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Timing is Everything

"Timing is everything. There is a tide in the affair of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune." - William Shakespeare

by Cam Tait / EdmontonOilers.com

It's probably more than an educated guess to say Mr. Shakespeare never played hockey - or, for that matter, even attended a game. Yet, his profound observation on timing is as fresh as the pile of snow the Zamboni left after the last flood at Rogers Place.

Take Tuesday night for example.

Fan Appreciation Night was scheduled months ago to recognize Edmonton Oilers supporters. Perhaps organizers peered into their crystal ball, as it turned out the evening was a truly special night not just to appreciate the fans, but for a very historic reason as well.

As part of the evening's festivities, trips, bar-b-ques and spin bicycles were just some of the sought after items given to some lucky fans.

The Rogers Place crowd politely applauded the winners, but the response was nothing compared to the decibel levels during the final minutes of play between the Oilers and Los Angeles Kings.

Going into the final 60 seconds of play, the Oilers had a 2-1 lead. The crowd--many in bright orange Oilers jerseys--were on their feet, waving their new Oilers flags, which were nestled in their seats before puck drop…

They were yelling and clapping and many had beaming smiles.

When there was a stoppage of play, "Let's go Oilers" echoed throughout the arena. Something truly special was playing out in Technicolor before the 18,347 fans in Rogers Place.

Some familiar faces were in the pews on the southeast side of Rogers Place.

John Short, the legendary sports radio talk host and newspaper columnist sat three rows from the top. Always at the ready, John had a piece of paper clenched in his left hand ready for notes.

Down a few rows to John's left, Cal Nichols sat in an aisle seat. Cal, a staunch Oilers fan for decades, was Chair of the Oilers Investors Group in the 1990's.

Both John and Cal have seen the Oilers punch their ticket into the NHL Playoffs before, and they know the excitement it brings.

John and Cal stood as the seconds slowly ticked down, but so did many young Oilers fans - some who looked like they were not even born when the team last entered the playoffs in 2006.

With 1.2 seconds remaining, the place was bedlam when the Oilers lined up for a face-off just outside of their blueline.

They won the face-off and preserved a 2-1 victory - their 42nd of the season - to clinch a 2017 playoff spot.

The Oilers team circled around centre ice and saluted their appreciation to the fans. The fans responded by cheering even louder, especially when the 2017 Stanley Cup logo boldly appeared on the scoreboard.

The remarkable turn-around for the Oilers continues to play out in historic fashion: making the playoffs in their first season playing out of Rogers Place is something of only a scriptwriter's dreams.

The crowd took their time leaving their seats after the game. It was a night that could have lasted forever.

Edmonton Oilers fans have been extremely faithful fans over the years. 

Fans will now fasten their seat belts for the playoff ride that is about to unravel in the very near future.

And clinching the playoffs on Fan Appreciation night was more than poetic justice.

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