The Day After -3.0: Is it time to panic about the Edmonton Oilers power play?

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
7 months ago
Three games into the pre-season and the Edmonton Oilers have yet to score a goal on the power play. Should we panic?
Of course we should. We all follow the Edmonton Oilers!
I kid, I kid.
However, it’s worth noting the Oilers brought out all the big guns for their Wednesday pre-season tune-up against the Vancouver Canucks and went 0/4 on the power play.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about the actual game — one the Oilers won thanks to an 2-1 overtime winner from Connor McDavid, who clearly hasn’t lost a step. Not that it was ever of real concern, but hey, sometimes you just never know.
All-in-all there was a lot to like from an Oilers team that kept the pedal down virtually all game even amid a time where there are drastic changes to the systems this team is playing. As noted by our own Bruce Curlock this morning, the team has shifted to a 1-1-3 forecheck this year. I can’t explain it as well as Bruce does, so it goes without saying that his article is a must-read, but the jist of things is that we’re going to see the Oilers collapsing down low in the defensive zone a lot more forcing teams to cycle the puck to force low-chance shots from the point. Lots to like here.

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With the big guns running it last night, we saw the Oilers limit the Canucks to just 11 shots through two periods. While my eye isn’t as sharp as that of Bruce’s (few peoples are, to be fair), you could feel like there was something… different. Stuart Skinner was rarely tested early, and the analytics support that as the Oilers controlled 60.87 per cent of the shot attempts in the first period, 51.85 per cent in the second period, and 55.17 per cent in the third. Focus on controlling puck possession is going to be a big story for this team moving forward, and it’s something they’ve oft struggled with in the past.
Despite that, under Jay Woodcroft, the team has implemented a new defensive system that really compliments its players well. There’s some undeniable concern about the new requirements of forwards to commit to blocking shots pertaining to guys like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and the other high-end forwards on this team, but that risk assessment is surely something the team has gone through already.
For the team as a whole, they stuck with it in a game where there wasn’t a whole lot happening either way. Simply put, it looked like a pre-season game.
What else we can pull from this game is how the Oilers’ lines looked. Connor McDavid centred the top line with Evander Kane and Connor Brown on his flanks. Leon Draisaitl centred the second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zach Hyman on his, while Brandon Sutter got a look on the third line alongside Warren Foegele and Mattias Janmark. Lastly, Lane Pederson centred Adam Erne and Derek Ryan.
The top six is inarguably something the Oilers could look to run in the regular season. I’d expect Brown to get some test runs alongside Draisaitl at some point, as well. The third and fourth lines were a bit of a mismash, but the Sutter line could have some merit.
Next up for the Oilers is a Friday night battle with the Calgary Flames.

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 zach@oilersnation.com.

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