Hey y’all, This is “MoondAwg” reporting in for duty as Brent & Craig bathe in BBQ sauce, beer, and music at South By Southwest. This week featured the playoff-bound Oilers outplaying the defending cup champions, two straight losses that almost caused a fragile fan-base to meltdown, and an offensive explosion that had some local hockey fans (SKIPPY) doing their “Lucky 7” goal dance on Rogers Sportsnet.
Penguins @ Oilers – March 10
3-2 Penguins (SO)
The Oilers got a chance to see how they measure up to the Stanley Cup calibre Penguins. It was Crosby vs. McDavid for the almost impossible to discern title of “the best player in the world”, that Evgeni Malkin for some reason, never gets mentioned in. Watching this game was a hockey fans delight and a joyful reminder that we are entering springtime a playoff team, and the annual tire-fire that has been the Edmonton Oilers for the last decade or so has been mercifully extinguished. Despite #97 hitting going supernova a couple of times early for some great chances, the Oilers went down 2-0 when McDavid kicked a puck off of his own goal-line and into Cam Talbot to make it 2-0 Penguins. The Oilers turned the tide on the Penguins in the 2nd with Desharnais shovelling one in from the side of the net. From there on out it was pretty much a superstar showdown with McDavid tying it up in the 3rd period on a late power-play. The game went to OT where Marc-Andre Fleury put on a clinic robbing/tripping McDavid on a breakaway, and flaring a leg out on Nugent-Hopkins to make an almost impossible save. The game went to a shootout where both Crosby and McDavid scored before Phil Kessel sniped the deciding goal. This game could have gone either way and the Oilers carried most of the play. It was good to see Benoit Pouliot in the lineup playing with deadline acquisition David Desharnais, and Zack “Krazy Eyes” Kassian. Pouliot has been nothing but a penalty monster most of the year, but hopefully he can help form an effective 3rd line that can score a few goals. We’ll need this line come playoff time. Say it again with me now….. Playoff time.
Canadiens @ Oilers – March 11
Other than a spirited no-holds-barred tilt between Darnell Nurse and Michael McCarron and Steve Ott and Zack Kassian making crazy eyes at each other, this game was a stinker and it sent some of the Oilers faithful into an emotional tailspin. Radio talk shows lit up with those convinced we were about to witness a playoff-missing monumental collapse and others who said they were going to “deck themselves out in their gear and make some noise to support the team” at the Dallas game on Thursday. To make the faithful sweat even more, the Calgary Flames were adding to their win streak down the QE2 and had passed the Oilers in the standings. The game started out alright with Milan Lucic swatting off Alexei Emelin, and going five-hole on price to put the Oil up 1-0. The rest of the game was devastatingly boring as the Canadiens stifled the Oilers with whatever boring system it is they play until the 3rd, when Oskar Klefbom accidentally batted one into his own net off of the rush. Carey Price made several glove saves look easy, the Canadiens took the lead and got the win with former Calgary Flame Paul Byron leading the way. Salt in the wound.
Dallas @ Oilers – March 14
It felt like the Oilers were getting good chances in both of the previous games and perhaps their lack of offence can be attributed to facing the star goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price. It seemed they were due to break-out and luckily for the Oilers, the Dallas Stars haven’t had decent goalies since I don’t know…. Marty Turco or Eddie Belfour. So with neither of those two in net, the Oilers went a-scoring and they did ride. There is no use discussing all of the goals. Seven different players got in on the action and it was a glorious night to cheer for the Oilers. It looks like with the addition of David Desharnais, and the return of Benoit Pouliot (and Darnell Nurse from injury), the Oilers have a much more balanced team. Panic be damned. Say it with me now…..Playoffs.
Bruins @ Oilers – March 16
Touchdown! For the second game in a row the Oilers put up 7 goals. The “MIGHTY BIG RIG” Patrick Maroon scored 2 goals early on some sweet passing from Jordan Eberle and an unbelievable play by McDavid off the rush where he dusted off an aerial pass, put a little salt on it and sent to Maroon for a tap-in. Getting to watch #97 every game is like winning a hockey fans lottery. Seriously how did we get this guy? Oh yeah, 10 years of futility and over-matched goalies and defenseman whose names I’m still trying to forget. The game featured the serial slew-footer Brad Marchand and Connor McDavid battling it out for the NHL scoring race with both players putting up 3 points. The Oilers were up 4-2 after the most exciting first period of hockey I can remember. Mighty Maroon was scoring and fighting and Zdeno Chara tried to smash Zack Kassian through the ice and into the concrete because he can. After that the Oilers suddenly balanced attack went to work with a bunch of different players contributing and the powerplay clicking at incredible rates. The fans were dancing a game and it was 1988 all over again. I was so excited, I went home donned my best Wayne Gretzky hat, and posted a selfie on Instagram that’s still getting likes to this day. Life is good in “Oil Country”. Spring is on the horizon, we scored 14 goals in 2 games and we will be in the playoffs for the first time in a decade. It might be the optimist in me, but I think this team can make a little noise and perhaps win a round….or 2…..or 3……Oh god, hurry back Craig and Brent, I am dreaming. Say it with me now….Playoffs. Am I dreaming?