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Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Trending Topics: Blaming Klefbom for the power play?

It’s funny how people see the games differently. I don’t think anyone would argue that Klefbom is having a great year (and they need him to get better), but I also think it’s unfair to blame him for the Oilers early-season struggles either. 

Over at Sportsnet, Mark Spector wrote an article with three reasons the Oilers can’t score. When it came to the power play (which deserves a jab or two), Spec singled out the Swedish defenceman as a major cause for the lack of power play offence. I know he’s not having the best year, but is it fair to hang the PP issues on him?

(The power play problem) starts with a struggling Oscar Klefbom, the point man and high shooter on the ‘A’ unit, who has been entirely ineffective in all areas this season — but particularly at getting shots through on the power play.

Yeah, okay, but you can’t just single out Klefbom as being the only guy that’s not getting any shots on net. I mean, show me a guy that is regularly firing pucks at the net on the PP… I’ll wait. Frankly, the power play reads like a book right now, and I would bet that the lack of success has just as much to do with the 30 other NHL teams knowing exactly what the Oilers are trying to do rather than singling out Klefbom for nothing being able to get shots through.

Klefbom has just two power-play points in 17 games (no goals), and because his shots are getting blocked or missing the net with regularity there are no rebound goals for forwards crashing the net.

Could Klefbom get his shot off quick? Yep. Could he work at getting more shots through in general? Yes. Is that the biggest power play problem? Hell no. Just look at the production they’re getting when they have the man advantage. Nuge has two goals, Letestu has two, McDavid has one, Strome and Caggiula each has one, and that’s all she wrote. That’s the problem. Having seven total power play goals is a kick to the balls. Could Klefbom be better? Absolutely. But what about everybody else? What about the game plan in general?

You can quibble with the power play personnel and their usage, but the same units (minus injured, second-unit point man Andrej Sekera) were effective last season at 22.9 per cent. This year? Crickets, thus far.

So if the personnel is basically the same then, to me, it’s a reach to single out Klefbom as the “start” of the power play problems. The problem goes way beyond Klefbom, and it’s going to take more than his improvement to turn the ship around. There are so many more questions to be answered that singling out one guy just seems like throwing a dart at the board to find out where it lands.

Why not as about the fact that the first unit is basically running a “who will Connor pass it to” game plan? What about the fact that the second unit doesn’t really have a shooting option at all? At what point will the forwards stop looking for the perfect cross-ice passes and start looking for the garbage goals in the crease? What is Kris Russell doing on the power play in the first place?

THE WRAP

Looking at the power play numbers, I have a hard time blaming the whole mess on only one player. If anything, taking a shot at Klefbom while he’s struggling is just an easy take. The truth is that the Oilers need to be better as a group and they need to reconsider how they approach offence with an extra man on the ice. For me, there is a lot more going on and there are plenty of questions that need answers than what one single player can provide.

Klefbom is certainly a big part of what’s going wrong with the power play, but he definitely isn’t the only one. To blame him for the fact that the Oilers are scoring at a blogger’s rate seems like a reach, but, then again, that’s just going by what the numbers say. That said, Spec already wrote about Nuge needing to win faceoffs to justify his salary and since that’s happening the wheel of blame needs to land somewhere.

  • Jaybee

    I think you’re bang on – yes Klefbom has been awful – he deserves some blame but I think the bigger problem you’ve pointed out is how predictable the power play as a whole has become. Is this a problem with coaching? Why have they avoided any real media scrutiny up to this point?
    “Who will Connor pass to” seems not just to be our power play strategy but the team’s whole game plan. That’s a coaching problem to me.

  • TKB2677

    I am not one to put all the blame on Klefbom for the PP. Should he get some blame? Of course but so should the rest of them including McDavid. Personally I think McDavid passes WAY too much. I get that he is a set up guy, I understand he likes to try passes that no one else would because he can make them BUT he needs to shoot more. When the entire PK unit for the other team expects McDavid to pass the puck all the time, they do whatever they can to clog up the passing lanes. McDavid needs to let a few shots go from areas where he would normally pass from. Even if he doesn’t score, it will make the defenders have to think about the shot. Pretty soon they have to creep towards McDavid because they respect the shot and it will open up the lanes.

    When it comes to Klefbom and ANY of the point men. I think they need to get it out of their head they were back there to score. There job is to get shots through. Don’t worry about scoring, keep it low and look for tips and rebounds.

    • wiseguy

      I feel the bigger issue is that McDavid has shot more this year as he promised to do. Unfortunately the results when he shoots just are not there so the teams are letting him shoot even more than ever before. The highest percentage shot is the one Drai or Letestu one time off a McDavid pass and that’s been taken away and 97 shooting just isn’t working.

  • OriginalPouzar

    I really think this team could benefit from giving Nuge a push on the PP.

    Nuge was fantastic on the PP early in his career and, with his recently found offensive confidence, I think he can run a PP (and produce on a PP) as well as he did earlier in his career.

    Frankly, one of the areas that I believe McDavid needs to improve on in the next while is his PP work. He’s OK on the PP but far from great or elite. Drai drove the PP1 last year, not McDavid.

    This is fine, I have no doubt Connor will become elite on the PP but he is not at this point and I wouldn’t mind seeing Nuge get a push as the halfboards QB on PP1.

  • cityofchampions

    What about trying Nurse on the 2nd PP unit, giving it a booming shot from the point? Gives a different look and Nurse can skate and carry the puck in and establish zone presence as well as Benning. Nurse has stabilized our top D pairing, and its time he gets a chance on the PP. Heck, if Nurse does well he might even replace Klefbom on the top PP unit in time.

  • Serious Gord

    The top two problems with the oil are Klefbom not playing to the level he attained last year and the coaching which to my uneducated eye looks to be getting schooled almost every game by the opposition.

    Klefbom is the barometer of the team. If he’s going well the team does well. If he’s injured -2015-16 – or not thinking the game -present day, the team struggles

  • TKB2677

    I think the Oilers just need to bring in another Swede. They brought in Larsson and Klefbom took off last year. They need to bring in another one so it can happen again.

  • camdog

    Teams scouted the powerplay and are now taking away the spaces that allowed for success last season. Klefbom and Letestu had career type years on the powerplay last year and this years are ready for it. For me Klefbom has struggled when he’s got 2 guys to cover 2 on 1’s and penalty kill, at times he goes into no man’s land and covers nobody. He’ll get it figured out as he gets his confidence back. He’ll never be greatest in his own end but he’s certainly better than he’s showed so far this season.

    • ScottV

      Agreed – biggest problem is defensive coverage. Its like he is pulling complete brain cramps on what should be fairly simple reads. Im wondering if a nagging injury is somehow messing him up.

  • jultz=2cups!😂😂

    Hmm. I must have woke up in bizarro world…. I thought it was oilersnations thing to single one player out and place all the blame on him. ie. jultz. Just cause it’s everybodys favourite klefbom, I guess that doesn’t apply at this time I guess…. but I digress. I generally don’t agree with much of what Spector says and this is also one of those times. The whole team is struggling to score. The pp is getting good looks and zone time by my eye lately and it’s just a matter of time before the goals start going in. Kbomb will be fine. All hockey players go through funks. He’s young, he’ll bounce back. Man Spector annoys me during the intermissions as much as remenda annoys you guys. Only reason I watch him is to hear what big Louie D has to say

  • JimmyV1965

    My biggest concern about the PP is their inability to make the cross seam east-west pass. We scored a lot of goals like that last year. Letestu had many open nets to shoot at. I don’t think he’s getting those now.

  • Vanoil

    Relax, nobody takes Mark Spector seriously. Sportsnet just needed a local guy to give spotlight features like Ryan Rishaug does on TSN, and he was the other available alternative. Neither have earned their salt either as players or analysts. I will take whichever stats-focused blogger at the Cult over their opinions any day, at least the latter put time and effort into their analysis, and endeavour to substantiate it with more than just verbiage. They aren’t always spot on, but at least they earn their salt.

  • cgyearnall/edmfreeloaders

    Boy looking at the score .you could tell they played a better team with a Batman goals…not like it was the blues…wings..or anyone great….but they are still better by 3 wins over coil.