a pedant was!

            I think our problem is more along the lines of you confusing having strategies for special teams (something every coach at every level ever has/had) with “the organization… believing that the PP is the engine that drives the team.”

            These are simply different things, radically so.

        • Jason Gregor

          Ralph Krueger said it last year, Eakins said it this year. Taylor Hall said it during the first intermission of the Colorado game.

          Is that enough evidence enough for you? Just because you didn’t read it,doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. You should try reading and listening rather than always assuming.

          It has been said on record many times that the players and coaches feel the PP is the engine of their team. It isn’t, and the fact they say it, shows it is an internal belief, and what that needs to change. They have to improve at ES.

          • Romulus' Apotheosis

            Thanks for the response.

            But, it’s not really answering my comment.

            Asking someone to clarify a statement that doesn’t fit readily available evidence is the definition of “reading and listening rather than always assuming.”

            A credulous person is one that simply accepts statements as true.

            I’ve heard all these people you mention say the PP is important to the team. I also recall them all saying things about the importance of even strength and about needing to be better at it.

            However, I honestly don’t recall them saying anything like the PP is the engine of the team (or some variation of that).

            If they’ve said it, I missed it, which is completely plausible and also why I asked about it… which seems like a pretty straightforward thing to do.

            That said, I still don’t see anything to suggest the organization believes this, however, I’m completely open to having that case made.

            And, as I said before, it is certainly the case that they need to be a lot better at 5×5, that that should be a priority and that their special teams need a lot of work… i.e., they are crappy team.