So what went wrong for Edmonton? Was the series lost all due to missing Griffin Reinhart and Trevor Cheek? Or, was there something more amiss?
Edmonton has a slew of top end talent, 11 of which were either drafter or signed by NHL clubs. Cheek and Reinhart were only 2 of these players. So what happened with the other 9 players?
1)Keegan Lowe(Carolina)- 1 goal and 1 assist (both in game 1) and was a -1 in the series. Lowe had 6 points in 7 games in the previous series with Carolina. Lowe had his hands full trying to deal with Portland's top line and trying to right the ship, as he was voted the team's replacement captain.
|Leipsic scoring on Lowe and Brossoit|
-Laxdal made very few changes to the lineup in this series, which was puzzling with the Oil King's inept and struggling offense.
3)Travis Ewanyk(Edmonton)- 1 goal , 1 assist and a -1, for the 3rd line center. Ewanyk won a majority of his draws but really failed to get that many chances going for his line-mates: Mitch Moroz and Edgars Kulda.
4)Mitch Moroz(Edmonton)- 1 goal off a great deflection in Game 4, but was a -4 in the series. Moroz, whose size and checks make his line difficult to deal with, seemed to struggle keeping up with the speedy Hawk's second line.
6)Henrik Samuellson(Phoenix)- 2 goals(both in Game 1) and was a -4 in the series. Samuellson took a dumb penalty in Game 4 and seemed to really be fighting it all series long. His line with Curtis Lazar and Stephane Legault is by far the most talented one Edmonton throws at you. They have played together for almost 2 full years, but were not able to solve Carruth, Jones and Wotherspoon consistently.
|Samuellson getting the worst of a collision with Taylor Peters|
7)Stephane Legault(Edmonton)- 3 assists(all in Game 1) and was a -2 in the series. Legault created a few chances for his line, but whatever adjustments the Hawks made in playing against his line, worked.
8)Michael St. Croix(New York Rangers)- 3 goals and 1 assist and was a +2 in the series. St. Croix was one of the only Oil Kings that played up to expectations. He just seems to be consistent out there, never throwing up 3 goals and 2 assists in one game, but always crating and scoring when his team needs it. St. Croix finished with 26 points in the playoffs, good enough for 3rd. St. Croix's game winner in game 5 gave Edmonton more life then they probably should have had.
9)Laurent Brossoit(Calgary)- Finished with a 2.46 GAA and a 0.935 save percentage. Brossoit was the only reason that this was a 6 game series. He made timely save after timely save for the Oil Kings, but the Winterhawks were just too much.
So, 9 NHL drafted players for Edmonton and only 2 of them did not under-perform. The WHL final has got to be when you elevate your game higher then you played all season. This simply did not happen for the Oil Kings especially on the offensive side. This combined with Laxdal's inability to react by changing the lineup up, really seemed to be the formula for ending your season.
Even though they lost after making their second straight final, I would look for Edmonton to come right back for a 3rd in a row next year.