In our day to day existence, eleven years is a long time to go without something. In the world of sports, such a timeframe can feel like an eternity…just ask any fan of the Edmonton Oilers. As memorable as watching their team’s run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final might have been, going a decade plus between playoff appearances was never supposed to be part of the equation. Certainly, a tough road to haul for all involved but one that is mercifully about to come to an end.
Any kind of EDM win over LA Tuesday clinches a playoff spot for the Oilers.
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) March 26, 2017
Be it with a win against the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Rogers Place or sometime over the next few days, the Oilers will officially punch their ticket back to the post-season. It has been a long time coming and with more than the occasional detour along the way but none of that matters any longer. From this point on it is about what lies ahead and trying to get back to where they were in ’06…albeit with an altogether different outcome.
Positioning yet to be Determined
That’s right folks, the laughing stock of the NHL they are no more but putting the cart before the proverbial horse would be a mistake. Is there a chance a team led by Connor McDavid could go on a deep run in this year’s playoffs? You better believe there is but in no way should that be the expectation heading into the NHL’s second season. This time around it is all about getting back to the dance and having some fun.
Thanks to a late-season-swoon by the San Jose Sharks, this team still has a legitimate shot at the Pacific Division crown and could position itself rather nicely heading into the first-round. Not too shabby for a group that was supposed to, at best, compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. An upgraded roster, anchored by a “generational talent” and the best starting goaltender this organization has had in ages, led to a rapid turnaround but it changes nothing.
The Learning Curve
History suggests teams need to learn how to walk before they can run and it would be unlikely for Edmonton to buck such a trend. Outside of Milan Lucic and Benoit Pouliot, this lineup has no other player with more than 50 games of post-season experience. The trio of David Desharnais, Patrick Maroon and Kris Russell sit in and around the 30-40 game mark but that’s about it. Not exactly the most experienced bunch of lads….especially when it comes to key contributors on this roster.
My guess is we will see McDavid, Cam Talbot and Leon Draisaitl continue to do be the difference makers they have been all season long. Chances are both Lucic and Maroon will be the same impactful players they have been during previous playoffs but outside of that, it’s a complete crapshoot. Which makes the chances of this being a lengthy run highly unlikely and every single Oilers fan should be more than ok with that. Again, this year isn’t about taking a run at Lord Stanley’s mug but if it were to happen, so be it.
I'm told my #Oilers playoff tickets cost a lot.
I. Don't. Care.
— Kurt Leavins (@KurtLeavins) March 28, 2017
Losing sight of the fact this is nothing more than an opening act of what the foreseeable future is likely to hold for the Edmonton Oilers is a good way to miss out on what is about to occur. Taking things for granted is something this marketplace has done on far too many occasions in the past and one would hope they have learned a valuable lesson in the process. So sit back and enjoy the coming weeks for what they are Oilers nation…it has been a long time coming.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.