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Monday Mailbag – What were your first thoughts on Kris Knoblauch’s lineup changes?

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
baggedmilk
18 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 Kris Knoblauch’s lineup changes, Philip Broberg’s inclusion in the lineup, Ryan McLeod, 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.
May 27, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars defensemen Chris Tanev (3) and Edmonton Oilers forward Mattias Janmark (13) battle for a loose puck during the first period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1) Ashlea asks – It’s always easier to comment after the fact, but how do you think the Oilers’ depth has matched up against Dallas so far? It seemed like all we heard was how Dallas had an advantage before the series started, but that storyline hasn’t really played out that way.
Jason Gregor:
I said before the series began it was incorrect and the Oilers depth was just fine. Edmonton had better top-end players, which showed in the series, but also their depth players scored more goals than Dallas’ did. I find it odd when people say a team has more depth, when their top-end talent isn’t as good. To me depth matters if the top-end talent is similar, otherwise it is misleading to say a team with less top-end talent has more depth. It only looks that way, because they lack the elite talent.
Baggedmilk:
The Oilers are a damned fine hockey team, and I think a lot of people underestimated them for countless reasons. The depth was certainly one of those reasons, and that’s why I’m pumped that the so many boys were able to step up.
May 31, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Philip Broberg (86) scores a goal against the Dallas Stars during the second period between the Dallas Stars and the Edmonton Oilers in game five of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Jones-USA TODAY Sports
2) Yves asks – How surprised were you to see Philip Broberg inserted into the lineup even though Kris Knoblauch really didn’t have much of a sample size on how he can play at the NHL level?
Jason Gregor:
Bakersfield head coach Colin Chaulk has been around the Oilers for the past month, and I’m sure Knoblauch asked him about Broberg. Also, he saw him in practice daily, and he’d know he is a bit quicker on puck retrievals than Desharnais, so I wasn’t completely shocked. Broberg did play nine playoff games, albeit in limited minutes, last year. I still think we could see Desharnais v. Florida, because they are a much more physical team.
Baggedmilk:
I was surprised. Broberg had barely played for Knoblauch at all — four regular season games total — so to have the trust in him to put him in Vinny’s spot was a big gamble. Shout out to Broberg for stepping up to the challenge.
May 10, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch on the bench against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period game two of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
3) Oilers fan in Van asks – Do you think Kris Knoblauch is taking big risks with his lineup changes, or is it more a product of him being in lockstep with his players?
Jason Gregor:
I don’t view it as a big risk at all. The Oilers have depth and when the takes a player out of the lineup, he is inserting a player with similar skill who is hungry to make an impression. Knoblauch believes in his players, but also isn’t afraid to move guys out if he feels the new guy coming in will help them on that night. It’s not like he is taking out any of his top minute guys. Desharnais was the only player among the top-12 in TOI/game who came out.
Baggedmilk:
Knobby has them big swinging balls, and I’m going to do everything in my power to remember not to second guess his decision making. The guy has his finger on the pulse of this team in a very real way.
May 10, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan McLeod (71) skates prior to game two of the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
4) Allan asks – Outside of the obvious goal he scored in Game 4, what changes, if any, do you see in Ryan McLeod since being made a healthy scratch?
Jason Gregor:
He’s been more engaged in battles. He is also went to the net a bit more regularly. I thought he had a few defensive lapses before being taken out, and after returning he was sharp again defensively like he was in the LA series.
Baggedmilk:
I think he’s doing a better job of using his speed and getting some of the greasier areas of the ice. Not to mention, having him on Leon’s win is a pretty solid fit since I truly believe he’s a better winger than he his a centreman. There’s nothing wrong with that, either, but I just think it’s a better fit.
May 22, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) reacts after a too many men on the ice penalty during the third period of game one of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
5) Randeep asks – What is your read on the Eastern Conference Final? A lot of tight games in that series, but also moments when it seemed like one side would pull away and it never seems to happen.
Jason Gregor:
Florida was the better team most games, similar to Edmonton, and deserved to win. This should be a great Cup Final. Florida is much more aggressive and physical than Dallas was, but it is more their forwards, instead of the D-men like Vancouver.
From January 1st to the end of the regular season all four Conference Finalists ranked top-five in P%. Edmonton was 2nd at .698%, Florida was 3rd at .696, Dallas was 4th at .691 and New York was 5th at .670. Carolina led the NHL. The Panthers and Oilers rank 1st and 2nd in playoff games played the past three postseasons with 48 and 46 respectively and they are 1st and 2nd in wins with 29 and 26. I can’t wait to watch.
Baggedmilk:
I actually though the Panthers should have finished it off a little bit earlier, but Shesterkin was so damned good for the Rangers that he probably stole at least a game by himself.

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