Oilers coach Knoblauch
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Knoblauch was unable to overcome McDavid in the playoffs

Published April 27, 2024 at 7:41

In the heat of the playoffs, where every shift counts, the value of home ice cannot be overstated, particularly because it offers the home team the crucial benefit of the last line change.

This strategic tool allows a home team to potentially control player matchups, ensuring optimal pairings that can sway the momentum of the game. Despite this advantage, Edmonton Oilers' interim coach, Kris Knoblauch, appears reluctant to leverage this tactic, even with a talent like Connor McDavid on his roster.

During the initial two games against the Los Angeles Kings, McDavid, rather than being sheltered against weaker lines, found himself consistently lined up against the Kings' top players.

The traditional advantage of the last change, which could allow McDavid to exploit the Kings' less formidable lines, particularly following stoppages like icings, was curiously overlooked by Knoblauch.

Some might argue that a strategy which avoids meticulous line matching can keep a team's rhythm intact and all players actively engaged. Yet, this approach has its critics, especially in tightly contested playoff scenarios where every small edge counts.

Former Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft often employed an unconventional lineup strategy of 11 forwards and seven defensemen, aiming to give stars like McDavid more opportunities to shine on the ice.

This adjustment underscores the lengths some coaches will go to maximize the impact of their key players during critical moments of a game.

As the series shifts to Los Angeles, the Oilers find themselves on the other end of the matchup spectrum.

The Kings will now have the last change, potentially putting the Oilers' depth to the test. Edmonton's top six, who have the capability to dominate any lineup, will need to seize every advantage and counter the strategic maneuvers of the Kings.

For more insights on this ongoing playoff series, follow the discussion and updates at

As the series progresses, the chess match of player matchups will undoubtedly continue to play a pivotal role in determining which team advances.
April 27   |   307 answers
Knoblauch was unable to overcome McDavid in the playoffs

Should Knoblauch have taken advantage of the last change at home in the playoffs or just rolled the lines?

Use last change for an advantage17155.7 %
Roll the lines, keep everyone going10634.5 %
See Results309.8 %
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