For the first time in a decade, the Oilers have an opportunity to close out a playoff series.
Back in 2006, the Oilers were able to win three Game 6 battles with the fourth series against the Ducks not even getting that far. As you know, that miracle run also included a playoff win over the San Jose Sharks in Round 2. Both Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were members of that Sharks team that lost to the Oilers and I’d like to see history repeat itself.
In that series from 10 seasons ago, the Oilers roared back from a 2-0 series deficit to defeat the Sharks in six games, a task they’re looking to repeat tonight. Coming back was kind of the Oilers’ thing in 2006 and that resiliency served them many times against San Jose. In Game 4, Edmonton dragged themselves out of an early 3–1 hole by scoring five straight goals to win the game 6–3, evening up the series at two games each. After San Jose tied Game 5 early in the third period, the Oilers scored three unanswered goals to claim a second straight 6–3 victory. In what ended up being the deciding game, Dwayne Roloson was lights out and posted a 24 save shutout as the Oilers won the game 2–0 and closed out the series four games to two.
The Oilers needed rock solid goaltending and timely scoring to finish off the Sharks in 2006 and they’re going to need much of the same if they want to do it again.
COACH BAGGEDMILK’S KEYS TO THE GAME
As we all know, the last game in San Jose didn’t really go so well. The Oilers came out flat and the Sharks took full advantage to the tune of a 7-0 loss. Personally, I’d rather that Edmonton close out the series tonight rather than coming back home for Game 7. To do that, they’re going to have to pay attention to the small details. Here are a few things that are on my mind that the Oilers will need to get done in order to close things out in Game 6.
- Get the better start – I don’t know how many times we’ve read that the Oilers need to weather the early storm but, from where I blog, I’d rather them create the storm. Edmonton came out guns blazing in the first 10 minutes of Game 5 and I’d like to see that rather than having them wait around and hope that the Sharks make some mistakes.
- Get the crowd out of it – Obviously, the easiest way for the Oilers to take the crowd out of the game would be to score an early goal. If they can’t do that then they need to do everything else in their power to poison the Shark tank. Whether they’re banging and crashing or maintaining possession and producing chances, Edmonton needs to quiet that building as soon as possible.
- Stay out of the box – The Oilers have taken 23 penalties in this series and it doesn’t take an accountant to tell you that that’s way too many. They need to stay disciplined tonight and they need to do it in spite of the refs being unbelievably inconsistent.
- Make them pay – The Sharks are going to be a desperate team and that could mean that they’ll be cheating as much as they can to get away with to give themselves an advantage. If the Sharks do miraculously get penalized then the Oilers need to make them pay for it. The special teams battle has been a huge part of this series and the Oilers need to find a way to win it tonight.
- SHOOOOOOOT – The Oilers tend to get themselves in trouble when they try to force pretty plays rather than keeping things simple. As much as I love to see tic-tac-toe goals, I love seeing the dirty garbage rebound goals just as much. Get traffic in front of Jones and bang away at the loose pucks. I don’t care who scored the goals tonight as long as somebody is doing it.
- Keep the passes on point – One of the areas that have given the Oilers some trouble is their ability to make crisp passes coming out of the zone. A lot of times the Oilers may have an extra second or two to move the puck to a teammate in stride rather than banging it off the glass and out. Easier said than done, I know.
- Throw the body – The Sharks can’t keep up with the Oilers physically and if our boys in blue (or white whatever) can bang and crash like they did in Game 2 and 5 then the old tired Sharks will get run down. The Sharks looked tired in Game 5 and I think a big part of it was a result of the Oilers punishing them every chance they got.
Anything I missed? Leave your keys to the game in the comments section and keep sending out positive vibes into the universe. We’re going to need all the help and positive juju we can get.