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GDB 10.0: Oilers Look To Avoid a Losing Skid (8pm MT, CBC)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
The Edmonton Oilers haven’t lost consecutive games since February 25th and 27th. Since then they went 18-2-1 in the regular season and are 5-4 in the playoffs. They are 23-6-1 in their last 30 games and will look to continue their ability to bounce back after a loss.
They are confident and excited about the opportunity to make this a best-of-three series.
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“We can do a better job of establishing our game in the offensive zone,” said Jay Woodcroft. “We feel we didn’t do that last game, but we have a proud group and players who can find ways to impact games and that’s what they have done the past few months,” continued Woodcroft when asked about their ability to win after a loss.
They will need to be much better tonight than they were in game three. Vegas led Winnipeg 2-1 and won game four on the road before finishing the series at home in five games. They know the importance of a victory tonight. We’ve yet to see an evenly played game in this series. Vegas dominated games one and three, while Edmonton crushed Vegas 5-1 in game two. We’ve seen similar results in other series.
Carolina has won three games by scores of 51- 6-1 and 6-1, while New Jersey’s lone victory was 8-4.
Seattle won 7-2 and Dallas responded with a 6-3 win last night in game four.
Toronto and Florida’s games have been closer, but Florida has won all three.
Will tonight be close, or will one team get dominated again? It’s difficult to predict, as I wouldn’t have expected Edmonton to be so flat in game three. Even when they were playing okay early, Woodcroft wasn’t enamoured with their play.
“We did have numerous chances to score (early), but I didn’t love the way we were playing the game,” said Woodcroft. “Sometimes that (scoring chances) doesn’t tell the whole story. The other thing I believe, is when you are not on, which we clearly weren’t in game three, often you don’t convert or finish on those ones. We had numerous odd-man rushes and two-on-ones, but we didn’t convert, but in terms of the full 60 minutes I know our team can play a much more complete game, a more connected game and that’s what we are looking to do tonight.”
While the Oilers don’t like the situation they are in, it is still a lot of fun. Nick Bjugstad is in the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career. He’s thrilled he got to experience winning a series, and admits it is a learning curve in dealing with the big emotional swings after a win or a loss.
“It is definitely a day-to-day process is what I’m learning,” smiled Bjugstad. “You have to handle your emotions in a diligent manner as far as you have to be really attentive of not getting too low on yourself when you lose and too high when you win. It is a fun thing to be a part of, and while we aren’t happy with the spot we are in, we feel we can give ourselves a good chance if we come out much better than we did two nights ago. It might sound odd, but being involved in all these emotional swings, but going through this is incredibly fun. I can’t wait to play tonight.”
Edmonton is still confident in its abilities. And they should be. You can’t panic, or let negativity leak into the room. If you do, you’re done. Series over. I didn’t sense that in round one v. LA and I didn’t see or hear that today. It won’t guarantee victory tonight, but if there was some doubt, then their chance of evening this series at two wins apiece would be non-existent.

WHERE CAN THEY PLAY BETTER?

May 8, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) Nashville Predators on Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault (81) during the second period in game three of the second round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Their starts have been good. They have scored first in all three games, but in game one they allowed Vegas to tie the game 40 seconds after going ahead 1-0, and early in the second period when they tied it at three, they allowed Vegas to regain the lead 61 seconds later. In game three after Warren Foegele made it 1-0, Vegas tied it just under two minutes later. Edmonton can’t have a let down after scoring. The players need to remain sharp and aware.
They need to test Adin Hill. He will make his first NHL playoff start tonight. The Oilers barely tested him in relief in game three. He faced 22 shots in 47 minutes and maybe one was a real high quality chance. Hill isn’t an elite goalie, but he’s also not a plug. He has a career .910Sv%, which is solid in an era of higher scoring games. The Oilers have to make life difficult for him by going east-west and forcing him to open up.
They need to generate more possession in the offensive zone. They were one of the best teams in the regular season, so it isn’t a big ask. Vegas is good, but like any team, if you force them to defend for long stretches, eventually you will create scoring chances. I’d still like to see Edmonton get more bodies in front of the net and bang home a greasy rebound. Vegas won more battles in key areas of the ice in game three. Edmonton must do better around both creases tonight.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – McLeod – Ryan
Kostin –Bjugstad  –Janmark
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Skinner
I expect Mattias Janmark to play tonight. Zach Hyman didn’t skate yesterday or today, but considering Philip Broberg stayed out late after the morning skate, I sense Hyman could play. It isn’t for sure, and neither are the above lines. I have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl split up to start, like they were in game one. Kailer Yamamoto or Mattias Janmark could be on Draisaitl’s wing. Both have played there. I wouldn’t change the Ryan McLeod line as they have been good all series.
Stuart Skinner needs to make a few big stops. Vegas will generate some chances, and Edmonton needs him to make a timely stop to keep them in the game.

Golden Knights…

Barbashev – Eichel – Marchessault
Howden – Stephenson – Stone
Smith – Karlsson – Amadio
Carrier – Roy – Kolesar
Martinez – Pietrangelo
McNabb – Theodore
Hague – Whitecloud
Hill
Hill is the only lineup change for Vegas. If both teams go with four lines, I’m curious to see which matchup Woodcroft will push for. For those concerned about the Oilers v. backups, they are 5-1 in their last six games when a backup starts the game.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the first time in the series, we see a close game. Edmonton pulls out a 4-3 win to make it a best of three.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton scores a power play goal. They have scored a PP goal in 24 of their last 30 games (regular season and playoffs).
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scores his first goal of the 2023 playoffs.

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