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Zack Kassian recalls his experience in the 2017 playoffs with the Oilers

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Liam Horrobin
1 month ago
The 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs are memorable for many fans. For Edmonton Oilers fans, it was the year the Copper and Blue made it back to the promised land for the first time since the 2006 Stanley Cup run. The Oilers were led by 19-year-old Connor McDavid, who was coming off his first 100-point season.
The Oilers faced the experienced San Jose Sharks in Round 1, who had lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final the previous year. Edmonton was young with nothing to lose against a team with all the expectations on their shoulders. Game 1 didn’t go their way, blowing a 2-0 lead and falling in overtime to a Melker Karlsson winner. Nevertheless, Game 2 told a different story, with the main character being Zack Kassian.
Kassian opened the scoring on a shorthanded breakaway for his first career Stanley Cup playoff goal. While that goal was important, Kassian’s physicality in that game got fans out of their seats. Two massive hits on Brendan Dillon and Logan Couture had Rogers Place rocking.
“From a personal perspective, that series against San Jose is a standout,” said Kassian on his favourite moment as an Oiler. “But from a team standpoint, making the playoffs that year because it was a long drought. I remember walking out of the tunnel against San Jose for Game 1 at home, and the place was packed. The glass was shaking, and you could barely hear the guy next to you. Everyone was looking at each other like, ‘holy shit, this is the real deal.'”
While Kassian had memorable moments in the opening round, another can’t-forget moment came in Round 2 versus the Anaheim Ducks. In Game 6, which many remember as the Leon Draisaitl game when he scored a hat trick, Kassian beat John Gibson on a breakaway in the first period, making it 3-0 Oilers. The Oilers forward then stood up and had a moment with a fan that is hard to forget.
“I got a breakaway and then got lucky because I didn’t really have anything to shoot at,” said Zack Kassian when recapping the moment. “It managed to squeak five-hole. I was going pretty fast and had nowhere to go but into the boards. I just remember he stood up with his beer in his hands, celebrating. I kind of blacked out, then just started screaming, and he was screaming, while looking at each other dead in the eyes. It was a pretty cool experience.”
“I didn’t really think anything of it, but then I did a signing at Harley Davidson in Edmonton, and I got to meet the guy. He brought the picture, and he was a great guy. Looking back, it was a cool moment.”
At the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Oilers traded Kassian to the Arizona Coyotes with a few picks going the other way in exchange for a first-round pick. Kassian played one more year in the NHL before finishing his career in Czechia with Sparta Praha. Oilers fans got to show their appreciation for Kassian in his return to Edmonton with the Coyotes; however, they also got the chance in Game 3 versus the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week.
“It was pretty special,” said Kassian on his return to Edmonton. “Obviously, when you’re playing here, you’re worried about playing hockey and not so much about everything else. To get off the plane and see the support and the other side of it all in a relaxed environment was a lot of fun. The Oilers fans, they’re nuts, and it’s fun to be a part of. The players feed off that energy for sure.”
The return to the playoffs in 2017 is something Oilers fans will forever be grateful for. Zack Kassian played a massive role in creating more memories that will be cherished by the Oilers’ faithful for years to come.

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