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Playoff Game 6 - Oilers @ Kings - Desperation

May 12, 2022, 4:14 PM ET [18 Comments]
Sean Maloughney
Edmonton Oilers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
An Edmonton win tonight and they live to fight another day on Saturday in Game 7, a loss and the Oilers once again will be eliminated from the first round in utter disappointment. The last two losses for the Oilers have been highly frustrating affairs. Losing a close battle is one thing but the Oilers were flat out outplayed and seemed to show no interest in pushing back at all. When the Oilers finally decided to show up in the third period of game 5 to tie the game it showed what this team can do when their top players are firing on all cylinders.

No more excuses, no reason to not push hard from the moment the puck is dropped in the first period. Show up, or go home.

Tonight it looks like Jay Woodcroft will place Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl together on a line. In the third period of Game 5 JW did this and the Oilers were almost able to win with the line stacked. Throughout this first series, Woodcroft has been able to limit both McDavid and Draisaitl's minutes. I expect both players to play heavy minutes in this game.

It feels odd to say that a player with 5 goals and 7 points in 5 playoff games is not doing enough but that is exactly what I am going to say about Leon Draisaitl's playoff performance. Leon has not been able to produce anything at 5 on 5 and has gotten caved playing against mainly the Danault line, something I wish Woodcroft stopped doing earlier in this series. At special teams, Draisaitl has been his brilliant self but he hasn't been able to break free. Moving him up as a winger on the top line hopefully can help push the Kings back further in their own end.

RNH is another player who still hasn't done much of anything this series. Tonight he will be centering Evander Kane and Zack Hyman. Woodcroft is stacking the Oilers chips all on the top line to be a juggernaut but that only works if the second line can find ways to produce as well. Kane isn't getting the bounces that he was in games 3 and 4. Edmonton has failed to fire nearly enough shots on Quick and are getting boxed out of shooting lanes. Kane and Hyman are both supposed to be the rugged players that cause openings and in tandem the duo needs to find chemistry fast.

I remain baffled by the hatred of Jesse Puljujarvi. I thought the young Finn had his best game of the series in Game 5 and was one of the Oilers few players who was able to prevent Kings players from entering their end but JP is playing very few minutes overall. Fun fact, in the games where JP has averaged 11 minutes or more a game, Edmonton has won. JP remains a solid 5 on 5 player and the young duo of he and McLeod will be counted on to suppress the Kings own bottom six forwards. Archibald will be there too.

Darnell Nurse has been suspended one game and honestly the Oilers are lucky it wasn't more. It was a stupid play that could have been completely avoided. Tonight Brett Kulak will be on the top unit with Cody Ceci. Kulak remains a solid and effective player but it's a big ask for him to anchor a top pairing. Smart simple plays needs to be the message here.

Duncan Keith may have single handedly cost the Oilers Game 5. He was directly responsible for two goals in regulation, mishandling the puck and a failed clear and then again on the overtime goal. Keith just does not seem to be able to handle the Kings when they are pressing forward and that type of physical play just seems to be above anything he can manage.

Also a big thumbs down to Mike Smith. Edmonton laid a big goose egg in front of him but a few of those goals were goals that the team in front of him needed him to stop. We keep hearing from some media individuals how great it is to have these veterans. It's the biggest game of the year and they need to show up.

Edmonton MUST score the first goal tonight and I'll go as far to say that if they don't I think they lose the game. The Kings have a strategy that they have executed beautifully against the Oilers and once they are up they shut things down hard. Edmonton cannot be put in that situation again, especially on the road in LA.

No Oilers fans or any of the players for that matter want to go through another summer of listening to how this team cannot handle the playoffs or that they're only a regular season team, or any other number of comments. Quite frankly I'm sick of writing about that too. The only way to avoid that is come out hard tonight, leave nothing on the table and tie this series up.

I truly hope all Oilers fans enjoy watching the game and have something great to cheer about.
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