Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet.ca,
Not since the spring of 1986 has every single NHL team in Canada made the playoffs in the same season. That’s right—22 freakin’ years.
The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs, apparently putting rocket fuel in their cereal these days, seem determined to help end the streak.
With just under two weeks left in the regular season, the two Canadian clubs, written off by the hockey world long ago, are waging quite the campaign to get into the playoff dance against all odds.
Update 3:17pm ET: Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail adds some more thoughts on the Oilers “Cinderella Story” as they race to make the playoffs.
from the Edmonton Journal,
“He (Ales Hemsky) had a special night for us,” said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. “It was like he was playing the game at a different level than everybody else.
I questioned some of his decisions at times, but he always turned it into something. It was high, high entertainment value watching him.
“Every time he had the puck on his stick he was creating something, and never the old-fashioned way. He was beating guys one-on-one, driving wide, just making spectacular plays.”
more on the Oilers…
from the Edmonton Sun,
If the Oilers win, they’re three points back of Vancouver for eighth spot, with another head to head game remaining. Lose and the Canucks are likely out of reach for good, and Edmonton will have to set its sights on the loser of tonight’s Colorado-Calgary game.
“I’m just really excited about the opportunity that the team’s created for itself,” said head coach Craig MacTavish.
“That’s all we can ask for, to play well enough to give ourselves continuing opportunity. And this really reeks and smacks of that opportunity. We feel like we’re in a pretty good state right now to handle it.”
from Simpson on Hockey,
The fact that the Edmonton Oilers are even in the playoff race with nine games to go is in itself an accomplishment.
But winning nine of 11 at such a critical time in the season to get them there is even more impressive….
The players who head coach Craig MacTavish hoped would someday be the leaders of this team have developed at such a fast pace that they are leading this team through one of its most challenging seasons.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Wayne Gretzky was the planned surprise guest at the party the Vancouver Giants are having for Gordie Howe to celebrate his 80th birthday today, but while he said he wouldn’t be able to come, he’ll surely find a way to send along his regards.
The Great One took some time here to tell a few of the tales of his interaction with the man Reggie Fleming used to call “Blinkey” as a way to try to get under his skin, always a dangerous proposition. And it all started with that famous picture of the two taken when he was just 10 years old; Wayne remembers it like it was yesterday.
“I remember I was getting out of school that day because I was meeting Gordie at the Holiday Inn at 2’ o’clock,” said Gretzky
from the Edmonton Sun,
Last night the Oilers rookie became the first player in NHL history to score three consecutive overtime winners as Edmonton defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at Rexall Place.
“I actually don’t think my game was that good tonight, I don’t think I was very good in the first two periods,” Cogliano said.
“I think the overtime was my best five minutes of the game. I had a couple of chances to score before that, but I was lucky to get open in front of the net and score the goal.”
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
While the rebuilding pain still lies ahead in Toronto, the medicine has been swallowed and the needle suffered in Edmonton. The biggest ache - a two-year, injury-plagued hiatus from the playoffs - will soon be behind them. It is unlikely the drought will stretch to a third year next season.
“You feel it in the room,” Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said. “I feel it and sense it, and normally if the coach feels it ... you’re the last guy to feel the optimism of improvement.
“We’re pretty positive about the outlook, with the group that we have here.”
NEW YORK—Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner, who led all rookies in scoring with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 12 games, has been named the NHL Rookie of the Month for February.
Gagner edged New York Rangers center Brandon Dubinsky (6-5—11 in 12 games), Phoenix Coyotes center Peter Mueller (4-7—11 in 14 games), Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (3-7—10 in 10 games) and Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (5-2-0, 2.33 goals-against average, .925 save percentage, one shutout) for the award.
The injury list continues to mount for the Edmonton Oilers, as the team learned on Monday that captain Ethan Moreau is out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle.
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
...what are the odds that Anaheim’s GM will actually walk up to the podium on draft day and say, “With Edmonton’s first pick overall, a pick they could have kept if they hadn’t signed Dustin Penner to that desperate and irresponsible offer sheet, and then finished dead last, just like I said they would, because the Oilers suck so bad, the two-time Stanley Cup champions are proud to select, with Edmonton’s pick, franchise player Steve Stamkos ... with Edmonton’s pick.”
And then Burke gives Stamkos Penner’s old No. 17 sweater, taken in at the waist, of course.
Oh well, at least there’s a race to watch.
Only instead of chasing down eighth in the West, the focus shifts to 25th overall (since a team that wins the lottery can only move up four spots, the best Anaheim can get if Edmonton finishes 25th is second overall in the deepest draft in decades. So chew on that, Burkie).
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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