Edmonton and Vancouver to meet in playoffs for first time since 1992

There are two Canadian teams left in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Soon, there will only be one.Edmonton and Vancouver to meet in playoffs for first time since 1992

The Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks will square off in the second round, marking the third-ever playoff meeting between the two teams and the first in over thirty years.

The Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs were dropped in the first round by the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins, so Edmonton and Vancouver are Canada’s only remaining chances at the Stanley Cup. The Oilers and Canucks going head-to-head guarantees one Canadian team will reach the Conference Finals.

The first playoff series between the Oilers and Canucks came in 1986. Edmonton finished a whopping 60 points ahead of Vancouver in the standings and swept the series with three lopsided wins. The two teams met again in the second round of the playoffs in 1992. Despite Vancouver finishing in first place in the Smythe Division, the underdog Oilers took the series in six games.

This year, the Canucks finished in first place in the Pacific Division with a 50-23-9 record and beat the Nashville Predators in the first round of the playoffs in six games. The Oilers finished five points behind the Canucks in the standings and beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round for the third consecutive year, this time in only five games.

A considerable part of what led the Canucks to their first division banner since taking the Northwestern Division in five consecutive seasons between 2008-09 and 2012-13 was their success against the Oilers. The Canucks opened the 2023-24 season with an 8-1 victory against the Oilers in Vancouver and they won again by a score of 4-3 in Edmonton a few days later.

The Oilers limped into Vancouver again in early November with a shocking 2-7-1 record and were easily handled in a 6-2 loss. When the team returned home to Edmonton at the end of their road trip, head coach Jay Woodcroft was dismissed and Kris Knoblauch took over behind the bench.

The coaching change turned around Edmonton’s season. The Oilers went 46-18-5 the rest of the way, highlighted by a 16-game heater between December and January that came just one win shy of matching the NHL record for most consecutive wins.

The Oilers and Canucks met for the fourth time in mid-April in Edmonton and Vancouver completed the regular season series sweep with a 3-1 victory. It was Vancouver’s first season sweep of the Oilers since the 2014-15 season, but it’s worth noting that three of the wins came before Edmonton’s coaching change and the fourth came with Connor McDavid out of the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Though the Canucks were the better team during the regular season, the playoffs offer a clean slate. The Winnipeg Jets swept their season series over the Colorado Avalanche and outscored their opponent 17-to-4 over the course of three meetings. In the first round of the playoffs, Colorado took down Winnipeg in five games.

This will be an exciting series with a lot of fanfare. The Oilers looked like a real Stanley Cup contender in their take-down of the Kings in the first round and the Canucks are in the midst of their strongest season since the Henrik and Daniel Sedin era.

A major storyline will be how Vancouver handles Edmonton’s potent offence and elite power play. The Oilers scored on nine of twenty power-play opportunities against the Kings, and they scored 22 goals in total over five games. The Canucks had a 79.1 penalty-kill percentage during the regular season, which was slightly above the league average.

Despite losing star goaltender Thatcher Demko to injury after Game 1, the Canucks allowed just 12 goals in six games against the Predators. Backup goalie Casey DeSmith turned aside 41 of 45 shots in two games and third-stringer Arturs Silvos stopped 75 of 80 shots in three appearances.

Edmonton scored just seven goals in four meetings with the Canucks during the regular season, but, again, the playoffs are a different animal.

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