5 Reasons the Oilers Made the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The Edmonton Oilers formally punched their ticket to the 2023 Playoffs after defeating the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (April 1). They at present sit in second in the Pacific Division and Western Conference with 99 factors. They have been the greatest group over the second half of the season and have proven no indicators of slowing down. As they’re already in playoff mode and are dominating each night time, let’s take a look at the 5 key issues that helped them qualify for his or her fourth consecutive postseason.
Oilers’ 5 Elite Forwards
We couldn’t begin with out mentioning the profession years of the Oilers’ prime 4 forwards and bringing consideration to their elite 5. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Zach Hyman have all blown by their career-best marks and the season isn’t even over but. If Evander Kane, the fifth ahead on this group, hadn’t suffered a freak harm that stored him out for half of the season, then he can be proper with the 4 main scorers and having a profession yr as effectively.
McDavid is scoring and placing up factors at a tempo not seen in almost 30 years, and undoubtedly not in the wage cap period. He has 62 objectives and 146 factors with 5 video games remaining on the schedule. He is ready to win the Rocket Richard Trophy, Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, and Ted Lindsay Award. The Oilers’ captain has a 26-point lead on the subsequent closest participant, Draisaitl.
Though the highlight has been on McDavid for many of the yr, Draisaitl simply hit 50 objectives and is the third participant to take action this season. It seems as if he’s trying the greatest he has in his profession over the previous couple of weeks, however with 120 factors in addition to 50 objectives, he has pushed play for the Oilers.
Nugent-Hopkins, Hyman, and Kane aren’t as expert as McDavid and Draisaitl and are seen as a tier under them, however they’ve all been nice this season, on the energy play, shorthanded, and at even power. Nugent-Hopkins’ profession excessive in factors was 69 earlier than this season and he’s at 97 factors, tied for sixth in the league. Hyman is at 34 objectives and 80 factors this season, blowing by the profession highs in objectives and factors set in his first season with the Oilers. As for Kane, he now has 50 objectives and 83 factors in 94 video games in an Oilers uniform.
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It simply so occurs the 4 forwards having profession years are all part of the all-time greatest energy play, which brings us to the subsequent purpose.
All-Time Best Power-Play
The Oilers’ energy play has been operating at an all-time greatest for the whole season and is ready to remain that method for the the rest of the season. The power-play proportion is at 32.4 because of the prime unit. Though it appears to run by means of McDavid and Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins has been a quiet and essential contributor as effectively.
There is just one participant in league historical past that has logged extra power-play factors in a season than McDavid, and that’s Mario Lemieux. McDavid has 68 on the season and has handed considered one of Lemieux’s prime 4 seasons. McDavid is 12 off the all-time report and 11 behind Lemieux’s second and third-best seasons with regard to energy play factors too.
Now, as McDavid has 21 objectives and 68 factors on the energy play, Draisaitl has additionally had an unbelievable season on the man benefit as effectively. He simply reached 30 power-play objectives and is now four off the all-time record held by Tim Kerr. He additionally occurs to at present sit sixteenth all-time for power-play factors in a season (58) on prime of his loopy goal-scoring.
Sitting third in the NHL this season in energy play factors is Nugent-Hopkins with 50 whereas he and Hyman have mixed for 29 energy play objectives. They is probably not talked about as a lot, however each gamers know precisely the place to be on the ice. The Oilers’ energy play wouldn’t run as effectively if both of them weren’t on it. The prime unit is so good that even after changing Tyson Barrie with Evan Bouchard, it hasn’t missed a step.
The Oilers would have been in an identical place to the place the Buffalo Sabres are proper now if it weren’t for the stellar goaltending of unlikely hero Stuart Skinner. While Jack Campbell was the presumed starter for the Oilers this season, he had a horrible begin to the season that hasn’t gotten any higher all through. With a .886 save proportion (SV%), beginning extra video games would have sunk the Oilers by now. Luckily for them, Skinner assumed the function early in the season and held onto it.
Skinner, who’s a rookie, grew to become an All-Star and has now began 11 extra video games than Campbell this season. For a group that focuses on offence as a lot as the Oilers do, Skinner’s .911 SV% may be very respectable and has accomplished the trick this season. Skinner set the Oilers’ report with 10 wins in the month of March, and coming into the season with 13 begins in the NHL to his identify, he has been a game-changer.
Perfect Trade Deadline
General supervisor Ken Holland helped out his group in the greatest method doable this season as the commerce deadline additions have been a giant purpose for the latest success. The Oilers cleared out the contracts of Barrie and Jesse Puljujarvi whereas including precisely what they wanted in Mattias Ekholm and Nick Bjugstad.
Ekholm has not solely been lights out defensively and helpful for the growth of Bouchard, however the veteran has additionally chipped in offensively with three objectives and 11 factors in 16 video games. He is a chilled presence that performs extraordinarily arduous and in addition takes some weight off of Darnell Nurse’s shoulders. He has been taking part in a few of his greatest hockey of the season now that he doesn’t need to at all times face the hardest matchups each shift.
Bjugstad has been the bottom-six ahead addition the Oilers wanted. He is massive, sturdy, can play bodily, rating, and play a number of positions. His arrival got here at a time when Ryan McLeod began to cope with an harm, and Bjugstad has three objectives and 5 factors in 14 video games centering the third line.
Depth Scoring Turnaround
The begin of the season was very tough for the Oilers’ depth. Offensively, the group was carried by the energy play and their prime gamers whereas the ahead depth struggled to attain. Klim Kostin and Mattias Janmark weren’t even with the Oilers but, whereas Bjugstad had but to be acquired. Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Warren Foegele, and Derek Ryan had been all introduced up in the commerce hearsay mill, whereas McLeod and Dylan Holloway simply couldn’t discover the again of the web.
Once Kostin and Janmark received known as up, the narrative changed. The Oilers began to see extra objectives from the bottom-six and Nugent-Hopkins was centering the two whereas that line dominated. Halfway by means of the season, Foegele was a wholesome scratch. This flipped a change for him as he has been good ever since. He has grow to be the participant the Oilers had hoped for once they initially traded for him and has solidified a third-line function, getting probabilities and producing offensively.
As the Oilers have 5 elite forwards, they’ve one spot open in the top-six. Yamamoto has held onto that spot for many of the season, and although he doesn’t at all times discover the scoresheet, he is a good puck-retriever and permits his linemates to maintain management in the offensive zone and get scoring probabilities. He was in a stoop early in the season, however has risen up and produced together with the remainder of the secondary scoring throughout the second half.
Making the playoffs isn’t sufficient for the Oilers and isn’t the place it ends for them this season. The purpose is a Stanley Cup and to push deeper than the convention finals. They have the squad, and momentum, and the West is vast open. We’ll see what they’ll do with their alternative.