Oilers News & Rumors: Smith, Archibald, Draisaitl, Yamamoto

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, the team is heading into Game 2 tonight versus the Los Angeles Kings in what already feels like a must-win matchup. If the Oilers go down 2-0 in the series, that is going to be a tough hole to climb out of heading to LA for Games 3 and 4.

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With that news comes a few updates about players who could be instrumental in that battle. Mike Smith is the starter for Game 2 despite an egregious error in Game 1, Josh Archibald is now eligible for road games and the stars of the team have sent a message to fans and media that they’re going to show up with a different attitude.

Oilers Have a Lot More to Give

At the morning media sessions, Leon Draisaitl noted, “We know we have a lot more to give and a lot better in our group.”: The Oilers came out flat against the Kings in Game 1, something Connor McDavid acknowledged. Saying the team can’t get caught up in the emotion of the fans and the atmosphere, the team knows it needs to have a better start and Draisaitl said, “We’re going to look to do that tonight.”

Yamamoto Showing His Tenacity

One player who doesn’t appear to need a kick in the pants is Kailer Yamamoto. He might have been the most driven Oiler forward on the ice in Game 1 and was everywhere, scoring a goal on a nice slap-pass from defenseman Duncan Keith. When asked how he gets into the right frame of mind for the playoffs, Yamo said, “I’m a competitive guy. I always want to win so as soon as that puck drops I think something switches & I go into game mode.”

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He’s quickly becoming a player the Oilers might prioritize keeping for next season. While the salary cap will be tight and sacrifices might need to be made, Yamamoto scored 20 goals this season and is already showing how important he could be in the postseason.

Mike Smith Back In Net After Huge Gaffe

It wasn’t much of a question, but there were some fans wondering if veteran goaltender Mike Smith would get the nod as the starter in Game 2. After a terrible giveaway with just minutes left in Game 1, Smith’s error cost the Oilers and the team is now down early in the first-round series. He took responsibility for the misread and said he’s ready to put it behind him and win Game 2.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers will need Smith to show up on Wednesday and play essentially mistake-free hockey. He’s going to be a player that plays the puck; you can’t take that out of his game. He simply needs to limit the turnovers and understand the timing on any decision he makes in that regard.

Archibald Available For Rest of the Playoffs

According to head coach Jay Woodcroft, Oilers forward Josh Archibald is an “available player,” for the remainder of the series and likely the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Archibald received a medical exemption that will enable him to play at home and on the road despite not being vaccinated against COVID-19.

The question the Oilers should be asking now is if Archibald should play. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should and the Oilers have to consider the best overall team option. Does Archibald offer something better than what the depth of the Oilers is already offering? Does Woodcroft want to shift away from the 11-7 formation he’s used to get an extra defenseman on the ice? These are all valid questions that need answering before Archibald should be considered a regular.