The Oilers have had a disappointing last few days, dropping back-to-back games against the Canucks and Blues, two teams you’d expect them to beat. I wouldn’t say Edmonton was thoroughly outplayed in either game but a big part of both losses was poor special teams.
In particular, the Oilers power play against the Blues was putrid. The Oilers went 0/5 with the man advantage against the Blues, a team that ranks in the bottom third of the league in goals against. As Jason Gregor noted in his article yesterday, Edmonton has converted just three goals in 33 opportunities in 10 games in the month of December.
Back in 2016-17 when the Oilers made the playoffs, they had the league’s fifth-best power play, scoring on 22.86 percent of their chances. That was a key part of the team’s success as it took a tremendous amount of pressure off the team scoring at even strength. Last year, the Oilers had the league’s worst power play, scoring on just 14.76 percent of their chances. This season, they’re right in the middle. The Oilers are scoring on 19.27 percent of their power plays, which is just below league average. Given the talent, the Oilers have on their roster, you’d expect Edmonton to have a much, much better power play than they do.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday THURSDAY EDITION question. How do you fix Edmonton’s power play woes?
The big issue for the Oilers recently in regards to the man advantage has been the loss of Oscar Klefbom. Klefbom was the quarterback on the first power play unit, providing the first pass and the big shot from the point. Now, they have Darnell Nurse in that role in Klefbom’s absence.
Who else do you play in that spot if Nurse isn’t the answer? Matt Benning moves the puck fairly well and has a decent shot from the point. Chris Wideman, who hasn’t seen much action since being claimed off waivers, is supposedly a good power play quarterback who played on Ottawa’s second unit behind Erik Karlsson in the past. There’s also the possibility of using five forwards on the first unit, adding a guy with a good wrist shot like Jesse Puljujarvi to the mix.
The other issue is a completely ineffective second unit. The first is loaded with Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Alex Chiasson, leaving the second unit with a random group of players who are struggling offensively. Against St. Louis, they rolled out Ty Rattie, Tobias Reider, Milan Lucic, Jason Garrison, and Matt Benning. I know there aren’t many options available, but that group has combined for five goals this season.
What say you, Nation? How should the Oilers fix their struggling power play? Can the second unit be salvaged given the lack of depth on the roster?