Kukla's Korner

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Choke Is A Difficult Word To Use

from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,

• With the series in their grasp — tied 2-2 and at home in Game 5 — Edmonton came up small. They started slow, had a burst early in the second period, but had just 14 shots on goal after 40 minutes. Then, after a third-period flourish that forced overtime, Edmonton coughed up a goal on the first shift of overtime. Even with a second chance to win after an awful regulation, they came up short once again in OT.

• Choking can be defined by an uncharacteristic performance at the most crucial moment. When the heat is on, and an athlete does something he wouldn’t normally do, that’s a choke job. Well, the two biggest self-inflicted wounds in this series were authored by 40-year-old goalie Mike Smith, whose Game 1 turnover cost his team the game, and a head butt late in the second period of Game 5 that will see Nurse miss Game 6. Those aren’t kids making five-star mistakes. Those are Edmonton’s leaders.

• On the overtime goal in Game 5, Evander Kane — as good a forward as Edmonton has had for weeks — committed the neutral-zone turnover that led to Adrian Kempe’s winner. He couldn’t deliver the puck to L.A.’s zone, the quick turnover left Connor McDavid in a poor spot to defend, and Duncan Keith with an impossible gap. The veteran defenceman was exposed wide by Kempe, but a victim of a play by Kane that left tired Oilers in a bad spot against a fresh Kempe.

“Competition brings out the best in you, but sometimes it brings out the worst in you,” Murray said that day. “If you stop competing, you are never going to break through. And you are going to be in one of those teams that were also-rans your whole life.

“You're going to choke.”

The moment was too big for this Oilers team in Game 5. They choked.

But that doesn’t mean the series is lost.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink


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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.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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