The Edmonton Oilers ended the San Jose Sharks season last night. In cold blood. The Sharks gave no quarter, to the point where Marc-Edouard Vlasic talked about Game 5 as if it were a fluke. Respect for the Edmonton Oilers will come, last night’s bullet to the heart being exhibit A. What we are seeing is all those years of Oilers losing slowly fading away, being washed out to sea, witnessed by you, me, and the California sun. It’s the New Originals Edmonton Oilers. The long difficult journey ends in a rainbow and a brand new day. The win over San Jose serves as a wakeup call for the entire NHL. The McDavid Oilers have arrived as Stanley Cup contenders. Hallelujah, amen.
LAST NIGHT’S NUMBERS
- Through one: 0-0, Shots 9-6 EDM and Corsi for 5×5 20-6, also for Edmonton.
- Second: 2-0 EDM, 12-9 SJS in shots and Corsi for 5×5 won by the Sharks 24-16.
- Third: 1-1 tie, SJS won shots 10-6, 25-9 in a stunning period for San Jose.
- Total: 3-1 Edmonton, SJS led shots 28-21. San Jose won Corsi 5×5 55-45.
It’s funny, I spent most of the third period watching the veteran Sharks and their reaction to their season’s final moments. That club fought hard but their time may have passed and a small rebuild could be in order. There were seasons when I thought the Sharks were a lock to win Stanley. I never thought this version of the San Jose team would do it, and the Sharks are at a crossroads seemingly overnight. The Oilers? The Oilers are on to Disneyland.
- It took awhile and the 5×5 scoring may need a series to recover, but the boxcars are beginning to show up beside the correct names.
- Mrs. Lowetide brought out a phrase last night I haven’t heard in 11 years. “Playoff hockey is not fun!” she said, and she’s right. It is searing pain or pure exhilaration, sometimes in the same night. Playoff hockey is simply the best.
Klefbom is dealing with an illness, Coach McLellan says. "It's important for us to get healthy before we get to Anaheim."
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 23, 2017
DEFENSE, LAST NIGHT
- Klefbom-Larsson went 19-8 together in 11:58 and played rocking chair defense. They complement each other’s game so well, and the biggest relief this morning is Klefbom’s malady (flu). I created the table above after the game last night, so listed ‘injury’. Thrilled to be wrong. Larsson went 1-6 with Sekera, 5-5 with Nurse and 0-3 with Russell when away from Oscar. Larsson went 12-12 against Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski, Oscar went 8-5 against the same trio.
- A couple of items on Larsson. His headman pass to Leon for the first goal was fantastic, a very good skill play. The big defender also gobbled up tons of playing time and battled every shift. That was a great performance by Larsson last night.
- Nurse-Benning went 7-13 in 13:19 together. They were absolutely ineffective for long periods of this game, and had Klefbom been healthy I suspect this pairing would have been used far less in this game. Once Klefbom was out of the rotation, McLellan used Nurse more and to my eye he played better. I wonder if we see Gryba against the Ducks. This duo was 5-5 against Boedker-Hertl-Jansen.
- Sekera-Russell went 9-19 in 11:25 together, including 3-8 against Boedker-Hertl-Jansen and 4-6 against Marleau-Thornton-Pavelski. The pairing were out for the GA, Russell having the puck behind the net, under control, while Sekera did him no favors by skating towards him. Seconds later, the indecision results in the Marleau goal. Other than that, they played well in a scrambly way, Russell blocking a point-blank shot that could have cashed late. In a series where one Edmonton pairing flourished and the other showed its inexperience, the Sekera-Russell duo were the ones I yelled at most of all. Good defending but subpar passing and execution with the puck, and they will need to be better.
- Cam Talbot stopped 27 of 28, .964. He was fantastic.
- Numbers by NHL.com, HockeyStats.ca and NaturalStatTrick.
- Leon’s goal was beautiful. That big frame can scoot and it is a fearsome sight, like a runaway train. The fact he has those hands and that offensive creativity makes our man Leon a special player.
- Trio went 15-22 against the Vlasic-Braun pairing (12:30) and 97 faced them 73.5% of the time at 5×5.
- McDavid took a stunning amount of punishment in this series and the Sharks barely paid a dime for it. This is the price to be paid for being the new upstart, but it’s also completely ridiculous in terms of fair play. One of the NHL rules that remains from the Eddie Shore era, when it goes I will say good riddance to bad rubbish.
- Draisaitl should have had two goals, but his cursed (pronounced curse-id) stick broke with the empty net calling. Blast! He finished this series with two of his best games as an Oiler.
- Drake Caggiula isn’t doing enough to stay on this line.
- This line contributed a great deal to the series victory.
- This series was the first playoff action for Nuge and Eberle, both men passing with flying colors.
- As much as I like this line, they need to score goals in the Anaheim series.
- Lucic went 1-1-2 over the series, but like Leon Draisaitl at the end of the campaign, accomplished much at one end and less at the other. That can happen in a short series.
- This line played a lot at 5×5 last night, but didn’t accomplish much offensively.
- Went 4-9 against the Hertl line.
- I think Patrick Maroon may see 1line work in the Anaheim series. He was a hitting machine in last night’s game, but there wasn’t much happening offensively for this trio.
- Kassian is a dandy forechecker and backchecker because of his speed, I think he is a bottom 6F who could cash 15 goals next year (with the right center).
- Anton Slepyshev is emerging this spring as a real option for the Oilers on RW. What does that do to the depth chart? Leon, JP, Kassian, Slepyshev next year? Could be. We may also see Eberle, JP, Kassian, Slepyshev, this allowing Leon back to center.
- I liked Desharnais’ effort last night, he seemed hard on the forecheck and had effective moments passing the puck.
- Benoit Pouliot has more to give, but needs more than seven minutes a night. Solid on the PK, I hope the hockey Gods give him a chance to show more by the end of this season.
Adam Larsson played 26:10 in series clincher, a season high by 2 minutes. 21:27 of that was 5v5, during which time San Jose managed 5 shots.
— Bruce McCurdy (@BruceMcCurdy) April 23, 2017
My three stars last night were Cam Talbot, Leon Draisaitl and Adam Larsson. I refuse to put them in order, because each gave something vital to the effort. The Oilers won a game that finished last season’s SC finalists, and you knew the Sharks would not go gently into that good night. You don’t hammer the opponent in a game of that kind, you survive it and have a nicer crooked number next to your logo.
How important is Klef? This important: pic.twitter.com/pn7HTBlrNV
— Oilers Nerd Alert (@OilersNerdAlert) April 23, 2017
Holy hell, boys, he is Oscar the Great! WHAT will he be in a couple of years? That 2011 draft (Nuge, Klef, Rieder) was a fabulous year for the Oilers.
This is going to be a tough series, the Ducks are deep everywhere and and can give any team fits. One good thing? Marc-Edouard Vlasic’s season is done. Hallelujah!