The Oilers’ season went by much sooner than most people thought, including those around the team.

The Golden Knights were technically favorites in Round 2 considering they had home-ice advantage, but they sure didn’t feel that way.

Not against the Sealers to finish the season 14-0-1. Not with three players on the roster, but over 100 points. Not the top power play in the league, but the best of all time. Not with the Golden Knights’ goaltending situation.

And the series was up for grabs. Instead, the Oilers fumbled and lost in key games in their final two games. There is a lot of destruction to go around. a lot of.

Here are the issues, ranked.

The manager

While some of the calls and non-calls in Game 6 were puzzling, the officiating was not an error stemming from this point, but let’s just say the officiating standard didn’t work in the Oilers’ favor for at least three. Games – including Sunday.

The Oilers have dominated special teams in this series. His seemingly unstoppable power play — 9-for-23 — outscored the Golden Knights in the Kings’ streak, scoring nine of 16 chances. That still-elite 39.1 percent success rate was marred by late windfalls on garbage-time gains.

It’s also worth noting that their penalty kill allowed just four goals in 24 Vegas scoring chances.

However, there were three games in the series where the Oilers had three power plays or less. They have lost in each, including Sunday’s clincher, where they were given just one chance.

Referees put their stamp on games whether they call penalties or not. The Golden Knights own the five-on-five portion of the series, at least from a goal-for-point perspective, minus Game 4. Not calling penalties worked in their favour.

Sunday’s game was reminiscent of Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals. The Lightning had some really good special teams. The Bruins had a terrible power play and an average penalty kill. He had zero penalties in that game. Boston won 1-0.

Likewise, there’s no doubt that the whistles going will hurt the Oilers.

Reason for failure: 7/10

Five to five issues

So shall we flip the script? Cultures that love rough-and-tumble hockey, high-sticking, glass-scratching, and open-ended scoring offenses will see the Oilers and turn their blame on them.

There’s a degree of truth to that logic, considering the Oilers are outscored 15-9 in five-for-five in the series. It’s hard to win series like this.

But in reality, the Oilers didn’t play. It is what he says. Bad in that capacity. In a natural stat trick, the Oilers had 55 percent of shot attempts, 54 percent of dangerous attempts and 53 percent of expected goals.

The reason is that they didn’t finish enough chances and most importantly they didn’t get enough goal chances.

Reason for failure: 6/10

Skinner’s goalkeeper

What a rough postseason it has been for Stuart Skinner. Every time there was a hint of progress, things got worse. It was one step forward, two steps back for a month.

It was the low point of the Vegas series. Skinner has been pulled three times in the last two games and the last four contests – naturally, all losses. He allowed 19 goals on 152 shots in six contests with a .875 save percentage.

There’s even a couple stops on the starter side, and instead of breaking down series and seasons, we’re talking about a Game 7 on Tuesday night in Vegas. Heck, we might even be analyzing the Oilers’ Western Conference finals.

There is no doubt that Skinner was not good against Vegas. He knows it. Everyone knows it.

Failure factor: 8.5/10

Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner (Stephen R. Silvani/USA TODAY)

He didn’t start Campbell.

This has been a hot topic among Oilers fans for days, between Skinner’s struggles and Jack Campbell replacing him adequately in garbage time.

Let’s recognize right away that Campbell deserves credit for holding the fort under difficult circumstances. More importantly, his key relief performance against the Kings in Game 4 allowed the Oilers to come back and claim a decisive victory. He had a .961 save percentage in 118 minutes of play.

Was that effort in Los Angeles or Campbell’s cleanup duty to force him to start the streak in Vegas? That, I’m not so sure about.

Campbell was one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL all season. There were a handful of good looks, but it was only on the last couple of ducks that he really looked competent. Let’s check out where the Ducks finished in the standings. Oh, he finally died.

This wasn’t the choice Bruins coach Jim Montgomery had to make, where Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman have been effectively rotating all season. No, the crease was Skinner’s before Thanksgiving because he was leaving, and Campbell wasn’t.

There’s reason to believe that if Campbell returns to the Oilers — with a big prospect ($5 million) and time remaining (four years) — he could be a much better goaltender than he was this season.

We don’t know if that process has really accelerated in these playoffs with a few strong starts. In that sense, it feels more like a sky-in-the-sky effect than a realistic one.

Reason for failure: 2/10

Missing key matches

All of Jay Woodcroft’s decisions in Round 1 seem to have worked out well.

He put Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl together at the right time. Nick Bjugstad found success by placing him with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman. After a tough Game 3, he stuck with Skinner.

Woodcroft did not make the same impact on the Golden Knights. Oilers fans are also all over Woodcroft, criticizing him about the Skinner-Campbell situation and being coached by Vegas counterpart Bruce Cassidy.

The goal orientation problem has already been discussed. We wrote that it would have been more beneficial to start the series with McDavid and Draisaitl separated, but at least Woodcroft was out of that plan after Game 3.

As for Game 6, Woodcroft intended to keep the McDavid and Draisaitl lines away from William Karlsson. And it’s for good reason that the two superstars scored against Karlsson on the ice in the game.

The matchup limited McDavid to 5:21 in the first period. This is not enough even without the benefit of the power play. Again, Woodcroft course corrected, and McDavid played 24 minutes against the Sailors with just one trip to the man advantage. Draisaitl skated for about 25 minutes.

This wasn’t Mack Babcock’s takedown of Austen Matthews or anything.

Was Woodcroft perfect? No. But did his decision cost the Oilers a streak? I will give the same answer.

Instead, I’ll point out a few key players.

Reason for failure: 3/10

High-six woes

That was the main point of the postgame column following the season-ending loss, so if you haven’t read it, I urge you to read that story.

To quickly summarize, several key forwards have done very little in this series.

Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane were front and center. Ditto for Draisaitl in the last four games after scoring six times in the first two contests. Hyman is limited by injury. Kyler Yamamoto hasn’t always been in the top six, but that’s because he’s shown he should be there more often than not.

Dai is only taken when it comes to Yamamoto. The right wing is a key position in the top-two line to improve this season.

The Oilers should have had more skill than the Golden Knights. They didn’t show that.

Failure factor: 9/10

The nurse-sassi pair

Darnell Nurse and Cody Ceci should have been the closing duo. This could not be more of a case against the Golden Knights.

The Oilers beat Nurse on the ice five-on-five, 7-2. The deficit was even worse with Cece skating – an 8-1 gap. They have a thankless role, but there was no reason to thank them for their efforts in this series.

Here’s the thing: This pair has struggled all season. Each player did far better than the other. Woodcroft sprinkled in all the other blues for Nurse, but after Matthias Ekholm and Ivan Bouchard made such a great marriage, he had to stick with the Nurse-Cassie pairing.

The only solution was to move Brett Kulak with Nurse and throw Ceci into the third period. But that meant playing Ceci with Philip Broberg because it’s hard to imagine how things would work out with Vincent Desharnais.

This is more a matter of roster composition than deployment. The Oilers got a great first season from Ceci after signing him as a free agent in July 2021. The concern was how many strong years they would get from him.

He’s a trade candidate because a top-four right-handed defenseman is an obvious need this summer.

When it comes to this series, to make matters worse, Nurse and Sissy have lost their momentum just when they once seemed to find their footing.

Reason for failure: 8/10

Darnell Nurse (Stephen R. Silvani/USA TODAY)

Nursing trial

A nurse suspension could not have come at a worse time.

The Oilers played perhaps their best game of the series in Game 4 en route to victory. Then, in the final minute of the game, Nurse decided to tackle Nicolas Hague – a Golden Knights defenseman who was constantly hitting him in the jaw.

Nurse got behind the Vegas net from the top of the circle and caught Hague, who was already engaged in a board battle with Warren Fogele. It wasn’t the worst fight initiative considering how quickly Hague dropped the gloves, but that’s by the rulebook.

Nurse should have chosen his position more carefully or he should have been smarter about how he went about fighting Hague. He received a one-game suspension for the incident.

Although the Golden Knights played Game 5 without senior defenseman Alex Pietrangelo as a result of a brutal move on Draisaitl, the Oilers appear to have missed Nurse even more. Broberg took two penalties and was confident enough to play six minutes in a 4-3 loss that eliminated the Oilers.

Nurse’s suspension didn’t crush the Oilers, but it certainly put them in a hole.

Reason for failure: 4/10

Nurse and Petrangelo suspensions

The nurse ban was about as clear as you can get in the handbook. The decision to give him the incentive penalty was made by the referees, but the NHL overturned the call the next day and it’s hard to show them. From what I’ve been told, it’s hardly considered – if at all.

The real subject call was the choice to ban Pietrangelo and for how long. The Department of Player Safety made the right call by suspending the Golden Knights defenseman, but that decision looked toothless after he and Nurse received similar penalties.

I have found challenges here. Again, Nurse’s repentance is set in stone. Pietrangelo was not. Player safety led the review for one issue but not the other. Compared to the regular season, there are multiples of lost playoff games. Pietrangelo is a senior player with no criminal record.

But a lumbering move that could easily have seriously injured Draisaitl — oh yeah, another top player, at the end of a blowout game — shouldn’t have had the same penalty that Nurse did. No way, especially since the nursing ban was first announced.

Off-ice game management was at its best.

Imagine for a minute that the Golden Knights had to manage without Pietrangelo when the Oilers played Game 6 against Nurse. The result may be very different.

Failure factor: 5/10

The format of the game

The Golden Knights were the top team in the Western Conference. The Oilers were No. 2. This series had to be played for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

It doesn’t matter why the Oilers lost, of course, unless the Golden Knights are so thin in net that Jonathan Quick rises between the pipes in the next round.

This series – perhaps the most entertaining playoff series ever – is Exhibit A as to why the NHL needs to go back to an eight-on-eight season.

Failure factor: 1/10

(Top photo: Paul Swanson/NHL via Getty Images)

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