Why the Edmonton Oilers being in the NHL final four is a good thing

Why the Edmonton Oilers Being in the Final Four is a Good Thing

The 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have been a thing of beauty.  There has been some great hockey being played.  Teams are more evenly matched than ever with five of the eight opening rounds series going to a seventh and deciding game (the first time that has happened in NHL history). 

For fans in Canada, three Canadian-based teams qualified for the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers.  Only the Oilers remain as they enter the final four and the Conference Finals.  Toronto has been unable to get out of the first round since 2004 as they lost yet another game seven, this time to the two-time defending Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. After taking out Dallas in seven games, the Flames who were heavy favorites to beat the Oilers in round two, were defeated quite handily by the Oilers in five games.  With that the Edmonton Oilers are the last Canadian team standing.  This is a good thing for the NHL and hockey fans.

Making the final four in one of the world’s greatest tournaments is no easy feat.  This is the Oilers first trip there since 2006.  They will play the heavy Cup favourites Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference final, while Tampa Bay prepares to move to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third consecutive year as they await the winner of tonight’s game seven victor in either the New York Rangers or Carolina Hurricanes.

Before I touch in why the Edmonton Oilers making the final four in this year’s playoffs is a good thing, lets see how they got here.

Edmonton Oilers 2022 Playoff Run thus far…

The Oilers entered the 2022 playoffs after finishing second in the Pacific Division with 104 points.  Their opponent in the first round would be the Los Angeles Kings. 

Game #1: Los Angeles 5 at Edmonton 4 – a Mike Smith gaff on a third period Kings goals saw the Kings take the opening game in Edmonton 4-3.  Game recap.

Game #2: Los Angeles 0 at Edmonton 6 – After a scoreless first period, the Oilers cored three in the second and three in the third as Mike Smith earned the shutout in a 6-0 win by the home team to even up the series at a game apiece. 

Game #3: Edmonton: 8 at Los Angeles 2 – Evander Kane pumped a hattrick as Kane, Codi Ceci, Zach Hyman, and Ryan Nugent Hopkins all had three points each as the Oilers trounced the Kings in LA.  Game recap.

Game #4: Edmonton 0 at Los Angeles 4 – Troy Stether scored the game winner as the Kings blanked the Oilers 4-0 to draw even in the series.  After scoring 14 goals in the previous two games, the Oilers perhaps were a little overconfident thinking that they had the series intact.  Not the case as the Kings continued to fire a ton of shots at the Oilers net.

Game #5: Los Angeles 5 at Edmonton 4 OT – The Kings lead most of the game, until Connor McDavid willed his team back in with a feverous flurry late in the third, as the Oilers tied the game to force overtime for the first time in the series.  With 4:52 left I the third, Leon Draisaitl scored his second goal in less than three minutes to send Oilers fans buzzing as OT loomed.  One minute and twelve seconds in the Oilers let Adrian Kempe Waltz right in and bury his second of the night as the Kings stunned the Oilers with an early overtime victory and took three games to two lead in the series.  Perhaps this is just what the doctor ordered for the Oilers though… Game recap.

Game 6: Edmonton 4 at Los Angeles 2 – with their season on the line, Connor McDavid had another great performance.  With a goal and an assist, McDavid willed the Oilers to victory as the Oilers won the game to force an exciting game seen.  Tyson Barrie with the winner as Evander Kane added an empty-netter.

Game #7:  Los Angeles 0 at Edmonton 2 – again with their season on the line, Connor McDavid had one of his finest performances of his career.  While Codi Ceci would score the winner, Connor McDavid was relentless on the key insurance goal of the game.  Like Wayne Gretzky before him, Connor McDavid would not be denied on a series of backhand attempt as he buried a goal to guarantee the series for the Oilers.  Throughout the series McDavid threw huge body checks, played well defensively and made timely hockey plays that resulted in key goals in the series.  The Oilers advanced to round two for the first time since 2017.  Game recap.

Round Two:  Finally, Another Battle of Alberta

After the Calgary Flames dodged a bit of a scare from the Dallas Stars, the meeting was set.  The first Battle of Alberta playoff edition to take place in 31 years was set.  The Flames came in as heavy favourites as many were picking them to win the series in five games.  In fact, there was a post where 24 of 27 hockey writers and broadcasters picked the Flames to win the series  Even the Great One himself, predicted that the Flames would win the series.  Another Oiler great, Mark Messier, was one of the few who picked the Oilers as he called the series in six games for the Oilers.

Game One: Edmonton 6 at Calgary 9 – “six goals should be enough to win a playoff game..” indeed.  In one of the wildest playoff games in history, Flames fans were overjoyed as the Flames scored 26 seconds into the game and then Andrew Mangiapane scored 25 seconds later to make it 2-0 Calgary.  Six minutes later the Flames scored again to make it 3-0 before Connor McDavid would score about a minute later to get the Oilers on the board.  After the third Flames goal, Mike Smith was out and Mikko Koskinen got his first playoff action of the season. The game was 6-2 Flames at the mid-point of the game.  Then the craziness continued as the Oilers scored four straight goals to tie the game at six.  Two in a row in a similar fashion by Zach Hyman, then Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto early in the third evened it up for the Oilers.  That was as close as they would come as the team just couldn’t get a save on this night.  The Flames would score three to end it for a 9-6 final.  Looked like more of a CFL score between the Stamps and the Elks rather than an NHL playoff game. Game Recap.

Game #2: Edmonton 5 at Calgary 3 – the Oilers bounced back with a very strong effort from Leon Draisaitl, Duncan Keith and Connor McDavid with Draisaitl and Keith each collecting a goal and two assists.  The Oilers got the split and now had home ice advantage going back to Edmonton for game three.

Game #3: Calgary 1 at Edmonton 4 – a natural hattrick in the second period from Evander Kane was the difference in game three as the Oilers beat the Flames 4-1 to take a two games to one series lead. Game recap.

Game #4: Calgary 3 at Edmonton 5 – the Oilers got off to a 3-0 lead in the first period before the Flames clawed back with three goals of their own including the tying goal in the third period on one of the weirdest goals you will ever see. Rasmus Anderson slapped one on Mike Smith from about 120 feet out, that Mike Smith didn’t even see. Another Mike Smith error results in a tie game. However Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second of the night to make it 4-3 in what would be the game winner. Nugent-Hopkins probably played his best playoff game for the Oilers on this night. Evander Kane scored his second of the evening into an empty net as the Oilers shocked the Flames to take a 3-1 series lead. Game recap.

Game #5: Edmonton 4 at Calgary 4 OT – THE #BOA delivered in what was arguably the most exciting series in the playoffs to this point.  Heading back to Calgary, many suggested there was not way the Flames would lose game five, fully expecting the team to return to Edmonton for game six a couple of nights later.  It looked that way too as the Flames jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from Mangiapane and Mikael Backlund.  However, the Oilers had other thoughts.  About two minutes after Backlund scored in the second period to make it 2—0, the Oilers got on the board on a goal from Darnell Nurse.  Two minutes after that, Jesse Puljujarvi scored to tie it up.  Late in the third the teams were tied at four when IT happened.   After a big save from Markstrom, the Flames went down and appeared to score a good goal.  However the officials stopped to take a look as Blake Coleman had crashed the net.  Thinking there was no goaltender interference, the Flames and their fans were sure that their team was in the lead.  However reply for the goal showed that Coleman directed the puck into the net with his foot.  In a play that will debated for years, the goal was called back.  My opinion on this play is that had Coleman just let the puck go (and not touched it), it was going in regardless and would have been a good goal.  Flames fans were upset and rightfully so, but I do feel that the correct call was made.  Of course, you know what happens next.  Just over five minutes into overtime, Connor McDavid seals the fate on the Flames season as the Oilers eliminate the Calgary Flames. Game recap.

With that the Edmonton Oilers became the second team to advance to the final four.   One night later, the Avalanche would defeat the St. Louis Blues to win their series and a Colorado/Edmonton Western Conference final was born.

This should be a great series as these team had three glorious matchups during the regular season.  I was at the final game between the Avs and Oilers in Edmonton, the night the Oilers won 6-3 and secured their spot in the 2022 NHL playoffs.  If those games are any indication this should be a high-paced exciting series to watch.  Which brings us to the topic of this post:

Why the Edmonton Oilers Being in the Final Four is a Good Thing

For Oilers fans it has been a longtime coming.  The franchise was gifted Connor McDavid and until now have not enjoyed a lot of playoff success.  This year is different, this is not the same Oilers teams as years past.  As a result here are couple of reasons why the Oilers making the final four is a good thing.

#1. First and foremost Canadian content – it is never a bad thing when a Canadian team reaches the final four.  With the league now home to 32 teams and 78% of those teams being located south of the border, it is not an easy task for a Canadian team to make the NHL’s final four in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  So for Canadian fans, whether you like them or not, the Oilers are this year’s version of the last Canadian team standing.

#2. The Marketability of NHL Stars – Connor McDavid is off the charts good.  Most of us know that but now with four teams left a Nathan Mackinnon/Cale Makar vs. Connor McDavid/Leon Draisaitl matchup does not suck.  In fact, if these players continue to perform as they have been, this could be a series for the ages.  You have to think that they NHL is smiling ear to ear, especially when you hear comments from other leagues (NBA) that they wish they had marquee matchups similar to that of what we are seeing in the NHL.  The New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Colorado Avalanche and defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning are the final five teams.  That is not a bad thing for the National Hockey League.

#3. Best of the Best – all of the teams that are left are very good hockey teams.  Colorado was the top team in the league during the regular season, Tamp Bay is the two-time defending Stanly Cup Champions, and Edmonton has arguable two of the world’s greatest players in the game today.

#4.  History – the NHL has a storied history and look at all of the potential story lines that could unfold here:

  • At the time of this writing, you could have a potential Eastern Conference matchup of the New York Rangers vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • You have the powerhouse Colorado Avalanche with some of the games best players and arguably best offensive defenseman in the game (Makar)
  • You have the most electrifying player, Connor McDavid, playing with passion and determination to bring a championship to a franchise with a strong history and long championship drought.
  • You have the potential for David vs. Goliath and a small market vs. large market series.
  • You have the formation of a true, modern dynasty should Tampa Bay three-peat
  • You have potential for one of the best goaltenders in the game (Vasilevksy) to play against the awesome fire power of a Nathan Mackinnon, Cale Makar or Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid.
  • You have the great diversity of players such as the likes of Nazem Kadri, Darnell Nurse, Pierre-Edouard Bellemarre and Ethan Bear
  • You could have a potential rematch of the 2006 Stanley Cup Championship between the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes
  • You could have a SCF between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche

#5. It’s long overdue – having the Edmonton Oilers in the final four of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs is long overdue.  The Oilers haven’t been to the final four in 17 years.  Should they go the finals and ultimately win the Cup, they would be the first Canadian team to do so since 1993, when the Montreal Canadiens won their last Cup.  The NHL needs this.  It needs a smaller market team, a Canadian team town the Cup.  It’s simply been too long.

Looking to watch the Avs / Oilers series?  It gets kicked off tomorrow with game one in Denver.  Enjoy hockey fans, enjoy.

2022 Edmonton Oilers vs. Colorado Avalanche Conference Final Schedule

Should a game seven be required, the teams will play on Sunday, June 12th to decide who represents the team from the West in the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals. One of these teams is eight wins away from the Stanley Cup.