In winning Game Seven of their first round series with the Los Angeles Kings, the Edmonton Oilers not only clinched a spot in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017, they also delivered their fan base a moment most will never forget.
As far as playoff success goes, winning a first round series isn’t exactly the be-all and end-all of accomplishments. However, when looking at the recent history of the Edmonton Oilers, advancing to the second round is a pretty big deal. At least for one night, this team’s long suffering fan base had reason to celebrate following a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings and man did it feel good.
Though many had thrown in the proverbial towel after watching their Oilers be pushed to the brink of elimination following a Game Five overtime loss, nearly all jumped back onto the wagon prior to Game Six...albeit with their collective fingers firmly crossed. Once their team was able to eke out a hard fought win and force a winner takes all Game Seven scenario, the masses were once again fully invested.
In their defence, the sheer volume of missteps this organization has had to suffer through since the drafting of Connor McDavid in 2015 has left many fans unable to whole-heartedly trust and believe in what this team was capable of. It’s hard to blame them and that uncertainty comes with a lack of success. Just go and ask fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs how they are feeling today.
For a hockey mad market like Edmonton, at this time of year, the city’s overall vibe is impacted heavily by this team. Over the past couple of days, you could feel the level of excitement and nervousness everywhere you turned. The sea of orange that gathered inside Rogers Place, just outside of it in the “Moss Pit” and in establishments and living rooms across the city spoke volumes.
These fans needed last night to be special and their team delivered, thanks in large part to the guy wearing no. 97. Having already delivered throughout the series, McDavid took his game to yet another level and simply refused to allow his team to lose. No matter the sport, watching an elite athlete at their peak is a unique experience but watching it unfold on a “big stage”, makes it all the more remarkable.
Hockey fans across the globe got to witness exactly that last night and Oilers fans were lucky enough to experience it first-hand. Not only did they get the aforementioned special moment but they were given something most will never forget. Edmonton is no different than the rest of the world. The past two and half years have been difficult on this community and it needed a reason to come together.
Like it or not, sport can have that kind of an effect on people and in this country and province, hockey has that kind of pull. The moment the final buzzer went, was the moment we saw a collective release of joy from the masses and it was heartwarming to watch play out. It was long overdue for Oilers fans everywhere and considering the situation and opponent, this was the only acceptable outcome.
From the team/player perspective, they view it as they should, a stepping stone to reaching their ultimate goal of hoisting the Stanley Cup. With that said, the collective relief was obvious and especially for those players who have been here for a while. Playing in a market like Edmonton or Toronto isn’t easy but when things fall into place, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to be.
So yes, in the grand scheme of things, the Edmonton Oilers won a first round playoff series and it shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than that. Though for one night and hopefully the next couple of days, fans across Oil Country should exhale and enjoying this. Winning isn’t as easy as many of us believe it to be so when it does come around, learning to appreciate the entire journey is a must.