Off the Top of My Head: Oilers look to respond again in Game 6
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
6 months ago
In a series that’s been as back and forth as it gets with neither team managing to put together back-to-back wins, that’s the challenge facing the Edmonton Oilers starting tonight against the Vegas Golden Knights at Rogers Place in Game 6 after a 4-3 loss in Nevada Friday.
How the Oilers, down 3-2 in the series, go about it is another matter. Aside from a span of 1:29 in the second period when they allowed three goals, including a pair on the power play, and some spotty play by Stuart Skinner, they led 2-1 and had a chance to win the game.
Of course, that’s a bit like saying I’d have a chance to be on the cover of GQ Magazine if I was better looking – no small caveat. Still, the Oilers were in pretty good shape until Mark Stone and Reilly Smith scored power-play goals 29 seconds apart with Philip Broberg in the bin for a sketchy holding call and Mattias Janmark off for high-sticking Jack Eichel. When Nicolas Hague made it 4-2 a minute later, that was it.
“I certainly don’t like the one (penalty) that put us 5-on-3,” said Connor McDavid. “It’s an innocent play and hurts us obviously. There’s no intent there, but it’s not a great one to take, obviously. That being said, we’ve got to find a way to grab that momentum. We’ve talked a lot about grabbing those momentum swings. We lost the game in 90 seconds.”
As far as Oilers fans losing their poop over the Broberg call by the backside referee, fair enough. That’s what fans do. What matters now is what the Oilers get done tonight to force a seventh game. They were good enough to go 3-0-1 against the Golden Knights in the regular season series and they’re good enough to prevail in this series. Two wins does it.
WHAT THEY SAY
Mar 27, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Edmonton Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft reacts in the first period against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
“Confident. Yeah, confident,” coach Jay Woodcroft said of his mindset going into Game 6. “We love the way we’ve played in our building all year. We’ve had a mindset here for the last year and a half about taking care of the day’s business. We have a challenge before us.”
At the bottom line, fixating on the officiating when things don’t go your way is a loser’s lament. No question the Broberg call was playing loose with the rule book, but the call on Janmark was legit and it was costly. It should also be noted that the Oilers scored all three of their goals on four power-play attempts, including a five-minute man advantage. The Golden Knights were 2-for-7. That’s done and in the books. What now?
“We’re going to go home and we’re going to play our best game at home and get back on a flight and come down to Vegas to challenge in game seven,” Woodcroft said.
Skinner was pulled for the second time in the series and the third time in these playoffs in favor of Jack Campbell Friday. Not sure I’d give Campbell the start tonight – I haven’t heard as of writing this who will get the nod — but I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility.
“He’s given us a chance to win a lot of nights. That’s all you can ask from your goaltender,” McDavid, who scored twice including the 4-3 goal, said of Skinner. “He’s in a tough situation here and we know we got a capable guy in Soup there. I think that’s the reason for the switch. I don’t think it was much on Stu.”
Mar 28, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) warms up before a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
It’s not the silverware McDavid is most interested in, but he’s a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award and I have to think he has the inside track for both.
McDavid has won the Hart twice, 2016-17 and 2020-21, and the Lindsay three times, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2020-21. McDavid is up against Erik Karlsson and David Pastrnak for the Lindsay and Pastrnak and Florida forward Matthew Tkachuk for the Hart.
With career-highs of 64-89-153 this season, McDavid has already claimed the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s points leader and the Rocket Richard Trophy as leading goal-scorer. The awards will be announced June 26 in Nashville.
AND . . .
- It’s a mystery to me why the NHL would schedule the Oilers and Golden Knights, tonight’s only game, for 10 p.m. ET. Who thinks a game between two top teams with a bushel of star power in this time slot is a good idea? Was it bumped by ESPN for baseball? Lame.
- All it takes is two drunken donkeys like these buffoons to ruin it for people looking to have a good time and watch hockey in viewing areas like the Moss Pit. Hit them with the taser and toss them in the paddy wagon. Done.
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