As the Oilers embark on the Bermuda Triangle (where wins disappear) of road trips with games in Tampa Bay, Florida and Carolina, they are hoping their power play finds a spark. For 26 months and 152 games, the Oilers’ power play was the best in the NHL between October 2019 to December 10th, 2021. They were scoring on 29.3% of their power plays over 152 games. It was one of the best power play stretches we’ve witnessed in 40 years.
But suddenly the production has dipped.
In 2019-20 the Oilers’ PP was an NHL-best 29.5%. They scored 59 goals on 200 opportunities. @Leon Draisaitl led the NHL with 44 power play points while @Connor McDavid had 43. Their top scorers were:
Draisaitl 16-28-44.
McDavid 11-32-43.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 7-17-24
Oscar Klefbom 2-16-18
James Neal 12-5-17
Alex Chiasson 6-7-13
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In 2020-21 they lead the NHL with a 27.6%  power play. They scored 48 goals on 174 chances in 56 games. McDavid lead the NHL with 37 PP points while Draisaitl was second with 32. Their top-scorers included:
McDavid 9-28-37
Draisaitl 15-17-32
Tyson Barrie 4-19-23
Nugent-Hopkins 9-11-20
Alex Chiasson 5-2-7
Darnell Nurse 1-6-7
Edmonton started this with the same dominant power play. In their first 25 games their PP clicked at 32.5% (league-best) scoring 26 goals on 80 chances. Their top scorers were crushing it:
McDavid 5-16-21
Draisaitl 13-6-19
Nugent-Hopkins 0-13-13
Barrie 2-6-8
Zach Hyman 3-2-5
Nurse 0-5-5
But suddenly the power play has struggled. It is only 18.8% in their past 25 games and the production of their top guys has plummeted. Here is a chart outlining their goals, assists, points, shots and TOI in the first 25 games to the last 25 games.
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First 25
TOI
G-A-PTS
SH
Last 25
TOI
G-A-PTS
SH
McDavid
101:42
5-16–21
32
McDavid
84:37
1-5–6
19
Draisaitl
104:19
13-6–19
43
Draisaitl
87:49
1-7–8
20
RNH
101:28
0-13-13
16
RNH
63:10
0-3-3
16
Barrie
85:16
2-6–8
10
Barrie
38:07
0-2-2
13
Hyman
65:43
3-2–5
12
Hyman
33:04
1-0-1
4
Nurse
26:16
0-5-5
5
Nurse
35:15
0-0-0
9
Puljujarvi
43:52
1-2–3
9
Puljujarvi
42:46
3-1–4
16
Bouchard
15:01
0-2–2
3
Bouchard
50:25
2-1–3
11
Kane
24:01
2-1–3
5
It is clear to see the difference. McDavid and Draisaitl aren’t shooting as much. Look at the difference in shots/60 in the first 25 compared to the last 25 games.
First 25
TOI/GP
G/60
A/60
Pts/60
SH/60
SH%
Draisaitl
4:10
7.48
3.45
10.93
24.73
30.2
McDavid
4:04
2.95
9.44
12.39
18.88
15.6
RNH
4:03
0
7.69
7.69
9.46
0
Barrie
3:24
1.41
4.22
5.63
7.04
20
Hyman
2:37
2.74
1.83
4.57
10.96
25
Puljujarvi
1:45
1.37
2.73
4.1
12.31
11.1
Nurse
1:22
0
11.42
11.42
11.42
0
Bouchard
0:36
0
7.99
7.99
11.99
0
Draisaitl and McDavid were the main shooters by a large margin. However, that changed over the past 25 games.
Last 25
TOI/GP
G/60
 A/60
Pts/60
SH/60
SH%
Draisaitl
3:30
0.68
4.78
5.46
13.66
5
McDavid
3:31
0.71
3.54
4.25
13.47
5.26
RNH
3:30
0
2.85
2.85
15.19
0
Bouchard
2:01
2.38
1.19
3.57
13.09
18.2
Puljujarvi
2:02
4.21
1.4
5.61
22.45
18.8
Barrie
2:00
0
3.15
3.15
20.46
0
Nurse
1:28
0
0
0
15.32
0
Hyman
1:44
1.81
0
1.81
7.26
25
Kane
2:11
4.99
2.5
7.49
12.48
40
McDavid and Draisaitl aren’t shooting as much, which was expected based on the previous two seasons. The big issue is how much their SH% dropped. Maybe they are missing the net more. In the first 25 games Draisaitl missed the net (all situations) 38 times and McDavid 25. In the past 25 games Draisaitl has 32 misses and McDavid 25. The NHL’s website tracks total missed shots, but it wasn’t broken down by EV, 5×5, 5×4 etc. If someone knows a site who tracks that, please let me know.
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The PP has dropped off significantly the past two months and from my seat it is partially due to fewer shots from 29 and 97, but mainly it is due to them not scoring on the shots they take. It would help if Nugent-Hopkins could find a goal-scoring pulse as well. Having zero goals through 164 minutes of PP time is hard to overcome. He is getting looks, but he can’t finish.
There hasn’t been any significant improvement with Bouchard on the point instead of Barrie. When Barrie was the main D-man in the first 25 games he had a 11.96 GF/60. He missed six games in the last stretch, and they tried Bouchard, but neither had any different success over the past 25 games. Bouchard’s GF/60 was 7.14 and Barrie’s was 6.65. Both of them shot the puck more in the past 25 games, and for me that is an issue. Very few power plays today have more success with high shot volume from the blue line.
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Edmonton also tried setting up Puljujarvi more as his shot rate jumped from 12.31 to 22.45, and while he scored two more goals in that stretch, the team success plummeted. Puljujarvi doesn’t have the same touch as @James Neal has around the net when Neal scored 12 goals in 2019. Evander Kane’s ability to shoot from afar, and also score in close will help, but if the power play wants to get back on track McDavid and Draisaitl will be the catalysts.
The chance both of them have a 5% and 5.26SH% the next 25 games seems very low. Draisaitl had a 25.81SH% in 2020 and 19.74 in 2021, while McDavid posted a 19.3SH% in 2020 and 15.52 in 2021. Nugent-Hopkins was at 18.1% the past two seasons and he’s at 0% this year.
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I’m not sold that the opposition has suddenly figured out the Oilers power play. I believe they are in a rut, and hesitant to shoot. Teams sense that and they are pressuring them more. Regardless of what happened over the past 25 games, Woodcroft, Glen Gulutzan and the players need to ensure it doesn’t repeat itself in the next 25, and ideally the PP finds a pulse this week.
Edmonton can ill afford to have its PP remain MIA while traversing through the suddenly very daunting Southeast Gauntlet.

LINEUPS…

Oilers

McLeod – McDavid – Hyman
Kane – Draisaitl – Yamamoto
Foegele – RNH – Ryan
Benson – Shore
Nurse – Bouchard
Lagesson –  Ceci
Niemelainen –  Barrie
Broberg
Smith
The only roster change will see new father, @Devin Shore, draw in for @Colton Sceviour. But the top two lines will be different with Ryan McLeod moving to McDavid’s left wing and Hyman sliding over to the right side. @Kailer Yamamoto is back beside Draisaitl and @Evander Kane will slot in on his natural left wing.
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Lightning

Palat – Point – Kucherov
Killorn – Stamkos – Joseph
Colton – Cirelli – Raddysh
Maroon – Bellemare – Perry
Hedman – Sergachev
McDonagh – Cernak
Rutta – Foote
Vasilevskiy
The Lightning are scary good and their blue line is a great combination of skill, size and experience. This will be a very good test for the Oilers.

TONIGHT…

Photoshop: Tom Kostiuk
GAME DAY PREDICTION: It is a close game, but the Oilers lose 3-2.
OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Kucherov scores. He entered the game with nine goals in 10 career games v. Edmonton.
NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: He never scored against them while he played in the Eastern Conference, but Warren Foegele scores his first career goal against the Lightning tonight.

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