Vancouver Canucks v Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB – The Edmonton Oilers will deploy a different lineup for Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Dallas Stars at Rogers Place, Head Coach Kris Knoblauch confirmed during his Wednesday morning media availability.

As for what changes will be made exactly, the bench boss didn't disclose those decisions and instead is leaving them to be revealed before tonight's pivotal playoff clash in ICE District.

"We will have some lineup changes, but you're going have to wait until tonight," the bench boss said.

"It's a big showcase," he added with a smile.

The Oilers have some hard choices to make tonight regarding their lineup as they try to even up the series against Dallas with the help of a few changes, which will focus on combating some of the Stars’ strengths head-on and filling the gaps they might be seeing in their game defensively.

“We have to make sure that we take care of our defensive details first before we're on the attack,” Knoblauch said. “With that being said, no matter how well we play defensively and how few mistakes we make, Dallas will still be making some plays. They will still get their scoring chances, but we’ll have to do our job in trying to minimize them.”

Kris discusses lineup changes ahead of Game 4 against the Stars

Dallas has shown they have an element of team speed that can enable their mobile defencemen to move pucks up to their forwards quickly to keep Edmonton on high alert, opening them up with quick stretch passes that've led to more forechecks, more turnovers and more offensive-zone possession which have resulted in the Stars gaining the slight edge in momentum and taking a 2-1 series lead.

But to gain something in your lineup, you have to lose something, and Coach Knoblauch and his coaching staff are working through those pros and cons to come up with the ideal lineup for tonight that can help turn the tide back in their favour in this series.

“I think they play fast because they're well connected and do things together. Everyone's on the same page,” Knoblauch said. “For speed, they definitely have guys who can skate… as a team, they do have that speed and that's usually puck movement.

“We have to evaluate what's important for us. How much speed and how much physicality are we going to compromise to find the right balance? And we do have some options. We have some players that didn't play last game who can come in the lineup and provide a little more for us.”

Waiting in the wings for his opportunity has been defenceman Philip Broberg, and the 22-year-old Swede is looking like a strong option to be included in Edmonton's lineup tonight to try and raise their level of speed and change the dynamic on their blueline for Game 4.

The Oilers have used the same six defencemen for all of their 15 playoff games so far in 2024, as well as for most of the regular season where Broberg played 12 games and recorded two assists – the majority of those appearances coming before Nov. 22 during the early stages of the campaign.

“Obviously, I'm available if they need me,” he said. “I’ve been trying to stay ready for the opportunity.”

"Of course, you’ve just got to make sure you're ready, practice hard and try to have a plan and practice as much as possible. I think the practices we have here in Edmonton help you stay ready for when the opportunity comes, so I feel ready if the opportunity is there and we'll see.”

Philip speaks to the media ahead of Game 4 on Wednesday vs. Dallas

Despite battling injury at times during the campaign, Broberg finished the NHL regular season strongly after suiting up for Edmonton's final two games against Colorado and Arizona, recording an assist in each appearance before returning to Bakersfield to play in the AHL playoffs with the Condors.

"Broby's been making the most of this season. Very difficult situation here," Knoblauch said. "We have a player that we feel is NHL-ready, but we had our sixth defenceman and we were very fortunate this year to have almost no injuries. We've got a young defenceman who we believe has tremendous upside and has to play, so if we have our six, it's not beneficial for him to be here as our seventh. He went to Bakersfield and was great down there and played really well.

"I know in the future and down the road next season, he's going to be a big part of this organization and right now, we have a difficult decision to make on putting in a young player who hasn't played, but we know if he does get that opportunity, he's well qualified to do it and could provide something for our team."

Broberg has 10 games of NHL playoff experience, with nine of those coming in 2023 after he made his post-season debut the season prior against the Kings in the first round.

Stuart & Connor speak with the media pre-game on Wednesday

Along with several other potential changes, including the re-addition of Corey Perry into the lineup, Edmonton's attempt at boosting their speed will likely include the return of Ryan McLeod on the third line after the centre sat out his team's Game 3 defeat on Monday.

Coach Knoblauch didn't rule out the potential of running 11 forwards and seven defencemen, which would require one of their forwards coming out of the lineup to allow someone like Broberg to come in, but everything appears to be on the table for the Oilers in an attempt to avoid going down three games to one before returning to Dallas for Game 5 on Friday.

Edmonton's complete line combinations and defence pairings for Game 4 tonight will be confirmed during warm-ups.