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Draisaitl Dominated Kings Offensively and Defensively

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Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 day ago
Leon Draisaitl is the most unique superstar in the NHL. No other superstar has the same combination of goal scoring prowess, point production, faceoff dominance and defensive zone starts.
Connor McDavid. Nope.
Nathan MacKinnon. Negative.
Auston Matthews. Not so.
Nikita Kucherov. Nay
Over the past three regular seasons Draisaitl ranks second in goals (148), fifth in assists (196) and second in points (344) among forwards. McDavid is the only other forward who ranks top five in all three.
Matthews is first in goals, 35th in assists and ninth in points.
Kucherov is 34th in goals, second in assists and fourth in points.
MacKinnon is ninth in goals, third in assists and third in points.
Draisaitl is third in face offs taken (4,582) and has won 55% of his draws.
Matthews is 25th in face offs taken (3,597) and 54.1% in the dot.
MacKinnon is 32nd in face offs taken (3,326) and is 45.4% in the circle.
McDavid ranks 47th in draws taken (2,922) and is 52.3% in the dot.
Kucherov isn’t a centre.
Draisaitl starts in the defensive zone more than those four at 5×5.
Draisaitl was on for 1,352 offensive zone draws and 1,204 defensive draws. O-zone faceoff% of 52.9%
MacKinnon was on for 1,723 O-zone draws and 979 in the D-zone. OZF% of 63.778%.
McDavid was on for 1,397 O-zone draws and 997 in the D-zone. OZF% of 58.35%
Matthews was on for 1,380 offensive zone faceoffs and 845 in the D-zone. OZF% of 62.02%
Kucherov was on for 1,184 offensive zone draws and 711. OZF% of 62.48%.

PLAYOFF BEAST…

Draisaitl took his overall game to a new level in the first round against LA. For me, he was the Oilers’ MVP, which is saying a lot considering McDavid finished with 12 points in five games, but Draisaitl’s complete game was on full display against the Kings.
Draisaitl has been outstanding in the playoffs the past few seasons. He ranks 27th in games played with 33, but he is first in goals (25) and second in points with 60. He and McDavid have produced much more than every other player.
Some might suggest Draisaitl’s success is mainly from the power play, and while he does lead the NHL with 12 powerplay goals, he also leads the NHL in 5×5 points with 32. McDavid has 31, MacKinnon (22), Kucherov (17) and Matthews has 14, although he’s only played 22 games while the other four have played between 32-34.
Draisaitl’s production was excellent in round one with 5-5-10 in five games, trailing only McDavid, but it was his defensive play and face off dominance that really stood out to me.
I asked him about his 200-foot game.
“I think over the years, you just learn that those things sometimes are more important in playoff hockey than scoring on the power play or whatever it may be,” said Draisaitl. “I take big pride in defending, sometimes it gets away from me a bit, maybe, but when it matters most, I enjoy it. I think our whole group has done a really good job of defending and doing it the right way. We’re going to score enough. It’s about keeping the puck out of our net.”
His teammates and coach raved about his defensive play and back checking.
“He made numerous defensive plays, whether it was backchecking, just being in the right spots in the d-zone picking off passes or being first to loose pucks. He was on the right side of the puck all game long. He was a horse for us, really led by example in how to play a two-way game. He was huge for us in this series,” said Darnell Nurse.
“He was great,” said Connor McDavid. “Winning big draws in big moments, out there in big moments, winning a big battle at the end of the game to not only get the puck out, but draw a penalty. Those are huge things. He’s a big man and when he’s got his feet moving and he’s playing hard on both sides on the puck, there aren’t many guys better than him in the whole world. It is impressive to watch, and it seems to bring that game this time of the year.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” said Coach Kris Knoblauch. “I think Leon doesn’t get enough credit about how well he plays defensive hockey, whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs, he’s good at it. In the series, I think that was a huge difference (in the outcome) of how well he played on both ends of the rink.”

Face Offs…

Draisaitl took the fourth-most defensive zone face offs of any player so far in round one.
PlayerFOW-LFO%
C. Coyle6528-3743%
E. Lindholm4823-2547.9%
E. Staal4622-2447.8%
L. Draisaitl4528-1762.2%
D. Lowry4526-1957.7%
N. Dowd4417-2738.6%
J. Tavares4329-1467.4%
D. Kampf4020-2050%
A. Kopitar3620-1655.5%
JT. Miller3519-1654.2%
Only Tavares had a higher FO%.
Draisaitl is averaging 21.6 total faceoffs/game. Only Ryan O’Reilly (22.6) has averaged more. He is fourth in total face offs at 108, behind Tavares (119), O’Reilly (113) and Coyle (112). Kopitar is 5th with 102. Kopitar is 58.8% in the dot, Tavares is 58% and Draisaitl is 57.2%. Draisaitl and Kopitar took 47 draws head-to-head with Draisaitl winning 24 and losing 23. Draisaitl won 63% of his faceoffs against the other Kings centres.
Draisaitl is the rare offensive centre who takes a significant amount of defensive zone draws, as outlined above. He took 45, while MacKinnon took 24, McDavid took 17 and Matthews had taken 10.
Draisaitl relishes the responsibility of taking key defensive zone draws, but also offensive zone draws. He took more powerplay face offs (won 18 of 26) than he took offensive zone draws at 5×5 (17). He was tasked with more defensive zone responsibilities, and he thrived. He also had numerous excellent backchecks where he not only caught the puck carrier, but stripped them of the puck.
Draisaitl logged 75:39 at 5×5 v. the Kings, and he and McDavid only played 8:39 together, mainly in shifts after an Oilers penalty kill. Edmonton’s biggest advantage is they have two legitimate number #1 centres, who play on separate lines, and Draisaitl’s performance in round one, and the previous few seasons suggest the Oilers are in a very good position to take a serious run at the Stanley Cup.
Draisaitl’s unique skillset of goal scoring, passing, face offs and now backchecking makes him a rare and special player in today’s game.

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