GDB +24.0: Draisaitl expects to make an impact in Game 6 (6pm MT, CBC)

Edmonton Oilers celebrate goal at Rogers Place
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 month ago
Leon Draisaitl has 107 points in 72 career playoff games. His 1.49 points/game is 4th highest in NHL history (among players with 50GP), behind Wayne Gretzky (1.84), Connor McDavid (1.63) and Mario Lemieux (1.61).
In the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs, Draisaitl produced 24 points in 12 games. He was the Oilers’ best player in the first two rounds.
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After a fantastic start, he is in the midst of the first playoff slump of his career. He has six points in his last 11 games. He has two points, both in Game 4, in the first five games of the Stanley Cup Final. Draisaitl holds himself to a very high standard. Much higher than any coach, teammate, fan or media pundit does. This morning Draisaitl shared how he felt about his play in the Final thus far.
““I’m not happy with the way I’m playing, said Draisaitl. “I haven’t found my game. I haven’t found my legs.  It is not at the standard I hold myself to, obviously, but it is me. I’ve always been able to come back from stretches where I haven’t been at my best. It is myself. I need to be better and I hold myself to an extremely high standard and if I don’t get to that, I’m not happy, but I’m very excited to come into tonight and find it.”
Draisaitl is one of the most aware and honest athletes I’ve covered. He is also very hard on himself. Maybe too hard according to his head coach and teammates.
“Leon puts a lot of pressure on himself,” said Knoblauch. “The best players expect a lot of themselves. I have seen Leon play better than he has, but I think he is still contributing a lot and I think he is harder on himself than he should be. I expect him to play a good game tonight.”
His linemate Dylan Holloway smiled when asked about Draisaitl.
“He puts a lot of pressure on himself and he expects a lot of himself,” said Holloway. “I think that’s what makes him so good, but I think he has to realize that even if he’s not feeling great he’s still better than 99% of the guys out there (smiles).”
Draisaitl demands a lot of himself, and even though he only has points in one game, he isn’t getting crushed 5×5. His GF-GA in the series is 3-4 and last game was the only game he was a minus at 5×5. He is even in shots for/against at 34 each, and he has a 54.98xGF% and he has a 55HDCF%. He isn’t playing poorly, just not up to his standard.
He will never use it as an excuse, but a good source told me he is dealing with two injuries. Which makes sense considering how he started the playoffs. He produced 101 points in his first 61 playoff games (1.65 points/game) but only has six points in his last 11 games (0.55 points/game). Such a dramatic drop due to just not having his game seems a bit odd. Injuries are part of the game, and Draisaitl showed in 2022 his ability to play through pain and contribute, and that is likely why he still feels he should be able to produce more than he has in this series.
The Oilers only have, at most, two games remaining. If Draisaitl can, in his words, find his game or his legs in one of them, the Oilers odds of winning increase significantly. Tonight, in the final home game of the season, in a must-win situation, would be an ideal time for Draisaitl to put his stamp on the series.
Would anyone be surprised if he did?




Foegele — McDavid — Hyman
RNH — Draisaitl — Holloway
Janmark — Henrique —Brown
McLeod — Ryan — Perry
Ekholm — Bouchard
Nurse — Broberg
Kulak — Ceci
Expect the Oilers to ice the same lineup as the past two games. The biggest question tonight will be which matchups Kris Knoblauch will lean towards. In Game 3, McDavid played just under eight minutes v. the Sam Bennett line and just over 3.5 minutes vs. Barkov’s line. I believe Paul Maurice expects that matchup again, and is partially why he moved Evan Rodriques alongside Bennett and Matthew Tkachuk. That line has been much better with him over Carter Verhaeghe.
In 24 minutes, the Rodrigues – Bennett – Tkachuk line has outshot Edmonton 15-5 and outscored them 5-0.
In 28 minutes, the Verhaeghe – Bennett – Tkachuk line was outshot 20-14 and outscored 5-0.
And here are their numbers when facing McDavid.
In 5:25 (small sample size) the Rodrigues – Bennett – Tkachuk line had a 2-2 shot share and were also even in goals at 0-0.
In 11:01 the Verhaeghe – Bennett – Tkachuk line was outshot 12-6 and outscored 3-0.


Verhaeghe— Barkov — Reinhart
Rodrigues — Bennett — Tkachuk
Luostarinen — Lundell — Tarasenko
Lomberg — Stenlund — Cousins
Forsling — Ekblad
Mikkola — Montour
Ekman-Larsson — Kulikov
Nick Cousins will make his first appearance this series in place of Kyle Okposo. Cousins will add some speed, and the Oilers need to be aware as he isn’t afraid to deliver cheap shots. He also isn’t afraid to embellish and the Oilers can’t fall for his antics.
Florida has to be hoping for more offence from Barkov and Reinhart. They each have one goal in the series and four and three points respectively. But each only has 1-1-2 in the past four games. If they are going to win, they need more from their top scorers to counter McDavid.
Fun fact, in the last seven periods, McDavid has as many points as the entire Panthers roster. McDavid has 3-7-10 while Florida’s skaters have produced 4-6-10.


Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: This final deserves a Game 7. Edmonton makes it happen with a 4-2 (empty net goal) victory.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: More McDavid magic. He picks up two points to tie Gretzky for most points in a Stanley Cup Final and ties Lemieux for second most in playoff year with 44.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Draisaitl becomes the 14th different Oiler to score a goal in the series.

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