NHL Notebook: Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl, Jay Woodcroft talk record-setting power play success; Jets’ Gabe Vilardi out with MCL sprain
Photo credit:Perry Nelson/USA Today Sports
1 month ago
The torch has been passed, the coronation has begun, and Leon Draisaitl has officially broken the record for the most power play goals in franchise history with 128.
Draisaitl’s new record of 128 franchise power play goals surpasses the previous record held by two legendary Oilers, Glenn Anderson, and Ryan Smyth’s at 126. Anderson scored his total across 845 games for the Oilers; meanwhile, Smyth scored his throughout 971 games in his total of 15 years in the organization. Draisaitl has passed their record just 641 games into his career.
“Obviously [they’re] two incredible players that have done a lot for this organization,” Draisaitl said in a post-game interview after the Oilers 6-1 win over the Predators.
“To be part of that list is pretty special. This is obviously as much of a tribute to my teammates than it is to me. I’m well aware of how smart of hockey players I have around me.”
Draisaitl broke the record on Tuesday night’s matchup against the Nashville Predators as the Oilers took on the man advantage after Nashville’s Roman Jodi received two minutes for interference against Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
With the score tied at zero in the first period, Nugent-Hopkins made the pass over to Tyson Barrie on the blocker side of Predators netminder Juuse Saros to set Draisaitl up for the perfect one-timer making the score 1-0 for the Oilers as the record broke.
He further solidified his place in Oilers history in the second period on another man advantage due to a Predators penalty from Filip Forsberg for slashing Evan Bouchard, scoring on the man advantage with assists from Evan Bouchard and Connor McDavid.
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Draisaitl’s role in the power play has become more dominant over time, and the Oilers market knew it would only be a matter of time before he crowned himself king of the power play. He scored his first career-high power play goals throughout the 2018-19 season at 16, then surpassed that record in 2021-22 with 24. Last season’s campaign saw a whole new type of power play prowess from the forward and the entire Oilers team as they led the league with a power play percentage of 32.4 percent, a big part of that coming from Draisaitl who amassed a total of 32 power play goals in the 89 goals the team scored in 2022-23.
Although it’s still early into the 2023-24 season, Draisaitl has already begun establishing that role once again, capitalizing on three power play opportunities in the team’s last three games.
“I said earlier in camp that I think he’s the best power forward in today’s NHL,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft in his post-game interview.
“He’s the modern version of the power forward. He’s versatile, he can play either wing, plays in the middle, his power play performance is quite special. He’s got some type of feeling in this building, and against this team. His game tonight was outstanding, I’m happy for him.”
Ironically he was crowned king of the power play in his favourite stomping grounds, Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN, where he’s better known to Oilers fans as ‘the Mayor of Smashville.’ Draisaitl has dominated over the Predators in the previous few seasons, scoring 24 goals throughout his total 24 career games against Nashville.
Alex Ovechkin is the all-time record holder for most power-play goals, with 299 across 1349 games. Draisaitl is slowly working his way up the ranks, now sitting behind two former Oilers for all-time power play goals, Vicent Damphousse (130) and Bill Guerin (130).
Winnipeg Jets forward Gabe Vilardi is expected to miss at least the next month of action after suffering an MCL sprain.
The injury occured Tuesday night against the LA Kings when Vilardi got tied up with opposing forward Blake Lizotte. The pair fell to the ice awkwardly, and Vilardi’s leg got tied up.
Vilardi was in just his third game in a Jets uniform after he was sent to Winnipeg from LA in the Pierre-Luc Dubois trade this past offseason. In his first two games, Vilardi had registered one assist.
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