The Anaheim Ducks swept the Calgary Flames in the first series of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They advance to play the Edmonton Oilers, who topped the San Jose Sharks after six games. After one game, the Oilers lead the charge; up 1-0 in the series. It was a close game, though, and could make the series a lot closer than some may have guessed.
The two teams have only faced off in one other post-season matchup; the 2006 Western Conference Finals. Edmonton came out on top in that series after five games. There were multiple keys that went into the Oilers winning that series, including a strong power play and an even stronger goalie in the form of Dwayne Roloson.
Throughout the five games, Roloson faced a total of 182 shots, an average of 36 each game. He only let 13 of these shots behind him. That’s a save percentage of .929, which isn’t half bad considering the spike in goals per game that the league saw that season. In the two series before this one, Roloson had stopped 384 shots out of the 413 he faced. That gave him a save percentage of .930 coming into the Conference Finals.
To get a better look at Edmonton’s win, let’s look at the series game-by-game.
History of a Series – Edmonton Oilers vs Anaheim Ducks 2006 Playoffs
Game 1 – May 19, 2006: “Nothing Stops Edmonton” Edmonton Wins 3-1
It was no secret that Edmonton knew how to score. They had five different players register more than 50 points during the 06 regular season. Heck, it was a year that Raffi Torres even managed over 40 points; a feat that he only accomplished once. Led by Ales Hemsky, the team’s offense was strong; and they proved it this game. Michael Peca scored a shorthanded goal late into the first period. Hemsky scored on a power play in the second, and Todd Harvey scored his first goal of the playoffs on an empty net in the third.
Roloson also had an impressive game, saving 31 out of 32 shots from Anaheim. From a player who was facing an average of 34 shots per game, and saving an average of 32 of them, this was looking to be more of a regular occurrence for him. This trend carried on through the rest of the series.
Game 2 – May 21, 2006: “Well-Oiled Oilers” Edmonton Wins 3-1
Chris Pronger scored on the power play to open up scoring in Game Two. After that, it was another dominant game for Edmonton. The Ducks managed one goal the whole game, coming from Jeff Friesen in the middle of the second. He was the only one able to beat Roloson though, who yet again faced 34 shots.
The Oilers only had 24 shots this game, and 25 in Game One, which showed that they weren’t hammering away at Anaheim’s Ilya Bryzgalov. Still, he was shut down for the second time this series and the Oilers won the first two games of the series in Anaheim.
Game 3 – May 25, 2006: “Eight Goals in One Period?” Edmonton Wins 5-4
Toby Petersen scored in the first period, and gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead that would last until the 18 minute mark of the third period. At that time, Peca scored to give the team a 2-0 lead. At this time, it looked like the Oilers had the game in their palms. Although well contested, as many one goal games are, it would’ve been easy to lose hope after Peca’s goal. If that wasn’t enough, the Oilers scored on two different power plays within the next two minutes. They were up 4-0, and with only 15 minutes left in the game, it looked like an easy win for Edmonton. That was until Anaheim scored three goals in a row, showing they had no intent on losing despite being in front of a roaring Edmonton crowd.
The Oilers were pushed against the wall, but didn’t disappoint the home crowd. Fernando Pisani came through with the team’s fifth goal, and gave them a 5-3 lead. Anaheim scored once more in the period, totalling eight goals in the third period alone, but it wasn’t enough to even tie the game up.
Game 4 – May 25, 2006: “Signs of Life in a Dead Duck” Anaheim Wins 6-3
Three goals came in the first period of this game, and none of them came from the offensively-strong Oilers. The Ducks gave Roloson a run for his money this game, pounding him with 45 shots that game. That was the most he faced all series long, and the plan to gets shots off clearly worked.
Going into the third period, the Oilers had a little bit of life in them. They were down 5-3 but came out with energy. Sadly it wasn’t enough energy, and Joffrey Lupul buried an empty net goal late in the period to seal off what would be the Ducks only win of the series.
They also replaced Bryzgalov with Jean-Sebastien Giguere this game, after Brygalov had a weak Game Four. Bryzgalov saved 17 shots that game, out of 22. Giguere looked a lot better than Bryzgalov in Game Five, and saved 20 shots.
Game 5 – May 27, 2006: “Eighth Seeded Oilers Move on” Oilers Win 2-1
Since the playoff format change in the mid 90’s, no eighth seeded team has made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Oilers broke that streak when they beat the Ducks 2-1, in Anaheim, to move on. The Oilers scored twice in the second period, to take the lead. They then went on to dominate the third period. Despite many penalties being given out to both sides, the Oilers were able to keep the puck in their offensive zone most of the period. When they weren’t able to, like on Anaheim’s first power play of the period, Roloson came through in a big way for the Oilers. Overall, he saved 32 out of 33 shots, and was overall a key part in the winning of the entire series.
The Oilers have shown the same offensive strength as they did in 2006, Connor McDavid being the new Hemsky. The Ducks however, have the same strength and fight as they did that year too. 11 years later, the teams’ series is looking to be closer than before. It’s hard to tell who will come out on top though, and move on to the Western Conference Final.