REMEMBER WHEN?

Time to be alive

March is just around the corner, the smell of thawing dog crap is in the air and the Edmonton Oilers are headed out on the road with 58 games in the books and rolling toward their first playoff spot since 2006. Craig MacTavish was head coach, Jason Smith was captain and Connor McDavid was nine years old. Remember when?

Where were you and what where you doing when the Oilers took their surprise roller-coaster ride to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final against the Carolina Hurricanes, breaking hearts far and wide with a 3-1 loss? Remember watching it all unfold? A first-round upset over Detroit that was nothing short of stunning. Coming back from a 2-0 games deficit to beat the San Jose Sharks in six. Slapping aside the Anaheim Ducks in five. Mercy, it’s been awhile.

My youngest son, Sam, wasn’t even born on this date 11 years ago. Hell, he wasn’t even born when I flew out of Raleigh the day after the Oilers lost Game 7 trying to digest what I’d seen. Now, he’s in Grade 5. Sam tells me Sean Mendes, whoever that is, is cool. He helps the old man figure out how his Smartphone works. There’s been a lot of water pass under the bridge for everybody since then. Twitter hadn’t even launched. There was no Oilersnation.

Yet, here we are today, Feb. 17, 2017. Through 58 games, the Oilers are 31-19-8 for 70 points after beating the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on Thursday. McDavid is all grown up and the Oilers will have to fall off the face of the hockey world in their remaining 24 games not to end a stretch of 10 frustrating years out of the playoffs. It’s going to be a lot of fun the rest of the way – if we can remember how.

THAT WAS THEN

Then

For the record, the Oilers of 2005-06 were 30-20-8 for 68 points after 58 games on this date. They’d finish 41-28-13 for 95 points, the same total as seventh-place Colorado, but with two fewer wins, leaving them eighth, three points clear of the Vancouver Canucks. The Oilers weren’t exactly a juggernaut, even with the additions of Chris Pronger and Michael Peca in the off-season and the mid-season acquisitions of Dick Tarnstrom and Jaroslav Spacek.

Even when GM Kevin Lowe acquired Sergei Samsonov from the Boston Bruins for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-round pick that became Milan Lucic on March 9, after plucking stopper Dwayne Roloson from Minnesota for a first-round pick that summer and a third-round pick in 2007 the day before, I didn’t see the Cup run coming. That’s what made it so much fun and had people dancing in the streets with every win. The rest we know.

I’d argue there’s more anticipation about what this edition of the team is capable of from this point on than there was on this date 11 years ago. Are McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Patty Maroon, Jordan Eberle and Lucic better now than Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth were then? What about the blue line group? Does Cam Talbot have a Roloson-like spring in him?

Despite what he’s said, is GM Peter Chiarelli looking at making the kind of significant trade deadline moves Lowe made 11 years ago, moves that might push this group over the top? Is the mix right? Is there a way to capture that lightning in a bottle a second time? Is it a year or even two too early to reasonably expect that? Remember what it felt like as everything unfolded back when? Now, as then, I don’t have the answers. 

What I do know, with 24 games to play, another March trade deadline looming and Sam already almost as tall as his mom, is it’s a lot more fun to contemplate the possibilities, far-fetched as they might seem, and buckle up in anticipation than it is to watch this team death march to the finish line on its knees yet again. It’s about damn time.

WHILE I’M AT IT

SoapBox

  • Fans and media alike, as they tend to do, had all kinds of things to say about Brandon Manning of the Flyers heading into last night’s game after all the fuss over what had been said and done between him and McDavid. Manning, of course, ended up scrapping with Maroon.

    Whether you believe this kind of payback makes any real difference or not – I believe it sends a message to not only the other team but your own – Manning looks like a stand-up guy to me. Good on him for answering the bell and good on Maroon for ringing it. Now, as Maroon said after the game, let’s move on.

  • McDavid responded to Sidney Crosby’s three-point game with three points of his own Thursday and he now sits with 19-47-66, two points up on Crosby. Draisaitl hits the road with 22-29-51, good for 16th in NHL scoring.
  • Back to the 2005-06 team, Hemsky led the Oilers with 19-55-77 in regular season, followed by Horcoff with 22-51-73, Stoll with 22-46-68 and Smyth with 36-60-66.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

RECENTLY BY ROBIN BROWNLEE  

  • smiliegirl15

    I bought my condo right before the final game of the season and moved in when they were on the final round. My dog was born in May. I hadn’t even gotten her yet when they were done. Now she’s grey and turning 11. It was four jobs and two cars ago. Neither of my brothers were married yet. I had no nieces and nephews; now there are two and three of each respectively. It’s been a lifetime; it’s like it was yesterday.

  • Jiff

    Game (in Philly) was hardly close all the way if I remember correctly. Pretty sure we were up by 3. How was last night any different?

    So he’s a stand-up guy for finally saying “OK, lets go”, after declining numerous invitations to fight numerous Oilers on numerous occasions?

    Try to follow along old timer.

  • I made a reference to drop passes last night, and maybe I’m the only one here that isn’t a fan of them, but I think it was directly influenced by Game 7 of the SCF in ’06.

    My memory could be rusty but on one Oilers chance that was an odd man rush I believe Samsonov left a drop pass to nobody.

    In a game where every rush counts, every chance could be the one to change the game, it stuck out for me and I’ve always hated those plays since.

    But it worked out beautifully last night and McD getting a goal was icing on the cake.

    Maroon’s fight is one thing, but Drai’s hit was the best IMO. To have the luxury of the lead to take a penalty, to be a rising superstar like Drai who isn’t known for fisticuffs and to deliver that shot, to completely rock Manning out of the blue…So beautiful. *tears welling*

    The “Broadstreet Bullies” looked like they were shook and in shock. No response from the team. Getting drilled on the ice and on the scoreboard.

    I love this team.

  • Shredder

    The iPhone hadn’t even come out in ’06. Wow, the world has changed a lot, but no change for the love of the game. I remember coming out of Northlands/Skyreach/Rexall and everyone cheering for SJ to beat Vancouver, or something like that, because it meant we’d make the playoffs. There was something about that team that felt magical from day one.

    BUT I’d take this team over that one any day. I remember wishing we had a guy who’s got all-star skill (Hemsky wasn’t it, and we didn’t get a player like that till Hall), a trigger for Hemsky (we almost got Heatley a couple years later), and a starting Goalie (which Roloson became). The ’05-06 team was excellent at 2way play, and we had the best 3rd line in the league…but no all star talent up front. It was a grind-it-out kinda game, which was awesome with Pronger laying the slapshot and Smytty tipping them in. I’m sold Talbot is awesome and one of the best in the league. McDavid is as good as you get. We have the toughness in the corners – maybe even the toughest team in the league? This team is poised for greatness, and I think Chiarelli understated his team a bit the other day…maybe on purpose. We are not the Caps or anything like that, but we’re not so far away from that.

  • Jiff

    Robin Brownlee wrote: “Manning looks like a stand-up guy to me.”

    Why, because he purposely drove McDavid head first into the boards? Or because he wouldn’t fight any Oiler last game in Philadelphia? Maroon didn’t give him a choice. Stand-up guy, what joke.

    You media guys all drinking the same kool-aid lately.

    • Jiff, please try to follow along. Manning didn’t drive McDavid head-first into the boards. I can only assume you never watched the original play or you’d never say anything so ridiculous.

      The last game in Philly? Close all the way. That’s why Manning didn’t fight then. Are you suggesting he was scared to fight at home but was willing to fight on the road here? Oh, I forgot. You said Maroon didn’t give him a choice. Well, not so. Maroon wanted to go early. Manning didn’t oblige then but then came back to him when the game was 4-1. This from Maroon after last night’s game:

      “He asked me to go,” said Maroon. “If it wasn’t me, I’m sure it would have been somebody else. We had our fight and it’s over and done with.”

      Anything else?

      • slats-west

        Ah…..Sorry Robin

        “”I did all I could defending him last year in the media,” McDavid said after Edmonton’s 6-5 loss to Philadelphia at Wells Fargo Center. “Everyone wanted to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose, and he wanted to say some comments today about what went on last year. I thought it was one of the [most] classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things, and our guys responded accordingly. I guess we can put the whole ‘if he did it on purpose’ thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that.”

        Unless we think Mcdavid wasn’t telling the truth.

        Manning is 5-6 dman that will be out this league in 3 years. What he did to McDavid was brutal and he himself admitted to it. I think this is where Jiff is going.

        • OTOF2

          Do you not understand what trash talk is? It is very common place on the ice. I’m not saying Connor lied, I’m saying he got played. Manning talked some trash and he takes it to heart. Rookie mistake. He should know better than to take trash talk as truth. The fans should also be smarter too.

      • slats-west

        Ah…..Sorry Robin

        “”I did all I could defending him last year in the media,” McDavid said after Edmonton’s 6-5 loss to Philadelphia at Wells Fargo Center. “Everyone wanted to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose, and he wanted to say some comments today about what went on last year. I thought it was one of the [most] classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things, and our guys responded accordingly. I guess we can put the whole ‘if he did it on purpose’ thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that.”

        Unless we think Mcdavid wasn’t telling the truth.

        Manning is 5-6 dman that will be out this league in 3 years. What he did to McDavid was brutal and he himself admitted to it. I think this is where Jiff is going.

      • Jiff

        I wasn’t the only one who thought Manning drove Connor into the boards on purpose. Pretty sure from Connor’s comments he feels the same. I guess you see what you want to see there old timer. Anyway, keep drinking the kool-aid.

        • You skipped right past this part:

          “The last game in Philly? Close all the way. That’s why Manning didn’t fight then. Are you suggesting he was scared to fight at home but was willing to fight on the road here? Oh, I forgot. You said Maroon didn’t give him a choice. Well, not so. Maroon wanted to go early. Manning didn’t oblige then but then came back to him when the game was 4-1. This from Maroon after last night’s game:

          “He asked me to go,” said Maroon. “If it wasn’t me, I’m sure it would have been somebody else. We had our fight and it’s over and done with.”

          Again, try to follow along.

          • eeagain

            I enjoy Brownlee’s contribution here for the most part. But he does have a bit of a thin skin.

            I know the PC thing is to go along that it was a “hockey play” and that Manning and Del Zotto didn’t do anything to be taken to task for. However McD’s statement in Philly suggests he doesn’t really think it was just a “hockey play”. Don Cherry also said that it wasn’t just a “hockey play”. Although I don’t pay a lot of attention to Cherry, when it comes to goon hockey he knows what he is talking about.

          • Jiff: Not sure why you’ve taken leave of your senses over this, but the comment/tirade you tried to post about this subject last night — it wasn’t getting past the website filters with all that profanity in it — was borderline hysterical and suggests issues.

            I’d strongly suggest you make like Maroon and Manning and let it go rather than resort to broadbrush strokes like “these people” and calling me names.

          • Randaman

            You do realize that Cherry was saying that because Connor is from Toronto? Cherry thinks Toronto is the center of the hockey universe and all players from there are the greatest.

            McDavid, Stamkos, Tavares, etc.

            Blowhard

  • A-Mc

    I was too drunk to remember any of those playoff games in 06. For me and my friends, it was more about experiencing the vibe in the city, the pubs, the Whyte Ave walks, the hoots and hollering!

    Hockey came second to experiencing Edmonton-In-The-Playoffs. I hope we get to experience this again.

  • I don’t know if my wallet can take a playoff run. But I’m excited to see it try. Given the spring like conditions today, I can already feel how much better the beer is gonna taste, not dressing appropriately for patio weather, and rolling out of bars with sore arms from all the high fiving. I remember gash darn!

  • Stormflurry

    I was in ninth grade back then. I remember during gym class and intramurals that whenever we would play floor hockey, I would always choose to be a goalie because Rollie was my favorite player at the time. I just remember how excited our school was as the run went on and how sad we all were when it ended.

    10 years is way too long to wait for playoff hockey to be back in Edmonton. I can’t wait for the excitement around the city, especially if we can pull off another cinderella run. I am looking forward to experience NHL playoff hockey in live in Edmonton for the first time in my life.

  • Derian Hatcher

    Who was that a$$hat doing colour on the flyers broadcast?? He embarassed himself with his ignorant comments on the Maroon fight!

    Listen “Bill” or whatever your name is (If it was former pro Bill Clement, you should be extremely embarrased). Manning was challenged several times in Philly and he would not go. So, Maroon did not give him a choice – they were going. If you or Manning don’t like it, then steer clear of 97. That’s the code in hockey and if you don’t “get it” or don’t like it, quit TV broadcasting cause it is YOUR IGNORANCE that is as “transparent as a sheet of saran wrap”

    If Manning would have stood up for himself in Philly, you wouldn’t have been whining last night on TV. Full stop.

      • Derian Hatcher

        Good point…but I watched Bill Clement play…he was always one of the bystanders while others got their hands dirty. He never got too involved as his PIMS show. But to listen to him analyze hockey you would think he was The Marquess of Queensberry, spouting off about Manning / Maroon.

        It should be noted that when the “Bullies” of Broadstreet were individually traded off to other teams, each of them took beatings. I remember Don Saleski getting pummeled as a member of the Colorado Rockies…but at least he showed up, UNLIKE Clement – clown commentator.

  • Boom or Bust

    This season has been amazing…I remember saying to my friends ..if they make it 20 or above in the standings at the end of the year. That shows progress and Ill be satisfied. Please not dead last again!!!!…well we were top 10 most of the season and some analysts are calling it as a for sure play off spot!!! I Couldn’t be happier as an Oiler fan….plus sweeping Calgary was oh soooo good!!!!

  • WhoreableGuy

    “Craig MacTavish was head coach…”

    Then he got fired and also came back to the organization within that time.

    That’s how long the Oilers have been out of the Playoffs.

  • GloryDaysOfStortini

    First game I remember watching was the Game 7 of the final in ’06. It was at my great-aunts place, for a family supper or something. I was 10 years old, one year into living in Canada. Wasn’t too into it.

    Fast-forward a year, and I’d get up early on the morning after the games to read the paper and all the Oilers articles (didn’t have sports channels at home). Everyone at school loved the Oilers, so that was my way of fitting in. Smyth was my first favorite player, so it was a little sad when he got traded. I bought NHL 07 and played it religiously on my PS2, finally understanding many of the rules.

    I got hooked to the Oilers the year Gagner was doing those crazy shootout moves. I’d started playing road hockey around then with some neighbours and I’d always try and do a deke that resembled a backhand-forehand one that Gagner always managed to embarrass goalies with. But the week where Cogliano scored in overtime in back-to-back-to-back games is where I became a diehard. They had a crazy run, and almost made it into the playoffs. Definitely thought that team was going places. Kinda annoying they weren’t a good team during jr high and high school, but I guess there was Oil Change?

    I’m now in my fourth year of university, and Oilers are now finally crazy exciting. It’s been a fun ride, and I’m hoping it keeps getting better. Is this what cheering for a good team is like?

  • camdog

    It’s been a long time sine the Oilers could play their 8/9 d-man or 16th best forward without me being terrified that they were on the ice. I guess this is what depth is…

  • Oilers:
    70 points / 58 games x 82 games = 99 points

    McDavid:
    66 points / 58 games x 82 games = 93 points

    (OTMPF) Oilers To McDavid Points Factor = 1.06

    I’ve predicted that the Oilers and McDavid will have the same number of points as McDavid’s number. It’s getting closer to reality.

  • Rama Lama

    I’m glad Maroon went after him and closed the matter……..I would have preferred someone Manning’s weight class address the matter but kudos to the kid for going with Maroon.

    I guess no one will really know what happened, what was really said between Manning and McDavid, but I think McDavid handled this quite well. As for team toughness, we are starting to finally resemble a team that stick up for each other.

    The fact that our big, tough payers types, can actually skate and play the game is very comforting. PC may not hit a home run on every trade, but I like that he has brought respectability to the Oilers.

    • Spydyr

      Zack stated he asked Manning to dance three time the last game they played. Maroon did not take no for an answer. The message had to be sent and it was. Now like Maroon said time to move on and now the rest of the NHL knows there is a price to pay for that type of behaviour. Kudos on Manning for standing in there against a much bigger man and paying the piper.

      • Jason Gregor

        Maroon said last night Manning asked him to go when they fought. First shift of game Maroon said he tried to get him to fight, but then left it alone. When Manning asked him, he obliged, and Maroon said he respects him a lot for doing it.

        You could tell Maroon wanted to send a message. He was punching with a bit more vigor than he had in some other fights. Which is normal. We saw the same last year when Gudbranson and Hendricks fought. Gudbranson had a bit more fire due to the head shot Hendricks had delivered on Ekblad.

        There was a lot of respect among the two fights, even if guys were mad, they still respect the other man for standing up and dropping the mitts.

        • Spydyr

          Thanks for the heads up I never stuck around to watch the post game last night so the Maroon comments are news to me.I was just going off what I saw on the ice and it appeared Maroon drooped the gloves first and grabbed Manning first. Sounds like one of the vets in the Flyers room mentioned to Manning he should go and settle things. Like you said good on both of them for manning up. No pun intended.

  • Natejax97

    I think that Maroon tilt last night (beauty by the way), sends more of a message to everyone in the league. I think it finally says that the Oilers are done being shoved to the ice while their teammates skate away. I think they finally said that they are actually a close team that plays for, sticks up for, and supports one another.

    I truly believe that Maroon would have engaged that fight for any of his mates, not just Connor. Whether or not we have the size and power to push back, the willingness to do it is such a welcomed sight, and it is the foundation to building a winning culture.

    To me, that says a lot, and it makes me proud to be an Oilers fan!

    11 wins…92 points (should be the clinch)…24 games…have a great road trip Oilers! The library will be more of a zoo when you get back I am sure!!!

    • CaptainLander

      This is unacceptable! I expect your first post after the Oilers win the cup to be how Eberle wouldn’t carry the cup into the tough areas of the ice or carried it lackadaisically into the defensive zone.

      It is called commitment to a bit.

      The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.

      Tony Robbins