Monday, May 15, 2006

Advantage Edmonton

Momentum is a funny thing, it builds and builds over a period of time and suddenly becomes an unstoppable force that tends to run over anything in its way. Sunday night, momentum wore an Oiler uniform and the victims were the San Jose Sharks.

It wasn’t always so, the Sharks had the momentum for the first two games of this series, looking to all the world as though this would be a quick four game series, a mere bump in the road on the way to a battle of California.

But the Oilers rebounded at home taking two from the Sharks, heading into San Jose having gotten better and better with each passing period. Sunday night, it at times looked as though the Sharks were going to take the series back, the Thornton/Cheechoo combination suddenly finding their game again.

The Oilers however kept their calm when things were crazy in the third period , a period that saw four goals scored by both teams in less than two minute from there they took advantage of their own chances, to take game five in convincing fashion on the scoreboard 6-3. The Oilers pick up the win, despite being outshot 24-18 by a Sharks squad that poured on the pressure in that final frame.

Sunday's win is the second game in a row the Oilers have doubled the score on the Sharks, a two game total of 12-6. It's a stat that suddenly brings Vesa Toskala down to the status of ordinary human following his remarkable run through the first round and first few games of this second round.

The Oilers take a three game to two lead back to Edmonton for game six on Wednesday night. It was a four point night for Ryan Smyth who scored two goals and picked up two assists on the way to the Oiler victory. Dwayne Roloson made some big saves when needed most, but also had some tense moments as the Sharks came close a number of times to turning the tide around again.

Edmonton has an opportunity to move forward in the playoff race for the first time since 1992, a prospect that must have the long suffering Oiler fans giddy with what may soon be.

One win and two games left to achieve it. Better to grasp the chance now than to tempt the fates with a game seven back in San Jose on Friday night. The momentum swing is definitely flying back with the Oilers, who having survived the Shark attack now find themselves exactly where they wanted to be, at home with a chance to close off a series.

San Jose had a number of chances in the last three games to put the Oilers away, but Edmonton found the way to turn it all around. By taking the Sunday game away from San Jose and claiming the home advantage, the Oilers have edged ever so close to knocking them off.

Wednesday night they’ll step out on the ice at Rexall Place and wait for that breeze, momentum is in the air and right now it’s at the Oilers back!

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