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Six Oilers depth players who made key plays in series win over the Stars

Mattias Janmark Edmonton Oilers
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Sean Panganiban
14 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Dallas Stars in six games of the Western Conference Final, even though many hockey pundits considered the Stars the clear-cut favourites due to their exceptional depth.
Yet, the Oilers, who have often been criticized for being just a two-man, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl-led team, had significant contributions from their depth players, helping them secure the series win over Dallas.
Considering that, we highlight Edmonton’s six depth players who made crucial plays that contributed to defeating the Stars and helped the Oilers team punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2006.

Mattias Janmark

Mattias Janmark often gets overlooked, and his less glamorous plays on the ice are usually subtly significant, whether it’s a won board battle or a key block. As a result, head coach Kris Knoblauch has often deployed him in the final minutes of a game to defend a lead.
The Oilers killed all of their 14 penalties against the Stars, and Janmark was a big part of that. He was second among forwards in minutes played on the PK (10:55), only behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
That said, Janmark chips in on the scoresheet from time to time and his biggest goal as an Oiler came in Game 4 in the second period. The game was tied 2-2, and Derek Ryan was given a penalty and tensions were high in a near must-win game. However, halfway through the penalty kill, Connor Brown picked up the loose puck and went in on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with Janmark, who received a pass and buried a one-timer that ignited Rogers Place.
Janmark’s shorthanded marker turned out to be the game-winning goal, and he was finally rewarded on the scoresheet for all the hard work he’s put in. The 31-year-old doesn’t always make it onto the highlight reels, but his shorthanded Game 4 tally will be remembered as one of those unforgettable Oilers playoff moments.

Dylan Holloway

Dylan Holloway showcased his brilliant offensive skills when he scored a highlight reel goal off the rush in Game 6 in the second round against the Vancouver Canucks, but unfortunately, he didn’t register a point in the third round against the Stars.
Still, despite going pointless in the series, he made key plays away from the puck. Holloway led all Oilers with 22 hits in the series and also led all Oilers’ forwards in shots blocked (6), and his biggest block came in Game 5. Dallas was trailing by two goals and applying pressure in Edmonton’s zone when Holloway made a perfectly timed block on former 40-goal scorer Tyler Seguin’s wrist shot, which was heading toward Stuart Skinner.
The 22-year-old showed glimpses of his offence by scoring timely goals in the first two rounds and made significant contributions away from the puck against the Stars. The Oilers will need him to bring a complete package in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Florida Panthers, and should Matthew Tkachuk start creating chaos, Holloway, who led the team in hits against the Stars, seems like a fitting candidate to counter with some physical play.

Ryan McLeod & Corey Perry

After the Oilers lost Game 3, Knoblauch made one of his boldest moves of the postseason so far by inserting both Corey Perry and Ryan McLeod into the lineup for Game 4, both of whom had gone pointless in the playoffs up until that time.
Not only were they being inserted into the lineup, but they were also thrust into a pivotal scoring role on the second line with Leon Draisaitl. Raise your hand if you thought that decision was questionable at first. I know I did.
Things were not looking good for Edmonton when they gave up two early goals in Game 4. To make matters worse, the Oilers only registered one shot on net halfway through the period.
 
But with just over six minutes remaining in the first period, Darnell Nurse, who was under scrutiny before the game, skated with the puck into the Stars’ zone, dropped it to Perry who then shot the puck through traffic. McLeod, who has faced criticism for not going hard enough to the blue paint, drove toward the net, picked up the rebound and roofed it over Jake Oettinger, making it 2-1, which kickstarted the Oilers’ comeback.
The Oilers won 5-2, and Knoblauch’s bold move to bring McLeod and Perry back into the lineup and onto the second line, no less, paid off, as they ignited their team’s comeback. That said, the head coach has shown remarkable fortitude, or as Baggedmilk describes it, “Knobby has them big swinging balls.”

Philip Broberg

It seemed unlikely that Philip Broberg would be inserted into the lineup unless an injury occurred. However, Knoblauch decided after losing 5-3 in Game 3, to replace Vincent Desharnais—who had been a shot-blocking leader on the PK— with the young Swede for Game 4, marking Broberg’s first appearance in these playoffs.
The 22-year-old probably felt quite a bit of pressure, but he held steady in Game 4, logging 14:21 minutes on the third pairing with Cody Ceci and made good passes, playing mostly low-event hockey.
But it was in Game 5 where Broberg had the biggest moment of his young NHL career. The Oilers won a faceoff in the offensive zone during the second period, and Adam Henrique tipped the puck back to his D-man. Broberg unleashed a slap shot that beat the Stars’ netminder through a crowd of players, giving the Oilers a 3-0 lead and providing extra insurance en route to a 3-1 victory.
Overall, Broberg averaged 13:25 of ice time in the three games he played. He showcased his smooth skating, poise and ability to skate the puck out of danger and most importantly, he wasn’t on for a single goal against.
It remains to be seen if he will play instead of Desharnais in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the fact that the Oilers have the option to choose between a smooth-skating D-man in Broberg, or a shot-blocking and physically imposing player in Desharnais to round out their blue line, speaks volumes about their depth.

Connor Brown

Connor Brown made his presence felt when he was put into the lineup in the second round against the Canucks with key defensive plays, but he began to be rewarded on the scoresheet for his hard work versus the Stars.
In Game 2, he scored the lone Oilers goal. In Game 3, he assisted on Henrique’s game-tying goal and in Game 4, he turned on the jets while shorthanded and made a spectacular play with an assist on Janmark’s huge game-winning goal.
Yet, an under-the-radar and perhaps the biggest defensive play he’s made came with 24 seconds left in Game 6. Dallas had pulled Oettinger and were pressing to tie the game. A frantic scramble ensued in front of the net, resulting in a shot deflecting off Skinner’s pads.
Brown then made a crucial clear—the most important one of the playoffs so far—swatting the puck out of the zone. It was the perfect clear, just reaching the ideal distance to avoid an icing call, which effectively killed additional seconds off the clock, ultimately leading to an Oilers win.

Just Adding a Personal Take on the Oilers..

In addition, just to bring a personal touch to this article—I grew up watching the Oilers get ousted in the playoffs by the Stars year after year. I watched them all the way through the ‘Decade of Darkness,’ and then heard everyone in the league call them just a ‘two-man’ team, which is not the case anymore. Yes, they are led by their superstars, but they also have the help of many depth players stepping up with timely goals, big blocks, crucial clears, or even supportive pats on the back.
That said, I’m beyond thrilled—or, as I would casually say, ‘absolutely stoked’—that this team is heading to the Stanley Cup Finals. Oil Country, take a moment to appreciate this special time. Who knows when we’ll see something like this again?
This Oilers team, which was tied for last place in the NHL at one point during the regular season, has had something special brewing for a while, but the journey is far from over. The mission is not yet complete, and the first step toward completing it begins on June 8th, when the Oilers travel to Florida to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
With that in mind, which Oilers’ depth players have impressed you the most?

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