Coming into tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks, many Oilers fans probably could have been forgiven for viewing the Oilers season with an overwhelming sense of futility.
With the Oilers dropping three straight with a playoff position on the line -- and particularly, only needing to win to maintain a 7th place finish in the Western Conference -- Oilers fans had very little reason to continue to be patient with this team.
No doubt this is one of the many things that led to the planning of an anti-Craig MacTavish rally today, demanding his termination of head coach.
Accustomed to getting their way in regards to players they become disenchanted with -- Mike Comrie, Cory Cross, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Joffrey Lupul have all felt the sting of this tendency -- Oilers fans seem genuinely perplexed by Darryl Katz's recent declaration that firing MacTavish is not on his agenda.
Even if keeping MacTavish is, arguably, a bad decision fans have to admire Katz's will to stand up to the fans.
With the Oilers chances of making the playoffs extremely slim and their fate no longer in their own hands, many Oilers fans likely expected very little going into tonight's game.
But the Oilers themselves knew what was on the line in this game tonight: the chance to prove that this season, and the two seasons previous, were not futile.
That task isn't over yet, and won't be over until the Oilers deliver on an inspired, passionate playoff drive. But tonight's game was an important first step. Three more wins -- better yet, a playoff spot -- and they have an opportunity to make an important statement.
But they have to play with the passion and determination that they played with tonight.
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