Most of you knew what was coming in this article even before clicking on that headline.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. – Charles Dickens
I am sure ol’ Charlie was writing then about just such a time as the 2006 Stanley Cup finals for Edmonton Oilers fans. On June 19th, 2006 Oilers fans went from the highs of what could have been to the lows of what was when the Oilers succumbed to the Carolina Hurricanes in a 3-1 loss in Game 7 of the finals.
You can’t help but look back fondly on the entire playoff run up until today’s date. The plucky Edmonton Oilers, who rode a streaky season into the playoffs dance as the 8th-placed-seed in the Western Conference, would become world beaters, only to finally drop to the 2nd best team in the East, Carolina Hurricanes.
Round One – Detroit Red Wings
The Oilers weren’t given much of a chance in this one. The Red Wings were riding in as President Trophy winners with 124 points on the year (29 points more than the Oilers had all year) and looked to just walk past the Oilers in convincing fashion. This Oilers team was different though. After falling to the Wings in double OT in Game One (being out-shot 57-25) the Oilers would push the Wings around on the back of strong performances of Pronger, Roloson, Pisani and Hemsky. The final nail in the coffin for the Wings came after the Red Wings had three and four guys attempting to stop Ales Hemsky from breaking in with just over a minute to go. Then inexplicably, those same four guys all forgot about Ales and marked other Oilers. Samsonov would find #83 all alone to seal it with a minute to go. The Oilers first playoff series win since ’98 was also Steve Yzerman’s final game in the NHL.
This playoff run was one that ignited my passion for making videos, so here they are in all their aged glory for you; my videos of every goal and big Oilers moments from the first three rounds.
Round Two – San Jose Sharks
Many may have forgotten 2006 was the year of the upset. All of the top seeds (Detroit, Dallas, Calgary and Nashville) were ousted by their lower seeded opponents and so the Oilers would face the five-seed Sharks in the next round. A series that had all the makings of being over as the Sharks dispatched of the Oilers in the first two games in San Jose in consecutive 2-1 victories. Then, in Game Two Raffi Torres would absolutely destroy Milan Michalek with a huge hit in open ice. A hit that in today’s game would have ended with a huge suspension was instead an emotional boost that led the Oilers back to Edmonton with the crowd behind them. Game three would be tied with about six minutes left by Raffi Torres. An amazing glove save by Roloson on Maurice Richard Trophy winner Jonathon Cheechoo (minute mark 1:42 of the below video) was followed by a triple-overtime winner by Shawn Horcoff that confirmed the full momentum swing. The Oilers would not lose again to the Sharks, winning Game Six on home ice.
Round Three – Anaheim Ducks
One of the hottest teams coming into the playoffs that year was the Anaheim Ducks. Having been winners of 16 of their final 25 games the Ducks were a force to be reckoned with. They had been taken to a seventh game by the Flames but would then sweep their way to a matchup with the Oil. The team of destiny as the Oilers began to feel like, would very nearly sweep the Ducks out of the playoffs as fast as they had come. A mid-series goaltending switch from GS Giguere to Ilya Bryzgalov proved to not be enough to change their fortunes. The Ducks would muster a heck of a Game four to stop the sweep but would fall in Game five on their own home ice.
The Finals – Carolina Hurricanes
We all know the nightmare that happened late in Game One when Andrew Ladd was led into the best goaltender of the playoffs that year, Roloson.
The Oilers would never truly recover from that. As hardworking and spirited as they were to get the series back to even at 3-3, the Hurricanes would end up being the winners on the back of the Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward. Oilers fans were left with the “where were you watching when” moment and have only had one sniff of playoff success since that time.
The team would never recover with the cast of players left from the Pronger trade debacle. The fans too would experience much more heartache than happiness but it’s not all gloom and doom.
A team now once again full of promise and hope (that will never die) and the memories of a Stanley Cup that could have been, on this day in 2006.