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GENE'S BLOG: Upon Further Review

In his latest blog, Gene Principe examines the Oilers Game 5 loss and how the team will respond in Game 6

by Gene Principe /

He sat alone. In his corner stall. A look of bewilderment on his face. His eyes focused straight ahead. Half his gear still on but all of his mind on one thing. Cam Talbot's stall in the dressing room is the closest spot to the on ice entrance for Edmonton at the Honda Center. The time it would take him to get up, take two steps forward, veer left and walk straight ahead to the ice was about the same amount of time he and his teammates were away from a win in game 5. 15 seconds. A measly 15 seconds. One-quarter of a minute. That's all that stood between them and a 3-2 series lead. Sporting events run out of time or opportunity. Edmonton tried desperately but neither occurred on Friday night until the improbable, the unthinkable and the unimaginable happened. 

With a mass of humanity on his doorstep and in the blue paint the Edmonton netminder was helpless to make one more save to win one more game. Ryan Kesler has been all over Connor McDavid in this series but for one moment, a series shifting moment, Kesler set his sights on another Oiler. I think we can all agree the Selke Trophy finalist was in the crease and tangled up with Edmonton's netminder. How he got there, according to the NHL, was the result of a push by Darnell Nurse. What he did once he arrived was left to interpretation. The League's view was nothing inappropriate or intentional occurred to prevent Talbot from doing his job. The contact between player glove and goalie pad led to a five hole looking like a ten hole. Game tied. Review completed. Overtime next. 

Eventually, Corey Perry, who was involved in the controversial first goal of Game 4 scored the last goal of Game 5. A double OT loss on the heels of a single OT loss for Edmonton. Both difficult to digest and you could see that in a glazed over goalie. He got mad after Game 4. Milan Lucic was the one who felt that way or expressed it loudly after Game 5. I cannot remember in 30 years of broadcasting a player being so loud and so strong in his belief a mistake was made. It was like everyone and everything in Edmonton's dressing room stopped and went silent. All anyone could hear was Lucic. He became louder and louder the longer he talked about the Rickard Rakell tying goal. Clearly confused by the definition of 'goalie interference.' Nearly begging someone to call him to explain it all and make sense of it.

Making sense of three minutes and one second which stole a certain win and turned it into a heartbreaking loss remains hard to grasp. It may take time and professional help to bury the controversy of Game 5. Instead, it's about moving on and looking to Game 6. Edmonton has to do it. It's all about survival right now and getting ready for Sunday. There's is no other option even if it might be therapeutic to rant and rave some more. Might feel good but not sure it would do any good to prepare for their first elimination game of the 2017 playoffs. Edmonton isn't ready for their season to end and the captain said so. 

In his hushed tone, it can sometimes be hard to hear McDavid and especially after the loss in Game 5. I thought I heard it but wasn't sure until I listened back. The captain said it. He didn't wade into unsavory comments about 'the goal' or the game, instead, he went Mark Messier. Saying quietly but confidently, "We'll be back Wednesday." It falls under the category of 'if necessary' because it may only take six games to decide on a final four team out of the Pacific Division. Connor isn't ready to concede anything. Instead, he's planning and planting. A seed, that is, for Oiler fans and his teammates to get ready for one more trip to southern California. This series isn't over and won't be Sunday according to the captain. It's one thing to think it but another thing to say it. Credit the captain for being a leader with his words and his play. Upon further review, like the officials in Game 5, Connor McDavid won't be changing his mind. This call stands. 

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