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Just Get In

I remember waking up the morning of June 19, 2006 in Raleigh, North Carolina certain the Edmonton Oilers would waltz past the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to complete a balls-out joyride and claim the most unlikely championship in franchise history.

Having barely snuck into the playoffs before upsetting the Detroit Red Wings in six games, taking out the San Jose Sharks in six and the Anaheim Ducks in five, we flew into Carolina on the heels of a 4-0 drubbing of the Hurricanes in Game 6 despite the loss of starting goaltender Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers, in my mind, would seal the deal in Game 7.

Well, we all know how that turned out. The rollercoaster ride ended with a thud in a 3-1 loss to the Hurricanes, putting an end to the last stand-and-shout playoff run we’ve seen, save for going two rounds deep three years ago. This is not written to pick at that scab yet again, but rather to think back to what a wonderful run 2006 was and contemplate how anything — at least just about anything — is possible if you can just get into the post-season. That got lost in the immediate disappointment of the defeat.

I thought about that today with the St. Louis Blues trying to put the finishing touches on an even more remarkable Stanley Cup run against the Boston Bruins in Game 7 tonight. Dead last, rock bottom, in NHL standings the first week of January, the Blues are one win away from sipping champagne from the Cup for the first time in franchise history. I’m not as sure they’ll win as I was that the Oilers would pull it off in 2006, but, win or lose, just getting this far has already provided a helluva storyline.

HERE AND NOW

I’m not saying just getting into the playoffs is the bar any organization should set when it comes to building a team, but being a long shot is better than having no shot when the post-season begins. Smart money bets on the favourites, on the teams that are consistently at the top of the standings. They don’t always sip from the Cup — San Jose was a pretty good example of that for years and years — but I’d rather be a front-runner. Still, teams like the 2006 Oilers and this edition of the Blues are compelling.

That brings me back to the Oilers of today. You’d have to be optimistic in the extreme to think new POHO and GM Ken Holland is going to somehow address all the shortcomings and flaws Peter Chiarelli left him in one off-season. He’s already spoken to that. This organization isn’t going to turn on a dime no matter what Holland does this summer, no matter what new coach Dave Tippett does this season with the players he’s provided.

Fans would love it, of course, and they damn sure deserve it after having just one playoff appearance to cheer about in the last 13 seasons, but it simply isn’t realistic to expect the Oilers to go from also-ran to powerhouse, a Cup favourite, in one off-season. There’s not a good enough supporting cast for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl up front. The defence needs work. The goaltending is at best a question mark. All this we know.

I wonder, though, if this off-season might allow Holland to address enough needs to push the Oilers back into the playoff mix next season. Not a finished product, not a powerhouse, but a team capable of landing a top-eight spot in the conference. Again, aiming for that can’t be seen as a final destination, but it is one of those necessary steps along the way to getting where you want to go, and it’s a helluva lot of fun. Is that possible?

THE BOTTOM LINE

I’m guessing the fans in St. Louis will be yelling their faces off tonight just like Oilers fans did in 2006, and they should. The Blues are the latest Cinderella story in the NHL and a terrific one at that with the result of Game 7 still to come. They, like Chris Pronger and Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky from that 2006 team that broke your hearts, aren’t supposed to be here.

I’ll take making the playoffs and playing for the Stanley Cup as a long shot and losing every day of the week no matter how it sucks at the time over having no shot at all, which is what fans here have had to endure for 12 of the last 13 seasons. Get to work, Ken. Just get in. That’s a start.

THE 2019 DRAFT PARTY

  • Where? At the Canadian Brewhouse (Lewis Estates – 1320 Webber Greens Dr NW)
  • When? Friday, June 21st, doors open at 4:30 pm
  • How much? $10 per ticket
  • What do you get? Free pizza card from the Brewhouse, $10 Oodle Noodle promo card, Nation stickers, chance to win a signed RNH jersey provided by ATB Financial and draw prizes.
  • Where can I buy? Get your tickets here before they sell out!
  • Why? Because we love to party

Tickets are available here and will be on sale straight through until the date of the party. Thanks so much for the support and we look forward to seeing you there.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • WhoreableGuy

    I remember a fellow fan saying to me around 8 years after the 2006 Cup Run that he would have been “satisfied for the rest of his life” if the Oilers won that Game 7 and got their 6th Championship.

    Especially how the last 13 years have gone I have to agree with him. That would have satisfied me until my death.

  • Dave Knows

    There isn’t a snowball’s chance in Haiti of these Oilers seeing the playoffs for a few years yet. They’re cash strapped against the Cap & contrary to popular belief other G.M.’s aren’t lining up to help Holland out in his new job. The Oil will draft another D-man with their pick then over-season him in the minors typical Holland fashion for 3 years or so so don’t expect any help from the draft.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    As the season draws closer and teams start to make moves due to cap issue and how many players they can have under contract, I think this is where we will see where Holland is at, because a lot of teams are going to sacrifice some player on decent contracts and guys that are overpriced because they have to make room, if I am Holland I wait and see who is deemed expendable, there are a lot of teams that are going to have cap issues with guys to sign and are going to be watching the magic contract number, so there is going to be some gems in there. The rumours and some media pundits saying the Oilers might have an interest in this guy or that guy like with Eiksson and Perry are going to be out there but none make sense especially at the money they are making, I see Holland having next to no interest unless it helps the Oil and adding these guys the way things sit makes zero sense, it wouldn’t do anything for the Oilers ATM.

    Lots of time to make some moves yet, so I wouldnt rush into anything if I was Holland with still so much in flux with teams and who they can keep and who they have to let go. Fielding a more competitive team will be a vast improvement, getting to the playoffs would be a bonus, but one day at a time

    • Dave Knows

      So let’s suggest that the Oilers covet Nikolaj Ehlers. How do they acquire him? What goes back the other way that would interest the Jets? How are you fitting him under the cap?

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        That’s putting the cart before the horse, we could throw out names all day long, why would Holland make that move now when teams still have time to decide who they are going to keep and try and sign and guys they will have to sacrifice? As I said much like a lot of GM’s Holland is better of to wait and see what teams roster moves will be to get cap space and contract space, so its pointless to speculate on ifs

      • The Jets wouldn’t want any of your defense or prospects except for Bouchard which the Oilers would never trade. I don’t see the Jets and the Oilers good trading partners. I would hope the Jets would try and trade for Pully but what would the Oilers want for him?

  • Serious Gord

    They make a few conservative moves and the team stays healthy and likely they are in the hunt for a wildcard followed by a quick exit.

    They trade down in the draft, trade RNH and find a way to move Lucic and Russell and get some young cheap forwards back and they make at least a wildcard and – much more importantly – make substantial progress towards competing for the cup in three seasons.

    • BR

      Trading RNH is part of the recipe for playoffs?! He can only be part of the recipe of making the playoffs – lets be honest, we can rotate he and Draisaitl as 2C with the other being one of the top six wingers we need. Why trade him for a winger when having him at C means we have a 50 goal scorer as a winger?

        • Rhino

          Forget trading Nuge. You won’t get a better player in return!! People really need to get off this fixation that RNH or drai are centres and must be played in that position. They are forwards. They can play center or wing, they are versatile. They give you options! Also, can we stop talking about signing Nik ehlers- he’s basically Jordan eberle- soft, probably more expensive and disappears in the playoffs

    • Dave Knows

      @Serious Gord

      You’re downgrading the Oil to improve? Looch asked for a trade last season & is still here. If the Oil do manage to find a dance partner there will be equal garbage coming back, salary eaten for years & years. Russell isn’t exactly a guy in demand as he continues to have very poor underlying numbers while being vastly overpaid. These aren’t easy deals to make & to think both will happen this off season is a stretch, to say the least.

      A more rational approach would be to hope for the playoffs in three seasons.

  • BR

    It’s not out of the question looking back a couple seasons ago at us getting into the second round. Blues have ridden a hot goalie, oilers will need a similar run and many other items falling into place (secondary scoring, PK getting back above league average, PP getting to top 5, and a healthy blueline)

    • Spydyr

      Come on, man. The Blues have Pietrangelo,Bouwmeester and Parayko on defence. I would argue all three are better than any Oiler defenceman.

      Defence wins championships

        • Serious Gord

          The blues were a severely underperforming team loaded with good players. The goalie anchored the greatest comeback season in nhl history. The oil were what they turned out to be.

          • I am not naive enough to think that the Blues don’t have a loaded line up. What I am trying to say is momentum is big in this league. Something our team has lacked in quite some time.It would take a miracle to change this make up of a non playoff team. If we squeak in the playoffs anything can happen. This year if any has shown that, but you keep being you.

  • hagar

    They could have easily made the playoffs last year if they played to a league standard average effort the entire season.

    It has never been a out Chia not Nelson nor burk. It all comes down to the infection the team has had all these years from above.

    As was stated in a previous article, there have been 150 different Oilers players since DOD plus started.

    No doubt in my mind last years Oilers could have made the playoffs if everyone on the ice played to their league average solid effort. No doubt.

      • Quoteright

        It wasn’t so obvious after our second round exit.
        I think Chia was in the mix for GM of the year.
        The problem is negative thinking in the organization and the continued dumping of assets. Always trying the quick fix. Bad oversignings from desperate positions. No faith. No patience. No consistency. No plan….
        Hope that Holland has the rocks to truly help change the culture and freshen up the water.
        No more trades….
        Patience

  • Reg Dunlop

    If it can’t be the oil, it’s heartwarming to see the Blues win. Enough of seeing Orr get tripped 50 years ago, lets see Peron undress the whole Bruin team for awhile. How does this win affect the copycat teams in the league? I think the value of top 4 defenders and checking wingers goes through the roof. Too bad the oil don’t have many of either.

  • OilCan2

    The Oilers have got the right Captain in Connor. They have a legit top line in 97 + 29 + ?. I think the D is solid and the cavalry is arriving for secondary scoring and role filling troops. As stated in the write up a couple of astute mid level signings could turn the good ship Oilers into a vessel worthy of turning the tide into a playoff berth.

  • oilpower

    Holland renews Woodcroft, another move I don’t hate. Give the man a chance. He does not have a Harvard degree, but he seems to have common sense and an ability to negotiate. Real talk.

  • Billy Charlebois

    I agree that we just need to get in. I’m being positive here, but if you look at the roster that went 2 rounds deep in 2016, it wasn’t that much different than what it may look like this season. Coming out of that playoff run and leading into the next season, many had picked the Oilers to go to the finals, if not win them. I think that would be a definition of powerhouse.

    So why can’t that happen this season? For sure some things have to hit right, such as goaltending and good health. But some of the key players on that 2016 team are still key players on this team and should be arguably better, since they are in their prime (Nurse, McDavid, Draisaitl, Klefbom, Nuge, etc.).

    Just my positive thought for the day.