Edmonton Oilers

Edmonton Oilers eliminated from Stanley Cup contention by the Vegas Golden Knights

After falling 5–2 in Game 6 to the Vegas Golden Knights, the Edmonton Oilers have been eliminated from Stanley Cup contention in the 2023 NHL Playoffs. The loss comes as a disappointment, as the Oilers were a Cup favourite heading into the playoffs and were hoping to at the very least match their trip to the Conference Finals from last season.

It was a series marred by ‘what-ifs’ from the Oilers side. The teams traded wins for the first four games, turning it into a best-of-three to close things out. And the Golden Knights took Games 5 and 6 to end the Cup dreams in Edmonton for yet another season.

Connor McDavid led the way in this series with 10 points in six games. Leon Draisaitl had six goals and seven points, though four of those goals came in the first game. Also with seven points was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zach Hyman, and Evan Bouchard. Evander Kane, of note on the other end, had just one assist in the series.

The Golden Knights will advance to the Western Conference Finals to play the winner of the Dallas Stars versus Seattle Kraken series.

What went wrong?

What went wrong for the Oilers? An inability to hold onto a lead and sustain momentum combined with shaky goaltending led to their demise.

In each of the first five games of the series, Edmonton scored the first goal in the first seven minutes of the game. In three of those games, the Golden Knights responded and tied the game within two minutes. Each of those games were ultimately lost. This is a testament to the tenacity of the Golden Knights and the inability of the Oilers to capitalize on the energy generated by a goal.

Stuart Skinner, recently nominated for the Calder Trophy for his efforts during the regular season, was not good enough in the playoffs and particularly in this series. Defence did not always help, but a team that is going to make a deep playoff run needs its goalie to make big saves. The Oilers could not rely on this happening. Often, any momentum the team was gaining was quickly lost due to a weak goal against.

The Oilers will have some major decisions coming up in the upcoming offseason. Most of the core is signed beyond this season, with the exception of Bouchard. The front office will have some decisions to make in order to afford his contract. They will also be looking at the performance in net throughout the season.

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

Sean Laycock

Sean is a stubborn, lifelong Oilers fan who lives by the motto "There is always next year".

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