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?
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.