Random Thoughts: Vegas, Baby
Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
By baggedmilk30 days ago
What a night. The Oilers are moving onto the second round, the divers are booking tee times, and I’ve got a few thoughts rolling around in my head that I’d love your help in breaking down. Game 6 was stressful as all hell, but dammit was the payoff ever worth it.
THAT CLUTCH YAMAMOGOAL
To put it lightly, Kailer Yamamoto has been taking some heat around here lately. A skilled forward with endless hustle, Yamo is the kind of player we absolutely love when things are going well, but I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say that it’s been a tough season forhe guy. Last year, Yams put 20 goals up on the board and played the whole year, but this season was anything but smooth sailing for the guy as he registered only 10 goals and 25 points through 58 games played. It was the kind if year he’d love to forget, but I’m hopeful that the GWG he picked up in Game 6 will be the start of turning things around. As far as picking the perfect time to cash in his first goal of the playoffs goes, Kailer Yamamoto could not have understood the assignment any better than he did with a pair of points in an elimination game. Game winner, series winner. Atta be, kid.
I can’t be the only one that felt my heart fall out of my butthole when Philip Danault picked up that fourth goal after Stuart Skinner’s stick failed him, I can? As far as ways to give up a tying goal, giving up a shorthanded tap-in when your stick snaps in half has to rank right up there as one of the worst ways to do it. I know how bad I felt when that goal went in, so I can only imagine what was running through Stu’s mind. Then again, at least from my side of the TV screen, Skinner looked a whole lot calmer than I was and he showed it too with a handful of key saves over the final 12+ minutes. The thing I like most about Stu is that he always seems to be so calm between the pipes, and it was especially nice to see his teammates lift him up with a game-winning goal that avoided the need to dwell on the ugly one by Danault. By no means was this a perfect series for Skinner — we all know he’s got more in him — but he battled every night and found a way to outduel his opponent at the other end.
NUGE NEEDS TO BE BETTER
If the Edmonton Oilers are going to keep winning games and ultimately more series, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will need to step up his game. As President and CEO of the RNH fan club, I feel it is my duty to not only pump his tires but also to call him out when he needs it. Right now is a time for both. But since we always start with our veggies, I have to say that four assists through the first six games of the post-season isn’t good enough for the guy that just pulled in 100 points. Yeah, I know that the playoffs are a different animal and that scoring doesn’t come as easy, but Nugent-Hopkins is a player we rely on to perform at both ends of the rink and I’d bet that even he knows he can do a better job. The good news is that RNH’s luck is bound to change because there’s no way that he’ll keep hitting posts at the frequency he has without having something bounce his way. The reason I believe that the goals are coming is because he’s still getting quality chances to rip the puck — if that wasn’t happening then I’d be a bit more worried about this — but until he finally gets something to go, the Nation is going to be expecting more from him.
BRING ON THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Even though I know the Golden Knights won the Pacific Division and Western Conference, I’m not scared of them at all. Even before remembering that the Oily Boyz went 3-0-1 against Vegas this year — yeah, I know that the regular season doesn’t matter — I just think the Oilers are the better team. Even with Mark Stone’s back magically healing just in time for Game 1, I think the Oilers have the firepower, depth, and ability to get this job done. I know I’m 1000% biased in my support for the Oilers, but I legitimately believe this is one of the best teams I’ve ever seen in my time as a fan and I truly believe that they can match up well against almost anyone. That’s not to say that they don’t have to play to their potential — anything less than an A-game ruins the plan — but if the Oilers can bring the heat, adjust to whatever tactics Vegas throws at them, and keep getting timely goals from throughout the lineup, it’s hard to bet against Edmonton IMO.
THE BRUINS WERE FRAUDS
What can you say about the Boston Bruins? After putting up the best season in NHL history, the Bruins got bumped by the Panthers in the first round and the potential for jokes seems endless as a result. Yeah, you can give the Panthers credit all you want — and you should because they played great in games 5, 6, and 7 — but it’s way more fun to make fun of the Bruins for blowing the 3-1 series lead. And here we had plenty of folks out east that were basically writing the Bruins’ name on the Cup before the playoffs even started. If anything, I suppose this massive upset by Florida is a reminder that the playoffs are a different beast, and series wins are earned and not given. Florida earned it, Boston didn’t.
BETTER LAIT THAN NEVER
On this week’s podcast, I recapped our trip to LA, told a few stories about Kings fans, and pumped Leon Draisaitl’s tires for being truly remarkable every year at this time of year. It’s a fun podcast and I beg of you to give it a chance.
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