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Oilers’ big guns firing on all cylinders

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Photo credit:Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
30 days ago
It might be cliche, but the adage, “Your best players need to be your best players to win,” is accurate. It helps having depth players contribute, but if you want to win the Stanley Cup or go deep in the playoffs, your best players need to produce.
The Oilers’ top players have done exactly that through two rounds of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
— Leon Draisaitl (24 points), Connor McDavid (21) and Evan Bouchard (20) became the first trio of teammates in NHL history to all have 20+ points through the first two rounds of the playoffs. It is damn impressive, but even more so when you consider there has only been four postseasons in NHL history with three players, from any team, with 20+ points through two rounds. To have three from one team is crazy.
— Draisaitl is averaging 2.00 points a game this season. Prior to this season, he was one of only eight players (minimum 10 GP) to average two points/game in a playoff year.
He’s had another amazing start to the playoffs. It will be difficult to maintain a 2.00 points/game pace throughout the entire playoffs, but he’s off to a great start.
— Draisaitl has a point in all 12 games and is one of only seven players to start the playoffs on a 12-game point streak. Bryan Trottier (1981) holds the NHL record at 18, followed by Nathan MacKinnon (2022), Mark Messier (1988) and Bobby Orr (1970) who went 14 games, Messier (1994) and Orr (1972) also had 13 gamers and Draisaitl, Johan Franzen (2010) and Denis Potvin (1976) started with a 12-game streak.
Bouchard is the first defenseman in NHL history with 20 points through the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (the NHL introduced best-of-seven in the opening round in 1987).  He is the 21st defender to register 20+ points in a full playoff year. If he produces seven points this series, he will join Paul Coffey (37), Brian Leetch (34), Al MacInnis (31) and Cale Makar (29) as the only defenders with 27+ points in a playoff year.
— Draisaitl is already one of the 69 players to produce 25 points in a playoff season. He had 32 in 2022. He needs one point to become the 14th player to do it multiple times. He’ll join a pretty special group with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier (6x), Jari Kurri (5x), Glenn Anderson, Mike Bossy, Sidney Crosby, Nikita Kucherov, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Bryan Trottier (3x) while Doug Gilmour, Evgeni Malkin and Kevin Stevens did it twice.
— If Draisaitl manages to score six points this series, he’ll become only the sixth player with multiple 30+ point seasons in the playoffs joining Gretzky (6x), Messier (3x), Kucherov, Kurri and Lemieux (2x).
— Edmonton enters the third round with the four top-scorers in the playoffs with Draisaitl (24), McDavid (21), Bouchard (20) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (16). Victor Trocheck and Matthew Tkachuk are next with 14, while Zach Hyman has 13. Hyman leads the playoffs with 11 goals.
The NHL record for most players on a team with 20 points in a playoff year is six held by the 1983 New York Islanders and the 1985 Edmonton Oilers. The Islanders had Bob Bourne (28), Mike Bossy (26), Brent Sutter and Duane Sutter (21) and Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin (20). The Oilers had Gretzky (47), Paul Coffey (37), Kurri (31), Anderson (26), Messier (25) and Charlie Huddy (20).
— The 1988 and 1990 Oilers had five skaters with 20+ points, as did the 1991 Minnesota North Stars and the 2018 Washington Capitals.
— Many teams have had four players with 20+ points including the 1980 Philadelphia Flyers, 1981 Islanders, 1984 Oilers, 1987 Oilers, 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins, 2010 Flyers, 2014 LA Kings, 2016 San Jose Sharks, 2017 Penguins, 2022 Colorado Avalanche and the 2023 Vegas Golden Knights.
— Of those 17 teams with 4+ players with 20+ points, 13 of them won the Stanley Cup and the other four lost in the Cup Final. You might hear some suggest the Oilers rely too much on their top players, but many successful teams have had their top guys produce the majority of their points.
— Hyman is the sixth Oiler to score 11+ goals twice in a playoff year. He had 11 in 2022. Gretzky, Kurri and Messier did it four times, while Esa Tikkanen, Craig Simpson and Hyman have done it twice. Kurri holds the Oilers record for most goals in a playoff year with 19 (1985) and he’s tied with Reggie Leach for the NHL record. The most goals by an Oiler since 1991 is 14 set by Fernando Pisani in 2006. Evander Kane had 13 in 2022, while Draisaitl had 13 last season.
— Draisaitl has six power play goals through the first two rounds. Cam Neely (1991) and Mike Bossy (1981) hold the NHL record with nine. Messier (1987) holds the Oilers record with seven.
— Edmonton is averaging 3.83 goals/game while Dallas has averaged 2.92. However, Dallas did produce 3.67 goals/game in their series victory over Colorado.
— Dallas had nine forwards with one goal and 11 forwards with at least two points in their series v. Colorado. Edmonton had seven forwards with a goal and six with two points. However, the Oilers had nine goals and 22 points from their defensemen, while Dallas had six goals and 14 points from their D-men. The Oilers got more production from their blue line, while Dallas got more from their depth forwards.
If the Oilers best players continue to produce, and I don’t think it has to be at a record-breaking pace, they will have a very good chance to defeat the Dallas Stars. Without a doubt, the Stars will be their toughest test of the 2024 playoffs, and the Oilers can’t afford to “gift” them goals, but Dallas’ best forwards aren’t on the same level as the Oilers and that could be the deciding factor in which teams moves on to the Stanley Cup Final.

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