Oilers fans keep tradition of watching playoffs in backyard alive

The Oilers and Ducks are tied 3-3 in the second round of the playoffs.

Connor McDavid has led Edmonton to a Game 7 for the first time in better than a decade, the last time came in the 2005-06 Stanley Cup Finals, where the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Cup after a 3-1 win. Sound familiar, anyone? It should. In each of the last four seasons, Anaheim was able to grab 3-2 leads, only to then lose Game 6 on the road and then return home to also lose out in Game 7. And for four straight years, the Ducks have been eliminated in Game 7s, all at Honda Center.

While they threatened in some ways this year, pushing the Ducks to the limit, Edmonton's Cup window should open for real next year and there's an argument to be made that it might be the club's most opportune time to strike - what with McDavid's entry-level contract expiring in the summer of 2018. What goes wrong during elimination games for the Ducks? Others, I think rightly, say that the team needed to score as many goals as possible since letting their foot off the gas in Game 5 was what allowed the collapse to happen.

How would Randy Carlyle like to see his team improve their game after that 7-1 whipping in Game 6? Overall, they are 2-6 in Game 7. They carried offensive play for the first 10 minutes or so, absolutely owned the faceoff circle (61% over the whole game), and seemed like an engaged and hungry team ready to exorcise some demons. The Ducks were supposed to make easy work of them, kind of like the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

The 21-year-old German scored a hat trick and assisted on two goals Sunday for a total of five goals and eight assists against the Ducks this series.

It's a serious time around any organization, with so much on the line in a Game 7. He and his friends all live in Victoria now, and have been watching some of the Oilers' postseason games at his condo.

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The Ducks' crowd watches on as the Predators celebrate their victory. There is no question about which team has the edge in goaltending going into this final game of the series.

Nobody gets anything in the Stanley Cup playoffs without a grind, and these two teams are on it. It's enough to give any Ducks fan déjà vu. Sami Vatanen had a clear shot at goalie Cam Talbot but missed up high, and Andrew Cogliano had a chance to blade a puck out of the air at close range. The third-year forward has been unstoppable against Anaheim, registering 11 goals and 10 assists in 11 games against the Ducks this campaign. In Game 7, the Ducks are going to have to find a way to beat Talbot or risk being beat by goaltending once again. And the teams that had Draisaitl picked No. 1 among forwards - there were a few, but they were all behind Edmonton.

It was as complete a game as Pittsburgh has had through two rounds, even though it was without injured defenseman Trevor Daley and winger Carl Hagelin.

Luckily, the Ducks are an experienced group and have faced adversity before. While playing at home they can gain momentum as they will have home ice advantage for the WCF if they win game seven.

"He got to come up and play with us [on the top line] for at least half the game tonight and made a big contribution", Ryan Getzlaf said.

"Better than a three-goal lead", deadpanned Talbot. A less experienced player could have gotten nervous with such an opportunity to win the game by firing the puck directly at the goaltender.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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