The Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens are two of the most prominent NHL teams of the expansion era. From 1967 through today, the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the Montreal Canadiens 10 times—twice since Edmonton entered the NHL. The Oilers own five Stanley’s since 1979, so in head-to-head competition, the western upstarts have the edge. Question: Which of the two teams wins the next Stanley?
Many years ago, in 1981, the Montreal Canadiens played the expansion Edmonton Oilers in a playoff series. Montreal owned all of the jewels of history and a storied past, while the young Oilers had no past at all. So it was, that on the nights of Wednesday, April 8 and Thursday, April 9,1981, the Edmonton Oilers defeated Montreal twice in their opening round (best-of-five) series. Game three, the clincher, is in the video above. Andy Moog was the star of the series, winning all three games and stopping 90 of 96 shots (.937 save percentage).Source
It would be epic to see these teams meet again, in the Stanley Cup Finals. It won’t happen this season, but maybe someday soon. As it is, there is a game ahead and the Oilers have a brand new hero to drive the Canadiens crazy.
“I’m not looking for redemption. I’m happy to be with @EdmontonOilers and I’m more mad at myself for screwing up.”Z.Kassian on Mtl return
— Gene Principe (@GenePrincipe) February 5, 2016
The acquisition of Zack Kassian looks good today. The big winger has worked hard, been effective and is already part of an increasingly effective offensive group. Edmonton’s power play is improving (especially since the return of Connor McDavid) but as the Oilers enter today’s game, their 5×5 offense is a strong part of their success. Here are the top forwards (100 or more minutes this season) among the Oilers group, and where they rank league wide:
- No. 1: Connor McDavid 2.85
- No. 2: Leon Draisaitl 2.77
- No. 5: Taylor Hall 2.64
- No. 62: Teddy Purcell 1.88
- No. 77: Benoit Pouliot 1.82
- No. 101: Nail Yakupov 1.72
- No. 147: Jordan Eberle 1.58
- No. 174: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.47
Edmonton’s even-strength offense has been solid this year, and the top three men on the list have been ripping it up (when healthy) all season. Young McDavid is incredible, 15 games into his career and the entire hockey world can’t wait to see him again.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 5, 2016
- Connor McDavid is having an enormous impact on the game—the entire game. Pierre Lebrun told me this week about a conversation he had with an NHL executive not part of the Oilers organization. The exec commented about how good it was to have 97 back, how much fun it was to watch him, and how good he is for the game. In an incredibly competitive industry, that comment shines as testimony to the young man’s appeal.
- Brandon Davidson and his calm feet were badly missed when he was out with injury and you can see his value on every shift. If the Oilers can sign him (Jason Gregor wrote about this yesterday) to a reasonable deal, he would represent one of the few important roster spots filled with a value deal.
- Zack Kassian ranks along with Cam Talbot and Andrej Sekera as ‘best moves’ made by Peter Chiarelli in his first 12 months. He will be going against the man he was traded for (Ben Scrivens) and it should be an interesting showdown.
- The Oilers are in a strange tie for No. 25 overall with basically all of Canada, Buffalo and Columbus. If they win today, you could wake up tomorrow with the Oilers clear of Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets, If that happens, I will have a beer, and then I will have another one.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Ian Murray, Habs Eyes on the Prize: The Canadiens’ epic ascent, followed immediately by their stark and
dismal failure, leaves them in a terrible position. According to Micah Blake McCurdy‘s projections over at HockeyViz,
only the Senators and Devils were more likely find themselves without a
playoff position or a top-five draft pick this season, as of Thursday
— OilersNation (@OilersNation) February 5, 2016
GAME DAY PREDICTIONS
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers and Habs begin the day game sleepily, but the home side scores on a weird Max Pacioretty shot from behind the net. Habs 1, Oilers 0 after one.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton doubles down on the sleepy in period two, but Montreal can only cash one time, on the power play from P.K. Subban. A late marker by Matt Hendricks gives the Oilers some hope entering the third period.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION:
The heavens part and the power play runs rampant in the final frame, as Edmonton outscores Montreal 3-1 in the period and 4-3 overall. Connor McDavid puts on a show, the Oilers go to 3-0-0 on the week and Sam Pollock grumbles from the heavens. A perfect Saturday.