June 19, 2006
Runaway train to CupAre the Oilers unstoppable?
By ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Detroit Red Wings, the NHL's top team during the regular season, couldn't stop them.
Neither could a 0-2 series deficit to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semifinal or a wicked bout of the flu during the conference final against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
Losing Conn Smythe Trophy candidate Dwayne Roloson in Game 1 of this Stanley Cup final, then falling behind 0-2 hasn't stopped them either, even though it stood to reason it should.
Given the above, the Carolina Hurricanes will need one helluva game plan tonight to put the brakes on the Edmonton Oilers with the Stanley Cup in the house for Game 7 at the RBC Center.
The Oilers, 4-0 winners Saturday, are a team boiling with emotion, fuelled by confidence and stoked with all the momentum of a runaway train. It will take something out of this world to derail them.
Stanley Cup Express No. 6 is coming through.
"We have to dial-in another game like that," said Ethan Moreau after the Oilers blitzed the Hurricanes Saturday. "Our best will be good enough. We've felt throughout the playoffs we're the best team. It's time to prove it."
Those words came straight up in the aftermath of a dominant performance at Rexall Place. Talk around the rink was more muted yesterday, but the Oilers are a confident bunch. They have every right to be since willing themselves back from a 0-2 deficit to make this series a best-of-one.
"That's something we pride ourselves on," said Chris Pronger. "That will and determination, it's kind of the way we play.
"We've had to go through a lot of different adversity through the course of the year and that plays a big part in how we've been able to deal with things. It's learning on the job. Losing seven in a row early in the season, we fought our way out of the hole.
"We get bag-skated in Dallas. We don't see pucks for an hour-and-a-half. Things like that, you start learning your lesson. Injuries, the playoff stretch drive, trying to get in, it all plays into learning as a team."
While that is only now starting to sink in with those covering these playoffs, the Oilers have been saying the same thing for two months now - since they beat the Red Wings in six, blitzed the Sharks four straight after losing two games and overcame a debilitating flu and the Mighty Ducks.
Having long outgrown their underdog mantra of playoffs past, the Oilers believe their best is good enough. They didn't get a compelling argument from the Hurricanes Saturday.
"We know what we have to do in order for us to be successful," said Torres. "The guys, they feed off each other. We don't want to let each other down. We all want to win. I'm sure it's the same with the other team, but on this team, it's just that much more, you know?"
REFUSAL TO FOLD
The trademark of this team has been its refusal to fold and take the easy way out. They had the opportunity against San Jose, the hottest team in the NHL in the stretch.
Likewise against the now-reeling Hurricanes when Roloson went down in a heap. Not a chance. Even the dimmest observer has been able to see their resolve grow.
"One of the reasons we're here is we've been able to park that stuff the minute that the game ends," coach Craig MacTavish said of his team's resilience. "You're dejected for five minutes when you lose. You're happy and excited for five minutes when you win. From that point forward, you park that, go over the video, go over your game plan and start the process for the next game."
This Oiler team, as longtime observers who witnessed the first five Stanley Cup parades in Edmonton will tell you, is a team of extraordinary will. Right now, when it matters most, it's also a team on top of its game.
"If we can go out there and play our game, we're going to have a very good chance of winning," Shawn Horcoff said. "It's nice to know when you go out and play your best game, a lot of nights it's going to be good enough."
Coming through ...