GDB +17.0: Did the Oilers learn their lesson from Game 5 in the last round? (6:30pm MT, CBC)

Pre-game skate in Dallas
Photo credit:Baggedmilk
21 days ago
After the Oilers beat the Stars 5-2 and tied the series at two games apiece on Wednesday in Game 4, we’ve got ourselves a best-of-three to wrap up the Western Conference Final. Does it get any better than this?
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We’ve got a big opportunity on deck here, friends. If the Oilers can win this game, they’ll have a chance to close the series at home on Sunday night. This is massive but also oddly familiar. Is anyone else feeling deja vu about the way the first four games of this Western Conference Final have played out? Doesn’t it feel similar to where we were after four games in the second round against Vancouver, specifically the two contests played on home ice? Just me? It can’t be.
In Game 3, the Oilers started like a house on fire, but their own mistakes ultimately led to their downfall and a heartbreaking loss. They had the chance to make some magic but blew it because of poor execution. Then, in Game 4, the Oilers came up with one of their best efforts of the series — first few minutes aside — and ended up blowing Dallas out of the water just like they did to the Canucks. Both series had the Oilers mess up in the third game and rebound nicely two nights later.
There’s no way I’m the only one to think this way, right? Anyway…
As I started putting the comparisons together in my mind, I couldn’t help but remember how poorly Game 5 went at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. Instead of hitting the ice with the same piss and vinegar that led them to tie the series up at two apiece, the boys were as flat as we’d seen them in months, and the result was a lopsided win by the Canucks that put us on the brink of elimination.
Needless to say, that can’t happen tonight in Dallas. The Stars are way too good to give them even an extra inch of unearned ice, and if the boys are going to avoid going up against the ropes for the second straight series, they’ll need to bring their A-Game for all 60 minutes. I’m talking about no lulls to start the game or the second period or any stretch of time that gives Dallas a chance to do their thing. We need execution, and it must happen at a high level.
Most importantly, we need consistency.
In the two games the Oilers have won, they played at their pace and style and they did it for more than 20 minutes. When Edmonton is at their best, they’re engaged physically, they’re moving their feet, challenge on the rush, and their puck management is dialled in. They move the puck up ice with purpose rather than throwing hopes and prayers up the ice to try and force something through, and most importantly, the Oilers don’t give up unearned chances against.
In Game 3, the worst of our two losses imo, the Oilers had several lengthy stretches where Dallas was able to dictate the play and generate offence without being dealt many counterpunches. Instead of making plays, all the boys could do was pull out the pitching wedge and try to chip the puck out to centre ice. And the most painful part was that all the chaos came after the Oilers had one of their best starts of the playoffs.
What we can’t have tonight is another game where the Oilers look like they think it will be easy. Obviously, I know they don’t assume beating the Stars is going to be easy, but when they get off their game plan for long stretches, that’s certainly what it looks like. But if we can get them hitting that extra gear as they did over the final 52 minutes of Game 4 and limit their mistakes, then there’s no reason we can’t head back to Edmonton with a chance to move on.
Let’s see what the numbers say…


POWER PLAY%32.622.5
AVG. SHOTS/FOR30.328.1
TEAM SAVE%.888.931
CORSI FOR%50.7748.38
Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick (Sv%, CF%, PDO, Shooting%, xGF% all at 5×5)




Nugent-Hopkins – McDavid – Hyman
McLeod – Draisaitl – Perry
Kane – Henrique – Holloway
Janmark – Carrick – Brown
Ekholm – Bouchard
Nurse – Kulak
Broberg – Ceci
Kris Knoblauch has balls the size of the North Saskatchewan, and they were on full display again on Wednesday when he made three significant changes to his lineup at a pivotal moment in the series. But once again, the guy has his finger on the team’s pulse in a way that I don’t think I’ve experienced before, and I’m ready to ride with him on whatever he decides will be best as the series shifts back to the American Airlines Arena.
Looking at the line rushed from morning skate, the sole difference is that it looks like Sam Carrick will come into the lineup in place of Derek Ryan, though nothing has been confirmed yet.


Robertson – Hintz – Seguin
Benn – Johnston – Stankoven
Marchment – Duchene – Pavelski
Faksa – Steel – Dadonov
Harley – Heiskanen
Lindell – Tanev
Suter – Petrovic
The big question for Game 5 will be whether or not Chris Tanev can play after he was spotted at the Edmonton airport in a walking boot yesterday. Tanev blocked a shot from Evander Kane during the second period on Wednesday and did not return, and I don’t think I have to tell anyone reading this why losing their best shutdown defenceman would be a massive blow to a Stars blue line that is already beat up a little bit.
Stars head coach Pete DeBoer spoke to the media this morning and said he was “optimistic” that Tanev would be able to play but it would be a game time decision. The game of chess continues, friends. According to the Twitter machine, Lian Bichsel has been told to be ready to play just in case Tanev cannot go.


From Defending Big D:
For all the doom and gloom (which is to be expected after a loss like that), I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I still think Dallas pulls off the series win, with or without Tanev. They still have home-ice advantage, which will help in getting their preferred matchups against McDavid and Draisaitl, and the team in general bounces back well from losses (5-1 this postseason). I have a hard time believing they lose a second game in a row, which is what needs to happen for Edmonton to close out this series.
That being said, Game 5 kind of feels like a “must win” in that regard. Giving Edmonton a chance to close out the series on home ice in Game 6 feels like a recipe for disaster, even with the Stars’ stellar road record. Of course, winning Game 5 but then losing in Edmonton anyways just sets you up for a “winner take all” in Game 7, which also doesn’t sit well in my stomach, Pete DeBoer’s ridiculous record aside.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
Game Day Prediction: Oilers push the Stars to the brink of elimination with a clutch 4-2 win on the road.
Obvious Game Day Prediction: The Oilers’ power play gets two chances to do something in Game 5, and cashes in on one of those opportunities.
Not-So-Obvious Game Day Prediction: Corey Perry picks up his first goal of the playoffs.

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