Finally. Final Score: 2-1
After last making the playoffs in the spring of 2006, Oilers fans have lived through 11 horrible years of attempted rebuilds, shiny new draft picks, and an infinite number of kicks to the pills. That kind of drought that would have killed a lesser fan base, and yet we’re still here. There were high school kids that have become doctors in the time that we’ve all been creating entire lives for ourselves, all the while waiting around for another chance to see the Oilers make the postseason. There are probably people (I could look it up but I’m not going to) that have gone to prison for awful crimes and have somehow been released in less time than it took the Oilers to get through the four rebuilds required to get themselves back into the dance.
It’s been 11 years (10 seasons) that we’ve waited for this moment. My friends, the Oilers have clinched a playoff spot.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Oilers needed to have the mindset that they would do absolutely anything they needed to do to win. Not only did they need the win to clinch a playoff spot, but they also wanted to make sure that clinching said spot came because of their actions and not because of some other team. Not to mention that tonight was fan appreciation night at Rogers Place, and what better moment to clinch their playoff berth than on the night when the fanbase is being honoured? That said, the Oilers needed to bring their ‘A’ game if they were going to make it happen. Even though the Kings have been back on their heels over the past two weeks (4-5-1 in their last 10 before tonight) and were ripe for the picking, that didn’t mean that closing this thing out was going to be easy and it wasn’t.
The Oilers had to play a solid home game to make sure that they clinched on their own terms and they did that. The Oilers earned their opportunity to play in the postseason by eliminating a former champion and if that’s not a perfect way to get into the playoffs than I don’t know what it. That’s a big win, Nation. Enjoy it.
THE BRIGHT SIDE
- WE DID IT!
- Connor McDavid is so good at hockey that he doesn’t even have to shoot the puck to score goals. McDavid came flying down the wing on a 2-on-1 with Pat Maroon and when Connor tried to pass the puck across to his winger deflected in off of the defenceman.
- Eric Gryba scored his second goal of the year at the end of a shift in which he got walked by Dustin Brown, and it was one of the best ups and downs that I’ve ever seen. Gryba was also a wrecking ball on the first period shift where he wound up fighting Kyle Clifford. After getting dumped at the blue line, Gryba laid out Clifford in the corner at the other end of the ice, threw another hit at him along the boards, and hacked away until they ended up dropping the mitts. As always, you can check out this fight on Eric Gryba’s fight page over at HockeyFights.com.
- Cam Talbot was rock solid and played more like the hero we’ve all come to expect him to be. This was exactly the kind of game Talbot needed after getting the hook in his last two and it looked like it was going to take a miracle to get a second goal past him tonight. Talbot finished the night with 34 saves and a .971 save%.
- What else can you say about the season Leon Draisaitl is having? He got the assist on Connor’s bank shot goal and he just keeps climbing his way up the NHL ladder.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added another assist to his total as he seems to have heated up a little bit as we head down the stretch. He has five points in his last three games.
- Oscar Klefbom played a team high 23:21 and he was especially good in the third period. Both he and Larsson were huge in keeping the Kings off the board late in the game.
- The Oilers went 53% in the faceoff circle against a solid LA Kings team. That’s a good night on the dot.
- One power play chance for the Kings, one successful kill for Edmonton.
- I’M SO FUNKING EXCITED!
THE FACE PALMERS
- Oscar Klefbom opened the scoring 49 seconds into the game and the goal was called back on a coach’s challenge. The call was that there was goaltender interference but that’s a weak argument for how little contact there was between himself and Maroon. Only the NHL would desperately want more goals but then institute rules to have them called back.
- How many goals has Zack Kassian had disallowed now? Is it four? He had another one tonight after the refs completely blew
their wadthe whistle early on a live puck. Kassian put the puck in the net but because of the refs mistake it was disallowed. Why can’t the coach challenge that? Horrible.
- Jarome Iginla has been scoring goals for 20 years and I’ve had about enough of it. No offence, Iggy, but I won’t be sad when you retire. Enough is enough… with all due respect.
- Two goals disallowed on bad calls. Lame.
- The Oilers could have put this one away earlier had they been able to get a goal on the power play. Edmonton’s PP has been red hot lately, and it was almost surprising to see them struggle a bit.
- The. Refs. Were. Horrible. Full stop.
|14:44||EDM||Connor McDavid (27) ASST: Leon Draisaitl (44)||0-1|
|17:11||LA||Jarome Iginla (12)||1-1|
|07:03||EDM||Eric Gryba (2) ASST: Darnell Nurse (5), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (23)||1-2|
BEST OF THE TWEETS
— Thad Shudinhurt (@Holeinoneboy) March 28, 2017
— Brennan Young (@B_Young_13) March 29, 2017
@OilersNation I'm so down with that.
— x-Robert Clark (@RobClarkTenor) March 29, 2017
Remember that time the Sabres took Sam Reinhart and not Leon Draisaitl? #ThanksBuffalo
— Matt Henderson (@Archaeologuy) March 29, 2017
If you just give it to him now you have way more energy left for defence. pic.twitter.com/QeLJfLahPu
— StevenX (@DVDVR_DFA) March 29, 2017
— x – Healthy Scratch (@dougers14) March 29, 2017
THE DOD COLLECTION
You’ve waited long enough, Nation. With Edmonton clinching a playoff spot we are happy to announce the DOD collection to signify the end of the decade of darkness. All of the designs will be up at www.NationGear.ca at 12:01AM so keep your Internet machines open and keep looking for pennies in your couch because these babies are going to sell out they’re gone.