Biggest Surprise of the 2020-21 NHL Playoffs? The Edmonton Oilers

The 56-game shortened season flew by like a blur didn’t it? Lots of excitement with Canadian fans as the Northwest division unfolded like many thought it would. Some interesting happenings including:

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs somewhat coasting to a Division title
  • The Edmonton dominance over the Ottawa Senators winning all nine games the team played
  • The struggles of the Calgary Flames
  • The Vancouver Canucks being hammered by COVID
  • The Edmonton Oilers going 7-2 and easily handling the Winnipeg Jets

Wait that last point… the Stanley Cup Playoffs started last Wednesday for the Canadian team and not even a week later the Edmonton Oilers are on the verge of being eliminated, or worse yet being swept. After last night’s epic collapse by the Oilers, the Jets are on the verge of doing two things that they have never done. Beat the Oilers in an NHL playoff series and sweep the Oilers. In fact Jets 2.0 had never gone up 3-0 in a series prior to this installments playoffs.

As Mark Spector wrote, “Up 4-1 with eight minutes to play in the most crucial game of their season, the Edmonton Oilers folded up like a cheap tent Sunday night, losing 5-4 in overtime.” No one and I mean no one saw this coming. Not even, and especially, the Winnipeg Jets. After a promising regular season, many expected the Oilers to dispose of the Jets in five maybe six games. Yet some Oilers fans, and rightfully so, knew that a team with the reigning Vezina trophy winner can take a team for a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Still for all hockey fans and pundits, this is the surprise of the playoffs. Sure the Jets are a good team, but did anyone, and we mean anyone see them being up 3-0 against the Oilers with a chance to sweep on home ice?

If you’ve watched the game, you will have seen the Jets play well, albeit with some of that dull, boring trap style hockey. We know, we know, its playoff hockey… but it doesn’t make it right (or fun) to watch. When you have the games fastest, most electrifying player in Connor McDavid being interfered with, hooked, held and slowed down by any means necessary, it just doesn’t look right. He’s not complained, he’s attempted to work through it and has started to find cracks in the defensive armor of the Jets, but he’s one player. He can’t do it alone. He deserves a better fate and dare I say the Oilers deserve a better fate. Yes it takes four games to win a series, and that forth win is always one of the hardest to obtain, but the Jets have all of the momentum and a lot of confidence to close this series out.

Give the Winnipeg Jets credit, they have played very well and probably won a couple of games they should not have. The Oilers just seem hard-pressed to overcome elements that they are facing. We’ve heard people suggest that the Oilers are a specialty or power-play team and that in the playoffs the powerplay goes away. This is definitely the case, but it makes you wonder if that is the way that it should be? I mean we are on the verge of not having Connor McDavid and Leo Draisaitl be in the second round of the playoffs. It just does not seem right when some of the world’s best players are not playing while other “non-household name” players are.

Dave Tippet is a good hockey coach, but his playoff record leaves a little to be desired. One could question some of the roster insertions on the backend especially. I mean players have been working hard. It is sad to think that tonight’s game could be the last in an Oilers uniform for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Oilers fans deserve better.