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Photo Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 53.0: Dangling In The Desert (7pm MT, SN1)

Leon Draisaitl has had a remarkable season. Even with a 15-game rough patch between November 27th to December 27th, his overall campaign has been stellar.

Draisaitl started the season on an eight-game scoring streak during which he scored 16 points.
Then the Oilers were shutout in consecutive games in Winnipeg and Minnesota.
Draisaitl then scored 32 points in his next 16 games, which included a 13-game point streak in which he tallied 28 points.

He followed that up by scoring 13 points over his next 15 games. He was held pointless in five of those 15 games.

He is now on his third heater of the season, producing 22 points in his last 11 games.

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Draisaitl has points in 44 of the Oilers 52 games this season. He hasn’t scored a point in only eight games, and the Oilers went 0-6-2 in those matches.

They lost 5-1 v. Calgary on December 27th.
Lost 5-2 v. Pittsburgh on December 20th.
Lost 3-2 in OT v. Buffalo on December 8th.
Lost 5-2 v. Vancouver on November 30th.
Lost 4-1 in Colorado on November 27th.
Lost 5-1 in Los Angeles on November 21st.
Lost 3-0 in Minnesota on October 22nd.
Lost 1-0 in a shootout in Winnipeg on October 20th.

Edmonton is 28-12-4 when Draisaitl produces at least one point.

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If you are curious, Connor McDavid has points in 39 of the Oilers 52 games. They are 3-7-3 when he doesn’t tally a point. He and Draisaitl were held pointless in the same game five times: At Winnipeg, Minnesota and Colorado, and home to the Sabres and Penguins.

Draisaitl’s current 11-game point streak is the fourth streak of 11+ games of his career.

He had 19 points in 11 games between March 14th to April 4th, 2017.
He scored 23 points in 14 games from February 13th to March 11th, 2019.
Earlier this season he had 28 points in 13 games between October 24th to November 24th.

This streak is a bit different than the previous three, because he has played mainly with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto. No one can claim he is only scoring because of McDavid. I’ve always misunderstood that argument. Throughout history we have seen many high-scoring duos, and I don’t recall many ripping Jari Kurri for playing with Wayne Gretzky or Jaromir Jagr because he played with Mario Lemieux.

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Dave Randorf posts cool angle of Connor McDavid's first playoff goal

Draisaitl is an elite talent and the past few games should eliminate any doubt from those still concerned about his ability. The most impressive part of these past 11 games for me is that they come off the heels of the worst 15-game stretch of his career. Draisaitl was a stunning -24 over 15 games between November 27th-December 27th. Of course, +/- doesn’t tell us everything, but you can’t overlook that high of a minus.

Draisaitl wasn’t happy with his play, even admitting he played “like shit,” but he’s bounced back with a vengeance. He’s been dominant in 2020, and he’s been the offensive catalyst for the Oilers during their 8-1-2 streak. He leads the team with 22 points, followed by Nugent-Hopkins at 17, McDavid at 16 and Yamamoto at 10. Draisaitl’s line has been outstanding, not only offensivley, but also defensively. They are a combined +36 over the past 11 games, and Draisaitl has been the centre of it all.

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What has been most impressive about Draisaitl’s play for me is how he controls the play in all three zone. As Mike Kelly pointed out, Draisaitl’s ability to carry the puck from the Dzone to the Ozone, often creating many chances on his own, is one of his best attributes. Regardless of who he plays with, Draisaitl is proving he is one of the NHL’s most dominant players, and I think he should be in the conversation for the Hart trophy.

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LINEUP…

Oilers

Archibald-McDavid-Kassian
RNH-Draisaitl-Yamamoto
Khaira-Sheahan-P.Russell
Gagner-Haas-Chiasson

Klefbom-Larsson
Nurse-Bear
Jones-Benning

Koskinen

Tyler Benson was rotating in on the Sheahan line, but after the Oilers convincing 8-3 victory over Calgary I’d understand if head coach Dave Tippett doesn’t make any lineup changes. Russell had six shots in Calgary and Khaira played his most engaged game in a month.

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RELATED ARTICLE:
Throwback Thursday: On this day in 1985, Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky sets NHL record with 34th career hat trick

Coyotes

Hall-Dvorak-Garland
Keller-Stepan-Kessel
Crouse-Schmaltz-Hinostroza
Soderberg-Richardson-Fischer

Chychrun-Goligoski
Hjalmarsson-Demers
Oesterle-Lyubushkin

Raanta

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is likely out again tonight and that is a huge blow for the Coyotes. Add in Darcy Kuemper and the Coyotes are not nearly as strong defensively tonight without those two. The Oilers top-two lines should be able to create many chances.

The Coyotes have spread out their offence over three lines, but it hasn’t led to a lot of goals. Nick Schmaltz leads them with 38 points, but he only has eight games. Taylor Hall does have 42 points split between 49 games with the Devils and Coyotes. Phil Kessel hasn’t produced as much as he should be with only 11 goals and 31 points in 54 games. He needs to get going offensively if the Coyotes want to stay in the race for home ice advantage, and even the playoff race, in the Pacific Division.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers continue to roll, skating away with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl extends his point streak to 12 games.

NOT-SO OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Khaira ends his 17-game goalless drought and scores his first goal in two months. His last goal was on December 4th against Ottawa.

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