There’ll be plenty more to discuss during the offseason, but for now, I only have a few thing to say about the Oilers miraculous playoff run.
February 10th, 2022. The Edmonton Oilers have now lost 16 of their last 23 games, they’re five points out of a playoff spot, and the season may as well be over. Dave Tippett has the team spiraling, and Ken Holland has never once fired a Head Coach mid-season in his decades as an NHL general manager. There’s serious concern that McDavid won’t put up with this much longer. The Oilers have hit rock bottom. And then, the unthinkable happened.
On February 10th, 2022, Jay Woodcroft was hired as the 17th Head Coach in Edmonton Oilers history. At the time he was hired, it seemed like a nice change. He’d done some really good things in Bakersfield as the Head Coach of the Oilers AHL affiliate, but realistically, what was he going to do Maybe the Oilers could sneak into the playoff, but the odds of them making any real splash in the spring certainly weren’t high. But here we are, in the month of June, and the Edmonton Oilers have just been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference Finals.
Never in my time watching this team, has a season not left me disappointed and devastated. The Oilers just lost their biggest playoff series in 16 years, and while I obviously wish they could’ve finished the job, I’m not sad, I’m not disappointed, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m happy to be an Oilers fan. Think about it this way, imagine if four months ago, I told you that not only would the Oilers make the playoffs, not only would they advance to the second round, but they would beat the Calgary Flames to advance to the Conference Finals. You would call me delusional. Obviously, the Cup is always the ultimate goal, but for Oilers fans, it would be hard to ask for anything more than what actually happened.
This was Connor McDavid’s seventh season in the NHL, and his sixth season as the unquestionably best player on the planet. Up until this point, he had only had one season, 2016-17, when he enjoyed mild success. Since then, the Oilers have been nothing short of an embarrassment. The first four months of the season were much of the same, but Jay Woodcroft taking over behind the bench, marked a huge change. Under him, the team played better in every facet of the game. Their offense was better, their defense was better, the goaltending was better, they had more drive, they were harder to play against, and it showed, the Oilers were 26-9-3 under Woodcroft and were one of the best teams in the NHL.
I could keep gushing about Jay Woodcroft and how great he was for the Oilers, but it really can’t be put into words how extraordinary their turnaround really was. The Oilers were down horrendous in the first half of the season, and I was being negative to the point that there were people who believed I was from Calgary. But that feels like a distant memory now, and while there will certainly be plenty to talk about during the offseason, for right now, I couldn’t be happier with the way this season went.
Of course I wish we could’ve played La Bamba a few more times, but I think Ben put it best here; good try Oilers, we’ll get em next year.