As I watched the San Jose Sharks lay the boots to my Edmonton Oilers in game four, I remembered that Don Cherry would often say that you never embarrass your opponent because it’ll come back to bite you in the ass. Well…
San Jose simply blew their loads in that 7-0 drubbing of the Oilers and a bit into the 1st period of game 5 but after that they were spitting sand and it was ALL Oilers.
Crikey, that’s graphic…
The Sharks simply couldn’t keep pace with the Oilers and I’m not wondering where that “experience” was when they needed it most? Were the Sharks not a Stanley Cup finalist last season? There were some that were saying that McLellan was outcoached in that blowout but I think over the course of the series, it was McLellan who outcoached Deboer by keeping Nuge’s line on Thornton’s as much as possible and leaving McDavid to Vlasic and Braun.
Something I’ve noticed as the season went on is that the Oilers got better and better and tying down 1-goal games. They seemed to have won so many more tight games this year and they certainly were okay with playing without the lead as well, no?
GM OF THE YEAR?
Peter Chiarelli said he was going to come in here and build a team that could compete in the Pacific, no? So in came players of higher character and out when players who had trouble buying into McLellan’s system. Chiarelli brought in players that knew what it took to get to the playoffs and surrounded his young phenoms with humble leaders.
Now, I love that the Oilers GM has built a team to take care of business in its own division because after all, if you can dominate in your own division, the playoffs aren’t that far from your reach, right? And once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.
There are two narratives that instantly come to mind:
- Can the Anaheim Ducks roll through the Alberta teams?
- Can the Edmonton Oilers take care of the California teams?
It was Edmonton that officially eliminated the LA Kings from playoff contention I believe and wouldn’t it be something if they could run through the Sharks AND the Ducks after all these years of being their whipping boys for a decade?
One has to reckon that the Ducks are going to be more of a challenge to the Oilers than the Sharks but I’m not so sure to be honest and here’s why:
- Anaheim’s Forward Depth: Their top 6 is pretty good but Edmonton can equal it without question. The Ducks bottom 6 is where the Oilers have the edge I believe. Apart from Corey Perry, it lacks skill and speed. I’ll take Pouliot/Desharnais/Slepyshev over Wagner/Thompson/Shaw anyday.
- Anaheim’s Defense Depth: It’s a young d-core right now with Montour/Theodore filling in for Fowler/Vatanen. Korbinian Holzer is basically Mark Fayne with a bit more sandpaper. So AHL level. When Fowler and Vatanen come back, that’ll definitely change things but how long will it take them to get into playoff shape and can the Oilers take advantage of this fortunate turn of events? That said, Josh Manson is no joke.
- The Ducks have nobody to sick on McDavid: Ryan Kesler? Good luck with that. Anaheim simply doesn’t have a Vlasic that can shut down an elite forward.
- Who will RNH’s line be tasked with?: McLellan shut down the Sharks top line by using Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ line. That Sharks trio is a heavy line to deal with. Will the Oilers 2nd line go head-to-head with Getzlaf/Eaves/Rackell or Cogliano/Kesler/Silvferberg?
There are two players that do concern me on Anaheim though:
- Patrick Eaves
- John Gibson
Eaves has continued his scoring tear from the regular season and Gibson, apart from one game (like Talbot), looked sensational versus the Flames.
Look, without sounding like the homer of all homers, the Oilers have a better roster. Simple as that. The Flames barely scraped into the playoffs where as the Oilers nearly beat out the Ducks for first in the Pacific. Anaheim might be rested right now but the Oilers are just getting going. Sickness or not, Edmonton can go toe-to-toe with any team in the Western Conference right now and feel confident of beating any one of them.
I think I can guarantee one thing though, this series is going to be a battle of epic proportions. It’s going to get physical and it’s going to be dirty and we’re going to see some ridiculousness. I mean a team with Corey Perry and Kevin Bieksa on it is going to be unpleasant to play against.
But what are we worried about?
I can’t wait.