Well my favourite team, the Edmonton Oilers, ended their season by ending Vancouver’s. The Oilers were eliminated from post-season play last game by their dreaded Alberta rivals on Tuesday, so this game meant nothing, right? Wrong. The Oilers wanted to go out in style.
Despite the best efforts of the referees for the first 59 minutes, the Oilers prevailed. Mathieu Roy got a 5 minute major and a game misconduct for a play that looked eerily similar to what Matt Cooke did a few weeks ago penalty-free. The Oilers had a couple of softies called on them, which for some reason the refs evened out in the last minute of the game with two lame calls – hooking and slashing against the Canucks forcing them to end the game down by two.
The Canucks didn’t look terrible, but they didn’t come out with the urgency they should have had to make it into the playoffs. Luongo pretty much played by himself.
What’s really noticeable about the two teams is the direction they are going. The Oilers are deep in young talent. 15 of their players are under 25 years old. Forwards like Nilson, Cogliano and Gagner have an incredible future, Garon is looking like a full-timer, Gilbert, Smid and Grebeshkov are starting to gel on the blue line and third-liners Glencross and Brodziak are looking like they have a lot to offer. When the Oilers are healthy (leading scorer Horcoff, captain Ethan Moreau and big D man Sheldon Souray) they have nothing but great things in their future. With a deep-pocketed new owner, it is reasonable to assume that the Oilers are going to be able to keep most of these young guns around instead of being the league developmental team they were in the 90’s.
The Canucks on the other hand look old and tired. Although Linden was playing inspired hockey down the stretch, he’s like 54 years old. Naslund doesn’t seem to have much gas left in the tank. The sisters are great at cycling the puck, but don’t seem to be clutch when the Nuckleheads need them. Young players like Kesler, Edler and Bourdon are good, but enough? From what I’ve heard, there are a lot of RFAs to sign in the off season. Can Nonis offer them something to keep them around?
I guess I’m looking forward to next year.