The Day After +18.0: These are the good old days, Oilers fans

Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
13 days ago
Everyone wishes they had someone in their life to let them know you’re in the good old days before you left them.
I’m here to tell you, Edmonton Oilers fans: you’re in the good old days.
They’re going to the Stanley Cup Finals and that’s all in thanks to Connor McDavid, Stuart Skinner and a commitment to defending a lead like we’ve never seen from this team.
The start of Sunday night’s Game 6 saw the Oilers get off to a slower start than they wished as Dallas pushed within the first few minutes of the game. But three and a half minutes into the game, a fleet-footed Zach Hyman flew behind the Stars’ net, cutting inside on Chris Tanev causing him to get his stick caught in the wingers’ skates.
It took all of 22 seconds for McDavid to leave an indelible mark on the game, his career, and the Oilers franchise toe-dragging one of the best defenders in the game, Miro Heiskanen, and flipping a backhanded shot through the wickets of Jake Oettinger.
“Yeah, it was nice,” said a monotone, Leon Draisaitl, adding “I’ve seen it before, but nice,” as his post-game press conference erupted into laughter.
“But yeah, there’s one player in the world that can make plays like that and things like that happen. I don’t know what to say. He knows what I think of him, I think everybody does, so I’ll just leave it at that. There’s one player in the world that can make things like that happen.”
And that one player didn’t stop there. With another power play later in the frame, he carried the puck into the offensive zone along the wall, causing two Stars defenders to try to make a play on him. This freed up Zach Hyman to head to a barren middle of the ice, taking the pass and quickly firing it under the cross-bar. 2-0.
Edmonton’s effort required more than one player though, as Oilers netminder Stuart Skinner had the game of his career, turning aside 34 of 35 shots as Dallas poured it onto him all night long, allowing just one goal to Mason Marchment in the third. The team in front of him reverted to playing lockdown defensive hockey, something they fell victim to against the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the second round.
Bend, but don’t break the Oilers did, as Skinner slammed the door, stopping 2.93 goals above expected, according to Evolving-Hockey. The team bought into a stiff defensive structure that stymied much of what Dallas tried to do, but Edmonton’s early lead was insurmountable for the visiting side.
“It feels like a dream,” McDavid told Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukaskas minutes after the final buzzer sounded, as chants of “we want the cup” roared through Rogers Place. “When the horn went off, that’s the loudest I’ve ever heard it.
“I wanted to get it done.”
Get it done they did, punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals for the franchise’s first time since 2006.
Edmonton’s ability to close out the series extended well beyond Sunday night, however. Through the first three games of the series, the Oilers were on their heels, facing a 2-1 deficit after losing two straight games. While the Oilers were outscored 10-7 in the first three games, they flipped the script in the final three, outscoring Dallas 10-4.
“We take big pride in that. You have to in these moments,” said Drasiatl. “I think like Connor said, sometimes it’s not pretty, but no team is pretty when defending a lead with the team sitting two minutes away from being eliminated.
“They got an extra guy out there and sometimes, it’s a little bit of desperation, a little bit of sacrifice, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
Zach Hyman echoed the comments.
“Every playoff series you play, you gain experience, and you’re able to play in moments like today when we’re getting absolutely shelled and it’s 2-1 with 10 minutes left,” he said. “Maybe another year we crack and they score, but not this year. I think Skinny stands on his head, we have guys throwing their body in front of pucks and it’s not the prettiest win, but these are the games we hadn’t won in the past. It’s a huge, huge win.”
Well Zach, you won it.
You and your team have a date with destiny against the Florida Panthers.
Edmonton has been sent into a frenzy that hasn’t been seen in 18 years.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


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