With the season on the line the real Edmonton Oilers finally show up

Facing the prospect of elimination in front of their own fans, the Edmonton Oilers turn on the style and dominate the Vancouver Canucks in a 5-1 win.
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

Entering Saturday night's crucial game six at Rogers Place, there were two opposing truths. The first, was that the Edmonton Oilers had been second-best overall during their second round series versus the Vancouver Canucks.

The second reality, was that the Oilers should have been leading their best-of-seven series 3-2, rather than trailing. There were no excuses for them giving up a seemingly insurmountable three-goal advantage during game one in Vancouver.

Regardless, here the Oilers were, with the season on the line and facing the prospect of having their Stanley Cup dreams once again shattered into a million pieces. Everyone concerned, was wondering how the players would respond in an elimination game?

Fortunately for all Oilers fans out there, their team finally showed what they are truly capable of for the first time in this playoff series with their Canadian rivals. The result was an excellent performance and convincing 5-1 win.

Knoblauch gets it right in goal

We're the first to admit we believed the Oilers were making a mistake starting Stuart Skinner, who had been poor in his previous three outings versus the Canucks in these playoffs. Instead, we believed coach Kris Knoblauch should have stayed with the hot hand and put Calvin Pickard in goal.

In the end Knoblauch was proved right however, as Skinner only allowed one goal on the night, in easily his best outing versus the Canucks this season (regular season and playoffs combined). And that one goal he did give up was not really on him, as Nils Hoglander scored courtesy of a rebound off a save from the Oilers goalie.

In one respect Skinner did not have to deal with much on the night, as he only faced 15 shots on goal in total. At the same time however, quite a few of these shots were dangerous ones; combined with having to stay mentally alert for sustained periods of inactivity, and he can be extremely pleased with his performance on the night.

To his credit, Skinner was his usual humble self when describing his performance, while proving again what a great teammate he is, in giving Pickard his due credit. As per ESPN's Ryan S. Clark, he said: "I think Calvin was amazing when he got put in. Definitely got the job done and kept us in it. An unbelievable teammate. For me, I was able to get a little bit of rest and just work on my game and feel good about it again. I was able to come out and do what I had to do."

Of course this now leads to the question of who the Oilers will/should start between the pipes in Monday night's game seven back in Vancouver? At least Knoblauch will get to now make the decision from a more encouraging position, given Skinner's play on Saturday night.

Playing more like a superstar

On the subject of players needing to bounce back from subpar outings, the same applied to Connor McDavid of all players. With just one point in the previous three games, he had looked nothing like himself versus the Canucks.

However, when it mattered most, McDavid was able to turn it on, as he notched three points courtesy of a trio of primary assists on goals. As a result, he became the 10th player in NHL history with 20+ points in three consecutive postseasons.

Arguably the best Oilers player on the night was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had a goal and two assists for his second three-point game of these playoffs. He was all over the ice on the night, led all forwards with 21:04 of playing time and took home the game's First Star.

We would be remiss if we didn't mention Evan Bouchard, who continues to grow into a star in front of the hockey world under the bright lights and intensity of the playoffs. He had three points on the night including a goal, is third among all NHL players with 18 playoff points and leads all players with a +10 rating.

The final player we want to mention is Leon Draisaitl, who had two assists versus the Canucks and leads all NHL players with 23 points in these playoffs. As a result he became the third-fastest player to reach 100 postseason points, doing it in 60 games; Wayne Gretzky -- of course -- is first on 46 games, while Mario Lemiux is second on 50 games.

Next. Oilers Win 5-1 and force Game 7. Oilers Win 5-1 and force Game 7. dark

Overall, the Oilers stepped up when it mattered most, looked the Canucks right in the eyes and showed who they are and what they are truly capable of. The question now is, can they repeat the trick on Monday night, back at the hostile environment of Rogers Arena in Vancouver?

For his part, McDavid is taking nothing for granted. Speaking to the media postgame, he said: "Nothing to be satisfied or excited about. ... we just bought ourselves another day. I would expect the same level of urgency and desperation from our group. I would expect Vancouver to play a better game as well, and I would expect it to be a highly competitive, great game seven."

Recent Posts