The Big Four
Photo credit:Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
The Big Four. That’s right. The Big Four. Fans of the Edmonton Oilers have been spoiled by Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for so long, it’s little wonder they’ve stood alone when it comes to superlatives. McDavid and Draisaitl have been the most prolific players, and by a lot, this team has had for a long time.
They still are of course, but with the guts of the stretch drive to go, they’re sharing the marquee with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman, who are both enjoying career-high years for goals, assists, and points going into tonight’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights. Thus, the Big Four. Had Evander Kane been able to stay healthy this season, we might be talking The Big Five.
Whatever the number, McDavid and Draisaitl are getting the kind of offensive support on the top end they haven’t had during their tenures with the Oilers. Now, if the team as a whole can find a way to keep the puck out of the net behind Stuart Skinner, they’ll have a chance to make some noise the rest of the way.
McDavid has scored 60-80-140 to lead the league with career highs in all three categories. Draisaitl sits at 46-68-114, marking highs in assists and points. We’re used to that from them. Now, along comes senior company man RNH with career highs across the board at 34-57-91 and Hyman doing the same with 32-45-77 in his second season here. All four are in the top-25 in scoring. Not surprisingly, the Oilers lead the league with 291 goals.
SIN CITY SHOWDOWN
Mar 27, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell (36) drops the puck as Arizona Coyotes center Nathan Smith (13) attacks in the second period at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Coming off Monday’s 5-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes in which Draisaitl scored his 300th career goal and Nugent-Hopkins got the winner on a power play, the Oilers are getting one more crack at the Golden Knights, who beat them 4-3 in OT last Saturday. Five points back coming in, they’ll need a clean regulation win to have any chance of catching the Golden Knights in the Pacific Division. It’s a long shot.
The Oilers have a better chance of catching the Los Angeles Kings, who they play twice, including at home Thursday. First things first. After scrambling past the Coyotes in Mullett Arena at ASU in what seemed like a home game with so many Edmonton fans there on spring break, coach Jay Woodcroft will start Stuart Skinner against the Golden Knights tonight.
Jack Campbell battled and made some timely saves to get the win at ASU on a night special teams made the difference – the Oilers scored twice with the power play and added their league-leading 14th shorthanded goal – but Skinner is easily their best shot in the blue paint the rest of the way. That much we know.
If the goaltending can hold up and McDavid and Draisaitl keep getting the kind of scoring support we’ve seen from RNH and Hyman, Oilers’ fans are in for some fun no matter where the playoff road begins in the first round. The Big Four. Sure. You heard it here first . . .
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