This is it. When the horn goes to end today's game against the Colorado Avalanche the journey that the Edmonton Oilers started 205 days ago on September 17 will come to an end. In the standings the end result of this season is exactly the same as last season, a 30th place finish.The result may be the same but I think the mood surrounding the finish is a little better this season than it was last year. That the future looks a little brighter now when compared to last year probably has as much to do with that as anything.
The season had some pretty low points, games in Carolina and New York come to mind along with a couple losing streaks and a run of power play futility that was truly amazing. In seasons with twice as many losses as wins it would be easy to find plenty of negatives to focus on as the season come to a close but mixed in with all those negatives were some pretty good moments too, ones that are certainly worth remembering. Now that its all but over, what do you think was the best moment of the year?
Was the best moment on opening night? In a way it'd be depressing if this is the case because really it'd all be downhill from there. But how could Jordan Eberle's first career goal ever be considered anything other than amazing. That night it was the Highlight of the Night and it could easily be the play of the year too. It definitely deserves some consideration for the best moment of the year.
Or what about the debut of Linus Omark? It'll be pretty hard to forget a shootout winner quite like this one. I've seen plenty of shootouts at Rexall Place and I've never hear the crowd as loud as they were when Omark came off the bench and skated to centre. He got a standing ovation when he stepped onto the ice and then he followed it up with a play I won't soon forget. A play this good has to be at least in the running.
If one goal is good then three have to be better right? A list of the best moments of the year wouldn't be complete without at least mentioning the Taylor Hall show against the Atlanta Thrashers. In the third period Hall scored three power play goals and brought the fans at Rexall Place to their feet. If in that moment you found yourself dreaming about the future you probably weren't alone.
So far it's been all about the rookies on this list and with good reason, there were plenty of rookies in the Oilers lineup each and every night. It started with Hall, Eberle, and Magnus Paajarvi but it didn't end there. When injuries hit the and calls were made to Oklahoma City for players those players often looked pretty good up here with the big club. Omark, Teemu Hartikainen, Chris VandeVelde, and Jeff Petry all look like they could or should be on the club next season. These rookies all came with exciting moments of their own and getting to see the future in action and imagining just how bright the future in Edmonton might be was a hell of a moment for me.
Maybe you're a little more pessimistic though. Maybe you didn't like Dustin Penner. In that case then you might think that trade deadline day when Steve Tambellini traded Penned to Los Angeles Kings was the highlight of the season. Dustin Penner had his share of detractors here in Edmonton that were more than happy to see the big man pack his bag for the coast, I wasn't in that group and neither was Ben but to each his own.
It's never easy to be a fan of a bad team and the Oilers were certainly a bad team. With a loss tonight the team will actually finish with 61 points, one fewer than they finished with last season. The future might be bright but the present is downright ugly. So maybe you think the best moment of the year will be tonight when the whole thing is finally finished and we can all just move on and start thinking about next year. If this is you then I'd suggest you consider some professional help because you're just crazy negative.