When Edmonton Oilers power play gets cold, it will still burn opponents

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Game day 6: greasers vs. shuttlecocks

I’ve never seen a power play as good as the current Edmonton Oilers setup. I’m not sure anyone else has.


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Of course, only five games have been played and there is plenty of time for this power game to cool down. But even when you do, you are creating so many Grade A shots that it will still burn.

No, it won’t have the same start to the season, small sample size, and insanely good 47.1% success rate that it does now, but this Oilers power play is so efficient it has a chance to outshine the rate. 31.9% success rate of the entire 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens season.

That Habs power play had Guy Lafleur, 36 points, Steve Shutt, 23 points, Jacques Lemaire and Larry Robinson, 19 points, Guy Lapointe, 17 points, and significant contributions from Serge Savard, Rejean Houle, Yvan Cournoyer, Pierre. Mondou, Pierre Larouche and Yvon Lambert. It was more of a group effort.


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Edmonton’s power play is something of a six-man gang, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the left circle, Leon Draisaitl on the right and in the middle, Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi leading the net, Tyson Barrie in the dot and Connor McDavid streaking here, there and everywhere.

The Oilers have thrived on the power play essentially since McDavid was given the green light to move wherever he wants to go, attacking from all angles and bringing chaos and unpredictability to every Oilers power play formation.

That being said, there are certain set plays that you will see:

  1. McDavid darting down the right side, looking first to cut the disk’s cross ice for Draisaitl’s Executioner Shot, his only scythe-shaped timer that is the primary weapon in this power play. If McDavid can’t cross the ice, he passes Hyman or shoots himself.
  2. RNH going down the right side, then shooting, lowering Hyman, or crossing the seam to Drai or McD, or passing back to Barrie, who passes it to McDavid or Draisaitl at the right point. Last season, timing was often out of place on this back pass, but right now RNH is nailing the pass almost every time, putting it squarely on Barrie’s stick.
  3. McDavid or Draisaitl on the right side, looking to set up RNH cross-ice or down to Hyman.,
  4. Barrie’s external one-timer with Hyman in front.
  5. A slot pass to Draisaitl for a quick shot or to Hyman for a fold shot.


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RNH, Barrie, Draisaitl, and even McDavid are dangerous firing the puck on the pass, so teams can’t cover a terrifying option and end it. Oilers will move on to Plan B or C or D, which are only slightly less lethal.

This Oilers power play reminds me of most of the great New Yorkers power plays of the late 1970s and early 1980s, who also flicked the puck and bombarded the net with pinpoint precision. It was led by attackers like Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Denis Potvin and Stefan Persson. At best, it was more of a five-man unit, more similar to the Oilers setup.

Beginning in 1977-78, the first year the NHL recorded power play success, it had annual success rates of 31.4, 31.2, 29.3, 27.8, 26.0, 22, 5, 25.1, 22.7 and 25.1.


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Why do I think Edmonton’s power play will continue to burn teams down even as it cools?

These powerful players are all in their attacking prime and the key attackers, McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH, have played together for years. They know from the inside out how to read each other.

So far, this has led them to create 2.0 Grade A shots for two minutes of potent playing time, which is up from last year when they created 1.24 for two. Edmonton will not continue to convert 40 percent of its Grade A shots, as it has done thus far, but in 2019-20 the team converted 35 percent of them all season on the power play.

I can see Edmonton continues to make one or two Grade A shots per two minutes of power play time, perhaps averaging 1.5 Grade A shots times two all season. If they can do that, they will set the NHL record for power play efficiency. It is within your capabilities.


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Oilers vs flyers

Here are the lines in Tuesday’s practice, as reported by CHED’s Reid Wilkins:





Benson, Sceviour





Koskinen Skinner

My take: I like that the coach sticks with McD and Drai as centers on their own lines because that puts more pressure on them to lead both on offense and defense. They live up to that kind of pressure and responsibility. With that said, I’d also like to see oilers try out the McD, Drai, and Yamamoto line, which had great two-way success last year. RNH would then center Hyman and Puljujarvi.

On defense, it’s not surprising to see Slater Koekkoek ahead of Kris Russell. Koekkoek is a bigger player and has been stronger than Russell so far this year.

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