Edmonton Oilers not interested in history lessons heading into Round 3

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The Edmonton Oilers aren’t very big on history lessons.

Unless it’s ’80s history, of course.

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But the current crop definitely doesn’t want to hear about things such as what happened last time the club reached the Western Conference final, or how the season series went against their upcoming opponent, the Dallas Stars.

They heard enough of that kind of stuff one round ago, when they were coming up against a Vancouver Canucks squad they had yet to beat after getting swept in four regular-season games.

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None of that mattered by the time the dust settled on an Oilers victory on the road in Game 7 Monday night.

Getting swept in a season series is one thing. But how about getting swept in the playoffs? The conference final round, no less. That’s what happened two years ago when the Oilers ran smack dab into a Colorado Avalanche club that ran over them four straight in a landslide victory.

But Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci didn’t have much to offer from that memory jogging following Wednesday’s practice.

“There’s only four teams left now and everyone’s here for a reason,” said the 30-year-old native of Ottawa, who had just come over from his hometown Ottawa Senators that season. “They’re all great teams and know how to win games, so it just gets tougher and tougher and we’re going to have to bring our A game.”

For the third straight playoffs, the Oilers are facing the top seed in their conference, having gone 1-2-0 against Dallas, who won the regular-season series 2-0-1, including a 5-0 shutout last month.

But again, there was no review of the curriculum requested on behalf of the Oilers heading into Thursday’s series opener at American Airlines Center (6:30 p.m., Sportsnet, CBC).

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“We had to do the same going into the Vancouver series,” Ceci said. “So, that won’t be anything too new for us, but we do have that in the back of our minds that they are a good team and they can make you pay. We know they’re a great team and we know how dangerous they can be off the rush.

“They’re a great team off the rush, we saw that in-season and we’ve seen it in playoffs too,” Ceci said. “So, that’s something we’re going to have to keep an eye on to try and slow them down and just make sure everyone’s above their check coming back.”

Of course, the saying goes those unwilling to learn from history are often doomed to repeat it. And the Oilers want no repetition of the epic failure in that conference final against the Avs.

“Every experience is a little bit different,” said Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse. “I think from the experience of having gone through it once, obviously there’s excitement but also there’s a level of just wanting to play and not really worry about anything else.

“So, I think the excitement level’s definitely there, but I think we’re probably a calmer group going into this one.”

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There was another, perhaps even more obvious lesson to be learned, and that is to try and come in much healthier this time around.

“You can play to your capabilities and not worry about anything else,” said Nurse, who played through a notable nagging injury along with teammate Leon Draisaitl during their last conference final. “Anytime you’re going through things with an injury or whatnot, there’s always a second thought in the back of your mind of that playing throughout the series.

“But when you’re not dealing with that you just go out there and play free, try to maximize your capabilities and play the best you can.”

The Oilers don’t need a cheat sheet to remind them their best chance at turning their fortunes around here in Round 3 will be with the same stalwart defence that helped push them to back-to-back wins to defeat the Canucks.

“Through the playoffs, every team that has success is good defensively,” said Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch. “We have to be a tight-checking team and limit the chances that we give up. We know as a team there will be mistakes and there will be chances and the other team has some really good players that will make some plays.

“But we cannot get away from playing a tight-checking game and limiting the other team’s chances that they get.”

E-mail: [email protected]On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

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