GDB 3.0: 5×5 Scoring Needs To Get Going (6pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
6 months ago
The horse is dead. We’ve beaten it to a pulp discussing the defensive woes of the Oilers in their opening two games. We know. We know.
However, there is another area the Oilers need to improve. Their 5×5 scoring.
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The Oilers have one 5×5 goal in two games. It came on the opening shift of game two, when Zach Hyman, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl overwhelmed Vancouver by winning puck battles, using their size and speed to create multiple shots on goal, before Draisaitl slammed home the puck, and Casey DeSmith’s pads across the goal line. It was a hard-working goal, and something the Oilers need to do more often.
Edmonton has the skill to be a top-10 scoring team 5×5, and they showed it last season when they finished tied for 5th with Florida with 192 goals at 5×5. They were 11th in 2022 and eighth in 2021. But through two games they only have two goals, and they haven’t had many second or third chances, outside of the Draisaitl goal.
It is very early in the season, and I expect the offence will come, because the Oilers are too skilled not to score, but they need the hard work to match their skill.
“Last year we had an historic power play, and we relied a lot on our power play for goals,” said Evander Kane. “Good teams, and teams who go deep in the playoffs, which we have done the past two seasons, they lead with their 5×5 scoring, and I believe as a group that is something we can get a lot better at from top to bottom. It is something we have to focus on and take a little more pride in, because then it allows those power play goals to be the extra sauce on top.”
The Oilers were tied for fifth in 5×5 goals, but they lead the NHL in goals with 325. Offence wasn’t a concern at any point really last year. They scored 24 goals at 5×5 in 12 playoff games. But early they haven’t been around the net as much as they need to be.
“We had a lot of shots last game, but we could have had more,” said Kane. “Sometimes those B and C chances create A chances, and if we do that more it will break down the other team’s defensive systems like it does to any team in the league, and it creates more space and allows you to free up your skill a bit more to make secondary plays off that which leads to five-on-five goals. It is no secret how you score in this league. Get guys to the net, shoot the puck and you have some effort around the crease to put them home. I think a little bit more of that in our team game will allow us to grow as a team.”
Head coach Jay Woodcroft added these thoughts.
“You worry when you’re not getting chances,” said Woodcroft. “I think we are creating chances, but to Evander’s point I think in that red zone area, below the hashmarks we can be harder. We can display second and third efforts. I think the best example of that was how we started last game with Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Hyman. I saw three very hungry players who were willing to do what it took, get their nose dirty, burrow over the blue paint and they were rewarded. We are pleased with the volume of chances, not pleased with our finish just yet, but we think we can go to harder areas to find success.”
They’ve had good success 5×5 v. the Predators the past few seasons. They have 28 goals at 5×5 during their 11-game point streak (9-0-2) v. the Predators. No one more than Draisaitl, who has 20 goals, including eight at 5×5 in the last 11 games.
I have no issue with loading up Draisaitl and Connor McDavid against the Predators. McDavid doesn’t have a point 5×5, which is odd, and while he is the most dynamic player in the game, why risk having a mini drought extend a few games? Even the best players in the world need to be rewarded offensively, and when Draisaitl and McDavid start a game together, more often than not they have success 5×5. It makes sense to load them up now and again, and while doing it in the third game of the season might seem early, I don’t think it matters when you do it. Two points in October are equal to two points in March. The Oilers need a win, and they need to jumpstart their offence, and there is no better way to do that than partnering McDavid with Draisaitl.




Kane – McDavid – Draisaitl
Hyman – RNH – Foegele
Holloway – McLeod –Brown
Erne – Janmark – Ryan
Nurse – Ceci
Ekholm – Bouchard
Kulak – Broberg
Three new lines at the top of the lineup. With one 5×5 goal in two games, I get the changes, but I also won’t be surprised to see new combinations every few weeks. Connor Brown looked like a player who hasn’t played a regular season game in a year in the first two games. It likely will take him some time to get his game where he wants it.
Same D pairs as last game and Jack Campbell was in the “starter’s” net at the morning skate. It will be an emotional night for Mattias Ekholm. He admitted he doesn’t know what to expect, but he is happy to have it out of the way early in the season. The first thing he did when the schedule came out in July was look at when they played the Predators. He will get a loud ovation tonight, and we’ll see how he handles the first few shifts. Most players say the first few are difficult and then you settle in like a normal game.
I’d expect Woodcroft to have Ekholm in the starting lineup. Let him take it all in.


Forsberg – O’Reilly – Pärssinen
Nyquist – Glass – Smith
Tomasino – Novak – Evangelista
Trenin – Sissons – Sherwood
Josi – Fabbro
McDonagh – Carrier
Lauzon – Barrie
Thomas Novak (26), Cody Glass (24), Jusso Pärssinen (22), Philip Tomasino (22) and Luke Evangelista (21) are the new wave of young Predators. Novak, a third round pick in 2015 spent four years in college after being drafted and then three full seasons in the AHL, before being recalled just over halfway through last season. He finished the season with an impressive 43 points in 51 games. He has some offensive flair. Pärssinen scored 25 points in 45 games, Tomasino produced 18 in 31 games and Evangelista tallied 15 in 24 games. There will be growing pains as they are now regular NHLers, but the Preds are hoping their youth can complement Forsberg, O’Reilly and Nyquist. The Preds will need scoring-by-committee to win, but Edmonton needs to respect the skill of their young players.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton picks up its first win of the season with a 6-3 victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl starts the season on a three-game goal-scoring streak for the first time in his career.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Edmonton scores three goals in the first period.

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