Going Back To Carolina
After winning Game 6 at home, the Oil and the 'Canes are headed to Carolina for the decisive Game 7 on Monday night. It's worth noting that this is the third consecutive Stanley Cup Final that has gone 7 games (and each time, the Western Conference champion has been a 7th or 8th seed), so parity seems to be alive well, especially since six different teams have appeared in these finals.
Last night, for the first time in these playoffs, I made my way down to Whyte Avenue to watch an Oilers game. We ended up in line at the Elephant & Castle for about two hours - right behind Cosh, funny enough. I should thank him (and about 20 other people) for leaving when the prospects for getting in looked bleak, which allowed my group to get in a few minutes before the puck dropped. In terms of other Edmonton-area celebrities, it was nice to see Mayor Joe Devaney back in these parts of the world, and out on the blue mile. Sadly, I didn't see this guy out there, though I have seen him other nights.
A couple of notes on the crowd during the game:
Can we try and come up with a more inventive chant than "Let's Go Oilers (fuck Carolina!)"?
As much as I love seeing everyone in their Oilers jerseys, can we set out a code of rules for which jerseys are appropriate and which aren't? Let me suggest the following:
- The current design (home, away, or third jersey) with the proper name and number of a player currently on the club.
- The 80s jersey (vintage or retro) with the name and number of a player from that era.
- Any Oilers jersey, with no name or number on the back.
- Any Oilers jersey, except the 80s one, that has the name and number of a player who's no longer with the club. (Yes, I'm talking to the guys who had Salo and Marchant jerseys on). It's especially bad if the relevant player is still in the league, and ended up facing the Oilers with his new club in the conference final. The only way I could find this acceptable is if you have a personal connection to a player - such as being an immediate relative/childhood friend, or having fathered the player's love child after downing a few too many jello shots at The Armoury.
Unacceptable, and Worthy of Your Scorn
- Any person who has put their own last name on the back of their jersey. In fact, if they've done that, and put the number 69 on it, you should laugh at them. Repeatedly. If you want your own name on a jersey that badly, join a rec league.
An observation that only a lawyer would make: "These people know that they don't actually get the Cup, right?" (from a recent law school graduate at my table, in response to the 'We Want the Cup' chant).
With all that said, I have to give credit to the fans. It seemed like everyone in the city was not only watching the game, but cheering and screaming the entire way through. I don't think that could be said of many other fan bases.
The crowd post-game was more orderly than it has been in my previous post-game trips to Whyte, ostensibly because of the increased police presence, and the fact that they didn't shut down parts of the street. The latter is the more important move, since if people are forced to keep moving, and cannot stop to congregate, it becomes that much more difficult to cause trouble.
As for the actual game, the win in Game 6 accomplished two important things, aside from the obvious extension of the series:
The Oil protected their backyard, and won at home. Though the thought of Joe Camel-toe face lifting the Stanley Cup in any venue makes me ill, it would have been ten times worse seeing him do it on our home ice.
We've gone as far as the Flames did in 2004 (to Game 7 of the finals). Their recent history is now no longer more accomplished than ours, which should hopefully shut their fans up. If we seal the deal, it will be that much sweeter.
Some game analysis:
The power play finally looked good. The Oil actually started cycling the puck down low, and shooting from the slot instead of the point. Well done, though I'd still feel better with The Hockey Jesus in the lineup.
Can we go one game without a Matt Greene penalty? Please?
Is it telling that D-Vo finally came close to scoring (that should have counted, imo) just as soon as Sacamano left the continent, and is no longer around to predict that he'll score? I sense that he's on the verge of shedding his hands of stone. In fact, with Hugh off in Sheffield next year, he'll probably score about 45 goals this coming season, and 'The Curse of Sacamano' will enter into Edmonton Oilers lore.
Carolina looks tired. I don't know if it's our forecheck, or the age of some of their players, or the grueling seven game series with the Sabres, but they look like they've hit the wall. For those keeping count, however, the Canes have only played one more playoff game than the Oilers have (24 to 23).
With that being said, I'm worried about Game 7. Problems aside, Carolina has too much pride to roll over, especially in their home rink. A 4-0 shellacking will serve as wake up call, and I will be stunned if they don't come out buzzing in the first 5-10 minutes on Monday night. For that reason, I almost wish that we had eked out a 1-2 goal win. Luckily for the Oil, however, with only 1 day off instead of 2, it doesn't give Laviolette and company much time to game plan. I'd make a prediction, but I'm too terrified to say anything, and my previous attempts to jinx Carolina have failed. So I'm just going to watch, and pray for the best.