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Three Key Things: Ryan McLeod is on fire, Leon Draisaitl is getting there, and contract year Foegele

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baggedmilk
1 month ago
The Oilers wrapped up 2023 with a trip to Anaheim with the goal of collecting a fifth consecutive win and grabbing two more points in the standings. And much to our delight, the Ducks seemed to be on board with the idea as they didn’t put up much of a fight on the Oilers’ way to a 7-2 win.

RYAN McLEOD IS ON FIRE

It’s funny how confidence factors into a player’s game, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. For the first 20+ games of the year, the guy couldn’t score a goal to save his life until he finally got an empty netter to get the monkey off his back. Since then, McLeod has looked like a totally different player. Even though he was playing fine defensive hockey despite the lack of goals, getting that first one was clearly the domino he needed to fall to get going offensively. If you flashback to the early December version of you, would you have ever imagined McLeod having a run of five goals in five games to wrap up the month? Probably not. Thankfully, one of the best parts about watching sports is the chance to see something cool happen with a guy who works hard, and I feel like that’s happening right now with Ryan McLeod.

LEON DRAISAITL IS GETTING THERE

With goals in three straight games, Leon Draisaitl is also starting to heat up, and I could not think of a bigger addition to this team down the stretch than having Leon back in warlord mode. And that’s not to say that he was playing poorly — the guy has been collecting points at a 95+ point pace all season long — but he hasn’t been scoring goals at the rate we’re used to seeing from him. But he has five goals in his last six games, and many of them have come on filthy shots from all over the zone. Whether we’re talking backhanders in tight or one-timers from his office in the circle, Leon Draisaitl’s goal scoring touch has come roaring back and I almost feel sorry for the goalies he’s about to face now that it’s here. Drai finished the game with three points, as his line was an absolute handful for Anaheim all night long.

CONTRACT YEAR FOEGELE

Warren Foegele probably won’t score an easier goal in his life than the tap-in he got in the second period after Darnell Nurse found him with a beautiful shot/pass near the goal mouth. McLovin added another goal seven minutes later after McLeod found him with a nifty pass that he made no mistake of finishing. Foegele is really finding some life alongside McLeod and Draisaitl, and he’s using the opportunity to put some points on the board, including his first ever five-point night against the Ducks. Last night’s point explosion gives McLovin’ eight points (3G, 5A) in his last four games.

OTHER THINGS WORTH MENTIONING

  • Make it THREE games above .500! Don’t you love to see a California sweep?
  • Last night’s win was only the Oilers’ fourth ever New Year’s Eve victory in franchise history. Their record now stands at 4-15-5 all-time on December 31st.
  • How good has the McLeod, Draisaitl, Foegele line been over the last few games? It seems like they’re finding ways to contribute a chance or two nearly every shift they’re on the ice. Obviously, we’d like to get another goal or two mixed in with the opportunities they’re manufacturing, but to this point, it’s hard to complain much about what they’re creating out there.
  • Evander Kane made an immediate impact against the Ducks with a big goal at the end of the first period after missing yesterday’s matchup with the Kings due to a groin issue. Kane has had a streaky season to this point, but it’s also understandable if you consider that he’s battling an injury that directly affects his mobility.
  • Zach Hyman is Brad Pitt in Troy hot right now. The guy can’t stop scoring goals — he picked up his 21st in the third period — and I hope this heater never ends. We want 50!
  • Brett Kulak picked up his second goal of the year with a seeing eye wrister from the circle that made its way through traffic and past Gibson on the far side.
  • If you had told me before the season started that Calvin Pickard would have six appearances with the Oilers by New Year’s Eve, I would have called you a liar to your face. There’s no way, I would have said. I would have likely predicted that Jack Campbell was going to be back to being himself, but as it turns out, I would have been wrong about all of it. As for last night, Pickard was very good once again as he gave the Oilers Pickard finished the night with 28 saves and a .933 save%.
  • How about the pair of primary assists by Darnell Nurse on the goals from Draisaitl and Foegele? Darryl made beautiful passes on both of those goals to set the boys up, and I wanted to take a minute to give him a shout out for the way he was moving the puck around out there.
  • I know the thing to do is rip on Connor Brown but I actually thought last night’s game might have been his best as an Oiler. I know that “looking good” doesn’t work for a lot of people anymore, but that’s my view on his game and I’m sticking to it.
  • Looking at the special teams, the Oilers had a so-so night after finishing at 0-for-4 on the power play while also killing off all four of the shorthanded situations they faced.
  • Diving into the spreadsheet machine, I see that the Oilers crushed the possession game as shown by the 55.79 CF% and 56.89 xGF%. The final shot count ended up at 39 for the Oilers and 30 for the Ducks.
  • The NHL’s recap had the giveaways listed at seven for the Oilers and six for the Ducks, which is interesting given that our side had the puck the whole time.
  • How could I wrap up the article (and year) without telling you that that Oilers won 52.1% of the faceoffs? Happy New Year, everyone!

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