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GDB +10.0: Will a Hero Emerge for the Oilers or Canucks? (8pm MT, CBC)

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
Who will be the hero tonight?
One of the great aspects of playoff hockey is how often a team has a hero, sometimes an unexpected one, rise up at a key moment.
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Calvin Pickard didn’t have to stand on his head in Game 4 to get his first NHL playoff victory, but he played well. He was in control and both Vancouver goals defected in off of a player standing in front of the net. Pickard wasn’t beaten by a shot off a stick. He wasn’t the best player or the most impactful, but his presence mattered a lot. The Oilers needed consistent goaltending, and he provided it.
Evan Bouchard was the scoring hero, potting his second game winner in three games. Bouchard buried the overtime winner in Game 2 and has been the second-best Oiler in the series, trailing only Leon Draisaitl, who has been a beast in all four games racking up 10 points.
In Game 1, the Canucks stormed back from a 4-1 deficit and scored four unanswered goals to win 5-4. Connor Garland scored the game-winner with 5:34 remaining, but Vancouver had 10 different players pick up points in their final four goals to secure the victory. Nikita Zadorov had a goal and an assist, while Carson Soucy registered his first multi-point playoff game of his career. Unexpected production from the pride of Irma, Alberta.
In Game 3, Arturs Silovs made 42 saves while the Oilers outshot Vancouver 45-18, but the Canucks won 4-3 on the back of their goaltender. Silovs’ 42 saves were the second-most saves by a Vancouver goalie in a regulation playoff victory in franchise history. Thatcher Demko had a 48-save shutout over Vegas in 2020. Silovs’ performance in game-three was massive for the Canucks, and a tad surprising, considering it was only his 15th NHL game of his career.
So, who will be the hero tonight?
It is easy to think it will be one of the stars like Draisaitl, Connor McDavid, Quinn Hughes, JT Miller, Brock Boeser or Bouchard, but often we see an unheralded player emerge and become a fan favourite for one key goal.
Zack Kassian’s goal and subsequent celebration with the fans behind the net in 2017 was one of those moments, although I’d argue his short-handed goal to open the scoring in game two v. San Jose was a much more important goal. The Oilers won game two 2-0, and Kassian’s shorty was huge. But his third goal of the playoffs in game six v. Anaheim will always be remembered, mainly for the celebration.
Kelly Buchberger’s OT winner v. Dallas in 1997 ranks up there among unexpected heroes.
Todd Marchant bested him with his OT winner, on a breakaway no less, in game seven in that same series v. the Stars.
I doubt any Oilers fans who watched will forget Fernando Pisani’s short-handed OT winner on the road in Carolina in game five of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
Old school Oilers fans remember Kevin McClelland’s goal in game one of the 1984 Stanley Cup Final v. the Islanders. Edmonton won 1-0.
The Oilers could get a meaningful play or goal from one of their depth forwards. As outlined in Game Notes, a goal from any forward at 5×5 would be welcomed. The Oilers need more shots and goals from their forwards. “We have another gear to reach in terms of offence,” said Draisaitl. “I think there is another step for us, and we are looking to find it. I think we deserve a couple more goals falling our way, but their goalie is playing well, and we will have to work harder to find some offence.”
The deeper you go in a series, the more meaningful and intense every shift and game becomes. The margin for error shrinks.
The Oilers hope the hero in Game 5 is in their dressing room.

GAME PREVIEW PRESENTED BY BETWAY

LINEUPS…

Oilers

RNH – McDavid– Hyman
Holloway – Draisaitl – Kane
Foegele – McLeod – Perry
Janmark – Ryan – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Desharnais
Kulak – Ceci
Pickard
Don’t expect any lineup changes for the Oilers. Pickard will start, as he should. Draisaitl, Kane and Ekholm didn’t take the morning skate, but they will play. Adam Henrique did skate, but he won’t play. It looks like he might have rushed back for Game 2, and he hasn’t played since. They could use him, but coming off an ankle sprain he needs to be sure he can handle the board battles etc. He might not play the rest of this series, unless it goes seven games.

Canucks

Suter – Miller – Boeser
Joshua – Blueger – Garland
Hoglander – Lindholm – Pettersson
Di Giuseppe – Aman – Podkolzin
Hughes – Hronek
Soucy – Myers
Zadorov – Cole
Silovs
Rick Tocchet wasn’t happy after game four, stating his team has “too many passengers, and some guys don’t know it is the playoffs.” They will have three new forwards in the lineup tonight as Nils Hoglander and Phil Di Giuseppe are back in and Vasili Podkolsin makes his series debut. Ilya Mikheyev, Sam Lafferty and Linus Karlsson are out. The Canucks will have three new lines as Elias Pettersson moves to right wing alongside Elias Lindholm and Hoglander and Teddy Blueger will centre Dakota Joshua and Conor Garland.
Carson Soucy returns from his one-game suspension and Noah Juulsen comes out on the blue line.
JT Miller texted Tocchet yesterday apologizing for his what he deemed a poor performance in game 4. Miller is the heartbeat of their team, so look for him to be fired up to start. The Oilers should be ready, and able to handle the Canucks’ early push.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers become first team to win consecutive games in the series. The squeak out a 4-2 victory with an empty net goal.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: One team will have a power play in the first four minutes of the game. Each team has been shorthanded twice early in the first period.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Third line sighting, third line sighting. Perry picks up his 125th career playoff point to tie Patrik Elias for 57th all-time.

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