Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports


We are eight games into the playoffs now and some interesting deployment trends are showing up for the Edmonton Oilers. Todd McLellan is running two forwards and four defensemen hard, and getting at least some minutes out of all four lines. Let’s have a look.


Let’s have a look at both series first. Here are the men who are being deployed significantly in all three disciplines.

  • Connor McDavid: 21:31 overall; 16:34 evens; 3:11 power play; 1:45 penalty kill.
  • Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: 18:23 overall; 13:13 evens; 2:05 power play; 3:04 penalty kill.
  • Mark Letestu: 17:52 overall; 12:05 evens; 3:01 power play; 2:45 penalty kill.
  • Drake Caggiula: 15:03 overall; 12:44 evens; 1:23 power play: 0:55 penalty kill.

Todd McLellan uses his centers (and Caggiula) a lot on special teams and all of them play regular shifts (and more) at evens. Running Caggiula here allows the Oilers to get Leon Draisaitl into offensive situations more often. If the young forward is hurt, things may change. Here are the complete defensemen:

  • Andrej Sekera: 23:04 overall; 16:56 evens; 2:31 power play; 3:36 penalty kill.
  • Oscar Klefbom: 21:46 overall; 16:51 evens; 2:37 power play; 2:17 penalty kill.

McLellan uses four defensemen heavily, but Adam Larsson and Kris Russell run hot on the penalty kill (Russell has been used on the power play in previous seasons).


Here are the forwards who play a lot at evens and on the power play:

  • Leon Draisaitl: 18:20 overall; 15:05 evens; 2:58 power play.
  • Milan Lucic: 16:02 overall; 13:09 evens; 2:53 power play.
  • Patrick Maroon: 16:37 overall; 14:29 evens; 2:07 power play.
  • Jordan Eberle: 15:11 overall; 13:10 evens; 1:59 power play.

No real surprise here, this is the list of wingers on the top two lines. Suspect Leon eventually adds PK work to his resume, but for now he is doing grand work at evens and power play. The Oilers have no defender on the current roster we can regard as a one dimensional offensive type. The top two defenders on the PP are Klefbom and Sekera, listed above.


One of the major changes from the regular season to playoffs is the absence of Matt Hendricks. With Caggiula being injured, Hendricks may draw in (1:30 a night during the regular season) if the young forward can’t go.

  • Benoit Pouliot: 12:17 overall, 9:01 evens; 2:42 penalty kill.
  • Iiro Pakarinen: 8:26 overall; 6:14 evens; 2:12 penalty kill (1 game).
  • Zack Kassian: 14:35 overall; 12:28 evens; 2:03 penalty kill.

If the answer isn’t Matt Hendricks (next forward up), it could be Anton Lander. The young Swede can win faceoffs and is a solid penalty killer. Here are the defensemen:

  • Kris Russell: 20:57 overall; 17:13 evens; 3:33 penalty kill.
  • Adam Larsson: 22:30 overall; 19:25 evens; 2:52 penalty kill.
  • Eric Gryba: 15:59 overall; 14:57 evens; 1:52 penalty kill.
  • Darnell Nurse: 16:59 overall; 15:57 evens; 0:55 penalty kill.

Heavy usage of the top four D on special teams during the playoffs, no surprise there. McLellan is nursing his young third pairing during their first playoff run, makes sense. All information here available at NHL.com.


If you want to look at TOI for the Ducks series, hockey-reference does a nice job. It reveals that Todd McLellan is running the daylights out of Connor McDavid, Oscar Klefbom, Leon Draisaitl, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. All men are over 20 minutes and it is likely we’ll see an increase in those minutes in an effort to close the series quickly.

The key number? Cam Talbot’s .947 save percentage. He is the No. 1 reason for Edmonton’s current standing in this series, although it has been a team effort for sure.


McLellan has done a good job (in my opinion) in deployment during this series. Randy Carlyle is perhaps a little more predictable than what McLellan saw when matching up against Pete DeBoer in the San Jose series, but the matchup battle looks sane from here. Now, about that officiating…..


Drilling down on playoff results can be a lot of fun and there are a couple of useful sites that can inform us about specifics:

  • Corsica.Hockey. A great site that allows you to view the success of lines and pairings during the postseason (among other things). For instance, the Lucic-Nuge-Eberle line has 55.26 of the shots while on ice this playoff spring.
  • Puckalytics. Their Superwowy page can drill down on specifics, like Connor McDavid running 9-9 in 5×5 possession against Ryan Kesler in the Oilers-Ducks series. You have to insert names and dates, making sure to note ‘playoffs’ but it is a dandy tool.
  • toprightcorner

    If the Drake is injured, it is a tough decision on who replaces him in the lineup. My initial reaction would be to say Pakarinen, he has the speed, the size and the grittiness that is needed in this series. When I see how the Ducks have dominated the faceoffs in the Oilers zone, I would really like to see Lander in there taking some draws and he is decent on the PK. The problem is that Landers speed will make him a huge risk on the ice, even in his own zone.

    If McLellan plans to increase TOI for Nuge and McDavid, he may be able to deploy Lander sparingly, taking defensive draws and coming of the ice when the Oilers gain controll. If he can be used for about 5 min at evens and 1:45 on PK, that will allow him to get the most out of Lander and his strengths. Winning 4-5 more defensive draws can go a long way in helping the Oilers closing this series in short order.

    I like the idea of Shleppy up on the 3rd line with Kassian and Letestu as he has been playing very agressive and he and Kassian could do some damage on the cycle. Bouncing Kassian and Shleppy to the 4th line with DD and Pou could balance it all out nicely.

    If Lander wasn’t so good on the dot or the Oilers were not at home with last change, I would go with Pakarinen. But because of these things, I would try Lander sparingly to utilize his strengths and not put him in a position t have his weaknesses (speed) exploited.

  • McJesus_for_100

    If Drake is down and out I think its time Hendo gets to draw into the line up. He will only fuel the fire of the crowd tomorrow!
    Also wouldn’t mind seeing Lander draw in over Desharnais. He’s been a ghost the last two games and we need to have a guy that can win a faceoff!

  • GR

    Threw down a hundred on the Oilers to clear the west on Jan 31st at 10-1. If they make the finals it’ll pay for my flight and ticket to catch a game. Spent a small fortune to sit front row for game 5 vs Sharks. Worth it, so worth it.

  • Hemi

    It was very plain to see in game 2 that our face off ability was/is lacking by a huge amount. Second to this shortcoming, the Ducks were able to enter our zone almost at will henceforth adding to the unrealistic workload of Talbot.

    The Ducks will exploit these two areas of weakness. It is a must to improve in order to advance. As much as luck is part of the game, one cannot depend on it.

    Go OIL!