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Edmonton Oilers big guns need to get going

Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are undoubtedly some of the best players in the league. They packed a potent 1-2 punch leading the league in scoring this year and seemed to score at will all season long.

But two games into the playoffs, both players have been held off the scoresheet entirely. For the Oilers, the lack of offence from their two superstars is verging on a near crisis.

The Oilers aren’t a team that consistently can rely on their bottom-six to produce offence for them, so when the well runs dry — even for two games — it becomes a critical issue for the team. It not only shows warts that this Oilers lineup has, but it also has led to the team being down 2-0 to the Jets.

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For McDavid, this isn’t anything new. In the Oilers 2017 playoff run against San Jose and Anaheim, McDavid scored five goals and nine points in 13 games. It was a fairly large drop from his 1.22 PPG scored in the regular season. Last year against Chicago, the seventh-worst regular-season team, he scored nine points in four games.

For Draisaitl, he blew up in the 2017 playoffs scoring six goals and 16 points in 13 games. It was a big coming out party for him, as his PPG jumped from the .94 it was in the regular season. Last year against Chicago, he scored three goals and as many assists in four games.

It’s not for lack of trying, though. McDavid has fired 16 shot attempts and generated 11 scoring chances. Draisaitl has generated 12 shot attempts and seven scoring chances. Both are amongst the highest on the Oilers, but they’ve yet to break free.

The Jets are doing everything they can to impede them. Hack, slash, hook, interfere — anything to get in the way of the Oilers superstars that lit them up in the regular season. It’s been frustrating to watch but something they need to overcome.

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The pair don’t have the luxury of having referees in their corner, either. Take a look at the penalty differentials of not only McDavid and Draisaitl, but the other top-20 scorers in the league.

It’s a frustrating reality hockey fans — and elite players — have to go through. No professional sports league makes it as hard on their superstars as the NHL does.

Nonetheless, not just McDavid and Draisaitl, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the rest of the Oilers lineup need to find a way to break through a stingy Jets defence. Credit where it’s due, the Jets are doing a very good job of limiting space for the Oilers in the offensive zone and are getting into lanes, blocking shots and collapsing into passing lanes.

It’s made offence hard to come by for one of the most potent offences in the NHL.


Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]

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