The Edmonton Oilers (35-38-9) took a trip down the QE2 to visit the Calgary Flames (50-25-7) in their last game of the season. The storylines heading into this one were pretty simple: Edmonton was trying to finish their season on a positive note and get Leon Draisaitl to 50 goals, and Calgary was resting a bunch of their guys and hoping to head into the playoffs early.
Both teams started well enough in this one, as the pace was above average to begin the first period. The Oilers were certainly going to provide Draisaitl with a platform to hit his milestone tonight, as the Good Doctor found himself out for a couple of shifts early.
And this strategy would pay off. About halfway through the opening frame, Draisaitl and company were operating in the Flames zone. As play was about to transition the other way, a timely pinch by a re-invigorated Andrej Sekera kept the Oilers on the front foot. A nice backhand pass to Draisaitl with his back to goal, before he was able to spin and fire past an hopefully-starting-game-one-on-Thursday Mike Smith to put the Oilers ahead 1-0 with his fiftieth goal of the season. 50. Fifty. Can you believe it?! The 92nd player in NHL history. The rarest of airs. Amazing.
Unfortunately, the Flames would tie it shortly thereafter through Mark Jankowski. A weak point shot took a couple of deflections before a final tip by Jankowski saw it elude Mikko Koskinen’s right leg to tie the game at 1-1.
The rest of the first period happened, I’m sure, but I’ll be honest - I don’t recall it. Because...
Not long after the break, Connor McDavid was driving wide on Mark Giordano. The latter was beat, and attempted to dive and swipe at the puck to disrupt the play. He missed badly and caught McDavid’s legs instead, sweeping them out from under our hero and sending him toward Smith’s left post at McDavid-like speeds. And then it happened.
McDavid’s right leg caught said post, and bent in a way it absolutely is not designed to bend, and he laid on the ice, relatively motionless, for a couple of minutes. I mean, he was obviously moving and in full possession of his cognitive faculties, but he didn’t move.
We’ve seen McDavid bounce right back up from worse-looking collisions before. We hate it, but we’ve seen it before, and so we’ve come to expect it. So, this time, when he didn’t get up right away, we knew it was bad.
Close up cameras and eager lip readers on Twitter were quick to point out that even McDavid himself appears to concede that “It’s broke(n).”
It looked so bad that, right now, the best case scenario is a fractured leg of some kind. If he’s blown out his knee and done serious ligament damage, I’ve been led to believe that’s worse. But, imagine the feelings you experience when the best case scenario is a broken leg? This became the storyline of the evening. So much so that it completely dominated my focus and took me entirely out of watching the rest of it. I was glued to my phone for updates. The game became the soundtrack to a nightmare, and simply served as an alternate source for McDavid updates.
Soo, it might be ligament damage after all then. Wow. Unbelievable. Hopefully it’s just a deep, deep bone bruise. I don’t know what to think.
Third Period, Maybe?
I don’t even know when the second ended and the third began. At some point after ‘the incident’, Alex Chiasson and Darnell Nurse scored. I think Nurse’s in particular was pretty nice, too. I’m sorry, truly.
What started as a meaningless game became somehow both less so and far moreso at the same time. We all hope that this doesn’t impact McDavid’s long-term outlook in any way. He truly is one of the best to ever do this thing and hockey will suffer if he is somehow unable to hit the same heights he may have otherwise. He deserves to his those highs, he’s worked his whole life for them.
I am well and truly dead inside.
For me? Nothing. I’m not one of those ‘hockey fans for the sake of hockey’ fans. If the Oilers are out, I’m right there golfing with them. Follow the Condors, though. That right there is a hockey team and there are at least a couple of guys who might be NHL regulars in the coming seasons. It’s been a pleasure. Well, not tonight, specifically. Or most of the year, in fact. But you know what I mean.
Til’ next year.