Oilers 2006: The Stanley Cup That Got Away

If you remind any Edmonton Oilers fan that is old enough to remember that epic Cinderella run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, they quiver when you mention defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and his blunderous gaffe in Game 1 of the final against the Carolina Hurricanes. The blunder in question was when he ran Hurricanes forward Andrew Ladd into Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Roloson was injured on the play and didn’t return for the rest of the series.

Without their number one goalie Edmonton eventually lost in seven games. If you ask most Oiler fans, though, they’ll tell you that if it weren’t for Bergeron the Oilers would’ve won their sixth Stanley Cup in franchise history that year. It’s been 11 years, and the scars are still somewhat fresh. But like any other pitfall in one’s life, it’s time to forgive and forget. If you aren’t going to forgive, at least understand it wasn’t all Bergeron’s fault.

Breaking Down The Play

In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Oilers and Hurricanes were tied 4-4 with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. Carolina was carrying the tempo late after Edmonton blew a 3-0 lead. Roloson had been a rock for the Oilers after allowing the fourth goal to Justin Williams, and the Hurricanes threw out Doug Weight, Cory Stillman and Andrew Ladd.

Stillman gained the Oilers zone along the left wing and stopped, with Ladd driving hard down the same wing and Weight gingerly coming down the right side off a change. Stillman caused Edmonton’s right side defenseman Matt Greene to do a bit of a stutter step, and Bergeron was cheating with Weight coming slow off the line change. Stillman saw that Greene was caught flat-footed and there was absolutely no way he’d catch Ladd barreling down the left side.

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You know who else recognized that Greene was vulnerable? Bergeron. As Stillman got the puck down to Ladd driving hard to the net, Bergeron is coming full steam to cut him off and cover for his flat-footed partner. At the last minute Ladd bobbled the puck and lost control, but Bergeron was already committed to the play and makes contact. Unfortunately, Roloson is hugging the post trying and get’s caught in the middle of an inevitable collision.

Did Bergeron Really Cost Edmonton a Cup?

The hit caused a domino effect on the final. Edmonton had been rotating Ty Conklin and Jussi Markkanen in the backup spot on the bench, and Conklin drew in for Roloson with just over five minutes remaining. For everyone that has frustration towards Bergeron still, Conklin deserves just as much if not more for the giveaway and mix up with Oilers captain Jason Smith behind the Edmonton net that led to the eventual game-winning goal by Rod Brind’Amour.

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Would it have happened if Markkanen was on the bench that night? Edmonton and Carolina split the remaining six games of the series, but if Roloson was healthy would Edmonton have won the series? If you read into the stats, most fans that argue about the outcome that could’ve been can look at Roloson’s numbers to boost their argument. The Oilers’ starter got better as each round went by and was a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

DWAYNE ROLOSON STATS BY SERIES IN 2006

SERIES GP W-L GA SA SV GAA SV% SO
Round 1 – Detroit 6 4-2 17 238 221 2.83 .929 0
Round 2 – San Jose 6 4-2 12 175 163 2.00 .931 1
Round 3 – Anaheim 5 4-1 12 182 170 2.40 .934 0
TOTALS 17 12-5 41 595 554 2.33 .931 1

You can’t fault Bergeron for trying to make a hockey play. If Ladd had full control of the puck and Bergeron didn’t cut him off, he likely would’ve scored the eventual game-winner anyways. Roloson got better as the playoffs went on, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have folded under a Hurricanes team that averaged 2.92 goals per game, and had the second-best power play (24.0%) among playoff teams?

As the late great Monday Night Football commentator Don Meredith would say, “if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.”

It happened, it was an unfortunate situation, but the Oilers rallied and almost won the series despite not having a number one goalie. Leave Bergeron alone, and forgive the poor man for trying to make a hockey play and cover for his partner. The next time you see that man in Edmonton, buy him a beer and bury the hatchet would ya?