Oilers’ powerplay nearly unstoppable

Written by ECA Review

Words of advice for National Hockey League players to consider: Never ever be caught by a television camera singing the national anthem; water only, no vodka, in your on-bench water bottle; make sure you get paid in U.S. dollars instead of Canadian; and don’t take a penalty against the Edmonton Oilers.

It should be noted that back in the 1950s, the NHL revised its rules to allow expiration of a penalty if the player’s team was scored upon. 

Prior to that, the violator served the full two minutes, no matter how many goals the other team piled up, and it was all because of the Montreal Canadiens and their Rocket Richard-led powerplay being so effective that game-changing two- and three-goal outbursts during a two-minute power play were commonplace.

So here we have the Connor McDavid-powered Oilers’ powerplay that has proven to be close to unstoppable during the first few weeks of the 2021-22 season. 

Around the end of October, the Oilers were scoring goals on 47.8 per cent of their extra-man opportunities, and the offensive explosion was part of the reason for the teams’s 6-1 start.

More than half of McDavid’s points have been coming on the power play. 

He and Tyson Barrie man the blueline, both of them streaking here and there to get open. Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins play on the wings and either Zach Hyman or Jesse Puljujarvi creates havoc in front of the net. 

It is a nearly unstoppable unit that creates nightmares for opposition netminders.

Last year’s Oilers’ powerplay unit scored at an 18-per-cent clip. Normally, the best powerplay percentage over a season is in the mid to high-20-per-cent range. 

The NHL record is from 1977-78, when the Habs scored on 31.88 per cent of their chances. The Oilers will obviously cool down from their mid-40-per-cent range as the season progresses, but McDavid said he has been working on improving a few aspects of his already sublime game, and one of those improvements is the ‘one-timer’ shot from the right face-off circle. 

He has already scored a couple of powerplay goals with that move and if he perfects it, more individual records, and Oiler victories, could be on the horizon.

“I would not want to be defending that (powerplay), especially seeing the reports you’ve got McDavid practicing one-timers on his off-flank,” former NHLer Bryce Salvador said on a radio show. 

New Oiler Duncan Keith, who is 38 and has been around the NHL scene for 17 years, gets a great view from the bench this year and said “I haven’t seen a powerplay like that before.”

Few other people, except those who remember 1977-78, have either.

Slap Shots

• RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com:” Last offseason, the NFL and its Players Association settled on a policy change: competitors who test positive for marijuana will no longer be suspended. Call it a joint agreement.”

• Patti Dawn Swansson, on Twitter: “A pair of sneakers Michael Jordan wore way back in 1984 sold at auction for $1.472 million. Apparently it was $1,471,990 for the shoes and $10 for a box of Odor-Eaters.”

• Boston Globe sportswriter Kevin Paul Dupont, on Twitter: “Good news for Leafs fans: Border will open soon and they can see some decent hockey in Buffalo.”

• Spotted on Facebook: “She asked me to tell her three words every girl wants to hear, so I whispered ‘Go Habs go.’”

• Buster Olney of ESPN, on Major League Baseball’s ‘opener’ strategy:  “The opener will gradually move toward extinction, like the Wildcat formation, Theranos, or Kanye’s presidential bid.”

• Columnist Norman Chad, on Twitter: “Full disclosure: We did use the tomahawk chop at my second wedding ceremony. Man, was I fired up come that honeymoon night.”

• Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg: “There is a new show on Apple TV starring Kevin Durant called ‘Swagger.’ Don’t confuse this with the show about the New York Jets. That’s called ‘Stagger.’”

• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “So whose bright idea was it to tell Braves pitcher Charlie Morton to break a leg before Game 1?”

• Steve Simmons of Sun Media: “Marcus Semien has hired Scott Boras as his agent. Don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for the Blue Jays but know it’s an expensive thing for somebody.”
•   ESPN’s Chris Fowler, after Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux uttered an expletive on live TV: “Thibodeaux did a Thi-bo-don’t.”
•  TheScore.com, on Chicago’s 0-5-1 NHL start: “The Blackhawks are like the Titanic: They looked good until they hit the ice.”
•  Kaseberg again, via Twitter, on the Raiders reeling off two lopsided wins since the firing of coach Jon Gruden: “The Jets should search their coach’s computer for offensive emails.”

Care to comment? Email brucepenton2003@yahoo.ca.

 

by Bruce Penton

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