I have to admit, I’m getting a little fatigued with the ref talk. We all know how horribly they have screwed the Oilers in the last two games with two of the worst blown calls (everything considered) in the last 17 years (hope Sabres fans notice I didn’t say 18 years). And while nobody wants to get over it, you have to get over it because there is still a series to win here. There is an opening here to get to the Cup final and everyone (fans included) have to keep that in mind.
The team and yes, the fans, have to keep this positive. I’m not the most positive guy, more of a realist. But I’ve found myself saying since the end of game five “what a chance they have here”.
First of all, I believe the team and the fans need a way to look and get past the officiating. That way? Well the way I’m trying to look at it is that Dana White always says with fights in the UFC “don’t leave it in the hands of the judges”. So many awful decisions have come from fights going to the judges score cards. And really, that’s what happened with all these awful calls against the Oilers. They’ve left these games in the hands of the refs. Yes they were screwed, and if you don’t think so you’re just attempting to troll Oilers fans. But they left it in the hands of the judges so to speak and you can’t do that.
The one concern going into tonight without a doubt is that the Ducks confidence couldn’t be any higher now. You may have heard Bob Stauffer say earlier in the series, part of Ryan Getzlaf’s confidence is coming from nothing being called against him (not to whine about the officiating, but it’s just been a fact). Well now this team has gotten away with two blatant goaltender interference calls, combined with a dramatic comeback has to have them believing nothing is going to go wrong.
But don’t sleep on the stat Jack Michaels tossed out on Twitter after game five though:
Anaheim's season has ended in each of the last 4 years the exact same way: a Game 6 loss on the road, followed by a Game 7 defeat at home.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) May 6, 2017
Two of the last three years, it’s followed this exact same pattern. Lose first two games at home, win the next three.
I’m sure many are expecting the Oilers to fold in this one after all that’s gone on. I’d be shocked if the Oilers folded tonight.
If they were going to fold, they would have done so in game five against San Jose, they didn’t. They would have done so down 3-0 in game three of this series, nope. Would have done so in the third period of game four, another no. Would have done so in game five, wrong again. Would have done so in the first OT in game five, ONCE AGAIN they did not. So if you’re expecting that tonight, I can’t help but think it’s your pessimistic attitude, because this team, while frustrating at times, has given none of us any reason to believe they’ll fold their hand.
Fold their hand…remember hearing that non stop last year? I’d say it’s been a lesson learned.
One of the most resilient teams I’ve ever seen in sports was the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. Twice in the 2001 World Series they were an out away from grabbing that series by the throat, and twice their closer Byun-Hun Kim gave up a game tying home run and eventually the Yankees won both games in extra’s. Similarities? The D-Backs won the first two games. The D-Backs were also down 3-2 with game six at home. They dismantled the Yankees in game six. You kept thinking as that series went on “this HAS to of killed them”, and nothing did. The end of that series was them down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth with Mariano Rivera on the mound, who at that time hadn’t blown a postseason save in 23 straight appearances (his career postseason E.R.A. was 0.73 entering that game).
Goes without saying but the Oilers have to get another two or three nothing lead. You may emphatically say “DUH!!” , or “the Ducks will be fine just like they were the last two games”, and that could be the case. But I’m certain at least some of those Ducks wouldn’t be fine. I’m certain some of them would be flashing back to what’s happened in anyone of the last four seasons. If it’s only happened once or even twice it’s probably just a coincidence. Four straight years? It’s a mental thing. In 2015 there was no way they should have lost to the Blackhawks. They were the better team in all of the first five games, and they flat out choked in games six and seven. And I have little doubt that’s what went on last year against Nashville. So it’s vital the Oilers get them on the ropes again.
That D-Backs World Series win is one of the best sports stories I’ve ever seen play out in my life, and here are the 2017 Oilers with a chance to do the same. Absolutely every reason to fold up shop and call it a year. Bet they don’t. And if the Ducks don’t finish them tonight, they’ll be questioning themselves. Not just from what’s happened in the past, but they’ll be asking themselves “why won’t this team just die?” After outplaying the Oilers for the majority of the series, keeping McDavid in check for the most part, by my count five what would be at best questionable goals in the series, and two what should have been absolute back breaking/crushing and crucial goals which should have been called back and weren’t…that momentum all goes the other way with an Oilers win tonight.
Think about how sweet winning this series would now be. Think about what that would mean for this team once they become serious Cup contenders and what a brick jaw they’d collectively have thanks to having gone through this. Hell, think about what it’d do for the team moving forward in THESE playoffs!
What a story this team has a chance to write.
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