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Wonderful surprises for Edmonton Oilers since Ekholm deal but additionally not wonderful ones


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The Edmonton Oilers have by no means appeared extra like a crew able to successful the Stanley Cup in 2023 for the reason that commerce for Mattias Ekholm on Feb. 28.

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Within the 12 video games for the reason that deal, Edmonton has 9 wins and three loses, good for a .792 factors proportion, fifth greatest within the NHL throughout that point interval. Edmonton has scored 4.5 objectives per recreation, whereas giving up 3.5.

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That makes the Oilers the NHL’s prime attacking crew in these 12 video games. That’s a wonderful growth.

However they’ve ranked twenty fourth total in objectives towards. That’s not wonderful.

The general development of the crew has been upwards, with many wonderful developments, however a number of not wonderful ones.

What’s going properly?

Ekholm himself, as everyone knows. He’s obtained 9 factors in 12 video games and is +13. He’s introduced the crew what they’ve been lacking since Duncan Keith left, an skilled defensive stalwart who can even transfer the puck and slide in beside Evan Bouchard to assist regular the younger d-man.

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Bouchard has additionally been crushing it. Sure, he has continued to have his share of rancid defensive struggles, similar to earlier than. He’s nonetheless getting beat out of the nook or caught up ice on odd-man rushes. However he’s been transferring the puck like an elite NHL puck mover at even energy, firing off quite a few stretch passes that ship in teammates on harmful rushes, to not point out his strong work on the ability play. It hasn’t seen any discount in effectivity since Bouchard took over from Tyson Barrie. Bouchard has 10 factors within the 12 video games and is +5 at even energy.

Then there’s Kailer Yamamoto. He’s had an iffy yr, primarily resulting from harm, and he’s nonetheless susceptible to the odd ineffectual recreation. However previously 12 video games he’s obtained 5 objectives and eight factors. He’s combining properly on the assault with both Leon Draisaitl or Connor McDavid and holding his personal on defence at even energy, simply having his greatest run of two-way play this season.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can be enjoying wonderful hockey at even energy. He’s been an offensive dervish previously 12 video games, with 17 factors total, ten of them at even energy.

Better of all, Leon Draisaitl has discovered his “A” recreation within the final month, perhaps even his “A+” recreation. He, too, is susceptible to main defensive lapses at even energy, actually because he’s too centered on chasing the puck versus overlaying his verify, however he’s driving the play as a centre on his personal line.

He’s obtained 23 factors within the final 12 video games, 12 of them at even energy, second solely to McDavid with 14 factors at even energy. With two centres serving to to attain up a storm at even energy, the Oilers shall be troublesome to cease within the playoffs.

Within the not wonderful class, we are able to put Oilers goalie Jack Campbell, with an .857 save proportion in two video games. Stuart Skinner has been higher than that, however not adequate, with a .902 save proportion in 10 video games.

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When you’re in search of why the Oilers are so excessive in objectives towards within the league, Campbell and Skinner shouldn’t be the one focus, however they need to be the primary one. They’re each been letting in too many iffy objectives towards.

Different struggling Oilers since Ekholm got here to city?

Zach Hyman appeared good towards Vegas, however he’s struggled with iffy two-way play at even energy and simply seven factors in 10 video games.

However apart from the goaltending, the most important query mark is Evander Kane, who was out with a sliced wrist, then reportedly a damaged rib(s).

Since his return to motion, Kane has 5 factors in eight video games, however three of them got here in a single hat trick recreation. He’s in any other case been under common and never near his former stage of play. He’s leaking Grade A pictures at even energy, the dangerous stuff culminating in his blown protection on the Vegas purpose in extra time on Saturday.

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After all, Kane has been much better than this for the Oilers. He was a superb two-way participant in his stint with the crew final season. He’s coming off two main accidents, so persistence is so as.

However one of many key questions heading into the playoffs is whether or not Campbell, Skinner, Hyman and Kane can discover their “A” video games within the stretch run.

In the event that they achieve this, the Oilers would be the crew to beat within the West when the puck drops on the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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The downtown Edmonton city skyline on Tuesday December 6, 2022. At the Cult of Hockey
The downtown Edmonton metropolis skyline on Tuesday December 6, 2022. On the Cult of Hockey PHOTO BY LARRY WONG /Postmedia

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