JONES: Edmonton Oilers playoff atmosphere could very well be unmatched

Maybe Kane, Draisaitl, McDavid and their teammates are all getting an assist for helping Edmonton fans reach a new level. Or maybe reaching that level inspired the Oilers themselves to create their fabulous win to win the Pacific Division Finals.

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The hockey world enters Game 4 on Tuesday raving about the Edmonton Oilers’ inspired performance to win Game 3 over the stunned Calgary Flames, 4-1.

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Puck fans around the world rejoice in Evander Kane’s natural hat trick to bring nearly 800 hats onto the ice, to make it 10 goals in 10 playoff games.

They rave about Leon Draisaitl’s Stanley Cup record with four assists in one period.

And above all, they are more than amazed by the greatest hockey player in the world, Connor McDavid, with his ninth multi-point game of this Stanley Cup season and taking him to an even higher level of performance than he has never achieved before.

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But there’s another storyline that involves taking him where he’s never been before heading into Game 4.



Maybe Kane, Draisaitl, McDavid and their teammates are all getting an assist for helping Edmonton fans reach a new level. Or maybe reaching that level inspired the Oilers themselves to create their fabulous victory to clinch the Pacific Division Finals.

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But after their sensational second period of the already historic event with Alberta returning to a Stanley Cup battle for the first time in 31 years, I found four people in the press box more than qualified to testify of the state of the amazing atmosphere in Place Rogers.

You’d be hard pressed to find a person who’s seen more gold medal games at the World Junior and World Olympic and International Ice Hockey Federation championships, let alone their Stanley Cup playoff games. attended, former Hockey Canada chief and current Oilers president Bob Nicholson.

“I’ve been to many gold medal games and I’ve never seen anything like we have here for this hockey game
“It’s the ultimate thing I’ve seen. The ultimate!

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“I’m including the 2010 Vancouver Olympics when I say that. That crowd is more electric than that one,” Nicholson said of the night Sidney Crosby scored the golden goal.

“It’s been just amazing. Inside. Outside. We had over 7,000 people outside in the Ice District. And Rogers Place here has never been like this.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with 25 consecutive playoff years with the Detroit Red Wings, thought he hadn’t heard many crowds to compare to the one he saw in Edmonton in 2006, when Fernando Pisani led the Oilers to upset the President’s Trophy-winning Wings in the first round.

“It’s amazing. It’s not just the people in the building. I live across the street in a condo and when I went out to go to the game it was two or three blocks houses of people trying to get into this outdoor space,” Holland said. “The other night there were over 15,000 people here watching our game from Calgary.

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“I was on the other side in 2006. These fans can take their team to victory. You feel the emotion, the passion. It’s just amazing.

In 27 years of covering three or four playoff rounds per season for various agencies, often jumping from series to series in the first two rounds, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun has experienced virtually every playoff atmosphere.

“It gave me chills from the anthem to begin with,” LeBrun said of anthem singer Robert Clark standing in the spotlight in the crowd and singing the opening lines of O Canada and raising his microphone. up in the air for 18,347 to sing it full volume the rest of the way.

“It’s going to show you, I think, that this city knows it when it sees it – knows what the game should look like.

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“In all the years that I covered the NHL, I would put Edmonton and Montreal up there as the only two crowds – maybe Chicago was up there for a while – where you’re not a human being. if you don’t have the chills. Montreal and Edmonton have the best playoff atmospheres in the NHL.

Of all the people in the building, including Edmonton product and international soccer superstar Alphonso Davies, a Bayern Munich native, sitting in the stands wearing an Oilers jersey, my favorite to testify was Steve Mayer.

Mayer decided to return to Edmonton to experience the scene after directing, producing and even engineering the Hub City bubble’s 81 Stanley Cup Playoff games that took place in Edmonton without fans in the stands at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus two seasons ago.

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“That’s what we all live for. To have that kind of crowd, to have that energy… We tried our best to never duplicate what we’re going through tonight. This is amazing. It’s incredible.

“It’s cool for me to go from the last time I was in the building to now. I will never forget what we all did in Edmonton in the bubble for the rest of my life. And I won’t forget it either.

“The audience is special. First of all, the understanding of hockey here and this rivalry… I get goosebumps watching this game. It’s so, so special. And I don’t know if these fans here realize how cool that is. They take it to a whole new level. It’s awesome. I love it.”

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @byterryjones

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