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GDB +11.0: Do or die for the Edmonton Oilers (6pm MT, CBC)

Rogers Place Game 3
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
baggedmilk
1 month ago
For the second straight playoffs, the Oilers find themselves in an elimination game at home in Game 6 after a disappointing outing on Thursday in Vancouver. Last year, Vegas eliminated the Oilers at home. Tonight, the boys will look to avoid that same fate.
Be sure to check out the latest NHL playoff odds with online sportsbook Betway.
Before we get to the task at hand, I have to look back at the disappointing effort the Oilers put down in Vancouver in Game 5. That’s not to take away from what the Canucks did — they were easily the better team — but I don’t think you’ll find anyone that cheers for Edmonton that was happy with the overall effort. Outside of a few players lower in the lineup, there were a whole lot of passengers who were simply not engaged enough.
It was almost like the Oilers hung the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner after taking a 2-1 lead into the first intermission, and they allowed the Canucks to walk all over them from there. Obviously, it’s not as simple as saying that the boys stopped skating, but from where I was posted up at Greta, it certainly looked that way. How else would you describe Edmonton’s inability to break the puck out or generate more than 12 shots over the final 40 minutes?
Looking ahead at Game 6, there aren’t many areas where the Oilers won’t need to improve if they plan to extend the series. Outside of the opening 20 minutes, Thursday night’s game was rough for so many reasons that it’s difficult to single out any specific area. More importantly, we don’t need to relive those problems today, but we do need a lot more from a bunch of guys if the Oilers are going to avoid getting bumped at home for the second straight season. If Edmonton is going to stay alive, everyone needs to be ready to go for 60 and not 20 minutes.
More specifically, the Oilers have to get back to basics. After reading Bruce Curlock’s tactical breakdown from Game 5, the biggest thing that stuck out to me was that the Oilers completely lost their structure. Their breakout was a mess, they weren’t supporting each other with passing options, and the result was to punt the puck into the neutral zone without having much of a plan on how they would retrieve it.
That wasn’t the case in Game 4 when the Oilers kept Vancouver quiet for the bulk of the night until their late-game flurry knotted the score up at two apiece. For the first 50 minutes, the Oilers played a much simpler style that saw them connecting with quick passes, allowing them to work through the neutral zone with speed.
In Game 5, they went right back to everyone flying the zone early and the defencemen being forced to bomb passes down to the other blue line hoping to connect on a Hail Mary. That won’t work against the Canucks when they’re forechecking as hard as they did two nights ago. That’s how we got the odd-man rushes down low, and that’s why it looked like the d-men were constantly being swarmed without any other option but to chip it off the glass.
The good news is that we’ve seen the Oilers rebound plenty of times before, and I’d bet all of Gregor’s money on their ability to make that happen tonight. I know I’m as biased as it gets — I’ll never deny it either — but if the boys can’t get fired up to fight for their lives in front of a building full of people screaming for them, then I don’t know when they will.
This is a massive moment for the Edmonton Oilers to show that they are the team we all believed they would be. Yet, after watching how poorly things went less than 48 hours ago, my biggest question is whether they’re ready to rise to the challenge laid out before them. I believe they can do it, but do they? We shall see.
Let’s see what the numbers say…

THE NUMBERS

OILERSCANUCKS
RECORD6-47-4
WIN/LOSS STREAKL1W1
GOALS FOR3830
GOALS AGAINST3028
POWER PLAY%40.017.2
PENALTY KILL%89.381.1
AVG. SHOTS/FOR30.221.6
AVG. SHOTS/AGAINST26.227.0
TEAM SAVE%.889.929
CORSI FOR%49.3648.21
PDO0.9861.032
TEAM SHOOTING%9.6810.33
EXPECTED GOALS FOR%49.7950.97
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)

GAME PREVIEW PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid– Hyman
Holloway – Draisaitl – Kane
Foegele – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Desharnais
Kulak – Ceci
Skinner
Obviously, the big change for Game 6 is that Stuart Skinner will be back in the crease after being replaced by Calvin Pickard for Games 4 and 5. For a lot of us, putting Stu back in net is a significant gamble given how he’s played in the three starts he’s had so far in this series, but we’ll have to hope that he can regain the form that helped drive the Oilers’ turnaround.
Looking at the skaters, Adam Henrique will be unavailable for tonight’s game despite earlier reports that he could be swapped in for Corey Perry. After practice, Kris Knoblauch stated that there will be some lineup changes, but didn’t specify what that would look like until the team gets through its pre-game skate.
Listed above are the line combos from Game 5 but haven’t been updated by the team, so don’t read too much into them just yet.

Canucks

Hoglander – Lindholm – Pettersson
Suter – Miller – Boeser
Joshua – Blueger – Garland
Di Giuseppe – Aman – Podkolzin
Hughes – Hronek
Soucy – Myers
Zadorov – Cole
Silovs
The Canucks played their best game of the series on Thursday, so there’s really no reason to expect any changes from them tonight. From start to finish, Vancouver was the better team in Game 5, and you can bet the farm that they’ll be coming out firing in an attempt to end the series now instead of going back home for a seventh game.
If the Oilers are going to avoid the 2024 playoff trend of teams getting eliminated on home ice in Game 6, they’ll need a whole lot more from basically everyone outside of the fourth line. That’s a tall order, but one they’ll need to fill to avoid the same fate as last year when Vegas bounced them out in the exact same situation.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: The Oilers extend the series with a 4-2 win that has the crowd blowing the roof off at Rogers Place.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers’ power play will not get shut out again.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Ryan McLeod picks up his first goal of the playoffs to give the Oilers an early lead, and it could not come at a better time.

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