All Gas, No Brakes – (2024)

While we’ve been laser focused on the Stanley Cup playoffs, spring has given way to summer and truly warm days have reached this northern city. I got into the habit of taking 10K walks last spring, summer and fall, I’m down to 5K or less now due to writing and various other daily chores. I’m not complaining, but the last two months have felt a little like all gas, no brakes.

I’m thankful for what might be the single greatest playoff run of my lifetime, but admit to being completely unaware of much around me. The sun was so hot yesterday it shocked me into the reality that I missed spring pretty much altogether. I promise to catch the next one. History is happening before me, I’m thrilled to recognize if for what it is. I think we all are.

What’s at stake for the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final? – The Athletic

— Lowetide (@Lowetide) June 23, 2024

We’re one day from Game 7, SCF. The Oilers have been involved in two. The May 31, 1987 thriller that up until this point represents the finest final I’ve witnessed involved an Edmonton NHL team; the 2006 Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was searing pain and I remember that feeling like it was yesterday.

I watched with the sound down after the first Hurricanes goal. The first goal in a Game 7 is so important, and it was on that day for sure. My wife sat next to me and we talked quietly. She reminded me of all the good things in my life, and tried to keep my heart from breaking, to no avail.

It’s hard to explain to someone why sports, and cheering for a team, matters. It’s like that John Sebastian line in “Do You Believe in Magic?” when he sings “I’d tell you about the magic that can free your soul, but it’s like trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” and that’s exactly what it’s like explaining Stanley to a Martian.

I’m not sure anyone could write about tomorrow night’s game with authority. It’s a best of one, with the winning goal as likely to go in off someone’s ass as it is to be a beautiful goal that becomes an iconic moment.

At the beginning of the playoffs, I was asked by Jason Gregor to make my series prediction. I said “Oilers in 7, Corey Perry scores in double overtime” and those are words the seems cruel today. Why would I put you through that? I won’t ever make a prediction like that again. Promise.

Everything about this series is supercharged, under a microscope. I do believe we can say that Kris Knoblauch has delivered a Scotty Bowman spring, Knoblauch’s deployment providing the ideal sinew for a roster both brilliant and flawed at once.

I’m thinking today of the bets. Who whispered in Peter Chiarelli’s ear a trade up was needed for Stuart Skinner? I believe it was Bob Green. What if the Oilers had drafted Jesper Wallstedt? Would Skinner still be on the roster? Is it possible the Oilers got the right guy for the right moment, and the critics come to believe it to be true?

Philip Broberg is another player who endured all manner of critical comments, and I doubt those throwing arrows and darts will retract statements. That’s how social media works, and that’s a shame. One thing I am thankful for is the fact that several prospect evaluators will have to alter the story on Broberg, Skinner and others.

I’ve always believed you need to let a prospect tell you what he is, and that takes time. I’ve always said five years, but Brandon Davidson spiked in year six so it’s a guideline as opposed to a rule. All of the young Oilers, from Evan Bouchard to Ryan McLeod and the names mentioned above, have both spent time in the collective outhouse of fan base feelings and delivered significant positives to what is now a team that will be remembered forever.

What may come tomorrow will be memorable no matter the score. It’s important to remember that luck will play a part, and no matter what happens there will be critics waiting with buckets of rain in the aftermath. That is, sadly, human nature.

We are witnessing history, the best kind since no real harm will come to anyone. Bless you Oilers, for the best sports spring of my lifetime. Respect to the Florida Panthers, who have proven to be worthy of a brilliant final chapter of a season for the ages.

We wait, but just for one day.

“Well,” said Pooh, “What I like best” and then he had to stop and think, because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. -AA Milne.

oilers 23-24oilers 23-24 games

All Gas, No Brakes – (2024)
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