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Monday Mailbag – Were the questions about the Oilers’ depth ridiculous the whole time?

Oilers Mattias Janmark scores goal
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
28 days ago
Happy Game 7 Monday, friends! Welcome to a brand new Monday Mailbag, where I take your questions and send them off to the crew for their thoughts. This week, we’re discussing the Oilers’ depth players coming through, changing game plans, enjoying the ride and a whole lot more. If you’ve got a question you’d like to ask, email it to me at baggedmilk@oilersnation.com or hit me up on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk , and I’ll get to you as soon as we can.
Jun 21, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Zach Hyman (18) celebrates his goal with teammates against the Florida Panthers during the second period in game six of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1) Alexandre asks – This season has been one we’ll never forget but the biggest game yet is still to come. Have you taken a moment to enjoy the ride, or does it not matter until this last game is played?
Jason Gregor:
Having covered many horrific season-is-over in November, I’ve learned long ago to enjoy a good team to cover. I’m a firm believer that in any journey it is important to celebrate the steps along the way, not the just the end, otherwise you won’t enjoy it. Most fans still have great memories of 2006, and one game doesn’t change that. Of course the Oilers and their fans want to win, but if they do lose, I don’t see how anyone can say they didn’t enjoy the season before Game 7 starts.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Oh I’ve taken plenty of moments. I tried to really soak in the 16-game winning streak and now in the playoffs, I’ve been trying to really soak in every victory. The one that stands out is obviously beating Dallas in Game 6 and winning the West but there have been plenty of awesome little moments with Nation Citizens throughout this run.
Zach Laing:
This has been a special year in so many ways. For me, it’s been a pleasure to get to be in the Oilers locker room covering the Finals. After I finished all my work Friday night after Game 6, I went and stood in an empty Rogers Place and just kind of looked around, soaking it all in. That for me was a moment where I was able to really reflect on the ride, but much more of that will come later tonight.
Liam Horrobin:
After Game 4 when I was walking through downtown I had a moment of reflection. It’s been fantastic to watch the excitement around the city grow. I’ve been lucky to go on the road each round and meeting people there has been amazing too. This season is one that will be a core memory of mine forever.
Baggedmilk:
I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’m old enough to remember 2006 and how it almost felt like we’d never get back to this moment, so I’m soaking it all up. I’m having the time of my life.
Jun 13, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) skates with the puck defended by Florida Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling (42) in the first period in game three of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place.
2) Harry asks – Seems the Panthers have the existing power play figured out. How about tweaking it a bit and putting the two hot young guys Broberg and Holloway on the first unit with McDavid, Hyman, and Bouchard and building a strong second unit with Draisaitl, Nugent Hopkins, Mcleod, Foegele, and either Ekholm or Nurse on defence? Give the units equal time and see what happens.
Jason Gregor:
No. No. No. No. No and no chance. You think a coach would make a drastic change in the final game of the season, when they have spent zero time practicing as those units and the PP is 23% in the past three games? Gawd no.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I don’t like that idea. This powerplay has been historically good in the past and they’ve shown in these playoffs that they get more dangerous as the series goes longer. I’m not doing anything crazy ahead of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. If I’m Kris Knoblauch, I’m taking the same five players and playing them for all two minutes of every powerplay that I get.
Zach Laing:
At this point in the year, no swaps like that will happen. The Oilers’ power play has still operated at a 29.7 percent clip in the playoffs. Among all teams who have played over 15 games in the playoffs since power play numbers began being tracked in 1977-78, it’s the seventh-best unit all-time. Despite them operating at a 13 percent clip in the finals, changing the units would be overthinking it.
Liam Horrobin:
Your best option to score on the power play is those five players. They’ll come through in the big moment so we shouldn’t worry about making tweaks.
Baggedmilk:
The good thing about the Oilers’ power play is how the boys always seem to make adjustments when someone looks like they’ve got it dialled in. I bet we see a PP goal from Edmonton tonight in Game 7.
Jun 13, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers left wing Warren Foegele (37) celebrates goal with Edmonton Oilers center Adam Henrique (19) in the second period in game three of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place.
3) Ed M. asks – A lot has been written about Knoblach changing the Oil’s game plan after Game 3. What have they changed, if anything? I see the Panthers playing the swarm. They put a huge investment in the forecheck, leaving them open to a counterattack. Even in Game 1, the Oil had three breakaways in the 1st half of the game. The 2nd goal on Friday had four Panthers inside the Oil blue line, all on one side of the ice leading to a 2-on-1 on the counterattack.
Jason Gregor:
They didn’t make major changes, other than using the stretch pass more. Edmonton outshot and outchanced Florida in Game 1 and 3, they just didn’t win. Florida hasn’t been able to handle Edmonton’s speed, and the longer the series goes, the speed advantage has been more noticeable. The ice in Game 7, might negate that a bit.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I really think a big part of it has been the Oilers capitalizing on their chances better than they did earlier in the series. A lot of people say they’re attacking off the rush better, and there is some truth to that, but if they would have scored on some of their breakaways early in the series we’d probably have a different view on things. I like how the Oilers aren’t afraid to think offense first even in big moments and I love that they do it without playing recklessly and giving up a bunch of odd man rushes the other way.
Zach Laing:
What impressed me during these playoffs was how the Oilers found ways to break down the opposition the deeper a series gets, and this is seen in the game splits. In Games 1 through 3 against each opponent, the Oilers have been outscored 43-39 and are 4-8. In Games 4 through 7, where applicable, they’ve outscored the opposition 46-20 (!) and are 11-1. In this series, the biggest thing that I’ve seen is the improved play off the rush and in the neutral zone for the Oilers. It’s what’s helped lead to their comeback.
Liam Horrobin:
Yes.
Baggedmilk:
I think the Oilers have done a good job of figuring out ways to counter Florida’s aggressive forecheck, but by no means do I think the job is done. I expect the Panthers to give us their best game tonight and that will be a massive challenge to handle.
Jun 15, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Connor Brown (28) skates with the puck defended by Florida Panthers center Evan Rodrigues (17) in the second period in game four of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
4) Gregg asks – Were the questions about Edmonton’s depth ridiculous the whole time or did the guys just step up at the right time?
Jason Gregor:
Yes. I wrote it before the playoffs began. Wrote it again before the Dallas series and again before the Florida series. It has been proven correct every time that Edmonton’s depth was, and is, not an issue.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Like with most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Henrique, Janmark, and Brown are playing their best hockey right now but, Ken Holland also intentionally brought all three of those players into the mix because he knew what they could be when they’re at their best. So the players get the bulk of the credit for stepping up at the right time, but the GM gets some credit here too.
Zach Laing:
I think it’s a bit of both. The questions and critiques were fair at the time, but there are lots of players who have stepped up in significant moments for them as the playoffs have gotten deeper and deeper.
Liam Horrobin:
The criticism was fair but now guys have stepped up. Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod couldn’t hit a barn door but have now produced in pivotal moments. The third line has helped drag the Oilers right back into this series but previously hadn’t done a ton offensively.
Baggedmilk:
I think it’s both. I think some of the concerns were valid about whether or not the depth players would be able to contribute when it mattered most, but to their credit, everyone has stepped up as the playoffs wore on. If the Oilers are going to complete this comeback and win the Stanley Cup in Game 7, we’ll need all 19 players to step up one last time.
Jun 28, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; The draft board after round one of the 2023 NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena.
5) Cliff asks – Do you think it matters much that the Oilers are still playing hockey while other teams are already making moves and planning out their offseason?
Jason Gregor:
The teams making moves aren’t very good. Did Edmonton want Markstrom, Dubois, Kuemper or Goodrow? Nope, plus Edmonton is gaining loads of experience and their young players like Bouchard, Broberg, Skinner and Holloway will only benefit from this run to Game 7.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Oh God no. Every one of those teams would trade places with us right now. WE ARE IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL!
Zach Laing:
Of course it is. There are only two teams left in the playoffs, but it also means the way the team prepares for the offseason has changed, too. The OIlers are already hard at work doing offseason prep, as evident in Frank Seravalli’s report that the team has begun contract extension talks with Leon Draisaitl. The late season won’t impact things for them.
Liam Horrobin:
No because I think the Oilers would rather be playing for the Stanley Cup than trying to build to win a Stanley Cup right now. I understand it but the rest of the teams need to prepare for the next season too.
Baggedmilk:
Maybe it does for the organization a little bit, but I couldn’t care less right now. I actually forgot the draft is happening this week and that doesn’t bother me one bit.

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