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GDB +5.0: Edmonton Oilers throwing smoke screens at LA Kings (7:30pm MT, CBC)

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Photo credit:Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
10 months ago
This article could’ve been a lot different had the Edmonton Oilers not mounted the Comeback at Crypto.com.
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Facing a huge, 3-0 deficit heading into the second period, they did the unthinkable scoring three goals in the second to tie the game before eventually winning it on a Zach Hyman shot in overtime. Jay Woodcroft made the tough decision to bench Stuart Skinner after that first frame and ride Jack Campbell through the rest of the game and it paid off in dividends.
Campbell looked locked in turning aside 27 of 28 shots faced and made multiple big saves. His biggest came in the third period stoning Viktor Arvidsson who came in on a partial breakaway. The decision to go back to Skinner, or stick with Campbell can’t be an easy one, but it appears Skinner will continue to see the Oilers crease.
That’s not the only move Woodcroft and co. made in that game. Running 11 forwards and seven defencemen, Vincent Desharnais, who got burnt by Arvidsson in the first period on his goal, was on the ice for all three Kings goals in the first period. He looked out of place and ended up getting sat on the bench in the second period in favour of a younger, more mobile Philip Broberg.
A small move, I felt that Broberg’s game complimented more of the style of play that game four brought. It didn’t have that element of physicality the previous three games had with both teams seeming concerned about taking any penalties.
I felt Broberg played a really solid game as a whole. He succeeded in moving the puck up the ice and helped keep plays alive at the offensive blue line. One notable shift early in the second saw him chip the puck out of the Oilers’ zone off a defensive draw that turned into an immediate scoring chance the other way. That same shift he used his feet to keep the puck alive as the Oilers third line put the pressure on the Kings.
The Oilers are likely to utilize seven defencemen again tonight and I would like to see the Oilers rely a little more on Broebrg throughout the game. His only knock from game four is that he was on the ice for the Matt Roy goal in the third period. It doesn’t fall on him, however. Leon Draisaitl lost his footing in the neutral zone battling with Trevor Moore, and Broberg’s defensive partner, Darnell Nurse, went to finish a check on the Kings forward. It left Broberg more-or-less alone and wasn’t able to break up the pass to Roy, who was streaking in alone on the back door.
Edmonton also has a choice to make upfront. Does Dylan Holloway draw in tonight? The Bakersfield Condors’ season ended over the weekend and the winger was called up. He played in over 50 NHL games already this year and showed well in the American League, so I have no doubt he could slide in and play tonight.
Woodcroft is throwing smoke screens at the Kings. As noted by Tom Gazzola at the morning skate, there is tons going on. Stuart Skinner is in the starter’s net. Evander Kane isn’t on the ice, and Holloway is skating with Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Nick Bjugstad, meanwhile, is centering a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman.
The Oilers are either throwing things in a blender, or they’re trying to throw the Kings off their scent.

PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

Lines from morning skate. Subject to change.
Holloway* – McDavid – Draisaitl
RNH– Bjugstad – Hyman
Foegele – McLeod – Yamamoto
Kostin – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Desharnais
Broberg
Skinner
As noted, these lines are subject to change and could be part of the smoke screens Woodcroft is throwing. Kane didn’t take the morning skate ahead of game four, but played that night and scored a huge goal to tie the game.The safe money suggests that Kane is going to play tonight and we’ll assume that until we hear otherwise. This article will be updated as more information comes out during the day.

Kings…

Lines from game four.
Byfield – Kopitar – Kempe
Moore – Danault – Arvidsson
Grundstrom – Vilardi – Iafallo
Anderson-Dolan– Kupari – MacEwen
Anderson – Doughty
Gavrikov – Roy
Edler – DurziKorpisalo

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Coming off a big comeback, the Oilers maintain momentum and win 3-1.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Evan Bouchard, who is tied for lead among defencemen in playoff scoring, picks up another point tonight.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: For the second time this series, the Oilers go perfect on the penalty kill.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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