Oilers are Canada’s last hope in Stanley Cup Playoffs, Stars try to be next Texas champion

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Edmonton Oilers at Dallas Stars
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Following the double-overtime thriller in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final, it’s clear that the Dallas Stars and Edmonton Oilers are putting everything on the table.

Apart from the chance to lift the Lord Stanley’s cup, players from both squads have indicated their desire to honor their “homes” with a championship.

The Oilers are the last Canadian team contending for the Stanley Cup, after four qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Connor Hellebuyck and his Winnipeg Jets fell by the wayside in Round 1 after a flurry of goals from the Colorado Avalanche, taking just one game in the series.

The Toronto Maple Leafs were one goal away from advancing past the first round, but fell short to David Pastrnak and the Boston Bruins in an excruciating Game 7 overtime loss.

The Vancouver Canucks were eliminated in seven games in the second round by the Oilers, after knocking off the Nashville Predators in the first round.

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Oilers are Canada’s playoff team now

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Edmonton Oilers at Dallas Stars
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Now, Oil Country doesn’t only represent the city of Edmonton. Canadians must resort to hoping the Oilers bring a Stanley Cup to their nation for the first time in 31 years.

The last team to do it was the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, spearheaded by Patrick Roy’s sensational goaltending. Since then, it’s been a dry spell for the seven teams up north.

The Oilers aren’t taking that responsibility lightly.

“It’s nice to be Canada’s last team. You get pull from that many more people … We gotta enjoy it and embrace it,” Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci said Wednesday.

Ceci is an Ottawa native, and scored a huge insurance goal in Game 7 against the Canucks, when they narrowly held on to advance to their second conference final in three seasons.

After taking Game 1 on Connor’s McDavid’s 2OT goal on Thursday, they need just three more wins to play for the Stanley Cup.

Despite the fierce rivalry between Canadian teams, such as the “Battle of Alberta” between the Oilers and Calgary Flames, it seems that a championship for Canada is the top priority over any regional squabbles.

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Stars try to be latest champion in Texas

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Edmonton Oilers at Dallas Stars
Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Stars are shining big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

They’re just one of many success stories in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area, and the fans are experiencing a renaissance of sports accomplishments in just the last eight months. 

On the hardwood, the Mavericks are in the midst of a deep playoff run, taking down the Los Angeles Clippers and upsetting the No. 1 seed (and rival) Oklahoma City Thunder so far in the NBA Playoffs.

The Mavs currently hold a 1-0 lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Final.

Not to mention, the Texas Rangers won their first-ever World Series title, trumping the Arizona Diamondbacks in just five games, as superstars Corey Seager and Adolis Garcia tore through the Snakes’ pitching staff last October.

“Both franchises got some motivation from the Rangers. They started this thing last October, and the city is buzzing. We’re happy to watch the Mavs go on and do so well. We’re supporting them as they’re supporting us. It’s a great time to be a sports fan here in Dallas,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn, who is in his 14th season with the team.

The sports frenzy in the Lone Star State has also seeped its way into day-to-day life.

When asked about how his four kids are dealing with the Stars hysteria, defenseman Ryan Suter noted, “They’re into it as much as we are. They can’t wait to go to the games. At school today was Dallas Stars day. They all had their jerseys.”

Suter went on to discuss the atmosphere inside American Airlines Center, the arena that houses both the Stars and Mavericks.

“There’s great fans here. The noise in the arena has been second to none. The passion that’s here, the new guys that are here say ‘man, we didn’t realize Dallas was this big of a hockey city.'”

It may be surprising to some that the Stars are receiving so much adoration from a non-traditional hockey market. And maybe it’s a bit surprising rival Canadian cities are embracing Edmonton’s quest for the Cup.

One thing has become clear – the Stars and Oilers aren’t just playing for themselves. 

They’re playing for their people.

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