Is the Ottawa/Boston series THAT boring, are does it just feel that way in comparison to the Washington/Toronto and Edmonton/San Jose series? Those latter two are (or were in one case, which of course I’m getting to) pretty clearly the best two series of the opening round. Then I watch Ottawa/Boston and I just couldn’t care less. Is it just me? It’s not only boring hockey, but two teams that just feel about 10,000 miles away from the Cup and neither have a mode of transportation to get there. I shouldn’t want any series to end, but yeah, it wouldn’t break my heart if we didn’t get a seventh game there. The Caps and Leafs….give me seven, but I’ll talk about that beauty another day.
So I said Oilers in seven prior to the series. Couture and Thornton came in hurt, Sharks even before those injuries were badly stumbling (I believe it was the night prior to the Couture injury they were blown out by the Stars), and it felt like the Oilers were the much better team coming in, however the Sharks had such a massive experience advantage that you knew it’d be a long series. So while I can say “I called it”, I really only called the end result. That series was NOTHING as to what I expected.
I figured the Oilers would pump the Sharks in game one. The young Oilers are so fired up that they’ll look to win the series in one game and the veteran Sharks will somewhat let them and comeback to punk them in game two. That I guess was the case for the first period, and then as you know the Sharks toyed with the Oilers the rest of the game.
Ok, this isn’t good.
The Oilers quite literally looked terrified as the game got tight in game one, so if that’s the case then how are they going to play now with even more pressure on to win game two. Naturally, they dominated….
They win game three 1-0. SERIOUSLY?! Of the two teams, they’re winning a road game 1-0?! And of the two teams, the Sharks are the team winning game four 7-0?!
In game five a team has a 3-1 lead only to let it slip away and lose in OT. Ok, well that must have been the young Oilers. Game six, a team pushes hard early on which leads to a 2-0 lead, there is a hard push the remainder of the game by the team trailing in the series but it comes up short. This shit is ass backwards!!
And to put up with the way that series was officiated was frankly incredible. You and me probably could have handled it better, but I thought the Oilers were awesome outside of the frustration in game four. I know I bitch and moan about the officials a ton, but I rarely ever feel like they cost teams games, and it’s not just in the Oilers favour I complain. It’s the consistency that rattles me. Having said all this, in the last two games, the Sharks were given gifts both on what wasn’t called against them, but what got called on the Oilers. I personally counted 7-1 (being generous on calling the Maroon penalty, I’ve never understood why a goaltender has a hall pass while outside his crease), yet the PP’s were 2-1 I think? I probably have seen it that blatant before, but I don’t recall seeing it that blatant of an advantage for the “veteran team”. Dave Randorf hinted at it a lot during the game five broadcast. Nick Kypreos finally brought it to light in the first intermission last night. It was horrendous, and the Oilers fought through it. I said to my buddies I was watching with, it was fitting that the series ended with McDavid getting very obviously hauled down, with the puck, no call was coming yet again….and he still scored.
Now I’m not about to get all “fan boy” about this (although I’m sure a lot of you believe I had my Oilers goggles on big time with the ref rant…fair enough). The Ducks were my pick to win the Cup and I’m definitely sticking to that. Randy Carlyle is going to be comfortable with any of his top three centres on the ice against McDavid. I know analytics guys don’t think faceoffs are overly important, but you have the number one team in the league in the dot against the 30th team in the league in the dot. The Ducks are also (at least publicly) saying that they expect Cam Fowler and Sami Vantanen to both be back this series, Hampus Lindholm left game four against the Flames but he is supposed to be ready for game one. So to sum that up, their blueline which is likely the deepest in the league is now going to have all hands on deck. The one advantage it looked like the Oilers would have most of the season over the Ducks was in goal. Well in three of the four games John Gibson was outstanding, and when called upon, so was Jonathan Bernier.
Having said all of that, the Oilers definitely can win this series. I think it’s going six or seven either way, and the Oilers have proven they can win the tight games, they can win without McDavid being a force, they look completely comfortable with playoff hockey. Remember, this lineup has nine kids most nights (most of whom make up their core) who are 24 or younger. This team apparently won this last series with a pretty nasty flu bug going around their room. Could have contributed to McDavid’s struggles, we know contributed to Draisaitl’s struggles early in the series, knocked out Klefbom for a lot of game six, and who knows who else it hit. We have yet to see this Oilers team best in these playoffs. So while I believe the smart money is on the Ducks, I definitely don’t believe it’s anything lopsided.
But even if they got swept by the Ducks, would anyone be overly pissed?! Forget what anyone else thought, most of us Oilers fans didn’t see this team making the playoffs this season let alone knocking off the defending Western Conference champs. It is all gravy from here. It’s next season that this team will be one of the favourites to win the Cup. For now they’re playing with house money!
Add to this, rumours suggest we are getting an answer as to where Spencer Foo will be signing, perhaps as soon as this is posted, and not only would he be a great addition to the Oilers, but most seem to feel the Oilers are the favourites to land him. I watched this kid play a few times in Bonnyville, and his wheels alone are going to make him a top nine guy in the league. Intelligent, skilled, plays with some balls, Oilers fans would really like him.
Last year I wrote this piece: http://soupsonhockey.com/2016/02/25/darkest-before-dawn/
Can you believe that was just 14 months ago? This time last year, fans around the league were petrified the Oilers were about to win another 1st overall pick. Now, this team is in the second round of the playoffs with a relatively legitimate shot to win the Cup (though again, I don’t believe they’ll get past the Ducks, and if they get past the Ducks, the Preds are a brutal matchup, and then if they actually got to the final, they’ll likely see the Pens who are…well…the Pens). Incredible turnaround, which I know isn’t lost on any of you.
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