"Especially at home, it sucks. The building was quiet and people aren’t happy”
By Steven Sandor | June 6, 2022
“I don’t believe in no-win scenarios” — James Tiberius Kirk
“We felt, after the third, that it was our time, we were on the attack and we had momentum on our side. It sucks (for Edmonton). We’ve been there. We lost a three-goal lead to St. Louis at home. Especially at home, it sucks. The building was quiet and people aren’t happy” — Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon
Like Captain Kirk, the Oilers faced their Kobayashi Maru last night.
For those of you who don’t dominate the “Star Trek” category in your local pub’s trivia night, the Kobayashi Maru is Starfleet Academy’s most challenging test. It is a no-win scenario.
The KM issues a distress call from Klingon space. The ship has drifted into enemy territory. Their crew begs for help. As a starship captain, you have to go, you have to attempt a rescue, but you know you will be met by hostile Klingon warships who won’t be interested in hearing your explanations as to why you crossed into their territory. Worse yet, you have to drop your ship’s shields in order to transport the crew of the Kobayashi Maru to your ship. In the meantime, you will be pummeled by Klingon armaments.
The only possible solution is for your ship — and the KobayashiMaru — to be destroyed. It is meant to be a test of character — how a cadet would react in a situation that spells death?
And this is what the Edmonton Oilers faced late in the third period of Monday’s must-win game against the Colorado Avalanche. Down three games to none in the Western Conference Final, the Oilers had stormed to a 4-2 lead over the Colorado Avalanche. Leon Draisaitl, despite limping back to bench several times on his injured ankle, had set up three goals.
But, then the Klingons, er, the Avalanche, struck. Gabriel Lansdeskog, MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen scored in the span of less than six minutes to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead.
The Oilers had dropped their shields, and they were getting pummeled.
There are those of us who filled up the brain cells that were meant to come up with the cure for cancer with Star Trek minutia, instead. We know that a cadet named James Kirk became the first (and only) person in Starfleet Academy history to beat the Kobayashi Maru scenario.
While Kirk beat it by breaking into the simulator the night before and reprogramming the computers, the Oilers got a late goal from Zack Kassian, tucking in a rebound from a Draisaitl shot, to tie the game. To save the season. To send the game to overtime. For Draisaitl, it was the fourth helper of the night.
But, like every other cadet not named Kirk, the Oilers could not escape what this Starfleet test is meant to do — to destroy their ships. Artturi Lehkonen knocked home a rebound just over a minute into overtime — and the goal survived a review for a possible high stick. The Oilers season was over. On the goal, Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar picked up his fifth point of the night.
“The coaches said it was good, the call on the ice was a goal,” said MacKinnon of watching the goal celebration be interrupted by a video review. “It didn’t look high from the bench. I didn’t even think it could be high. But, obviously, you get a little scared. You get that rush of dopamine and go crazy and think, ‘oh, no, it could be coming back.’ But at that point, it wouldn’t have mattered, we would have kept going and got the win.”
Like the Oilers, the Avalanche suffered through some truly horrible seasons. Five years ago, the Avs owned the worst record in the NHL. And then, as they built, the Avs suffered a number of playoff defeats.
So, maybe the Oilers, can take some advice from Landeskog.
“Losing in the second round three years in row was tough,” he said. “But you’ve got to trip a few times on the finish line before you cross it.”