Ahead of Game 5 between the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers have a few questions that require answers. Do they run with Jack Campbell or Stuart Skinner in goal? How often do they play Vincent Desharnais after the defenseman was exposed in Game 4? Do they get a forward like Dylan Holloway into the lineup to give the forwards a boost? How much will Klim Kostin play, if at all?
Should the Oilers Run With Skinner Or Campbell?
It’s not clear yet who will get the start in net for the team in Game 5. An argument can be made for both netminders as Skinner wasn’t at fault for most of the goals that got by him, but Campbell might be the hot hand who potentially saved the Oilers’ season. Most insiders believe the Oilers will go back to Skinner as he’s their starter and the call to Campbell was more about sparking the team after a poor first period.
Is this the right call? It’s hard to know but going with either player isn’t likely to be met with vitriol from the fan base. What could backfire is if the Oilers went with Campbell and he came out flat or let in a couple of bad goals. It’s easy to say in hindsight that Campbell had two good periods but is still his unreliable self. He’s not necessarily earned back the trust of Oilers Nations following a poor regular season. His inconsistent play might not have head coach Jay Woodcroft extremely comfortable either.
Will Dylan Holloway See Any Action?
Forward Dylan Holloway and goaltenders Olivier Rodrigue and Calvin Pickard were all recalled from the Bakersfield Condors this week and there are some wondering if Holloway will see any action in this series. Considering he was with the Oilers before suffering an injury in his first AHL game (meant to be a short-term assignment), he could be one of the first calls for Woodcroft if certain forwards continue to struggle.
Kailer Yamamoto has produced next-to-nothing in terms of offense for the team and Klim Kostin was recently benched in the third period of Game 4. Kostin’s benching has surprised a few people because he scored the game-winner in Game 2 and did so in around 8 minutes of ice time. He’s proven he can do a lot with a little and he’s one of the most physical forwards on the team. Yamamoto hasn’t been all that effective and Holloway has the ability to play a depth role or the skill to skate in the top six.
That said, there is a feeling these two prospects are just with the team to get the experience of playoff hockey.
Can the Oilers Trust Desharnais?
Vincent Desharnais has suffered his first major hiccup as a member of the Oilers. He did not play well in Game 4 and was exposed by the Kings who targeted him. Typically very steady, he crumbled under the pressure with bad reads and missed assignments. He didn’t see the ice much after a couple of bad decisions and Philip Broberg was given more ice time as the game went along. The question now is, do the Oilers go back to Desharnais as often as they were, or do they try to shelter him a lot more?
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Desharnais has been a godsend throughout most of his stay with the team but it is important to remember he’s still a rookie with very few games of NHL experience. Bumps in the road are bound to happen. It will be intriguing to see how Woodcroft and Dave Manson (Oilers’ defense coach) handle this. Was one period of no action enough to send a message? Are they worried he’s been playing too much? Do they want to give the Kings a chance to target their offense around his inexperience?
One solution might be to keep him on the penalty kill and play him in more sheltered minutes with the matchup advantage coming to the Oilers on home ice. If he has a better game, they might choose to up his minutes as things move along.
The Oilers are set for Game 5 on Tuesday night with the series tied 2-2. This isn’t a must-win for the Oilers by virtue of it not being an elimination game, but a win puts the Kings in a vulnerable spot — something they’ve yet to experience in this series.