It was late in the 2nd period, the Oilers had double the shots of Colorado but were down 4-1. The game–much like the season–was a steaming pile of frustration for Oiler fans. Chances once again suggested a different score, and this time the shot clock glowed too with Oiler work and expertise.
And still the good side was down by three. The Octane girls danced during the television breaks, the chances kept coming and the frustration continued to build. At about 15:30 of the second period, the Oilers run and gun line entered enemy territory and would not leave it. The climax was a thing of beauty–Fistric getting the puck down to Taylor Hall, who sent a gorgeous pass to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who pierced the Avalanche net and sparked the comeback. Jordan Eberle’s expression after the Nuge ended his slump reminded me of the prayer meetings of my youth–Hallelujah!
Hallelujah, and amen.
One minute later, Ryan Smyth took a hit to make a play. Probably the 100,000th time he did it, and he found tape (Smyth is an outstanding passer), Hemsky and glory, as the ‘Czech who doesn’t care’ lollygagged his way to another classically beautiful goal.
It was now 4-3, and Don Cherry’s first intermission suggestion that Edmonton should airlift more Coke Machines was by then a distant bell. The fans were rocking the joint, keeping time to the breathtaking rhythm supplied by Hall, Hemsky and the rest.
In the second intermission, PJ Stock took the time to tell Ryan Smyth how to penalty-kill (Stock did in fact play in the NHL, hope you didn’t blink or you missed it). Stock also got his collar up about the Hemsky contract–on a night when Hemsky would enter the top 10 in league goal scoring–so I’m going to go ahead and give him an epic fail on the evening. The best thing about the HNIC panel these days is the commercial at the end, giving the nation a head’s up that they can return to watching the game.
The third period saw more outstanding play–another sublime pass, this time by brilliant Sam Gagner–set up Eberle for the tying score, and then Magnus Paajarvi scored the winner on more hard work by Ryan Smyth. Jordan Eberle got the EN goal on this night, a smart play by Taylor Hall (now 5th in shots on goal in the NHL) setting him free.
These kids broke the shots on goal record from the olden days, and they didn’t break on this night. The trials and tribulations of watching teenagers grow up in the NHL continues this week, but for today let’s allow ourselves a small moment, the hint of a smile.
These are the good times. If you’re fully invested in this team–and reading this blog suggests you’re there–then each step up the mountain has to bring joy. Last night the Oilers pushed the river and won the day. Tomorrow, they’ll do it against a better team, and more consistently, and add help where it is needed.
Let your soul and spirit fly.