‘We’re a team that can adapt:’ Evander Kane talks about the Oilers’ playoff game

Edmonton Oilers Los Angeles Kings
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Mazzei
1 month ago
Life is good in Edmonton right now, and how could it not be with the Oilers fresh off beating the Kings in the first round for a third straight year?
Evander Kane is certainly feeling good about himself right now as he weathered the storm of rumblings about his future with the team and numerous arguments with his teammates on the bench to play more like the guy he can be at his best. His three points (two goals and an assist) are good enough for sixth on the team in scoring, and with the offence coming in the latter half of the series he will be entering the next round on a good groove.
He is by no means this team’s MVP, as that belongs to a certain someone wearing #97, but Kane can absolutely be an X-factor when he is on his game. The Oilers are better off when he is playing well, and they will need all the help they can get, both from him and the rest of the team, if they want to make good on capturing their first Stanley Cup since 1990.
So, when he appeared on the Pat McAfee Show Friday, one of the topics discussed was the Oilers’ playoff history and how the team has grown since its previous shortcomings.
When asked if things feel different for the groups compared to years past, Kane felt that the team has grown from their past digressions and that they are ready to take the next step.
“I think the last three years, we felt we’ve had a team to make a run at Stanley Cup,” Kane said. “The previous years, we’ve come up short, but in order to actually ultimately win a Stanley Cup, you kind of have to go through those trials and tribulations and have those disappointments. And I think this year, we’ve taken a lot of that experience [and] put it to work.
“We play at L.A. three years in a row now in the first round, took care of them a little quicker this year, which was nice to give our bodies a little bit more rest and, get ready for round two against the Canucks or Nashville.”
He later added that with hits going up a lot in the playoffs compared to the regular season and the frequent games, the extra bit of rest is certainly a welcome sight for him.
Although Kane has only been part of two other playoff runs with this group, the weight of the other three treks in 2017, 2020, and 2021 still weigh heavy on the minds of the players who have been around through it all. From the highs of their series win over the Sharks back when it began to the lows of getting swept by the Jets during the Canadian Division season, this Oilers team has certainly been through quite the roller coaster on their quest to reach the summit.
These last two years have been especially challenging for Edmonton, as they have flexed their offensive might against teams within their division but were ultimately stopped dead in their tracks by the eventual Cup winners: the Avalanche and Golden Knights. Kane is right that those two groups probably had what it took to go on a deep run, yet the previous two series they lost highlighted that this team was not quite ready to push themselves into the upper echelon of Cup contender status.
Fast-forward to this season, and the team has experienced quite a bit of adversity that tested their mental strength. After a disastrous start to the campaign, which culminated in Jack Campbell going on waivers and Jay Woodcroft being fired, the Oilers turned around their fortunes in a big way. This included a 16-game win streak that took them from barely in the Wild Card race to challenge for the Pacific Division crown within a month.
This team has had its fair share of adversity, and combined with their past shortcomings in the spring, this year could be one where the stars finally align for the Blue and Orange.
Part of the reason why this fanbase feels that this season could be a good chance for the team to go all the way is because this year’s group has been playing more playoff-style hockey than in years past. Kane certainly feels that way when assessing his team’s commitment level right now.
“I think when you get to the Stanley Cup playoffs, most guys have the mindset,” he said. “You’re willing to do whatever it takes to win and, and help your team and perform at the best you can. I think in our dress room, at least I can speak for, we have 25 guys that are able to do that.”
He also noted that the Oilers have a couple of players on the team, including Corey Perry, that can use their gamesmanship to their advantage and at the expense of the opposition in terms of officiating. While the topic of referring and calls remains a contentious one, being able to work that system makes a big difference and the Oilers are certainly better equipped to handle it.
There certainly are many other factors that have to be in your team’s favour to give yourself the best shot at a Cup, including high-end talent, quality goaltending when needed, and a bit of luck. But having experience in these high-pressure games, an all-in mentality and gamesmanship play a major role in which teams go far and which teams don’t.
While there is no guarantee this season’s formula will ultimately result in a Cup, the Oilers have given themselves a good shot at it based on all the elements at play. At the very least, Kane thinks his team has what it takes to pull this off.
“I think we’re a team that can adapt,” he said. “And I think we’ve shown that this year specifically, I think our defensive game has gotten a lot better.
“I think our goalies, both of them have been fantastic. And we proved in that LA series, we can win a game five, four, and we can also win a game one, nothing. I think the maturity of our group has greatly improved and we’re using our experience from the past to hopefully set us up for some success in the future.”
You can listen to the full interaction between McAfee and Kane down below:

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