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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB +13.0: Game Freaking Seven

Every kid who played hockey or road hockey has dreamed of playing in a game seven. When you’re young, you don’t worry about semantics. It didn’t have to be game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, but rest assured when you were playing shinny on the outdoor rink, or backyard pond, whether you played with friends, or were stickhandling by yourself, you played out a scenario where you scored the game winning goal in game seven. I never played goalie, even in road hockey, but I assume goalies created a scene in which they made a Curtis-Joseph-like save to preserve a victory.

Which man will fulfill his childhood dream tonight? His teammates will celebrate wildly, while the losing team will be devastated.

There is nothing in sports quite like a game seven. The combination of anticipation, excitement and anxiousness streams through the body of players, coaches and fans, and it lasts all day. Once the puck is dropped it intensifies even more.

The players try not to think about it too much, but when the lie down for their pre-game nap they will visualize playing well, and for some their inner child will creep into their psyche and they will see themselves or their team scoring the winning goal. You don’t think about the alternative, you only focus on victory.

Game seven is also a wonderful experience for a fan.

“What do you think happens tonight?” will be asked and answered among friends, family, co-workers and even subtle acquaintances during every encounter. You’ve likely already decided on who will score the game winning goal. As a child, you always envisioned yourself scoring the game winner, and even though you aren’t playing tonight, you likely have, or will, play out a similar scenario. But this time, an Oiler will be the envisioned hero. Every fans in Oilersnation will have a different player scoring. Ultimately, Oilers fans won’t care who scores the game winner, as long as he isn’t a member of the Anaheim Ducks.

How will the game unfold? Who knows, but the uncertainty grips everyone involved from those of you who play, to those who cheer to those who have to cover it.

LINEUP

Oilers

Maroon – McDavid – Caggiula
Lucic – Draisaitl – Slepyshev
Pouliot — Nugent-Hopkins — Eberle
Desharnais – Letestu – Kassian

Klefbom – Larsson
Russell – Benning
Nurse – Gryba

Talbot

Oscar Klefbom returns to the lineup, but his health will determine if he plays on the top D pairing with Adam Larsson, or if he starts on the third pair with Eric Gryba. He skated with Gryba yesterday.

Ducks

Rakell – Getzlaf – Perry
Cogliano – Kesler – Silfverberg
Ritchie – Vermette – Wagner
Kerdiles – Thompson – Holzer

Fowler – Montour
Lidholm – Manson
Theodore – Vatanen

Gibson

Nate Thompson didn’t play in the final 23 minutes of game six. He didn’t skate yesterday and the Ducks recalled Sam Carrick from the AHL. Thompson will play tonight, but he isn’t 100%.

QUICK HITS

  • Oilers have allowed a goal in the first two minutes of a game seven four times. Here are some more Game 7 thoughts and tidbits.
  • The Eberle-RNH-Pouliot matchups become even more favourable due to injuries to the Ducks bottom six. If they can’t take advantage of them tonight, then they only have themselves to blame. They Ducks bottom six consists of Ritchie, Vermette, Wagner, Thompson, Kerdiles and either Carrick or Holzer, who is a natural D-man. This is a matchup that favours the Oilers and RNH’s line needs to show up and exploit it.
  • If Klefbom isn’t 100% I’d start him on the third pairing and if he plays well then I’d move him back up. I thought Nurse was fine in game six with Larsson, so I wouldn’t force minutes on Klefbom.
  • This Connor McDavid photo is awesome. We can all relate to having an awkward photo.

McDavid had this funny response to the picture today. Good for him, and as funny as the picture is, we should learn to respect people’s space. Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean you have the right to cling on to them. Just my two cents.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: @TomKostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: I had Oilers in seven at the start, so I’ll stick with it. Oilers win 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl scores another goal. He has eight goals in eight games at the Honda Centre and he makes it nine in nine.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Darnell Nurse scores his first NHL playoff goal.

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  • Harry2

    I hope Chiarelli is preparing Eberle’s, RNH and Poulliots one way Greyhound tickets to anywere but Edm.

    What a sad excuse. I would be embarrassed if I was any one of those three. A hell of a season but time to flush the dead weight

    • Archer

      If by behaved you mean ‘behaved normally’. Getzlaff and Kessler can apparently do no wrong in the eyes of the NHL. Anyway, great season by the Oilers, too bad they couldn’t repeat the effort and focus of game 6, but if they learn their lessons from this playoff series we should be hoisting the cup a couple of times in the next few years. Go Oil!!

  • Hockeyfan

    bahahahaha. here come the “way above expectations” by the welfare proud crowd, when in reality, after a decade of receiving the league assistance package they should have won the cup, or prez trophies at least by now. Looks good on yah oil and your arrogant fans. Great job Ducks, Mcd was invisible except for getting checked and running into his teammates. bahahaha!!!!

  • OilRider

    Well. Officiating was brutal as per usual. Getzlaf and Kesler were allowed to do whatever they wanted, and apparently the Ducks don’t ice the puck at all. But that’s not the reason why we lost. We just plain didn’t show up to play tonight. After that first goal we turtled.

    But that’s the playoff experience. Maybe next year we’ll get some respect from the refs

  • commonsense

    I’m going to admit that the Ducks outplayed the Oil tonight. The zebras weren’t too bad but there were some non-called penalties including face-off infraction by Getzlaf and the high glove hit to the face of Pouliot. The linesman did get the correct offside call on Fowler. Overall the Ducks deserved the win tonight but this series was marred by some critical officiating errors.

  • CMG30

    Well. I guess that’s it. I can’t blame the refs for this one, not when they spent about 2 periods worth of time dogging it out there. All in all a successful season, one that put the rest of the NHL on notice!

    • commonsense

      I told my brother that if Ebs or the Nuge would score tonight that the Oil could win. Alas, I was far too optimistic. These two 6 million dollar men just underewent a serious devaluation through their play in the playoffs. I fear Hall was just one element of “the problem”. On a positive note, several Oilers did shine.

  • The Dave

    The Oilers lost team cohesion in that game. Forwards were jumping up early and then slamming on the breaks to wait for the pass to finally come, players were constantly standing still instead of moving their feet, and too many players made plays that had no hope of succeeding. When the Oilers were playing well this entire season they were all skating well and moving well as a unit, with multiple Oilers in position to support the puck carrier or defender if something went wrong. Tonight they looked more like they did last year – trying stretch passes to stationary guys about to be intercepted by defenders, constantly chasing, and always reacting to the other team rather than initiating.

    In short, they looked like a bunch of guys playing in their first game 7. The Ducks played well, and Edmonton played one of their worst games this series.

    • commonsense

      I agree. A lot of plays devolved into just a safety play of chipping it out instead of making some plays. Easy for me to say sitting on the couch with a beer. Don Cherry did say that the last game blowout would provide big motivation for the Ducks and I guess Coach’s Corner is right again. Good experience for the Oilers but again pretty hard to accept the series loss given the flagrant officiating errors.

  • AlbertaProudMatt

    Every team experiences playoff disappointment before they win the cup. 2009 Blackhawks lost to the Red Wings then upgraded Havlat with Hossa and went on to win the cup. Could we upgrade Eberle? How and with who?

    • commonsense

      I don’t think it will be hard to upgrade Ebs and get a better value third line winger. Sadly the guy is very likeable but way to soft for this team anymore. I think even Ebs has come to this awful self-realization. Very short on confidence.

  • OldOilerFan

    Good run boys, thx for everything – exceeded expectations for the year. Ducks didn’t deserve it, even the stoopid Flames trolls should agree to that. And bye bye Eberle (I hope). Nuge? There is something salvageable there. Eberle? Nope. All you guys that defended him all year – well? And last note: Nevermind the obvious Flames trolls. We could have won the cup and they would still be “oh yeah – well …” Give it a rest.

    • commonsense

      Yes, the Oilers did not deserve to win tonight but they did deserve to win the series in my humble opinion. I think the league is going to have to do something about all those two-handed slashes and crosschecks. I was never a fan of situational refereeing and all this obstruction has to be dealt with. Dan O’Halloran should retire and that situation room needs reformation.

  • Seriously Bored

    Sadly the third line seemed to be our best tonight which was not saying much. Big guys were afraid to take a penalty and we were suffocated on our transition game. Maroon, mcdavid and cagiulla is not a first line that is sustainable. I expect to see Ebs ane Pouliot gone if at all possible.

    • commonsense

      I think Pouliot didn’t play too bad in this series in a checking role. He’s got some size and maybe can start better next season. I think Ebs has one foot out the door. Who will take the guy though at his salary? Are the Islanders or the Habs interested? I would think not after the playoffs he just had.

  • madjam

    Carlyle put in his extra big boys to stymie Oilers tonight and it worked – Boll and Ritchie . Oilers could not yet overcomethat sort of size mismatch in a seven game series . Also : Having Eberle , Hopkins and Pouliot held scoreless throughout entire series most likely cost us the series more than anything , and two of those players lack the size and toughness for a long physical series (Jordan and Ryan) .

    • commonsense

      yeah. Past few seasons I’ve been saying the Nuge has got to bulk up. He needs to get out those protein shakes and get himself a really good personal trainer. Also, maybe get some personal faceoff tutoring from Adam Oates. He actually outduelled Vermette in the dot tonight though. The Nuge at 3-4 million not so bad but too expensive 3rd center at 6 million as others have attested.