What a difference a week can make sometimes.
Take the Edmonton Oilers for instance. Last Sunday, they took to the ice against the Chicago Blackhawks looking to snap a nasty five-game losing streak that was capped off with a 6-0 whooping on the road in Nashville at the hands of the Predators.
The last seven days have provided three wins in four games for the Oilers, and they were able to get a matter of revenge on the Predators thanks to a 3-2 win Sunday.
And, like the snap of a finger, the Oilers are now two points back of the San Jose Sharks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Only four points ahead of the Oilers are the struggling Vancouver Canucks, currently the seventh seed in the West.
“It’s amazing how things can change,” Oilers’ winger Jordan Eberle told the Edmonton Sun.
“Five games ago it looked like we were out of the playoff picture and now we’re right back in it. Two points? We’re right back in it.
“I haven’t been in this situation in March before. It’s exciting.”
Eberle scored the winning goal against the Predators with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.
“Tonight, we couldn’t match the Oilers’ desperation,” Predators goalie Pekka Rinne told NHL.com.
Only two series remain in the first-round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and both of them continue on Sunday.
First, the Boston Bruins look to push their first-round series to a seventh game after their double overtime win on Friday when they host the Ottawa Senators on Sunday afternoon. That game will be followed by Washington Capitals trying to, as Barry Trotz wants to see, push the Toronto Maple Leafs off the cliff.
Here is everything you for Sunday’s games, both of which will be shown on the NBC networks and streamed online.
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBC (Stream Online Here)
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream Online Here)
As the Art Ross winner and Hart Trophy frontrunner, there’s no doubt that Connor McDavid is the catalyst for the Edmonton Oilers.
Still, the scary thing for opponents is that, while he created chances against the San Jose Sharks, McDavid wasn’t exactly lighting them up for points.
Nope, as Mike Rupp and Jeremy Roenick discuss in the video above, the Oilers advanced thanks as much to depth scorers – and deft goaltending from Cam Talbot – as they did because of McDavid’s blistering combination of skill and speed.
Now, the Anaheim Ducks rank as an interesting opponent. While the Sharks could slow McDavid with one of the few blueliners who could really give him trouble – relatively speaking – in Marc-Edouard Vlasic, it remains to be seen if Anaheim can accomplish the same.
(A fully healthy Hampus Lindholm would increase their odds, mind you.)
Either way, the Oilers’ “other guys” deserve some credit, and they get it in the video above.
Saturday was a great day for fans of brevity and revenge.
Three of a possible three series ended on this day, with the Rangers dispatching the Canadiens, the Blues eliminating the “better” Wild, and the Oilers knocking off the Sharks in six.
The Rangers await either the Bruins or Senators and the Penguins face the winner of the Leafs – Capitals series out East, but we now know how the West shakes out.
St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators
Both teams provided some of the upsets of this young postseason. Each features a red-hot goalie in Jake Allen and Pekka Rinne. Interesting.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers
There will be a lot of orange. We may also see a ton of goals with Ryan Getzlaf on fire, Oscar Klefbom headlining the list of unhealthy players and Connor McDavid possibly able to really take off against a Ducks defense that is beat up in its own right.
It’s already been a strange season out West, with the Kings missing the playoffs and first-round exits for the Sharks and Blackhawks. Get ready – and giddy – for things to get even weirder as the postseason goes along.
After making the playoffs for the first time since 2006, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t just “happy to be there.” They confirmed as much by eliminating the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 victory in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.
Yes, those young Oilers just eliminated the team that represented the West in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final. Wow.
Ultimately, winning the breakaway battle in the second period indeed made the difference. Leon Draisaitl and Anton Slepyshev scored on their chances in the middle frame while Patrick Marleau could not; Slepyshev’s 2-0 goal ultimately became the series-clincher.
Now, that’s not to say that Marleau was a drag on San Jose. If this is it for one of the faces of the franchise, he had a great 2016-17, including generating the Sharks’ final goal of the postseason.
The Shark Tank was alive after Marleau reduced the Oilers’ lead to 2-1, and more than a few blood pressures rose – both in Edmonton and San Jose – after the Sharks got this close to tying things up.
With this result, the West is set. The St. Louis Blues will take on the Nashville Predators while the Oilers face the Anaheim Ducks.
As much as people try to put the training wheels on Connor McDavid & Co., the West is wide-open enough that it’s not so outrageous to imagine a big run for Edmonton.
Beating the Sharks is a pretty nice way of adding an exclamation point to that statement win. And hey … they beat the Sharks last time around, too.