Game five of the 2017 Pacific Division Final is, and will be, one of the most talked about in Oilers history.
You’ll never know how the series would have unfolded had the Oilers held on for the victory, but Oilersnation frustration with that game, and specifically the non-goalie interference call on Rikard Rakell’s tying goal, will likely grow as the years go by.
And the frustration isn’t just from fans — the players feel it as well. Whenever they see a goal called back from goalie interference, they wonder why Ryan Kesler was allowed to grab Cam Talbot’s pad. Some players and fans will never truly get over it.
The best part about sports is the passion it evokes from within. And as crazy as it sounds, some players are more upset over a Stanley Cup Championship they lost than happy and elated about the one they won. Our brains can be our worst enemy sometimes. Letting go is difficult, and as the Oilers play their first game in Anaheim this season, it is impossible not to think of game five and what might have been.
It is eerie how the two toughest losses in recent Oilers playoff history have a very similar script.
In game five, the Oilers scored three second period goals to take a 3-0 lead. The Ducks scored three times in the final 3:16 to send the game to overtime, before Corey Perry won it in double OT.
In game one of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, the Oilers also had a 3-0 lead mid way through the second period. Rob Brind’Amour scored the winning goal with 32 seconds remaining.
In both series, the Oilers were able to rebound and each time they had a dominating performance in game six. In 2006 they shut out the Hurricanes 4-0, and last year they spanked the Ducks 7-1.
Heading to game seven, the team and fans had a lot of confidence, but it wasn’t meant to be for Oilersnation. The Canes won 3-1 and the Ducks won 2-1 in game seven.
The difference, however, is the Oilers and Ducks have a new-found rivalry. Both teams have players who can get under the opposition’s skin, and tonight I expect there to be a bit more adrenaline and animosity than in most regular season games.
The Ducks and Oilers need a win. The Oilers players still believe they can go on a massive run and get back in the playoff picture, while the Ducks are also out of the playoffs, but only by two points. They need to keep pace with Calgary, Minnesota, Los Angeles and Colorado. Both teams want the win, but they’d love the extra satisfaction of knowing their victory could hamper the other’s quest for a playoff spot.
Not many regular season games have an extra zip to them. We don’t see animosity and passion like we used to, but tonight could be the rare February game where both fans and players get “into” the game more than usual.
It is much easier for Oilersnation to get excited for an Oilers/Ducks game or Oilers/Flames than it is Oilers/Panthers. It just is, and it is the same for players. Don’t buy into the “it is just another game” garbage that some players, thankfully not as many as before, will utter. It isn’t true. The Ducks knocked the Oilers out of the playoffs last year, ending their chance to fulfill their Stanley Cup dream.
They still remember it.
It still eats away at them.
The challenge will be not to get too overhyped and make mistakes, or to come out flat.
The Oilers season has been a disappointment to date, no question, but tonight is when motivation should easier.
Puljujarvi had a strong game against LA. His penalty late wasn’t ideal, but I can accept trying to be aggressive much easier than a lazy penalty. I believe the best of Puljujarvi will be in the future when he gets stronger, and by the time he is 22 I think he will be a really good player, possibly even dominant. He keeps improving and I think it is wise not to throw too much at him at once.
Talbot needs to play better. Kyle Clifford shouldn’t be beating you from long range on the first shot of the game. Talbot has not been as sharp as last year, which can be said about many other players, but solid goaltending is vital for team success. His EV .917sv% is 24th among starting goalies.
Lucic and Strome haven’t scored a goal in 16 games. Both last scored on December 23rd versus Montreal. Who scores first?
John Gibson is injured, again, and the Ducks look wise in signing Miller, who is still a very capable goaltender. When the Ducks played in Edmonton earlier this season, Randy Carlyle didn’t go out of his way to get the Kesler/McDavid matchup. It was split between his line and the Getzlaf line. With Ducks having last change tonight, I expect McDavid’s line to see much more of Kesler.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…
The player that I will be focusing on for this game against the Edmonton Oilers is Corey Perry. Perry has been struggling offensively recently, and it has resulted in Randy Carlyle moving him down to fourth-line duties. However, he “scored” a goal against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night (Ryan O’Reilly took the shot), but sometimes, that’s all it takes to ignite a spark. Seeing Corey find his scoring touch would be a huge positive boost for Anaheim, and I’ll be looking for him to push the Ducks offensively against Edmonton.
GAME DAY PREDICTION: It ends up being an entertaining game, but the Oilers lose 4-3.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl scores a goal. He loves playing the Ducks.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan Strome scores his first goal in 17 games and his first career goal versus the Ducks.
Take home a growler, a crowler, a sixer, a mixer, whatever. Sherbrooke Liquor. Where’s Your Beer?
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Source: Jason Gregor, Verified Twitter Account, 02/09/2018 – 11:00am MST