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Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Pouliot: Shooting Blanks

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.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • MrBung

    Let’s face it, if these three have not scored by now in the playoffs, it is not going to happen in a tight, defensive game 7 against the Ducks in their barn.

  • Ryan68

    A $16M/yr 3rd line? If Chia can get ANYTHING for these guys without having to retain salary I’ll be impressed. This is the last remnant of the incompetence of the Decade of Darkness. I wonder what MacT and Lowe did to keep ANY job with this organization. What is their job now? Do they go into an office and play with blocks? If you were Chiarelli would you listen to these clowns? Just one more thing to be grateful to McDavid for. After the Oilers won the lottery Katz took his toy away from the Moron Twins and brought in competent management. The amazing thing is it only took two years to clean up their mess. I stopped wondering why Eberle isn’t producing, I don’t care anymore. I just want him gone. His lack of effort at $6M/yr pisses me off. He doesn’t deserve to wear the same jersey as McDavid, let alone ride his coat tails to success. Nuge at least plays defense. But a 5’11″/190lb shut down centre making $6M/yr? Seems a little small and a trifle over-paid.

    • I think Lowe and MacTavish still get a lot of credit for taking the Oilers to game 7 of a stanley cup finals as gm & coach, after winning 5 stanley cups as players, and both of them captaining the team at some point in their careers. I think, whether people like it or not, they’ve ultimately served the team well. We like to talk about the decade of darkness, but this all started in 2010, when they clearly decided to go full rebuild mode. So, maybe only 7 years of ineptitude. They got to draft McDavid by being awful. MacT and Lowe get credit for taking a few shots for the team there. 1 win from a conference final, so who cares about the past.

      • Ryan68

        Really? So, because they were adequate NHL players, (and nothing more), and they caught lightning in a bottle one year, and they won a lottery, they get a pass for running this team into the ground? Sorry, no forgiveness here. The fact that they inexplicably still have jobs with this team is even more galling. I guess no one told Mr. 6 Stanley Cups that he wasn’t really the reason all those cups fell in his lap, and that he doesn’t know s**t about winning. The two of them couldn’t have done more damage​ to this team if they were doing it intentionally. So, no they do not deserve our appreciation, for anything.

      • Not a First Tier Fan

        I’ve told MacT to his face that I thought he was a horrible GM. A good coach – sure. One of the best players in the Oilers organization? Sure. But as a GM he failed the team miserably.

        Lowe I think even less of.

        Anyone carrying water for those two and what they did to this team deserves contempt and scorn.

        • I’d say he was certainly not up to the job as GM, but he was only ever there to be a stop gap until a legitimate GM became available. Other than that, I don’t think anyone can have too many complaints about him as a coach or player. Even as a GM he managed to get the team in a position to draft Draisaitl and McDavid, knowing how he’d get pilloried after the fact. In reality, what’s better. Having McDavid or not having McDavid?

      • Ryan68

        So, MacT took the 3rd rated player in the 2014 draft, with the third pick and won the lottery and he is a genius?!?!?! That’s like giving someone credit for getting wet after falling in water. But hey, at least we’re paying Pouliot $4M/yr. Trading Hall for Larsson was a brilliant move. Name a MacT trade or free agent signing that was even clever. But hey, at least he threw that bum Dubnyk under the bus.

          • This doesn’t really strike me as a social justice issue. Maybe more of a revisionist history issue. Anyway, I’m not personally upset that MacT wasn’t a great GM. I don’t care that he tossed Dubnyk aside, considering 2 other teams after that did as well. I try to live a bit more in the present than the past.

  • Tombstone

    Oilers have over $21 million in dead weight.
    Eberle, Nuge, Pouloit, Fayne and Ference in Plus over $7 million off books with Russel, Deshairnas, Hendricks.

  • Hemi

    One has to wonder about the Vegas Knights. Leaving Ebs unprotected, they will undoubtedly pluck him. With Ebs being picked up by Vegas, 6 million is made available and in a cap world, that is significant. Asset wise, trading would be more desirable in my opinion. With that said, what would the return be? How much of a boat anchor is his contract? Could there be a pkg deal that Pistol Pete could pull off? Seems to be a lot of variables regarding Ebs and going forward. Whatever plays out, he will not be part of the Oilers next season.

    Go OIL!

  • Ako_to

    Tomorrow is the night for this line, in the good way… They will break out and Eberle will pass Pekka Rinne on points which currently have 3-points and more than him and Pouliot..

  • GK1980

    “He doesn’t have the same burst he’s had in the past, and his shot has been less accurate and lacking velocity.”

    Wasn’t there a time when Nuge would regularly zip shots through goalies with that elusive shot? What happened? Has the losing done too much psychological damage?

  • Spydyr

    Eberle -6 against the Ducks. Imagine this series if they just had a defensive responsible player in his spot that was even. Oh yeah, some of us saw this coming years ago. Where are all the Eberle will light it up in the playoffs big minds gone?

  • Puckhead

    I’ve been following some of the Anaheim blog sites since the playoffs began. Overall, their fans come across as arrogant with a sense of entitlement. Their team has had their time in the sun and now it’s time for them to move over for the next wave of up-and-coming teams. Time for your 3rd line to have their operations reversed so that they can stop shooting blanks.

    • Puckhead

      Yikes! Merely stating (in an odd way) that if the 3rd line scores it could be the difference between winning and losing. As I’ve said before best of luck!

  • Ziom

    What I don’t get is even in the decade of darkness eberle and Nugent were the top line. For Petes sake he was a no 1 pick. Even though we lost a lot of games during the decade, we still scored. That line still scored. It was our best line. I don’t understand why they can’t score now. Especially with better D. Somethings up. McLellan maybe too hard on them. But perhaps that was the issue. They don’t wanna play hard. They as a third line now (top line 2 years ago) , with better D, easier opposition, should be killing it. Somethings not right. I watch them every game hoping the shackles come off and they cycle the puck and score.

    • JimmyV1965

      That’s genius. Just let Ebs go for nothing. Makes me wish we held onto Schultz so we could expose him instead. Geez, that deal sure worked out for the Pens. I imagine though that you were one of the guys saying don’t trade him.

      • Dreadguy

        The concept of asset management must include the notion that a given asset has known value. Perhaps you can explain in detail Eberle’s value? As a starting point try defining value in terms of a performance/cost ratio. Good luck!

      • O.C.

        Schultz was awful for Pens game 5, arguably the main reason they lost. Sportsnet did a paragraph on that. Oil are better off without Schultz and barring the amazing turnaround (which involves effort to get involved), the Oil may as well let Ebs go for whatever they can get.

        If it isn’t working, get rid of it. Don’t look back at what it could have been; keep looking forward at what your team can become.

        • Bagged Almond Milk

          Ya I agree. The Oil are a far better team without Jultz, and that was not going to change…. if he was still in Edm, the oil would not be in the playoffs….. they tried staying the course for years and got no where…. that deal worked out for both teams, and I am shocked that it worked out for Pitt

        • MrBung

          Schultz is a bottom pairing defenceman that can be used on the PP. The Oilers were right to move him. They tried to treat him as a more versatile top pairing guy which he is not.

      • Ryan68

        What do you think the Oilers are going to get for Eberle? The answer is…not much. $6M/yr for a goal scorer who can’t score with the best set-up man in the league. A small, timid player who is as soft as fresh bread. He’s not even a team guy. We all remember him skating past when McDavid was getting roughed up. So, if Chia can get a 3rd rounder I’ll be impressed.

        • Space Pants

          This all day. Anybody who even thinks we would get something for Ebs is seriously delusional. Other teams like cap space and aren’t going to fill it up with Ebs salary and there is no way the Oilers would want to be on the hook for part of it just to send him away.

          The guy is a total bum. 4th winger PP specialist just like Sam Gagner. I recall someone arguing earlier this season that Ebs would get $4M easy from any team in the league. Not in this world.

      • I am Batman

        So you think you can get what for Ebs? A bag for how many pucks?
        He has negative value.
        But I bet you keep your dad’s dodge valiant just because one day you might get 56 bucks for it in the scrapyard .
        Nobody wants to pay lazy Ebs 6 mill, not even Vegas! You watch!

  • slats-west

    If you would have said at the start of this series that match up was going to happen – we would all be thinking that we should feast on these guys.

    If I was MCL I would put that on the bulletin board and challenge these 3 guys personally that your only job, and a key to our winning game 7, is to outplay these pluggers!!! Surely they can respond.

    On paper that a match up is a joke!!!

  • 7909

    Nuge needs to shoot the puck quicker. I’ve seen it a lot where he breaks out from the half wall, into the slot, takes a half second to long and the defensive players stick is there to deflect the shot. I guess that’s his lack of confidence in action. He doesnt have a hard shot, but it is accurate and he has the ability to get it off quick, but he isnt. If he plays the same way he is and just shoots the puck quicker when he gets his chances he will start scoring.
    Eberle on the other hand needs to be a completely different player to add value to the team. The way I see it though is I’m an oiler fan, so I will be cheering for him.

  • Boom76

    Please don’t trade RNH. Let’s trade Ebs + + for someone like Brendan Gallagher-esque… fast, not flashy, and lots of tenacity. I feel bad that Nuge has always been hamstrung by Captain Dead Eyes.

    • Jaxon

      Yes to this. The speedy, feisty, Edmonton-born RW would be a great fit in Edmonton. He had the 2nd highest shots/60 for wingers in the NHL last season at 12.05. I would suggest Eberle (2 x $6M) + Pouliot (2 x $4M), which is 2 more years at $10M going out for Plekanec (1 x $6M) + Gallagher (4 x $3.75M), which is $9.75M coming in for 1 year and then 3.75 for 3 more years. So the money works out short term and is a great deal for Edmonton moving forward as long as Gallagher bounces back. Plus it gives Edmonton a decent option (Plekanec) for 3C for next season. I’d maybe throw in a Reinhart and a 3rd round pick for a Dalton Thrower and a 5th round pick coming back.

      Eberle (6.000Mx2) – – – – – – – Gallagher (3.750Mx4)
      Pouliot (4.000Mx2) – – – – – – Plekanec (6.000Mx1)
      Reinhart (0.863Mx0)RFA – Thrower (0.646Mx0)RFA
      3rd Round in 2017 – – – – – – 5th Round in 2017
      CAP 10.863M out – – – – – – – CAP 10.396M in

      Then Plekanec’s salary comes off the books just in time for McDavid’s big contract.

  • Mcjesuslaz

    I find it crazy how some of you fans still defend eberle and say “oh we need to get something in return” no we don’t actually if you watched every game this year 99% of them he did *uck all!! The truth is we won’t get better then a third rounder for him and even then would the other team want to take on his 6 milly? I don’t think so. The best option is to seriously leave him unprotected and somehow get rid of pou. Nuge should stay. We got some big contracts coming up.

    • CBK

      That’s why we have Chiarelli…. he was able to move Schultz when no one thought was possible. I’m positive he can move Eberle and his $6M cap space.

      Sometimes a change of scenery is all the player needs. Eberle is going through a bad slump no doubt, but he still has value.

      At the end of the day the Oilers need the salary break, so I’m positive Chiarelli can find a team willing to take on his salary for a draft pick.

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    I’ve been a big fan of Ebs for a long time. But after this series I don’t know how he can meet the eyes of guys like McDavid or Draisaitl in the locker room – let alone the Russell’s or Larssons or Letestus – guys that are truly giving it all body and soul to be winning these games…

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Guys can we please pick up the what to do with the roster conversation in the 3rd week of June? Last time I looked Ebs is in the lineup and dressed in blue and orange. LGO!

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