The Day After: Will the Oilers be resting their stars in the regular season finale?
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing10 months ago
For a night where the Oilers never held the lead, it’s hard to argue walking out of Rogers Place with a win.
Edmonton got themselves down early when Noah Gregor scored two quick ones, but the Oilers kept with the game all night and won it 5-4 in overtime.
It means the Oilers are now 9-0 at home with Ben Stelter in the stands, and I just think that’s pretty neat. The Oilers have clearly rallied around Stelter and his story, and it will undoubtedly be a motivator heading into the playoffs.
One big question remains: how many Oilers players will rest tonight against the Vancouver Canucks? Edmonton truly has nothing to play for heading into their final regular-season game.
They know their foe, the Los Angeles Kings, and they know they have the home-ice advantage with game one kicking off on Monday night.
It makes a ton of sense for the Oilers to rest both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, for one. After the game last night, Jay Woodcroft wasn’t giving up much in the way of information. What he did say, however, is that the team being in a back-to-back situation could factor into things.
“Just workload,” said Woodcroft on. “I still haven’t seen anything from the league or anything confirming dates, so for us, back-to-back will factor into our decision for the lineup.”
Playoffs are a different breed, and there’s no doubt the Oilers will want both of their superstar’s healthy heading into the post-season. You don’t need to sit a ton of players, but the message heading into tonight’s game should be simple: just be careful.
It also begs another question, too: does Philip Broberg stick around, even with Darnell Nurse healthy, whenever that may be?
For Broberg, he’s done a lot of things right — even if he looked a bit flat-footed last night. But his offensive talent was on display when he scored. Walking down from the point, he was on the receiving end of a Connor McDavid pass and went bar down.
While I like the makeup of the Oilers backend already, especially with Brett Kulak there, I wonder if the Oilers choose to play Broberg and go 11/7 in game one of the playoffs. It was mentioned by @bcurlock on Twitter Thursday, and I wonder if it could work. The coaching staff trusts him, too. He dressed as the seventh defenceman in a number of games, and he’s shown he can not only play up the lineup in a pinch, but he can play the right side as well.
“A lot,” said Broberg when asked how much Dave Manson has helped in his development. “He helped me a lot when I came down there after camp to Bakersfield. He helped me develop. Small stuff to work on, and I think I’ve taken a step with him over the year.”
The main argument against going 11/7 is that it would likely mean someone like Zack Kassian would be coming out of the lineup. And for once this year, he could finally prove his worth with some playoff hockey. We’ve seen what he can do there in the past.
I like the matchup the Oilers have against the Kings quite a bit, and I think there were a lot of good things the team did down the stretch against them. All hands will need to be on deck and Broberg might fit the bill.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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