Edmonton Oilers ready to turn volume up on the Dallas Stars

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There’s no such thing as being happy with a bogey on the second hole because you made birdie on the first one, but the Edmonton Oilers are OK being even par with the Dallas Stars through two games of the Western Conference Final.

“After getting the first win you want to get the second, that was the goal going into Game 2,” said Oilers forward Derek Ryan. “It didn’t happen so you turn the page and look to Game 3.”

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COMING HOME

In a series too close to call, the Oilers are hoping a change in venue might be enough to tip the scales in their favour for good. They haven’t been home very much lately — six of Edmonton’s last nine playoff games were on the road and they haven’t been in Rogers Place since May 18 — but they know what’s waiting for them. And for the Stars.

“At this time of year it’s just an amazing place to play,” said Ryan. “Everyone on our team knows that and everyone who’s played in Edmonton against us knows it. It’s just an amazing environment.

“You drive around the city, the flags are everywhere. I go to the grocery store people are coming up and thanking me, being appreciative and supporting, it’s just a great place to play.”

The Oilers are 4-2 at home in the playoffs but they know from experience that the longer they go in the playoffs the louder the city gets.

“We have one of the best buildings in the league when playoff time comes around,” said defenceman Darnell Nurse.

GOTTA BURY THOSE

The Oilers let a giant opportunity get away from them in Game 2 and they know it. They were up 1-0 in the series and outshot Dallas 16-4 in the first period and had nothing to show for it but a 1-1 tie.

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This is something we also saw in the Vancouver series — Edmonton failing to convert on its chances and letting a series they should have been able to put away in five games drag out to seven.

They got away with it against the Canucks, but they can’t be giving second lives to a team as good as Dallas. 

“We were having this conversation after Game 3 against Vancouver,” head coach Kris Knoblauch said of a 5-3 loss despite outshooting them 45-18.

“We lost and their goalie played really well, but we missed opportunities. There were four or five posts, there were some pucks lying in the blue paint.

“Through the course of a season there are times when things are going in for you and times when they are not. I don’t think we need to panic or change anything. Over a course of time things will go in. We’re not going to be blowing things up and saying we need to change how we’re playing.”

But the goal scorers know that missing a quality scoring chance is no different than a defenceman blowing his coverage. If they don’t bury those chances Edmonton is not going to bury the Stars.

“At this time of year, every chance that you have you have to bear down as hard as you can on it. They’re not going to all go in but if you have a chance you have to bear down because it could be a difference maker in the game or even in the series. They don’t come around as often so if you get a chance you have to make sure you’re doing your best.”

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LAST CHANGE

Being the home team means Edmonton will also have last change for the next two games, but Knoblauch doesn’t see that as being much of a factor given the way he likes to deploy his players.

“I’m not sure it is,” he said. “If you look at the first two games, both coaches seemed comfortable in rolling lines. Yes, there was a little bit of matching up, but my fourth line has been against their first line and their fourth line has been against our first line. We both feel comfortable with who’s out there and we’re not going to hide from anything.

“Teams typically feel better at home. You’re sleeping in your bed, you have support from your home fans and that will be nice. But as for last change, I’m not sure there’s that much of an advantage.”

FIGHTING BACK

The Oilers are 4-0 in the playoffs after a loss and seem to pick up speed as a series goes on. After splitting with Los Angeles they ran the table to win in five games and after falling behind 2-1 to Vancouver they went 3-1 to win in seven.

That could be a good sign heading into Game 3.

“There is a lot of accountability through that room,” said Knoblauch. “A lot of competitive players, especially from our top players. We’re going to need that again because it’s going to be a tough, long series and we’re going to have to elevate our game from night to night.”

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