Did the Edmonton Oilers flip the script in Game 6?

For the first time in the series, from what I saw we finally saw a team that was committed to a full 60 minutes in all three facets of the game. What worked for the Oilers and was there anything that didn't work?
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six
Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers - Game Six / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages

I don't know about you, but from that game on Saturday night I saw a team that for the first time in the series was committed to a full 60 minutes of play. This was shown by the fact that going into the first intermission, the Canucks only had four shots on goal, and finished the night with just 15 overall. That's the most complete effort we've seen all series from the Oilers defensively.

Prior to game six the Oilers had a nasty habit of building up a lead then sitting on it, messing around in the neutral zone or dumping the puck in the Canucks' zone to run out the clock and sit on their lead - or so it looked. It appears the Oilers have learned their lesson from those faux pas, as they never let their foot off the gas for an instant on Saturday night, and were able to use their combination of speed, skill, and defence to win the game 5-1.

Let's go through the things that went right for the Oilers.

Snake-bitten scorers woke up

Four of the five goals the Oilers scored were from guys who had previously been snake-bitten either in this series, or the playoffs in general.

Zach Hyman hadn't scored since game one (mind you he leads the team in goals scored in the playoffs, so I'm willing to give him a pass here regardless). Dylan Holloway hadn't scored since game two of round one against the Kings. Evander Kane got his second goal in two games, but prior to then he hadn't scored since the last game of round one. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored only his second of the series and only his third of the playoffs. (Per the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey player gradesNuge led all forwards in ice time with 21:04, with 3:34 on the PK, just south of 16 percent of his minutes.)

It was nice to get some contributions from players we haven't seen in awhile, or those putting on an encore performance who had just woken up. Anyone keeping up with the series has seen how much the Canucks are keying in on Connor McDavid, so he needs to dish the puck to his line mates who have to take advantage of the situation and finish off his passes, otherwise the Canucks' game plan will actually be working and the Oilers would have no chance in game seven. Only Evan Bouchard has been rolling in the second round thus far, cashing in his Bouch bomb four times after only once in round one.

Complete defensive effort

I saw a team that was dialed in defensively and didn't see a single weak spot throughout the lineup. I've seen that for stretches in other games, but not the whole game. On Saturday night I saw this for the entire 60 minutes. This includes a PK that was 100 percent on the night.

Clutch goaltending

This was the best effort we've seen from 'Stache man far and away in the series. Whatever rattled Stuart Skinner in his last start, he seemed to shake it off. He wasn't that busy which is a testament to the skaters in front of him, as it's always a domino effect - when your team plays well defensively, you make life on the goalie much easier and make him look really good. He still had his share of dangerous and grade A shots, but still, I'd take 14 saves on 15 shots any day of the week and twice on a Sunday.

Goalies and their skaters very much have a symbiotic relationship. Case in point - this is why John Gibson has fallen from grace in Anaheim. They've been icing a bad team for so long he was a mere meat shield for the rest of the NHL, and they've pretty much cooked him and can't get rid of him.

One side always helps the other. Your goalie should be able to steal the odd game, but that's not a good strategy game in and game out.

Earlier in the series Skinner looked bad on a few goals against, but personally I would argue if the skaters in front of him had played proper defence, those goals wouldn't have happened in the first place. Credit as well goes to head coach Kris Knoblauch, who has had to make two ballsy calls in terms of who to play in recent games.

First, he chose to put Calvin Pickard in for games four and five, even though he had never previously started a playoff game in his career. It was risky but it paid off, as he won one of his starts and wasn't the reason for the game the Oilers lost. Then, choosing to go back to Skinner in game six was a risk that turned out very well for him. Lucky for Knoblauch, both of these moves have paid off.

With the season on the line the real Oilers finally show up. With the season on the line the real Oilers finally show up. dark. Next

PP didn't cash in

Only one thing went wrong in this game - the PP didn't cash in. Part of this is credit to the Canucks PK, which was obviously on its game Saturday night. This has been a weapon for the Oilers in the past, and perhaps in a sense this is a good thing because it forces the team to score at evens, something they've struggled with in past playoffs. I believe this PP still is a weapon for the Oilers, but if they don't cash in, it doesn't get neutralised.

Assistant coach Glen Gulutzan is the coach in charge of the PP. I have no doubt he will figure out a strategy for game seven that the Oilers can use, as I would bet the Canucks will be firing on all cylinders come game seven. The Oilers will need to score on the PP, to make up for the extra pressure they inevitably will face at evens.

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