Convention Stanely Cup Playoff forwards preview: Edmonton Oilers

Because the NHL seeks a brand new participant rivalry to succeed Crosby in opposition to Ovechkin, one of many league’s dream sequence kicks off Tuesday evening. Whether or not Nathan Mackinnon vs. Connor McDavid can attain these lofty heights can solely be decided on a number of Stanley Cup Playoffs, however we’re solely days away from seeing a post-season sport for the primary time that is about as compelling as the game has to supply – to not point out the opposite super-duper- star “M” of this sequence lurking alongside the Colorado avalanche Blue line. The Edmonton Oilers have as a lot offensive punch as any workforce within the league, however whether or not they win this sequence will seemingly hinge on how effectively they defend Colorado’s offense.

Ahead projections

Evander Kane – Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl

Zach Hyman – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Kailer Yamamoto

Warren Foegele – Ryan McLeod – Jessee Puljujarvi

Josh Archibald – Derek Ryan – Zack Kassian

Why the Oilers are robust Stanley Cup contenders

I rely closely on superior metrics (though I push again in opposition to the concept that Corsi, merely plus-minus for shot makes an attempt, is an “superior” metric) to attempt to rapidly spotlight good and dangerous play in my columns as a result of objectives and assists are few and much between, and evaluating somebody with 3 factors to somebody with 5 would not do a lot to inform you who’s taking part in higher.

McDavid doesn’t have this pattern dimension drawback. He’s the best offensive participant in hockey by an especially extensive margin. McDavid performed six full common seasons within the NHL and led the league in factors 4 instances. His career-low level complete is 97. Mackinnon in profession in factors is 99. The Oilers prodigy has scored at a charge of greater than 30 objectives in each nanosecond of his NHL profession. He is averaging 1.45 factors per sport all-time within the playoffs, which might put him forward of Nathan Mackinnon’s 1.36 if he had sufficient video games to qualify for the profession rankings. Pull out any offensive stat and McDavid will produce a quantity that places him among the many all-time greats.

And it isn’t simply McDavid the Avalanche have to fret about. The Robin of his Batman, Leon Draisaitl, is forward of McDavid and just about tied with Mario Lemieux for second all-time in profession playoff factors per sport (1.606 to 1.607). Oilers critics have lengthy criticized this as a one-line workforce, however even when it was (and it is not), these two are adequate to teach just about any workforce to the Stanley Cup Finals. Mackinnon vs. McDavid is an inaccurate pitch for this sequence as a result of Draisaitl and Makar should be at this degree on their aspect.

The elephant within the room right here is Evander Kane, picked up by the Oilers after his launch from the Sharks as a result of a harrow domestic violence allegations by his ex-wife, in addition to violating COVID protocols by falsifying a vaccination card. He performed very effectively and offered the vanguard drive the Oilers desperately wanted when it appeared like their season was working out simply earlier than signing him. It would not be inaccurate to characterize Edmonton’s entrance line as two superheroes and one villain.

A stable second line

Zach Hyman has been the Oilers’ third-best ahead all yr, and he has a knack for placing the puck within the internet in huge playoff moments. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has by no means lived as much as the expertise that made him the No. 1 general decide in 2011, and the Oilers will seemingly look wistfully via the ice on the man who was taken simply after Nugent-Hopkins. , Gabriel Landeskog, however the Oilers’ second-line middle has all the time been a constructive participant for Corsi for many of his profession. He struggled to get the puck into the again of the web on the tempo his ahead metrics recommend he ought to, however he is nonetheless a harmful playmaker and bonafide top-six ahead, although he is had loads struggling this season, ending 261st in anticipated objectives by Pure Stat Trick.

Kailer Yamamoto is one other proficient and inconsistent former first-round decide, and he and Jessee Puljujarvi have been shaking up the entrance three loads this yr. If the Avalanche management the final 9 video games, do not be shocked to see Draisaitl fall to the second line to attempt to tip the ice within the path of Edmonton.

The final six

Edmonton’s fifth sport in opposition to Calgary means that this division title ought to actually be “the final three”. The Oilers’ fourth liners acquired 5:43, 3:16 and a couple of:48 of ice time within the form of additional time sport the place coaches present their hand, whereas McDavid performed 25:48 in that game-winning effort. sequence. Edmonton is aware of its greatest likelihood in opposition to anybody is to smash the “world’s greatest offensive participant” button time and again, and it comes on the expense of the fourth line’s ice time.

Just like the second, the third is a little bit of a shift as Draisaitl shall be moved if Oilers coaches really feel their backside traces want a lift, and that adjustment will carry over to the depth chart. Puljujarvi has performed loads with McDavid this season, and amongst gamers who’ve performed 700 minutes or extra this yr, he completed ninth at Corsi in 5-to-5 proportion. Mc Leod was 68e whereas Foegele completed 71st, and it is clear that this workforce’s puck-possession potential extends far past its superstars. Edmonton is a prime workforce due to its absurdly proficient prime two gamers, however they will throw three legitimately harmful traces even when they tackle their prime line.

Who has the Edge?

This sequence will seemingly play out whatever the Oilers’ protection, and Nathan Mackinnon had excessive reward for Edmonton’s defensive construction throughout his postgame press convention following Recreation 6.

Amongst forwards who’ve performed 1,000 minutes or extra this yr, McDavid led the league in anticipated objectives at 77.46, per Pure Stat Trick (seven forward of second place and NHL main scorer Auston Matthews). Leon Draisaitl was 17 years outdatede at 58.82, Zach Hyman was 23rd at 55.37, and Kailer Yamamoto was 39e at 50.44. Offensively, this workforce has a depth that anybody can match. Nonetheless, their report the anticipated aim numbers are a lot much less rosy. McDavid drops to 7eDraisaitl drops to 62n/aHyman at 33rdand Yamamoto at 77e. This column has detailed Edmonton’s harmful offense as a result of there may be extra to hire than there may be of their protection. Evaluating Edmonton’s Corsi chart on the season to Colorado’s reveals how the Avs are actually on one other degree than the Oilers because of a fuller 200-foot play by their ahead group and a defensive physique significantly better.

Pure Stat Tip

Pure Stat Tip

Partly as a result of they’re rightly all the time on the hunt for objectives and partly as a result of it is honest to name McDavid the perfect “offensive” drive within the league, Edmonton’s prime line is weak on offense. . It ought to be fascinating to see which Avalanche traces they like to play in opposition to, as TV executives are absolutely extra excited concerning the Mackinnon-McDavid sport than Oilers coaches. How Edmonton navigates who McDavid and Draisaitl play in opposition to will seemingly decide how most of this sequence performs out, however how the Oilers’ 2nd and third traces play in opposition to their Avs counterparts can have loads to say about the place Edmonton deploys. its hockey weapons of mass destruction. Just like the Blues sequence, the Avs have a transparent benefit once they’re at their greatest, however not like the Blues sequence, there is a 5-on-5 offensive juggernaut ready to punish any errors the Avalanche make.

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