GDB 52.0: Ride The Heater (5:00pm MT, SNW)

Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
Depth scoring heaters are a Godsend for players and coaches. Usually, because they come out of nowhere.
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On January 9th, the Oilers faced the Los Angeles Kings. Ryan McLeod entered the game without a goal in 22 games. He hadn’t scored since October 24th. He went 15 games without a goal, then after a three-assist game in Florida he was hurt on his final shift of the game. He returned a month later and went another seven games without a goal.
But then he scored in LA v. the Kings. His goal late in the second period made it 4-2 LA.

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It wasn’t a spectacular play, just a solid go to the net and finish the rebound. The Oilers would lose 6-3, so the goal didn’t seem that impactful at the time. But it was the start of a heater for McLeod.
Since his goals v. the Kings he has five goals and six points in his last nine games. The Oilers are 8-0-1. The Oilers have scored 45 goals and their depth players have been significant contributors. Warren Foegele has three goals. Klim Kostin has four. Derek Ryan has two. Of course, the big-four has led the way, as they should, with Connor McDavid (7-9-16), Zach Hyman (6-10-16), Leon Draisaitl (7-7-14) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (4-10-14) producing well.
But at 5×5 the scoring has been much closer. McDavid and McLeod have five goals, Kostin and Draisaitl have four, while Foegele and Hyman have three.
It is almost like Kostin handed the “depth scoring heater” baton to McLeod. Kostin scored 2-2-4 in his first 17 games with Edmonton, which was decent production when he was just trying to secure himself a job in Edmonton playing fourth line minutes. But then Kostin scored 7-2-9 in 12 games between December 21st-January 14th. He scored some timely goals that helped the Oilers win. Overall, he has 9-4-13 in 35 games which is excellent production for a bottom-six player with no power play time. He’s also added a much-needed dose of physicality to the lineup.
McLeod has 9-7-16 in 38 games and his next goal will set a new career high. No one expects McLeod to score six goals every 10 games (that is a 49-goal pace), but when depth scorers get hot, they, and the coaches, want to ride it as long as possible. It is extremely difficult to score consistently in the NHL, so inevitably McLeod will slow down, but if the Oilers continue to have different depth players on heaters their odds of winning consistently will remain high.
Will Foegele get on a heater? Maybe Dylan Holloway will. Regardless of who it is, with the 11-forward formation the depth players are logging a few more minutes each game and getting more opportunities to produce. It has become a successful formula, and I don’t see why Woodcroft would change it any time soon.



As we saw last game there really aren’t many consistent line combinations, except for the Kostin-RNH-Janmark line. And, as expected, their production has slowed. With Kailer Yamamoto possibly returning as early as Sunday, you can make an argument for Mattias Janmark to get a night in the pressbox. Janmark hasn’t been awful, but Foegele and Derek Ryan have been better recently. Woodcroft has spoken often about creating healthy competition, and to stay in the lineup means you need to play well.
Foegele said this before the road trip after being scratched v. Chicago. “I thought our line had a good game v. Columbus, but no one is really playing poorly,” said Foegele. “There wasn’t one specific reason I was out, but if I had I scored on one of my breakaways I think I’d have stayed in.”
The competition to remain in the lineup will only intensify when Yamamoto returns, and that should only make the Oilers a better team.


Hayes – Laughton – Tippett
van Riemsdyk – Cates – Konecny
Farabee – Frost – Allison
Deslauriers – Brown – Bellows
Provorov – York
Sanheim – Ristolainen
Seeler – DeAngelo
Quite the storyline seeing two Edmonton area products in Carter Hart and Stuart Skinner. Oilers had an optional this morning, but my sense is Skinner starts. He hasn’t started since January 25th v. Columbus. He did play last week in the All-star game, so this rotation allowed Skinner and Campbell the least amount of time off between games.
John Tortorella had a very honest assessment of Tony DeAngelo. Some will question why he said it, but the entire quote is fair, not disparaging, and is honest. For many offensive-minded defenders, learning to defend in the NHL is very difficult.
“Last team he played for (Carolina) I think they could absorb some of that with their roster as far as maybe some of his deficiencies defensively. It kind of sticks out more with us. I think he’s done some great things for us here. It’s just…we want to try to help him, and we feel he needs to get better defensively without taking away any of that great offensive ability he has.
We know what Tony is. I’m a little bit, not disappointed, but the defensive liability is something we need to work at. I didn’t think the amount of work that we need to do with him…I didn’t think that at the point in time we got him, but it is what it is.”
Who they are paired with can significantly impact, positively or negatively, how some defenders perform. Great defenders can make their partner look, and feel, more comfortable. Even steady veteran players can have a calming influence on young defenders who are early in their careers.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: Oilers improve to 9-0-1 in their last 10 with a 5-3 win.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: McDavid extends his road point streak to 16 games and picks up his 27th multi-point game of the season.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: In his first career game v. the Flyers, Dylan Holloway scores a goal.

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