The tension is rising in Oilersnation.
The lyrics to Eminem’s Lose Yourself seem fitting.
“Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity,
To seize everything you ever wanted, in one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?”
The Oilers have 14 games to ensure they don’t let their playoff spot slip away. I still believe they will make it, but the past week has tightened some sphincters.
The Oilers are winless in a week and have dropped from second place in the Pacific to the first Wildcard spot. They are three points back of the Ducks, with a game in hand, and one point behind the red-hot Calgary Flames.
The LA Kings are seven points behind the Oilers, with a game in hand. The final 14 games should be filled with a lot of excitement, anxiety, frustration and euphoria.
The Oilers need to find ways to win games. Friday night versus Pittsburgh was the most entertaining game of the year. The Oilers played very well, and had many chances to win, but they couldn’t beat Marc-Andre Fleury. An unlucky bounce, McDavid getting his stick caught against the post then kicking the puck out of the crease, only to have it ricochet off Cam Talbot and into the goal, was one of the strangest goals I’ve seen this year.
Yesterday against Montreal, the Canadiens took the lead with five minutes remaining when Max Pacioretty’s cross-ice pass deflected off the shaft of Oscar Klefbom’s stick and into the Oilers’ net.
In tight games, sometimes the bounces go your way and sometimes they don’t. The Oilers can’t focus on that stuff. Now is not the time to feel sorry for yourself.
They must rebound with a solid effort against the 26th place Dallas Stars tomorrow night.
Oilersnation doesn’t remember what it’s like to be in a playoff race. It has been 11 years since the Oilers made the dance, and nine years since they were in the race until the final few games.
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti
He’s nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready to drop bombs”
It’s exhilarating when your team wins, and devastating when they lose. You get more upset and concerned over losses and more excited after a victory.
I’ve received a few tweets and texts saying I jinxed the Oilers when two weeks ago I said they are a lock to make the playoffs. I don’t believe my opinion impacts the out come of games, but in a playoff race people don’t always think rationally. It is great to be in a playoff race again. During the Decade of Darkness I hosted over 9600 hours of sports talk radio and wrote over 2500 articles. It became pretty tedious and repetitive discussing a bad hockey team, the draft lottery odds and potential draft picks six months before the draft.
This is much more enjoyable. The games are more entertaining to watch. The story lines, statistical analyses, out of town scoreboard and the overall feeling in the city is better. My wife asked me this morning what the Ducks victory last night means to the Oilers. She is not a diehard fan. Traci enjoys hockey, but she has sat down and watched way more games with me this year. “They are more exciting,” she said. “They are also more nerve-wracking,” she added.
I’m sure you can relate.
Yesterday’s loss to Montreal hit Oilersnation hard. In a span of three minutes you went from seeing your team leading by one to trailing by one. Things can change fast in a playoff race, and even quicker in a playoff series.
The best part about sports is the emotion that comes with it. Meaningful games invoke more passion and excitement from the players. The fans sense it and their emotion increases. Arenas are louder. Houses are busier. More people get caught up in the waves of excitement, and there is no guarantee of success. You become emotionally invested knowing full well your chances of losing are as great as watching your team win.
Fans of the Oilers haven’t felt this way in a long time, and you all handle it differently. Some remain calm. Others are emotional wrecks. Some get angry. Others remain patient, but all of you feel the same waves of anxiety and happiness, often swaying from one to the next in a matter of minutes.
“Success is my only mother*#*#ing option, failure’s not
Mom, I love you, but this trailer’s got to go
I cannot grow old in Salem’s lot
So here I go it’s my shot.
Feet, fail me not”
As we know, the Rabbit made it. He fulfilled his goal, but it wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen right away.
The Oilers have a great shot to make the playoffs, and I still believe they will, but their feet, hands and brain can’t fail them now.
They must find ways to win. They need to create their own lucky breaks. Now is not the time to tighten up.
They played great on Friday and lost in a shootout. In a playoff race, just like playoff games, the best team wins every game. And every eventual Champion faces adversity at some point.
The Oilers are facing some adversity. They went winless in three games earlier this season, but a three-game winless streak in a playoff race creates much more tension than one in November.
Tomorrow isn’t a must win, but considering the opponent and the Oilers’ spot in the standings, and the recent wins by the Kings, Ducks and Flames, it is a game the Oilers need.
The anticipation leading up to the next 14 games is what attracts many people to sports.
Emotion, whether it is excitement, nervousness or disappointment, is the foundation of being a fan.
Embrace it. I’m sure this is much more enjoyable than the apathy you’ve endured over the past decade.
The Oilers are in the thick of a playoff race. None of us know where they will finish. They could still finish in second place and have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1990. Or they could travel to San Jose, Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago or Minnesota. There is still a chance they could end up golfing, but regardless of the outcome Oilersnation is in for one hell of a emotional rollercoaster.
Buckle up. Enjoy it.
- Leon Draisaitl has played a lot of hockey this year. He played for Germany in August as they qualified for the World Championships. Then he played on Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey and now he’s played every game for the Oilers. Draisaitl has been in a bit of a funk of late. Fatigue could be a factor, but there is a mental battle going on as well. Draisaitl is very hard on himself and when he gets in a funk he can get down on himself. McLellan knows Draisaitl might be a bit fatigued, but he also pointed out today how Draisaitl needs to go easier on himself. “Don’t let the bad plays overshadow the good ones,” said McLellan
- I think we can end the debate on whether Cam Talbot is fatigued. He played very well, especially on Sunday, and he stopped 65 of 69 shots. Two of the goals that beat him went in off of Oilers players. Talbot continues to play very well, and I suspect he will start the next five games, before Laurent Brossoit plays the Colorado Avalanche next Thursday.
- Patrick Kane is making a late push for the Art Ross trophy. He has pulled to within two points of McDavid. Kane has ten goals and 13 points in his last eight games. McDavid has eight points in his last eight games and those two along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will make for an exciting finish to see who wins the scoring title.
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