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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Expectations for Zack Kassian

Happy holiday Monday, everybody, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag. As always, I’ve taken the questions that have come in over the past week, relayed them to our writers, and copied and pasted their words of wisdom right here on the ol’ Internet machine for your education and enjoyment. Today, we’re looking at Zack Kassian’s performance, Ryan McLeod, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got one, email it to me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.

1) James asks – Dave Tippett said in his post-game presser that playoff hockey is “tight” and that it’s what we should expect throughout the playoffs. Why do you think the style of play changes like this in the playoffs?

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Robin Brownlee:

Solid defence and goaltending wins games and the intensity and physicality gets ramped up.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Part of it is a systems thing. There’s an added emphasis on not making big mistakes and also shutting down the opposition. The other side of it is that defensive players know that they can get away with more. They know that if they whack a player’s hands or interfere with someone, it’s less likely to get called, so they do it more.

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Baggedmilk:

By my eye, it looks like teams are playing more of a 1-3-1 type of thing during the playoffs than they normally would. To me, there is a lot of sitting back in the neutral zone and looking for turnovers, which makes capitalizing on your chances that much more important.

2) Marc asks – Would just like to hear everyone’s first impressions of Ryan McLeod?

Robin Brownlee:

Feeling his way into things, as most younger players do. Good skater. Not as physical as he could be and should be. Liked him so far.

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Tyler Yaremchuk:

He’s fast, he’s big, and he has good hands. It’ll take him a while to get up to speed and comfortable at the NHL level, but he has all the tools of a damn good NHLer. I think at this point, his floor is a good third-line centre and that is something the Oilers desperately needed to come through their organization.

Baggedmilk:

If McLeod can turn into this team’s third line centre then I would be absolutely thrilled. We know he has the wheels, but can he chip in with some offence at the NHL level? We shall see.

Feb 1, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

3) Sam asks – Zack Kassian hadn’t played since April 21st and I wonder what everyone’s expectations were for him in the series against Winnipeg?

Robin Brownlee:

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Exactly what we saw from him last night in Game 3. In Logan Stanley’s face every chance he got. Physically involved. Scored a goal.That’s the good Kassian who can make a difference for the Oilers.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

The expectation was that he would be a sparkplug that creates energy through his physical play. In a perfect world, he would have chipped in with some offense as well.

Baggedmilk:

We need Kassian to look like the guy that can either score a goal or create some mayhem, and I think it’s fair to say that is the bare minimum that we need from him. Over the first couple of games against the Jets, Kassian was absolutely invisible and it was frustrating to watch because we know how much of a difference he can make, so when he cranked it up in game three it was the exact kind of effort that we needed from him. More of that, Zack. We know it’s in there.

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Apr 19, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; A view of official game pucks with the Stanley Cup logo prior to the Washington Capitals against the Columbus Blue Jackets in game four of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

4) Braden asks – The Panthers and Lightning series has been a lot of fun to watch and I’m wondering which series outside of the Oilers and Jets that everyone has liked so far?

Robin Brownlee:

Paying attention to the Maple-Leafs Canadiens right now. That’s the one series that might matter for the Oilers next.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I’ve LOVED the battle of Florida so far. I’ve also really enjoyed watching the Avalanche beat the wheels off the St. Louis Blues. That Avs team is so good.

Baggedmilk:

Panthers and Lightning has been fantastic so I’m with you on that one. I’ve also enjoyed the Bruins and Capitals a lot because there have been a lot of fun goals.

Apr 14, 2017; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers anthem singer Robert Clark signs O’Canada with 18,000 Edmonton Oilers fans in game two of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place.

5) Clay asks – I’ve loved watching the other playoff series from around the NHL and my question is how much everyone misses the live crowds after watching games in the States that have them?

Robin Brownlee:

Fun for the fans and that’s what playoff hockey is about. Atmosphere plays a part in playoff hockey.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Oh, it’s hard to even put into words how sad I am that the Oilers are in a playoff series and there aren’t 18,500 screaming fans at Rogers Place. It’s such a shame.

Baggedmilk:

It rips my heart out that we’re not able to be at the games or throw events or do anything. I never would have expected two seasons worth of NHL playoffs without fans in the stands, and to see how much fun they’re having down south, it just makes it that much worse.

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