The collars are a little tighter, the palms a little sweatier as the Carolina Hurricanes head for home and a game seven date, with the resilient and suddenly very confident
Edmonton dominated game six like no other game this series, as they out hit the Hurricanes at every opportunity. They took away pucks, took shots (man did they take shots), blocked shots (man did they block shots) and most importantly they scored goals (man did they score goals).
It was a night when nothing seemed to go wrong for the Oilers and everything seemed to fall apart for the Hurricanes. Pisani, Torres, Pronger, Smyth, Smith and Horcuff, they make up a never ending parade of Oilers that seem to rise up to the challenge and make their team better with each game. Each shift seems to build on the last, each hit feeds off the previous one. A blocked shot, a great save, a crushing hit, a goal in the net; each sets a tone for the rest of the team to follow.
Carolina which looked despondent after losing game five to the Oilers at home in Raleigh, must be positively panic stricken after dropping game six 4-0, a game that they never really appeared to be involved in.
This one looked so one sided it brought back memories of Oiler victories back in the Golden days of Wayne, Mark, Paul, Kevin and Grant. The Oil took charge from the opening face off and never let their foot off of the Hurricanes back, they punished them in both ends of the rink.
The once worrisome power play suddenly alive in the last two games, capitalizing on far too many bad Hurricane penalties, so rattled were the Canes that they found themselves penalized not once but twice for too many men on the ice. It’s something that shouldn’t really happen in an all important playoff game.
The Hurricanes played scared Saturday night, the fear seems omni present from the surprise insertion of the previously injured Erik Cole, to the almost plea like urges from the coach at a time out to do something, anything out there to get back in the game.
The Oilers however, knew when they had a team on the run and didn’t let up one bit as the third period began and crowd’s level of joy increased by the minute.
Chants of we want the Cup, we want the Cup not only echoed around Rexall Place but were heard loud and clear probably all the way to Raleigh.
Game six was the final game to be played at Rexall Place this season, the Oilers left their fans with a gem to remember and a win that should build up more than enough confidence from the home folk to carry them on to Carolina for the deciding game seven show down on Monday.
While Saturday may have been the last game at Rexall this year, there may be one more event there come next week. Then again, should the Oilers bring home the Stanley Cup, Rexall may be just a tad too cozy for all the well wishers that will be ready to celebrate this most unpredictable of come backs.
From trailing the series 3-1, to holding the hammer and the momentum heading into game seven, it’s been an amazing run from these Oilers. Best of all, they may not be finished yet.
If the last two games are any indication as to which way this series is heading, the statistics that say 83% of the previous game sevens have been won by the home squad may not count for much.
These Oilers don’t seem to have any quit in them, tell them their done and they’ll work twice as hard to prove you wrong. Carolina is facing a huge challenge Monday night, they’ve surrendered the advantage on the ice, it will be interesting to see if the advantage of home ice will make any difference to an Oiler team that seems to be on an unstoppable mission.
No NHL team has come back from the near dead to win the Stanley Cup since 1942, Monday night the Oilers may not only win the Stanley Cup, but they very well may put themselves on the history pages as well. It makes for a story that should provide even more incentive to come out hard and take the game to Carolina, a team that all of a sudden looks very fragile and ready to collapse.
The Hurricanes have much to think about on that flight home, the most important thing, how they let a determined team back into the hunt and how they’re going to find a way to put the genie back in the bottle before its too late!