With their 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night, the Edmonton Oilers accomplished something that had eluded them since the 2005-06 season: clinching a playoff spot. The roster is completely different, the management has changed, even the building is new.
For all you Oilers fans who hung in there for decade of darkness – and I knew many of you well – this is sweet, isn’t it?
& best yet to come
— David Staples (@dstaples) March 29, 2017
It’s been over 10 years since the Oilers played in a postseason game. Some fans might be a little rusty on what experiencing a playoff run feels like, and some may never have been through one at all. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
So how does this NHL playoff thing work? We play more games AFTER the regular season? #Oilers
— Clifton McWilliams (@Suprcoopers) March 29, 2017
A Roller Coaster of Emotions
If you thought the excitement on Twitter was crazy over a playoff-clincher, just imagine what it’s going to be like when the Oilers win a playoff game. Unlike the regular season, there isn’t always a tomorrow in the playoffs. You can’t as easily shake off a loss and get the next one, especially when your backs are against the wall.
In the playoffs, fans hang onto every shift, every shot, every play, because it might not happen again. The feeling of being down three games to two, knowing the season is on the line, knowing that one mistake could send your team to the golf course, is a feeling that simply can’t be felt at any other time.
“It’s been long years but the best thing is the fans have stuck with it,” Jordan Eberle said from the bench postgame. “We finally got there this year, now it’s finally (clinched) and we can enjoy it.” [The Score]
The euphoria of a win and the despair of a loss could all be felt in the span of three days. Perhaps the biggest swell of emotion? The moment the Oilers take the ice for that first home playoff game. The towels waving, the fans buzzing, the ultimate mix of excitement of nervousness rolled into one.
“The fans are excited, we’re excited. A lot of work left to be done though still.” – Connor McDavid
Imagine the prospect of a game seven. Imagine it being in Edmonton. The feeling of winning a playoff series is one like no other. Moving on means the team is just another step closer to hoisting the Stanley Cup. You don’t want to jinx it, but you’re thinking about it. But in the same vein, losing a playoff series feels like a punch to the gut. You wake up the next morning feeling empty.
It’s the hope that keeps you going. It’s the belief that your team can do it. And it’s the realization that the Oilers have arrived. They aren’t the whipping boy of the league anymore. This isn’t a one and done. It’s the start of something special.
Know Your Opponent
As the old cliché goes, rivalries are made in the playoffs. There’s a lot of truth to that. Possibly playing seven games against the same team in the span of two weeks can make you hate each other in a hurry. Be prepared for the opposing fan base on Twitter. The rest of the NHL isn’t fond of the Oilers already. During the postseason, that disdain intensifies.
Congrats Oilers fans. It’s been a long two years since you were gifted the best player in the world after winning like 10 other lotteries.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) March 29, 2017
The key is to know what you’re dealing with. This isn’t the regular season anymore. If hockey fans weren’t nasty enough already, things are going to escalate. You’ll have to develop a thick skin. You can’t engage in every Twitter war. It’s not worth it. If the Oilers advance, you have ultimate bragging rights. If they don’t, you may have to log off for a few days.
There is still a lot to be decided in terms of the standings. The Oilers could potentially face any one of the Ducks, Sharks, Flames, or Blackhawks. If it turns out to be the Flames, buckle up. That could be an epic showdown. But whoever it is, their fanbase is going to be all over you. If you don’t want to get mixed up in trash talking, don’t start it.
Twitter can be downright ugly when it comes to sports. If you’d prefer to just enjoy the games in peace, social media isn’t the place for you.
Waking up with a playoff berth. pic.twitter.com/UhB1MTN94n
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 29, 2017
Enjoy the Ride
At the end of the day, this is still just hockey. Sure, it can rip your heart out at times, but never forget it’s a sport. It’s meant to be fun. And for the first time in a while, it’s fun to be an Oilers fan. There’s no telling how far the team will go. There’s no guarantee they even win a single playoff game this year. But they’re in, and that’s not to be taken for granted.
To every #Oilers fan that’s been along the ride for this rebuild: Congratulations. You’ve suffered long enough.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) March 29, 2017
The Detroit Red Wings forgot what it was like to not be in the playoffs. They’re experiencing that this season. Maybe they just got used to being in the postseason. Oilers fans know better than to be complacent when it comes to the playoffs. Cherish it. Embrace it. Soak it up. But don’t take it too seriously. The sun will still rise tomorrow whether the Oilers do or not.
Marcy, a former hockey player, is a hockey correspondent on CTV News and TSN radio. She began her career as a Sports Journalist in 2009 and has been part of The Hockey Writers since 2010, where she is currently a senior writer and editor.