Heard on Episode 3.30 of AFITC
Last week, one playoff dream died, while another still has a chance to turn from dream into reality. Despite clawing back into the playoff race after many people including GM Cliff Fletcher had left them for dead at the trade deadline, the Maple Leafs playoff dream came to an end with losses in two key games against the Boston Bruins. In the end, it was simply too much to expect the Maple Leafs to win their final nine games for a shot at post season play. As Mats Sundin so accurately stated after the Leafs were officially eliminated from post season contention, “It's disappointing that we didn't learn from the previous two years, that we need to come up with a stronger effort up until Christmas.” Hopefully now, three failed years of trying to make the playoffs in the final fifteen games will show the Leafs it’s not a very good strategy for success.
Out west though, while the Leafs were fighting and clawing to get back into the race, another Canadian team was mounting a valiant fight of their own. Starting the season laden with players in the early part of their careers, the Edmonton Oilers, after being as many as eleven points back of the final playoff spot in the West, have won thirteen of their last eighteen games to pull into a tie for eighth place with the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators. What makes this run even more impressive is that the Oilers have done it without the likes of Sheldon Souray, Ethan Moreau, Shawn Horcoff and starting netminder Mathieu Garon, key veterans all out with injuries. Instead the team has been led by its young core of Andrew Cogliano, Sam Gagner, and Robert Nilsson.
The hill is still steep with the Canucks and Predators each holding two more games in hand than the Oilers. If their miracle run ultimately falls short, it won’t be all bad though. The development seen by their youngsters in the last twenty games has shown the future of the Oilers is indeed in good hands. But hey, all that was just rigamarole.