When we look at the Edmonton Oilers and their failure of 2017-18, it’s evident that the seeds of that failure were planted partly by both the failure and success the Oilers had against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2017 playoffs.
Edmonton — a team that had not made the playoffs in the decade and had been monumentally bad in that time period — took the powerful Ducks to seven games. In doing so, Edmonton came within one game of making the NHL’s Final Four. Perhaps if the refereeing had been competent in the series, the Oilers would have advanced.
Today, talking about that series and reflecting on how things had gone so bad, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli told TSN’s Ryan Rishaug that like most observers he had expected Edmonton to pick up where it left off in the Anaheim series.
But not to be.
It’s my own hypothesis that five things that came about in relation to that Ducks series greatly impacted the Oilers this year, all of them in negative fashion.
Andrej Sekera’s injury. This is the most obvious down side from the series, as Sekera was knocked out of it on a Ryan Getzlaf hit. He suffered a knee injury that required surgery and only now is he back in the line-up, though perhaps he came back too soon. Last year he was the Oil’s best d-man. Since his return he’s been leaking scoring chances and goals against at an alarming rate. Of course, all teams experience injury, but Sekera was both a strong performer last year and also a player who allowed other less experienced d-men, Oscar Klefbom in particular, to take on a less difficult role. Thrown into the deep end of big minutes against tough competition this year, Klefbom failed to stay afloat.
Jordan Eberle’s weak play. On a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle finished up strong in the 2016-17 regular season, playing some of his best two-way hockey in years. He kept up a decent level against the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the playoffs, but his game came unglued against the big, physical Ducks. Reporters, bloggers and fans turned on him in fierce fashion. Even his coach had a choice comment about his poor play. If Eberle had somehow managed to play his “A” game, or even his “B” game, against the Ducks, staying in Edmonton might have been much more of an option. As it was, moving him out seemed almost an act of mercy. In retrospect, though, Eberle’s usual 55 to 60 points would have been a major boost to the Oilers this year, especially as young wingers like Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev have failed to take flight and the Oilers have moved slowly with Jesse Puljujarvi.
Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev’s strong play. Against the Ducks two young wingers, Caggiula and Slepyshev, played so well they earned spots on the Oil’s top two lines by the end of the series. Much was expected …read more
Source:: Edmonton Journal – Sports