Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Canucks vs Oilers Series Ends, How Else? Dramatically

The Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers second round 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoff series ends with the team that was supposed to win moving on. But they needed to change how they played, who they played, and what they were playing for to do it.

Canucks and Oilers Series Ends Hard

No one said this was going to be easy. But the best stories aren’t, are they? One series went the distance in round two of the playoffs, and it nearly went longer. The Canucks comeback in the last ten minutes of regulation fell just a goal short. They wouldn’t have deserved it based on their play, but it would have been fun!

This series had a couple of easy-to-spot considerations. First and foremost is the speed of Edmonton against the structure of Vancouver. The Canucks played a steady, rely-on-the-system game all year long and it brought them to the top of the Pacific Division in the 2023-24 regular season. No one left Rogers Arena early on Monday, despite their team generating virtually nothing for two periods. The reason is because the Canucks have made a habit of comeback wins all season, including in the playoffs.

For Edmonton, it took an early season coaching change to find their feet. Eventually, they utilized their top-end talent to win. Special teams were the Oilers’ bread and butter, ending the regular season with the fourth best overall power play at 26.3%. More than that, their penalty kill improved dramatically in the playoffs, and that decided this series. Their penalty kill is first in the playoffs at 91.4%.

The Special Teams were Being Special

Fallout references aside, if Vancouver were going to get past Edmonton it would be by outscoring their deadly power play. It’s fine to tell a team to “stay out of the box” but if no one tells the referees that, then you’re going to have penalties.

Edmonton obliterated the Los Angeles Kings, killing off every penalty and scoring nine power play goals in five games. The Oilers power play had less luck against Vancouver but still outscored them 6-3 in the seven-game set.

A perfect encapsulation came in Game 7 when the Canucks had an early four-minute advantage but couldn’t score. They could barely get the chance to as Edmonton shut down opportunities before they started. In return, the Oilers went 1-for-2 and won the game by a single goal.

Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks Game 7: Canada Will Be Tuned In

Bar the Door

While Vancouver’s goaltender change was forced upon them, Edmonton’s was done out of desperation. Stuart Skinner was often left out to dry on Vancouver’s chances, and he was pulled in Game 3 of the series. Calvin Pickard came in, taking the net for the next two games, a win and a loss.

But the Oilers weren’t just having issues in net. The team looked frustrated and static. Head Coach Kris Knoblauch decided to switch back to Skinner for Game 6 at home, and it worked. Skinner was fine, but more than that the team played much harder for him than they had previously. That game was the only one in the Canucks and Oilers series that ended with more than one goal separating the teams. They kept Vancouver to just 15 shots on net, and while they didn’t get any power play goals, neither did the Canucks. That momentum remained with the team into Game 7.

Canucks and Oilers Series Ends, Vancouver and Edmonton Rivalry Begins?

The final game had plenty of drama, making fans of both teams happy. The arena had chants for J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Arturs Silovs at various times in the third. Edmonton fought off the surging Canucks late, bending but not breaking against a squad that broke many, many teams before.

Conor Garland bringing the team to life with less than nine minutes left and Filip Hronek finally getting his first NHL Playoff goal were highlights for the losing side. Evan Bouchard continuing his emergence as a blueline force was just what the Oilers fans wanted to see. In fact, the defence was crucial to both sides when they were having trouble scoring up front. The Oilers got 22 points from their oft-maligned blueline, and the Canucks had 18 from theirs. Those contributions got each team through scoring droughts among certain, unnamed forwards.

For two teams who hadn’t met in the playoffs in thirty years, there was plenty of feeling in this one. Bad blood built up, but with nearly every game decided by a single goal, emotions had to come out in hits rather than fights. The Vancouver Canucks may have lost this series after having a 3-2 lead, but they served notice. In case anyone wasn’t paying attention during the regular season, this team can win in the playoffs, too. For the Edmonton Oilers, they are in the Western Conference Final again after missing last year. Their goal hasn’t changed, and they won’t be rebuilding anything any time soon.

And if their fans are very lucky, these two teams will clash again in the playoffs soon and often. After all, they had thirty years to make up for.

Main photo credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message