GDB 63.0 Wrap Up: Three things as the Edmonton Oilers roll Winnipeg Jets in 6-3 win
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing8 months ago
The elusive shutout continues to evade the Oilers. Final score: 6-3.
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The Oilers had been well on track for a shutout on Friday night, but they let the third period slip away from them. Even still, it was a dominant performance for the boys in blue as they secured win number 34 on the season.
Here are three things from the victory that caught my eye.
The DRY line is so back
The Oilers opted to reunite the line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto, and boy, did it feel good. This line first debuted together back in the 2019-20 when the team gave Yamamoto his first true shot in the NHL. Down the stretch of that season, Yamamoto scored 11 goals and 26 points in 27 games, and they dominated out there on the ice.
On Friday night, the trio looked as good as ever. While they officially only played 5:25 together — the most of any Oilers line — due to the Oilers’ 11-forward configuration, they outscored the Jets 1-0. Combining on a second-period goal scored by Kailer Yamamoto. Even still, you could see these three clicking once again and it was a great sight to see.
If these three can play together again and find something as a line, it could allow the Oilers to slide Evander Kane, when he returns from injury, up the lineup alongside Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman. Suddenly, the Oilers could have as dominant of a top-six as any team in the NHL and heading down the stretch and into the playoffs, they could become a real threat.
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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 30-goal scorer
Has a nice ring to it, hey? For the first time in his NHL career, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is a 30-goal scorer passing his previous high of 28 goals that were scored in 2018-19. The offensive explosion that the wiley ol’ veteran has had this year has been tremendous to see as he finished the night with four points. He opened things up with the primary assist on Leon Draisaitl’s first goal of the game, then added a tally of his own in the second frame. He was hard on the forecheck forcing Dylan DeMelo to turn the puck over.
At 9:18 in the second, he helped set up Kailer Yamamoto on his first of two goals of the game with an incredible play. Hard on the backcheck, he forced a turnover at the Oilers’ blueline before turning and firing a laser of a pass to Yamamoto, who did the rest of the work. He added another goal, and his fourth point, 2:26 into the third on the powerplay finishing off a beautiful tic-tac-toe between he, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
He did it all and then some tonight, and that honestly might be one of his best games as an Edmonton Oiler.
Simply put, Mattias Ekholm might be one of the best defencemen the Oilers have had on their team in the last 15 years. With him on the ice at 5×5 Friday night against the Jets, the Oilers controlled 61.9 percent of the shot attempts (13-8), 78.57 percent of the scoring chances (11-3), 71.48 percent of the expected goal share (1.12-.45) while outscoring the Jets 2-0.
This trade, at least early on, is turning out to be absolutely brilliant. For as good of a soldier Tyson Barrie was for this team, Ekholm is clearly a much, much better fit for what the Oilers are looking for here. Not only does he have the size and ability to play the body better than Barrie can, he’s also a much stronger defender in the Oilers’ zone. He can clear pucks with ease, is always looking calm, cool and collected, but he also has the ability to transport the puck, too. Take a look at this play at the Oilers blueline while defending on the penalty kill.
This is something that has plagued the Oilers this year and in recent seasons, and it’s clear that Ekholm could already be Edmonton’s best defender since Chris Pronger rolled into town. This trade was a massive victory for the Oilers.
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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