'Really, really eager to get this going': Oilers primed for return to playoff hockey
EDMONTON -- It's been nine months since the Edmonton Oilers last played post-season hockey, but players say the sting of last season still lingers.
Last year's playoff run was short-lived following a three-games-to-one defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks in the qualifying round.
"We didn't get the result we wanted," forward Connor McDavid said of last year's defeat.
"We've learned lots of lessons with this group over the time I've been here. It's time to put those to work."
The team is nearly set to return to action with Game 1 of their first-round, best-of-seven series against the Winnipeg Jets set for Wednesday night at 7 p.m. MT.
The teams met nine times in North Division regular season play, with the Oilers winning seven of those contests.
"We have a pretty good idea of what they're like and what they're trying to do," said McDavid. "It's a race to four and that's all that matters.
Despite the regular season dominance McDavid says his team isn't taking the Jets lightly.
"You hear lots of them talking about how they got to shut us down but we have to shut them down. Their transition game is as good as anyone. They've got a great power play. "
REGULAR SEASON ROLL
The Oilers had a strong regular season, finishing second in the North Division with 35 wins in 56 games, good for 72 points, five back of division winner Toronto.
McDavid won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer, tallying 105 points over 56 games.
Teammate Leon Draisaitl finished second in scoring with 84 points in 56 games. No other NHL player surpassed 70 points over the course of the season.
"The expectations are a lot higher," said defenceman Adam Larsson.
"We have some star players on our squad so I think the expectations will always be there."
Aside from last year's qualifying round series against Chicago, the Oilers' last playoff appearance came in 2017. The team managed a six-game, first round win over the San Jose Sharks before falling in seven games to the Anaheim Ducks.
"We've had a lot of guys who have played a lot of playoff games so I think we're ready to go," said Larsson.
The team has been idle since Saturday after clinching a playoff spot two weeks ago, meaning the long wait continues until tomorrow night.
"We're really, really eager to get this going tomorrow," said Larsson.
"We've been sitting here waiting so we're a hungry group that wants to get going right now."