I am always amazed how sometimes hockey makes no sense. The Oilers win on Friday night must be driving the Ducks coaches and players over the edge. Other than two areas, the Ducks played a very strong game. Usually against a weaker team two areas don’t make a big difference.
The Ducks powerplay was not good at all. It looks very predictable. Getzlaf is having a great season but there was too much of everyone looking for the captain.
He was setting up all over the ice and I thought his teammates were not really sure where to go to support him, especially during the five-on-four situations. They set up in a two/three. This looks just like it sounds. Three Ducks along the goal line, one of these in front of goalie, and two guys at the top of the circles as shooters. This leaves only the two high guys as shooters. That makes it a lot easier for the Oilers’ penalty killers. The only have to worry about getting into two shooing lanes.
For a team that is near the top of the standings their specialty teams are weak. I think their pp misses Souray’s big point shot. Just like the Oilers this weakness really limits their options and their ability to make low plays.
With their personnel I don’t understand the weak penalty kill. They have veteran defencemen who have been great killers. Their forwards are fast and very responsible defensively at full strength. It should translate to the shorthanded situations but has not. You can have playoff success without a great PP, but I think a good PK is needed. They will need to straighten it out quickly.
The second area the Ducks struggled in was defending the Oilers transition on the rush. The Oilers scored all four of their goals off of the rush. Actually that is pretty amazing when you think about it. You don’t see four rush goals a game in the NHL.
Hiller didn’t play his best game and I think he could have had one maybe two of those rush goals. To the Oilers credit attacking off the rush is an area of strength. I know opposing teams talk about stopping this when playing Edmonton. The Ducks missed their assignments.
The Oilers were outshot fifty-one to twenty-three! Scrivens had to be great to keep them in the game. Ben got some help from his buddies the posts and slow tricklers that didn’t get over the line.
The Ducks had extended periods of offensive zone time. Cycling the puck is a strength for them. The Oilers could not break it up. When the Oilers’ D got the puck and passed it to their wingers the Ducks’ D were very good on the pinch. They overpowered the wingers and the puck was kept in the Oilers zone.
The Oilers did have success off the rush but very little in the way of offensive zone time. It was usually a quick visit to the Ducks end with little sustained pressure.
The top duo of the Ducks of Getzlaf and Perry were dominant against the Oilers. They had a four-on-four shift that was incredible. They kept the puck in the Oilers zone for over a minute with some scoring chances. Their size, skating ability and passing were more than the Edmonton defence could handle.
Now to be fair they are a handful for most NHL D-men — trust me! They are a unique duo to play against. But if the Oilers want to compete in the Pacific Division they will need to find a way to handle them. They will need a pair of D that have the unique blend of size, ability and nasty. That might include Darnell Nurse at some point, or maybe Aaron Ekblad or Oscar Klefbom. These three will take time to get to that level so we are back to where all conversations end. The D needs an upgrade.
I watched the game again this morning. The Oilers did not win many battle but ultimately they won the war. This is not a recipe for long term success. A team can’t ask the goalie to be superman every night.
Strudwick D man camp for Kids
This May long weekend, May 17th and 18th, I am running another D man camp at Callingwood Arena. From Atom up to Midget we will work on specific areas of need for those ages.
Last year’s camps were a lot of fun and the players learned a lot. My approach is to break down the position to small parts that can be worked on. My goal is for each player to get a better idea of how to work on some of their areas of weakness.
Check out jasonstrudwick.com for more information and to sign up. See you in May!