Josh Manson doesn’t remember much, if anything, about the Edmonton Oilers when his father, Dave, played for them.
Josh wasn’t older than 3, and his boyhood memories are vaguely tinted Oilers’ orange and blue.
“I know there’s a lot of old Edmonton jerseys sitting around our house somewhere,” Josh Manson said. “I don’t know if I’ll be wearing them, especially not lately. Maybe growing up I would have saw them and throw them on, but I think every little kid does that.”
Manson, a Ducks defenseman, will get to see his parents and friends who made the seven-hour drive from Prince Albert, Canada, but that’s the extent of sentimentality the Ducks have as their second-round playoff series against the Oilers shifts to Edmonton starting with Game 3 on Sunday.
The Ducks are attempting a franchise first: a comeback from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. They failed in seven tries, including last season’s Game 7 loss to the Nashville Predators.
“We’ve got a little adversity here,” Manson said. “It’s going to test our character. That’s not the way we want to start the series, obviously, at home. … Now we know it’s even more important to go in there and we’ve got to steal one, at least. It’s going to be a tough test, but we’re up to it.”
Not only are the Ducks going up against the Oilers, but a city heavily invested in Edmonton’s first playoffs in a decade. The Oilers are the pulse of Edmonton, the excitement palpable from the streets to its new arena, Rogers Place.
“It’s energized the community, at least from my perspective,” coach Todd McLellan said. “You can feel the energy driving in the city, from the airport to the rink, a lot of people waving. Just the pleasure level’s gone way up in Edmonton. That part of it is exciting for our group.”
Ducks left wing Jakob Silfverberg (33) and defenseman Brandon Montour (71) collide while double-team Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the second period of Game 2.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Ducks right wing Patrick Eaves (18) watches as a shot on goal hits the post behind Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot during Game 2 at Honda Center on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera (2) is swarmed by his teammates after scoring on Ducks goaltender John Gibson during Game 2 at Honda Center on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Ducks left wing Jakob Silfverberg (33) skates with his head down after a 2-1 loss to the Oilers in Game 2 at Honda Center on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) and right wing Patrick Eaves (18) check Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) into the boards during Game 2 at Honda Center on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Oilers left wing Patrick Maroon (19) scores against Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) to give Edmonton a 2-0 lead in the second period of Game 2 on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Oilers defenseman Matthew Benning (83) steps in front of goaltender Cam Talbot (33) to block a shot from Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) during Game 2 on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Ducks defensemen Hampus Lindholm (47) and Josh Manson (42) double-team Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) during the first period of Game 2 on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Oilers defenseman Andrej Sekera (2) scores on Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) early in the first period of Game 2 at Honda Center on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) and left wing Patrick Maroon (19) react after defenseman Andrej Sekera’s goal in the first period of Game 2 on April 28.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Edmonton center Mark Letestu (55) is called for interference on Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) negating a goal by Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) during the first period of Game 2.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, well aware the intensity of Canadian markets, said the hype is great for the game. He also said the Ducks are is used to the hoopla, having just played the Calgary Flames in the first round. Ducks wing Patrick Eaves said it’s a challenge for an opposing team, to a degree.
“If you allow it to be, I guess it will,” Eaves said. “But I think if we just focus on ourselves, which is what we’re going to do. We’re going to gain energy from it also.”
With two days off between Games 3 and 4, the Ducks will sojourn to Kelowna, Canada, more than 500 miles away, for that break. The idea is to rest and get away from the noise and distractions in Edmonton.
Carlyle is a big believer in team-bonding exercises, such as bowling, to break from routine, and that’s on the table.
“There’s always those options because there’s lots to do there,” Carlyle said. “Sometimes you’re better served just to leave them alone, but in other ways it can work in your favor to have a pool tournament, curling, bike ride … pick one.”
Carlyle did something similar in the 2007 playoffs when he took his players for a group bike ride in Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.
“It was fun and it was a beautiful day and there was lots of laughs,” Carlyle said. “Some guys rode choppers. Some guys rode race bikes. Some guys rode three-wheelers. It was like that kind of event and it seemed to have a nice effect on our group and we were really energized after that.”
The Ducks will have to earn their respite. The central theme from Friday’s 2-1 loss was their ineffectiveness to screen and bother goalie Cam Talbot. Talbot made 39 saves but he saw most shots cleanly and had two goalposts struck by Cam Fowler in the final minutes.
“For whatever reason, it just was one of those games where things didn’t go our way,” Fowler said.
The Ducks mostly feel good about their game, though, on the heels of their first consecutive regulation losses since the first two games of the season.
“We’re getting chances,” Corey Perry said. “It’s going to crack. You have to get in [Talbot’s] eyes. What he can’t see, he can’t stop. That’s the name of the game these days. Someone has to be in front and creating havoc.”
A lot of that responsibility falls on Perry and Eaves. They’ve built their careers on going to the net and turning rebounds into goals.
But “it’s a group effort,” Eaves said. “Everyone has to be on the same page, getting there. It’s also on the puck carrier, too, to get the puck there when people are there. It’s a group thing. We tried do it against Calgary, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Injury and illness updates
Sami Vatanen is “inching closer” to returning from an upper-body injury, Carlyle said. Vatanen took pregame warmups Friday but was scratched.
Kevin Bieksa remains unavailable with a lower-body injury and Carlyle said “he’s going to be out a while. I don’t know if it’s going to be later in the series. That’s the possible option.”
There was no immediate update on Nick Ritchie, who got ill just before warmup and did not play.
“It was full of surprise for him and us,” Carlyle said.
Left wings Ondrej Kase and Nic Kerdiles were recalled Saturday.