21
Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Pros and cons of the Oilers vs. Kings matchup?

Happy playoff Monday, Nation, and welcome to a brand new Mailbag to help you get your week started and make sense of all things Edmonton Oilers. This week, we’re looking at playoff storylines, the Oilers’ matchup against the Kings, surprise performances, and a whole lot more. If you’ve got got a question you’d like to ask, 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.

Feb 14, 2022; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft stands behind the bench during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

1) Ed asks – Since JP has been sick the OIl have gone with Yamo and Hyman as the top 6 RWs. Despite his small stature Yamo engages physically well above his weight and is showing more consistent scoring prowess. Given Kane’s physicality do the Oil need JP on the 1st line or is he better suited as a 3rd line shutdown kind of guy? A shutdown line of Foegle-RNH-JP might be very good.

Jason Gregor:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I wouldn’t change any lines right now. The Foegele-RNH-Ryan line has played well. But once the playoffs start, I think players who are playing well will play. Woodcroft has shown he is loyal and gives players a chance, and regardless of which line you start the game on, if you are playing well you will play.

Robin Brownlee:

No need to limit Puljujarvi to one line. He can play 1-2-3 based on who is going and who isn’t. The numbers tell us that. Nothing wrong with the third line you mention either.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I really like the idea of Jesse Puljujarvi and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins together on the third line. They’re both good defensively and Puljujarvi has shown that he can drive play on his own so putting him with a centreman like Nugent-Hopkins could give the Oilers three dangerous scoring lines. Yamamoto has been good in the top six too so I think this could work.

Zach Laing:

I actually think Puljujarvi might fit in well on the second line with Hyman and Draisaitl and bumping up Yamamoto to the 1st. This has more to do with Yamamoto producing better alongside McDavid, than any sort of a knock on Draisaitl. At the end of the day, I think Puljujarvi could fit in well on the third with Nugent-Hopkins, too.

Baggedmilk:

I love that idea. I think having Puljujarvi with Nuge would give us a nice shutdown line with the potential to score, and that would be a really nice add through the playoffs.

Apr 22, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Referee Tim Peel (20) waves off a Colorado Avalanche goal in the second period against the Nashville Predators in game six of the first round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

2) Mike asks – Every year during the playoffs, there is some topic in the media that becomes ‘the hot topic’…to the point it almost becomes cliche. some examples are:
– referees putting away the whistles
– how a team is sacrificing everything
– how important goaltending is

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

What do you predict will be the hot topic in the media for the Oilers this playoff run? What topic in the media do you suspect will not be discussed enough or go unnoticed that you feel will deserve to be discussed?

Jason Gregor:

Complaining about referees is pointless and overblown. They make way more right calls than wrong ones. I try to look for different stories, stats or angles, but to know what they will be before the playoffs starts is difficult. I’ll see what occurs on the ice and discuss that.

Robin Brownlee:

All the above are cliches for a reason — because they’re true. What becomes a hot topic is a reflection of what people are talking about. Your third example, how important goaltending is, will be front and centre again with how hot Smith has been lately. I would hope we aren’t talking about referees putting away the whistles but I suspect we will be. There’ll plenty of Woodcroft as well, with good reason.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The big topic if they win a round: how the veteran leadership that Duncan Keith brought has taught players like McDavid, Draisaitl, and Nurse valuable lessons. It will become the key that a lot of people point to regardless of whether or not it’s true. The one that won’t be talked about if they go deep: how Jay Woodcroft was able to make in series adjustments that previous coaches couldn’t.

Zach Laing:

In the first round, I expect there to be a lot of noise around the Jay Woodcroft – Todd McLellan story, much to the chagrin of the former.

Baggedmilk:

I hate to say it but it’s going to be refs again whether we like it or not. Another obvious one from the first round will be about how Jay Woodcroft matchups up against his mentor Todd McLellan.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Dec 16, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Warren Foegele (37) and Columbus Blue Jackets defensemen Gaberiel Carlsson (53) chase a loose puck during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

3) James in Peterborough asks – With the Oilers back in the playoffs, it is time to think of clutch playoff performers who weren’t necessarily stars. The Oilers have had plenty of them over the years – players like Mike Krushelnyski, MacT, and Fernando Pisani. Who do you think might emerge for this year’s playoff run and why?

Jason Gregor:

I think Connor McDavid is poised for a huge playoff performance. He did have four points in four games last year v. the Jets, but three came in one game. He had no points in the two home games. It isn’t just about points, it is his overall game. I think he takes his game to a new level. In 2017 he had nine in 13 games. For most players, 13 points in 17 games is very good, but McDavid has higher standards. I expect him to dominate in all three zones this postseason.

Robin Brownlee:

Zach Hyman. Goes to the tough areas. Good hands. Smart player.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Warren Foegele has that potential. So does Kailer Yamamoto. Those are my two.

Zach Laing:

I’m going with Warren Foegele. He’s played lots of playoff hockey in Carolina already and elevated his game to another level. He’s a real dark horse.

Baggedmilk:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Give me a Zach Hyman or Warren Foegele heater! But maybe, just maybe we get another edition of playoff Kass? Dare to dream?

Apr 7, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) moves the puck between LA Kings left wing Viktor Arvidsson (33) and center Trevor Moore (12) in the third period at Crypto.com Arena.

4) Blake asks – What do you like about the Oilers’ first round matchup against the Kings? What part about that series do you think will be the most challenging for Edmonton?

Jason Gregor:

Edmonton has more skill and with Nurse returning a better and more experienced blue line. The only challenge I see is can the Oilers play a patient game. The Kings are conservative, and they wait for you to make mistakes. That is the only way the Kings win is if Edmonton makes too many unforced errors. I think they’ve learned from that last season and will dominate LA.

Robin Brownlee:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I think the Oilers have more offensive weapons than the Kings and I like that they won the season series 3-1 despite going 0-for-10 on the PP. It’s also a big plus that Drew Doughty is out for the series. He plays a lot of minutes. Challenge? Todd McLellan knows the Oilers and Jay Woodcroft well.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

It’s a very good matchup for Edmonton. The Kings’ goaltenders have been shaky over the last few months and without Drew Doughty, their blueline is far from a strength. I also think Edmonton has a more dangerous and deeper forward group. It’s a strong matchup.

Zach Laing:

I like the matchup quite a bit. The Oilers are going up against a young defence I think they can exploit. This year, Kopitar did a good job shutting down the Draisaitl line, so I think that will be a matchup to watch.

Baggedmilk:

It will be interesting to see how Kopitar and Danault handle McDavid and Draisaitl. Those two guys are very good defensive centremen and I think they’ll be all over our dynamic duo like flies on a fresh turd. How will Woodcroft adjust?

5) CptCanada94 asks – If you had a ballot for the Hart Trophy, what does it look like? Mine is:

1st place- Connor McDavid
2nd place- Igor Shesterkin
3rd place- Auston Matthews
4th place-Johnny Gaudreau
5th place- Roman Josi

Jason Gregor:

I have one and am not allowed to divulge it. I will state I didn’t have Shesterkin in my final five because he only played in 66% of the Rangers games. He wasn’t able to impact enough games. You can’t make an impact when you never step on the ice in 34% of the games. But if I had a Vezina vote he’d be my top goalie. He has been unreal, but when Hasek won the Hart he played 72 and 67 games. For me, a goalie needs to play that much to be considered for the Hart.

Robin Brownlee:

McDavid
Matthews
Gaudreau
Huberdeau
Josi

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Mine would go McDavid, Matthews, Shesterkin, Josi, Gaudreau.

Zach Laing:

McDavid, Matthews, Josi, Shesterkin, Gaudreau.

Baggedmilk:

McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Hyman, Yamamoto. Oh, was that not the question?

MAILBAG IS BROUGHT TO YOU BY CORNERSTONE INSURANCE

For 90 years and four generations, Cornerstone Insurance has been a family and employee-owned business in Edmonton with all of the insurance products you need for your ever-evolving life. Citizens of the Nation can get a discount here.