Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Playoff Daily: The Oilers won, now they'll be mismatched against Dallas

We often think about Game 7s as great affairs, true tests of two well-matched teams that went toe-to-toe, with only the slimmest of margins deciding which one advances. But sometimes, they simply represent a series like the one between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers.

These were two flawed teams that, if either had been slightly less flawed, would have won the series in five or six games. Vancouver, based on the regular season, was the better team. But the regular season really doesn’t matter after Game 82, and injuries to Thatcher Demko and later Brock Boeser eventually doomed a team that had also struggled with the scrappy Nashville Predators.

Edmonton has the best player in the world in Connor McDavid and another top-five player, depending on your opinion, on Leon Draisaitl. But hockey is a team sport and goaltending, last time I checked, happens to be part of the team.

So, in the end, Game 7 represented the flaws of both teams, and the Oilers were slightly less broken.

It makes for a fascinating dynamic heading into the Western Conference final, because the Dallas Stars should roll the Oilers, just like they likely would have demolished Vancouver.

While Edmonton and Vancouver fiddled around, the Stars went through a gauntlet against the past two Stanley Cup champions – a task no team has achieved in the post-expansion era. It took seven games to dispatch the Vegas Golden Knights and six to get past the Colorado Avalanche, but both series hardened and proved that Dallas is by far the deepest and most well-rounded team in the Western Conference.

Because goaltending is part of the team, the Stars also have the most important edge. Jake Oettinger is worlds better than Stuart Skinner, and if the third period of Game 7 vs. Vancouver is any indication, Dallas simply needs to shoot the puck a bit more.

It’s not the main reason, but it’s one of the reasons that ESPN picked the Eastern Conference final over the Western Conference in the American network draft.

To be clear, the New York Rangers are a ratings boom for networks. But the fact that the Rangers and Florida Panthers will likely battle for at least six or seven games came to mind for ratings-driven decision makers when comparing it to a series that will feature a Canadian team (which does nothing for an American network) and seems slightly lopsided going in.

So in the end, it’s Edmonton vs. the world heading into Game 1 on Thursday.

Dallas is the better team, and everyone is writing them off: the networks, this writer, you name it. But maybe that’s also the best possible time for the best player in the world to prove his legacy.

Should be fun.

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This article is about:
NHL Dallas Stars Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers New York Rangers Vancouver Canucks Brock Boeser Thatcher Demko Jake Oettinger Stuart Skinner
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