An all too familiar sinking feeling for Edmonton Oilers fans

Despite having the best roster of the Connor McDavid era, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves in a position they've faced far too many times in recent seasons.
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five
Edmonton Oilers v Vancouver Canucks - Game Five / Derek Cain/GettyImages

Just like that, the Edmonton Oilers find themselves on the verge of being knocked out of the playoffs. Again.

Just like that, the Edmonton Oilers are set to waste a season of Connor McDavid's and Leon Draisaitl's prime. Again.

The Oilers are in big trouble, and the reality is they only have themselves to blame. The Vancouver Canucks were clearly the better team on the night, even though they didn't secure a crucial game five 3-2 win until there were just 33 seconds remaining on the clock in the third period.

Oilers second-best on the night

As close as the final scoreline was, make no mistake about the fact the Canucks dominated their Canadian rivals. On the night they had a 35-23 advantage in shots on goal, won 57.1 percent of the face-offs and outhit the Oilers 42-20.

The Oilers usually lethal power play unit just couldn't get going, as they went an unfathomable 0-for-5 with the man advantage. Their big players came up little when it mattered most, highlighted by McDavid having zero points and a -2 rating on the night; the second time the Oilers superstar has had no points in this second round playoff series versus the Canucks.

The game had actually started off really well for the Oilers, as they took a 1-0 lead just 4:34 into the contest, courtesy of Evander Kane. The Canucks did tie the game up through the controversial Carson Soucy on his return from a one-game suspension, but the visitors retook the lead just 23 seconds later thanks to Mattias Janmark's first goal of these playoffs.

As a result the Oilers entered the first intermission in good spirits with a 2-1 lead. However, it would turn out to be the high point of the evening, as they did little during the game's final 40 minutes.

Pickard holds his own on the road

The second period was particularly uninspiring, as the Oilers were outshot 17-4 and were fortunate to only give up the one goal, which once more tied the game. The fact they even remained in the game, came down to Calvin Pickard.

After an inspiring performance in game four, Pickard deservedly got the nod again for Thursday night, ahead of the embattled Stuart Skinner. It proved to be the right decision, despite the final outcome.

Pickard was easily the Oilers' best player on the night, as he saved 32 of the 35 shots he faced. Time and time again, he kept the visitors at bay even as his teammates inexcusably failed to rise to the occasion.

Even when the Canucks did finally break through to take their first lead of the night with 33 agonising seconds remaining in the game, it wasn't Pickard's fault. The 32-year-old deserved better, and don't be surprised if he has earned the right to start again on Saturday night back in Edmonton, in a game the Oilers quite simply cannot afford to lose.

In fairness, the Oilers made no excuses for the loss. Speaking to the media postgame, Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said: "They were just out-changing, out-hustling us. We were just being cautious of flipping the puck out. Yes, you get it out to the neutral zone and out of harm's way, but we can't get it down there 200 feet so we can be in the offensive zone, (so) we can get fresh bodies out there. We didn't have the flow there."

Knoblauch expanded on what went wrong on the night. He said: "When you don't have the puck, it looks like you're chasing the game, and we want to have the puck a lot more and making more plays. We just want to play faster, quicker and a little more competitive. The guys are trying and I think the defensive details are there, but I think the biggest thing we want to take out of this is we've just got to be making plays."

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You would like to the think the Oilers will have more of a sense of urgency back at Rogers Place on Saturday night, and show better hustle and make more plays with the season on the line. However, fair or not, you can't blame any fans who have that all too familiar sinking feeling, with the Oilers seeing another opportunity to win the Stanley Cup slipping away.

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