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Five things to know about the NHL playoffs

Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, from left to right, Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl, Evan Bouchard and Connor McDavid celebrate Nugent-Hopkins' goal during the second period in Game 7 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, in Vancouver, on Monday, May 20, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

They're down to the final four as the NHL post-season gets ready to play into June in Florida, Texas, New York and Alberta.

The much-hyped Battle of Canada ended with a 3-2 Oilers' victory, while fans in Dallas scrambled to locate Edmonton via Google, and to let Oiler fans know their goal song at American Airlines Center is named Puck Off, just in case the kids ask.

Here are five things to know about the NHL playoffs:


Fans like to parrot that "Game 7" are the two most exciting words in hockey — besides "let's eat" or "let's drink."

As it turned out, the Vancouver Canucks didn't have much left in the tank to oust the Edmonton Oilers last night as they were outshot and outscored — and eliminated with a 3-2 setback.

Forced to use makeshift lines with the mysterious injury (or ailment) to forward Brock Boeser after Game 6, the Canucks couldn't muster much offence save for the final nine minutes of the game when Conor Garland and Filip Hronek scored to make it close. The hosts were outshot 13-2 in the first, and trailed 27-12 on the shot clock — and 3-0 on the scoreboard — heading into the third.

Had it not been for third-string netminder Arturs Silovs — who stopped two breakaways and made a number of highlight-reel saves in the first 40 minutes — the Canucks would have needed a touchdown in the third period to make the final score respectable.


How good are the Edmonton Oilers? The Vancouver Canucks kept Connor McDavid and Evander Kane off the scoresheet in Game 7, limited Leon Draisaitl to one assist, made playoff veteran Corey Perry a scratch and still lost.

The Oilers, playing on the road in a must-win game, played "52 great minutes" according to McDavid, and smothered the Canucks with brilliant defence, puck possession and overall depth.

While the Canucks were missing all-star netminder Thatcher Demko in the series and leading playoff scorer Brock Boeser for Game 7, they couldn't generate much on the power play, and had trouble getting to rebounds and scoring goals.

McDavid thinks the Dallas Stars present a huge challenge, but he likes his team's chances, citing depth and skill.


Bench bosses Kris Knoblauch of Edmonton and Rick Tocchet of Vancouver said all the right and predictable things heading into last night's Game 7 between the Oilers and Canucks. They stressed the importance of "leaving it all out there," becoming an instant hero, embracing the pain, doing whatever it takes.

Glossed over, perhaps, was that Knoblauch and Tocchet were both heading into their first winner-take-all showdown as NHL head coaches.

Stuart Skinner, Calvin Pickard and Arturs Silovs — the three netminders who have played in the second-round series — know the feeling.

The last time both starting goaltenders and bench bosses made their Game 7 debut during the same contest was in the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals between the Philadelphia Flyers (Martin Biron and John Stevens) and Washington Capitals (Cristobal Huet and Bruce Boudreau).


When you have surnames that run shoulder-to-shoulder on the back of your jersey, chances are you'll get a nickname or two. Just ask Igor Shesterkin (Iggy, Shesty) or Sergei Bobrovsky (Bob, Beaver).

The two star goalies who will face each other in the Eastern Conference Championship final, starting Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, have heard their name butchered more times than O Canada in rinks around North America.

Shesterkin, of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Rangers, was the league's top goalie in 20021-22. After a slow start to this season, he's back in top form making life tough for the opposition. Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, has made a number of highlight-reel saves for the Panthers in these playoffs and also appears to be back in top form.


Pete DeBoer has gotten used to deep runs in the NHL playoffs, even though he never takes them for granted. The only thing that could make life better for the veteran coach would be to win it all.

With the Dallas Stars in the West final for the second year in a row since he became their coach, this is the seventh time that DeBoer has advanced past the first two rounds. This is his fifth time in six seasons, with three different teams.

Joe Pavelski, the 39-year-old Stars forward who is also seeking his first Stanley Cup, also went to the West final twice with DeBoer in San Jose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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