The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets, losing 4-3 in triple overtime in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup first round on Monday.
Edmonton (35-19-2) was the No. 2 seed in the Scotia North Division but was swept away by No. 3 Winnipeg, losing the last three games of the Top-7 series in overtime. The Oilers had won seven of nine regular season games against the Jets.
Here’s a look at what happened during the 2021 playoffs for the Oilers and why things could be even better next season:
Potential unrestricted free agents: Ryan nugent-hopkins, F; Alex Chiasson, F; Tyler Ennis, F; Gaetan Haas, F; Joakim Nygard, F; Patrick russell, F; Adam larsson, RE; Tyson barrie, RE; Dmitry Kulikov, RE; Slater koekkoek, RE; Mike smith; G.
Restricted potential free agents: Jujhar khaira, F; Dominik kahun, F; Kailer yamamoto, F; Devin Shore, F.
Potential picks in the 2020 NHL Draft: 5
What did not go well
Too much to ask: Edmonton was outscored 14-8 in the series and scored two goals in four games when Connor mcdavid and Leon Draisaitl were not on the ice. McDavid and Draisaitl were the two top scorers in the NHL during the regular season, but carrying so much of the offensive burden was a near impossible task. Each player was dropped from the scoresheet in Games 1 and 2. Draisaitl scored five points (two goals, three assists) and McDavid scored four points (one goal, three assists) in Games 3 and 4 combined, but it was not. t enough with little support.
Unable to close: The inability to lock in a three-goal lead in Game 3 was a harbinger of the series result. The Oilers were 26-1-2 in the regular season as they led after two periods, but lost a 4-1 lead with less than nine minutes left in Game 3 and lost Nikolaj Ehlers‘goal at 9:13 of extra time. In Game 4, Edmonton led 3-2 after two but Kyle connor scored to win the series at 6:52 behind third OT.
Style setting: Speed ââwas a weapon for the Oilers during the regular season, led by McDavid’s heavy hands, thinking and skating, and their rush play was a dangerous issue for any opponent. The Jets had more skilled forwards, but when they committed to getting in the way with bodies and sticks, they slowed down and made the game difficult. With less clean odds, McDavid’s shooting percentage was 6.7%, up from 16.5 in the regular season. Draisaitl was 8.3 percent, down from 18.5.
The reasons for optimism
Attractive core: Edmonton has McDavid and Draisaitl, a brace down center and the two most recent champions, to build. Add an emerging advocate Nurse Darnell and the Oilers have a core of leadership that should be stable and mature for many seasons to come.
Build a defense: The Oilers will be motivated to retain potential unrestricted free agents Barrie, who led NHL defensemen with 48 points (eight goals, 40 assists), and Larsson (10 points; four goals, six assists). They will also have to determine if Oscar Klefbom can resume his hockey career after the defenseman is out of play this season and had shoulder surgery on March 26. Edmonton has excellent defensive prospects in the system led by Philippe Broberg, a 19-year-old who was the 8th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Evan bouchard, a 21-year-old first-round pick (10th in 2018 NHL Draft), looks close to a full-time role with the Oilers after scoring five points (two goals, three assists) in 14 NHL games this past season. Broberg and Bouchard were on the playoff list but did not play.
Foundation in place: Coach Dave Tippett has made strides in getting the Oilers to understand the need to play with more determination and diligence without the puck. Edmonton was 11th in goals against per game (2.75), better than the 3.03 per game (17th) they gave up last season, and its point percentage fell from 0.585 to 0.643.