After missing the playoffs in 10 straight seasons, which tied the Florida Panthers for the NHL's longest drought, the Edmonton Oilers are not only back in the playoffs but also in the second round, in which they are up 2-1 over the highly respected Anaheim Ducks. With a win tonight, the Western Conference finals will be within Edmonton's reach.
At first, it's easy to give the Oilers' superstar captain, Connor McDavid, all the credit for the team's complete turnaround. However, the Oilers beat the San Jose Sharks when McDavid was kept to four points in six games. With two points in three games in Round 2, he is scoring at the same pace against the Ducks. Although he might still be the team's MVP -- and perhaps MVP of the entire league -- McDavid hasn't exactly been carrying the team on his back and winning these games on his own.
Edmonton's success has been a complete team effort. The organization has been making the right decisions for at least the past two years, and McDavid's arrival serves as more of a boosting effect on the successful rebuild that would still be taking place without him -- though obviously not this quickly.
Let's take a closer look at the five reasons behind the Oilers' turnaround and forecast how far they'll get in the playoffs.