The Edmonton Oilers were swept out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs yesterday after a great regular season. This loss reminded me a lot of the Blackhawks 2017 downfall against the Nashville Predators.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers both had great regular seasons the year they got swept.
Chicago was the team to beat in the Central Division and right from the start of the series you could tell that was not going to be the case. The Hawks were lifted by great performances from their stars at the time. For example, Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane were having career years and the two were lightning the lamp.
While the Hawks did not have much depth scoring that season, it did not matter because the team was led by their top line. Honestly, on paper, that team could have gone on a deep run, but they ran into a hot franchise that had been one of the best during the second half of the season.
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The Oilers, on the other hand, were led by two stars, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, similar to the Blackhawks those two players were leading the league in points and they were getting the majority of their teams goals. While they didn’t have a lot of depth, they didn’t need it with those stars leading the charge.
Everything fell apart when they struggled to score goals against a great defensive team. Winnipeg shut down the Oilers the same way the Predators shut down the Blackhawks. They had great goaltending and made sure that any shot the Oilers took was going to be tipped or deflected away.
After the Blackhawks’ downfall in 2017, it destroyed the team. The franchise made some trades that altered the group forever, and they haven’t been back to the playoffs since, play in round excluded.
The playoffs are filled with reminders of the old Blackhawks championship teams. I cannot wait for the Hawks to get back to the big playoff tournament sometime in the future. Defense is what wins championships, and the Hawks and Oilers both learned that during their respective sweeps in the first round. Hopefully, Chicago will be able to get back on top in the future, but if they do it will be led by great defense.