The great Bob Cole knows how to sum up the action of the NHL playoffs in a few words. One of his most famous lines is, “Everything is happening.”
Which sums up last night’s overtime victory for the Anaheim Ducks.
The Edmonton Oilers controlled the first period. They were fast, physical, and Connor McDavid was brilliant on every shift. The Oilers led 2-0, but missed many more glorious chances. They could have been up three or four goals.
But the Ducks didn’t wilt and they responded by outshooting the Oilers 21-5 in the second period.
Much of the post-game focus was on the Ducks’ first two goals.
Ryan Getzlaf scored 1:37 into the second frame. Corey Perry made contact with Cam Talbot just prior to the puck going in. The referees and the NHL video replay room looked at it. They determined it was incidental contact because Perry and Talbot’s skates made contact when Talbot’s foot was outside the blue paint. There is no disputing that when their skates touched, Talbot’s was outside the crease. What wasn’t 100% clear was if Talbot’s blocker was outside the crease when Perry touched it. The final decision was a good goal.
I understand if Oilersnation was frustrated by the call. There was clear contact, but under the rules if it is deemed incidental contact when the goalie was outside the crease, which his skate was, the goal will stand according to rule 69.4. You can read the entire rule 69 breakdown here.
|69.4||Contact Outside the Goal Crease – If an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.|
|A goalkeeper is not “fair game” just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact.|
What it doesn’t state clearly is whether the contact after the incidental contact (skate on skate) can overrule the initial contact. Kerry Fraser will join me at 2:20 on TSN 1260 to discuss the rule and decision. There was clear contact.
What I do know for certain is that if Jordan Eberle was able to get the puck out on two separate occasions, then Getzlaf would never have got a shot on goal and there would be no review. Eberle was demoted to the fourth line after the turnover, so clearly Todd McLellan felt it was a bad play.
The Ducks’ second goal looked like it might be offside, but I don’t think anyone can say with certainty it would have been disallowed if the Oilers had a timeout remaining to challenge it. However, they didn’t have a challenge. Many thought Silfverberg’s goal (the fifth goal of game) in game five was offside. They reviewed it and the goal stood.
What I hope happens this summer is at the very least they eliminate the “skate off of the ice” as a reason to be offside. It is idiotic. The player is not further in the zone, his skate is still onside in my eyes, because it is not inside the blueline. Perry’s skate was off the ice in the still shot, but still shots don’t always tell the truth. Plus we have seen numerous different interpretations of what is deemed offside and what isn’t.
What I do know is the Oilers were out shot 21-5 in the second period. After allowing the first goal they went into a shell and it hurt them. They stopped moving their feet like they did in the first period. They weren’t winning races to pucks. They had just dominated the first 20 minutes, so we know they have the ability to control the games , or at least stay even.
To their credit, they tied it up late. Drake Caggiula scored his first career playoff goal and the building was electric again.
Was the OT goal icing? I don’t think so, because 15 times a game a player is a stride from centre, dumps it in and there is no icing. It was close, but Oscar Klefbom still got to the puck cleanly and moved it to Adam Larsson. Unfortunately, Larsson fanned on his clearing attempt and it went right to the Oilers killer, Getzlaf. This morning Klefbom told Jason Strudwick he didn’t think it was icing, and he was on the ice.
EMOTIONS ARE AWESOME
— OilersNation.com (@OilersNation) May 4, 2017
I love the fact I’m in a building watching games that matter, and listening and reading to a fanbase completely consumed in the playoffs. It is refreshing. Damn rights it is frustrating for fans. Even my wife, who is usually very calm, was a bit fired up about the game. Passion is great and I can understand those frustrated with the calls, but hockey will always have some unpredictability, whether it comes from the players, coaches or officials.
Everyone will see something slightly different. In the press box, I was sitting beside Craig Button and Frank Seravalli from TSN. Button thought the goal would be disallowed while Seravalli thought it was a good goal. Neither of them had any emotional attachment to the game. It illustrates how we can view things differently, even in slow motion.
The range of emotions in the Oilers dressing room varied as well. Talbot, who is usually very calm, was slightly irritated. He wasn’t seething, but he obviously didn’t like the call.
“It try to play with integrity in my game, I’m not a guy who is going to flop and dive and try to get calls. But if those are the goals that are going to count when I’m trying my best to make a save, then maybe I do have to flop and dive and get those calls like all the other guys,” said Talbot.
McDavid said. “I thought there was contact, but there is nothing we can do now. We just have to come put and play like we did in the first period. They are a good team, but so are we, and we have to avoid major mistakes.”
Experience is hard to define, and each player will use it differently. Getzlaf has been the best player in the series. He was incredible last night, but he hasn’t always dominated in the playoffs.
“I love the playoffs. There are no guarantees. I’ve been on the losing end and it sucks. What I’ve learned now is to not try and do too much. I can’t control if my linemate will do this or that. I used to worry about doing everything, and that got me into trouble. I’ve learned to only focus on what I can do and I think it has helped,” he said last night.
He played his 112th playoff game last night and it was his first ever multi-goal game in the postseason. I asked him when he started worrying less and he laughed and said, “I honestly can’t say which year, but I know it took me a long time. I knew I should only focus on myself, but your emotions are so amped up in the playoffs, that in any game I could find myself reverting back to trying to do too much.”
So even with ten years of playoff experience, Getzlaf still has to battle to stay within himself.
Many of the Oilers best young players are experiencing the emotional rollercoaster of the playoffs for the first time and we’ve seen drastic changes in their play. They’ve proven they can play disciplined and dominate. They’ve also had games where their emotions got the best of them and they became undisciplined, and other times they were overwhelmed by the opposition.
Even a veteran like Milan Lucic has let his frustration show. It happens. Of course you want to stay composed all the time, but when emotions run as high as they do in the playoffs, the unpredictability of a player’s actions or decisions is what makes the postseason so intriguing.
“We’ve got to find ways between periods to adjust, recover, and get back out there and push,” said McLellan this morning.
Honestly, I have no idea. The Ducks are feeling great, and the Oilers are frustrated, but once the puck drops in game five it is a completely different game and there is no carry over from games three and four.
Last year the Ducks lost game one and two at home to Nashville. Then they won games three, four and five. Everyone thought they would win the series, but the Predators came back and won game six at home and game seven on the road.
The exact same scenario — lose two at home, win three, then lose the final two — happened to the Ducks versus the Kings in 2014.
Will history repeat itself?
Fourteen of the Ducks’ current roster lost to the Predators last year, while Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Rikard Rakell, Andrew Cogliano, Jakob Silfverberg, Sami Vatanen and John Gibson were on the 2014 team.
Their core guys have lost both series. Maybe they will learn from it, or maybe it creeps into the back of their minds. Who knows how it will impact them, but if the Oilers want to win two of the next three, they need to find a way to contain Getzlaf. He is crushing them.
They also need to avoid long stretches of poor play. They’ve proven they can control the game, as have the Ducks. The Oilers need to try and eliminate the glaring mistake — they led directly to four Ducks goals the past two games. Mistakes will happen, but when they are five-star errors it usually results in Talbot fishing the puck out of the net.
Make sure you hydrate. You are in for another wild, emotionally-charged game Friday night at 8:30 mountain time.
Are you having fun yet, Oilersnation? I hope so, because from my seat this is a hell of a lot more exciting than watching a draft lottery on TV.
A shout out to the two fans sitting behind the penalty box who were wearing “White Gloves.” Someone should set up shop selling white gloves outside the arena before game six. You’d make a killing.
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