Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has 31 shots in the playoffs, Jordan Eberle has 21 and Benoit Pouliot has 14, but they are all still looking for their first goal.
The Oilers new third line has played a combined 554:49 this postseason, and despite 66 shots on goal, they’ve yet to score.
If misery loves company, then Todd McLellan’s reuniting them as a line before game five should have worked wonders, but so far they continue to be shut out.
With Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid centring the top two lines, RNH’s trio no longer has to worry about tough matchups versus Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler.
It is time this trio of veterans remove themselves from the missing persons report and produce a goal.
In the 2015/2016 season, RNH went 18 games without a goal, and he fired 33 shots on net. He also went 15 games without a goal in between January 27th and March 16th, 2014, with 25 shots on goal. He had another 12-game drought in 2013 with 24 shots.
He’s had goal-scoring slumps before, and while he is generating a lot of shots, he isn’t finishing. He has skated well, and been involved, but when he gets the puck in a shooting area he hasn’t been able to finish and he doesn’t look very confident.
Playing good defensively helps, no doubt, but at some point you need to score. Of the three, he has played the best, but with the new line combinations and easier matchups, now is the time for this trio to awaken from their post-season slumber and contribute in the goal column.
Eberle is -6 in the series versus the Ducks. He only has eight shots. His impact on games has diminished from the first series, and while he played okay against San Jose, he has struggled in all facets versus the Ducks.
He went 18 games without a goal earlier this season, despite firing 34 shots on goal. He has struggled much of this season, especially offensively. He did score six goals in the final nine games of the regular season, but he hasn’t been able to continue that into the playoffs.
He hit a goal post versus San Jose in game one, but since then he hasn’t had many high-quality scoring chances. There is no doubt his offensive confidence is at an all-time low, but he needs to fight through it and work harder to create chances. Whatever happens the rest of the postseason, I believe he needs a summer of training where he gets stronger. He doesn’t have the same burst he’s had in the past, and his shot has been less accurate and lacking velocity.
Pouliot had a horrible offensive season. He went 28 games without a goal, and after scoring three goals in the first seven games of the season, he tallied only three in this final 59 games. Add in the playoffs, and he has three goals since October 26th.
Pouliot has never been a high-end producer. He has a career high of 19 goals and he reached 36 points twice. Many people tried to prop up his offence using the misleading pts/60 statistic in the past, but I suspect most realize the error of their ways.
Pouliot has been solid on the PK, and he’s been good on the forecheck. Unlike Eberle, he has found ways to contribute without scoring, but three goals in 71 games is horrendous. He is capable of more offence, and like RNH and Eberle he must find a way to light the lamp.
This trio has the capability to produce some goals. They don’t have to produce like they have in the past, but they need to show a pulse offensively.
A timely goal in game seven tomorrow night would be massive from any of these three.
In game six, RNH’s line played the most minutes against Nic Kerdiles (7:06), followed by Nate Thompson (4:03). That is a far cry from facing a Joe Pavelski or Getzlaf line. Kerdiles was recalled from the AHL during this series.
In game five they faced Nick Ritchie, Antoine Vermette and Chris Wagner the most.
This is a matchup the Oilers should win. RNH, Eberle and Pouliot shouldn’t be breaking even against them, they should be producing actual offence.
This is a matchup they need to win in game seven. It is time RNH, Eberle and Pouliot make an offensive appearance.
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