Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

McDavid will not play for Canada at worlds

McDavid will not play for Canada at worlds

The conference final is set to begin on Friday in Anaheim, with the first two games being played at Honda Center, before Games Three, Four and Six* (*if necessary) will be at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. "Yeah, we expect nothing else this time", he said. The previous two times the Penguins eliminated the Capitals, they went on to win the Stanley Cup. "It's going to be another big challenge going forward".

Entering the playoffs for the first time since an unexpected run to the 2006 Stanley Cup finals, the Oilers defied modest expectations and the constant reminder that their roster was populated mostly by players with little to no playoff experience.

From a personal standpoint, I was rooting for Edmonton to beat Anaheim in their Western Conference semifinal series because the Oilers play such an entertaining style of hockey. "The most frustrating part is we were right there".

"There are not a lot of positive thoughts after a night like this", said the defenceman who came to Edmonton in a trade for Taylor Hall and become a core member of what will unquestionably projected as a top of the tables team going forward.

Even with plenty of hope on the horizon, even with a remarkable 47-26-9 season in which McDavid inspired comparisons to the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers dynasty of the 1980s, there was a certain incredulousness that it was all over.

The first two games in the other series haven't been the best, but we found a way to win and that's what the playoffs are about. With their season done, there was still a sense of missed opportunity and definitely residual frustration over what they felt was a missed goalie-interference call on Anaheim's last-minute tying goal in Game 5.

"To start the game, it didn't feel like the conference finals, to be honest", Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said Saturday after a short practice at the Ducks' training rink. "It sucks to lose that one". You've got to find a way to win.

Nashville lost two of three to Anaheim in the regular season, one in a shootout. More than anything, it was the Oilers' effort as a team that put the National Hockey League on notice.

Jakob Silfverberg scored his eighth goal of the playoffs (unassisted) to give the Ducks the early lead at 5:15 of the first period. For him to fill that role and step out of McDavid's shadow shows the Oilers have an undoubted one-two punch.

"I looked around the room when we were done and had a minute or two together and the amount of bumps, bruises scrapes and ice bags and just that scrawny looking players is a good sign for us". "We weren't afraid of the stage". We came out well. "I thought we put up a hell of a battle". "He was our leader".

Both of the West finalists are perhaps overdue to be rewarded for years of patient progress with a Stanley Cup Final trip. But as the heart-wrenching loss that ended their season drifted just a bit further into the past, there was a general feeling of optimism that slowly permeated the Edmonton locker room.

However, it was nearly a year ago exactly that the Predators beat the Ducks in Round One of the playoffs. Patrick Maroon envisioned a brighter future for the club.

Going into the season, there were still concerns about whether we would make the playoffs, and even as it looked as though we would make the playoffs, doubt about winning a series.

"I wouldn't say it's a relief, but the fact we don't have to talk about it anymore, that's a good thing", captain Ryan Getzlaf said. Surely they want to play that up against a red-hot Nashville team making its Western Conference Final debut.

And, most importantly, we've seen a young team mature into a strong group that will be tough not to see as a contender next year.

To the Oilers players, know all your fans in this city are proud of what you accomplished, and look forward to what you do next season. "If we told you [in September] that we were taking it to seven in the second series".

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