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‘He’s better than 99 percent of the guys out there:’ Despite lack of offensive output, Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl still contributing in Finals

Edmonton Oilers Leon Draisaitl
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
There’s nobody more critical of Leon Draisaitl than Leon Draisaitl.
And after racking up eight goals and 24 points in the first 12 games of the playoffs — all the games against the Kings and Canucks — his offence has nearly all but dried up. In 11 games against Dallas and through the first five games of the Stanley Cup Finals against Florida, he’s scored just two goals and 11 points.
“I’m not happy with the way I’m playing,” said Draisaitl Friday morning ahead of Game 6. “I haven’t found my game, haven’t found my legs and I’m just not (at) the standard I hold myself too.”
Draisaitl, however, added he “was excited to come into the series tonight.”
That sentiment was echoed by Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch on Friday, who all week has dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodged questions about the Deutschland Dangler’s game.
“Leon puts a lot of pressure on himself. I think the best players always want to be the best, and expect a lot out of themselves,” he said. “I’ve seen Leon play better than he has, but I think he’s been contributing a lot and I think he’s harder on himself than he should be.
“I think yesterday he had a good day of practice, he looked like hisself and I’m expecting him to play a good game tonight.”
Since the Dallas series started, Draisaitl’s numbers at five-on-five have remained strong, according to Natural Stat Trick. With him on the ice, the Oilers have sawed off at goals going 6-6, while controlling 51.88 percent of the shot attempt share, 51.55 percent of the scoring chance share and 54.77 percent of the expected goal share.
There may not be anyone who had a closer seat at just how effective Draisaitl has been than one of his most common linemates, Dylan Holloway. The young winger has played with pace, speed and physicality all playoffs long, now having scored five goals and seven points in 22 games, taking a big step forward in his young career.
For Holloway, he wants to see some of that pressure come off his linemate.
“I think he’s been great. He obviously does put a lot of pressure on himself, he expects a lot of himself, I think that’s what makes him so good,” said Holloway Friday. “But I think he’s got to realize that even if he’s not feeling great, he’s better than 99 percent of the guys out there.
“He’s just so good with the puck, he’s always making good plays, good defensively. On the power play, he gets a ton of touches and he’s able to handle bad pucks and make good plays to other guys. It’s kind of like the little things all over the ice.”
There’s no denying the Oilers would love for Draisaitl’s offence to arrive Friday night in a pivotal Game 6, given Draisaitl’s lone two points in the series came in the Oilers’ 8-1 blowout win in Game 4.
In the finals, there’s no better indication of an inability to hold the league’s best players back than Connor McDavid.
Held in check through the first two games, scoring just one assist in Game 2, he arrived in Game 3 with two assits, and followed it up with record-setting back-to-back four-point nights in Games 4 and 5, scoring three goals and eight points in that time.
It’s not to say that Draisaitl needs to have a record-setting performance in Game 6, or 7 if the series stretches so long, but a multi-point effort would go a long way in allowing this team to continue playing hockey as they so desire.

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