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Monday Mailbag – What did the Oilers do differently in Game 4?

Connor McDavid Photoshop
Photo credit:Tom Kostiuk
baggedmilk
28 days ago
Happy Monday, friends! Welcome to a brand new Monday Mailbag where I take your questions and send them off to the crew. This week, we’re discussing the Oilers being down 3-1 in the Stanley Cup Final, why they were successful in Game 4, playing under pressure, 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 15, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Mattias Janmark (13) celebrates a goal in the first period against the Florida Panthers n game four of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
1) Cliff asks – Everybody knows what the math says about the Oilers coming back in this series, but are there reasons you personally believe it’s possible?
Jason Gregor:
Edmonton has played well, and could easily be tied 2-2. Obviously, winning four in a row will be difficult, and there is no room for error or bad luck. But the biggest factor is they Connor McDavid and he is capable of dominating a few games. He got a lot of support last game, which was great, but if they need to win a game 3-2 he could factor in on all three goals and no one would be surprised.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Connor McDavid is number one. If that guy wants to go on a nice little vintage McDavid heater for the next week, it’s going to be hard for the Panthers to stop. Also, Stuart Skinner has looked very good for a few weeks now and that’s very encouraging. He can keep them in this series when they falter.
Zach Laing:
Hope Will Never Die. It’s as simple as that, but one thing that stands out to me was just how dominant the Oilers were Saturday night. I think if the final score was close — say a 2-1, or 3-2 win, for example — there might’ve been more of a feeling of “well what can you do.” The fact the Oilers took over the game in such a big way, including chasing Sergei Bobrovsky, gives me optimism they can do it.
Liam Horrobin:
Yes. Stuart Skinner, minus one mistake in Game 3, has been solid. The power play hasn’t fully clicked yet. The stars looked to have woken up in Game 4. It’s an uphill battle but lots of positives to take into Game 5.
Baggedmilk:
I believe they can do it because they have the two best players on the planet, and it’s going to be very difficult for Florida to keep them on the mat forever. Game 4 was a great first step, but now we need to see if the boys can do it again.
Jun 8, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers forward Eetu Luostarinen (27) reaches across Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) for the puck during the first period in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
2) Yves asks – There are no silver linings in the Stanley Cup Final, but I also felt that the Oilers were unlucky to be down by three games heading into Game 4. Do you think the Oil were as bad as their 0-3 record?
Jason Gregor:
No, but they lost due to a lack of scoring in Game 1 and some untimely errors in Game 3. They can’t afford a repeat of either if they hope to win.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
No, I don’t but I also don’t want to give them too much credit. Their big guns had to be better and they needed to eliminate some of the sloppy, dumb mistakes from their game. But Games 1 and 3 were not very lopsided.
Zach Laing:
No, not at all. The Oilers shot 4.65 percent as a team through the first three games of the series, and Bobrovsky was standing on his head. According to Natural Stat Trick, Edmonton had 8.53 expected goals to Florida’s 8.88, while the Oilers had four goals to the Panthers’ 11. If the Oilers shot at the playoff average rate of 9.64 percent, they would’ve had eight goals. They had no business being in Game 2, but they very easily could’ve been up 2-1.
Liam Horrobin:
Not at all. I think this series should be 2-2 at the minimum. The Oilers should’ve won Games 1 and Florida deserved to win Game 2. Game 3, minus that seven minutes in the second period, was the Oilers game to lose. Then of course the Oilers rolled the Panthers in Game 4. You can make an argument that it could even be 3-1 Edmonton.
Baggedmilk:
I think they were extremely unlucky in Game 1. They played well in the opener, but you have to give Bobrovsky credit for standing on his head. They could have also probably won Game 3, but made the kind of costly errors that a team like Florida will feast on every single time. At worst, I feel like the Oilers probably deserve to be in a tie series, but the scoreboard really doesn’t care about feelings, does it?
Jun 15, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) skates with the puck against the Florida Panthers during the second period in game four of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place.
3) Oilers fan in Van asks – What did the Oilers do differently in Game 4 that they weren’t doing earlier in the series? The obvious answer is scoring goals again, but what did you see that led to their success on Saturday night?
Jason Gregor:
They altered their approach a bit and attempted more stretch passes up the boards, or flip passes high in the air. It forced Florida’s D-men to stay back more and they weren’t able to pressure as much. That was the one tactical difference I noticed.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Attacking the Panthers with speed and exiting their zone smoothly. The Panthers struggled when the Oilers moved their feet in the neutral zone and didn’t just immediately cough up possession.
Zach Laing:
They were relentless in their game all night long. They played their game, got the Panthers on their heels early, and never took the foot off the gas. I think back to games from earlier in the playoffs when the Oilers got leads and started playing too safe of a game, but they didn’t let that happen Saturday.
Liam Horrobin:
They shot high and got more into the face of Bobrovsky. In Game 1 especially, they continuously shot into  his lower half which is his biggest strength. Easier said than down but they need to maintain that shot result.
Baggedmilk:
They were relentless for 60 minutes, they crashed the crease, and weren’t scared to make plays when they needed to. That was, without question, their most complete effort of the series. We’ll need three more of those, though.
Jun 8, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch reacts during the third period against the Florida Panthers in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
4) Gregg asks – A few of the players have said there is no pressure on Edmonton anymore and that it has all shifted to Florida? Why would that be the case when the Oilers are only one loss away from falling short of their goal?
Jason Gregor:
There is pressure for both teams. Hyman said no pressure because no one expects them to win, but of course he and his teammates expect to win, so there will always be some pressure.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
I don’t think that’s true. The pressure doesn’t shift back to Florida until Game 6 in my opinion. Make them come back to Edmonton and they’ll be feeling the heat.
Zach Laing:
It’s simple: one team is one away from winning the Stanley Cup, and they haven’t done it yet. It’s on Florida to win just one more game, while everyone expected the Oilers to lose Game 4.
Liam Horrobin:
The expectation is that Florida is going to win. If the Oilers can win Game 5, then Florida may start feeling that pressure. It’s obliviously cliche to say by the players but there’s truth to it.
Baggedmilk:
The fourth win is always the hardest to get in the playoffs, and I’d imagine that’s even more so in the Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers are going to be desperate to keep this thing alive, and as we saw on Saturday, they’re more than a handful when they play that way.
Jun 8, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) controls the puck during the second period against the Florida Panthers in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.
5) Ed M. asks – I am reading an article expressing the hope that if the Oil win the Cup it will increase McD’s profile in the USA. This made me wonder why I should care about McD’s profile, the NHL, or hockey in general in the USA. Should we be concerned about any of that?
Jason Gregor:
Increasing his profile in the USA will benefit the NHL as a league, likely leading to more revenue, and if the Cap keeps increasing it will make it easier for the Oilers to fill out their roster after paying McDavid and Draisaitl big money. If you want Edmonton to remain competitive and compete for championships, and increased salary cap will help them.
Tyler Yaremchuk:
Yes. Growing the game is good. Hockey is the best sport in the world and more eyeballs should be on it. Also, the Oilers are a wealthy organization and if the cap keeps going up, they’ll keep spending to it. Getting hockey related revenue up means more money for the rich teams to spend on good players. Also, it’s putting Edmonton on the map!
Zach Laing:
Yes, you should. Connor McDavid is a player who can already be considered on the Mount Rushmore of hockey as one of the best players to ever play in the sport. If you’re a hockey fan who isn’t paying attention to him or what he’s doing, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Liam Horrobin:
I think this Stanley Cup Final has helped increase Connor McDavids profile, and even other Oilers like Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl. When you get Shaq and Charles Barkley talking about the Oilers on an NBA national playoff broadcast that’s huge.
From a Canadian perspective it won’t change your image of them much; however, the buzz of McDavid in the US can create more revenue giving teams more cap space and can attract more players from your not so typical hockey states, who could then become a star on your team.
Baggedmilk:
Increased exposure in the US matters because of the size of the market, and having the best player on earth in front of more eyeballs can be really effective in getting people excited. If more people are watching the NHL down south, that means the TV deals can be bigger and the league is ultimately healthier. Why we should care here in Edmonton is that league revenue going up also means that the salary cap will go up, and we really, really need that to happen.

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