The Edmonton Oilers are 6-1.
They are in first place in the Western Conference.
Connor McDavid leads the NHL in scoring with 11 points.
Many felt the last of those three was possible, but no one had the Oilers storming out the gate like they have. In their six wins they have outscored their opponents 25-11.
They are playing like a legitimate playoff contender, but there is one odd stat which stands out.
McDavid has dominated so far. Every game he makes at least one play, often many more, that has you sit back and say “Wow.” You pause the game and rewind the play just to see it again. He is that good.
And he is only going to get better.
The strange stat during this hot start is that McDavid has zero shots on the PP. He leads the Oilers in 21:28 PP TOI, but he has yet to register a shot.
I brought it up to him last night and he said, “Wow, really? That’s a great stat. I’m getting PP assists, and I consider myself a disher, but that shows I need to shoot more,” he said with a smile. I didn’t bring it up as a negative, I brought it up because it surprised me. It also illustrates just how good he is. He hasn’t needed the gravy PP points to dominate games, but when he does, his point-potential becomes an intriguing conversation.
He leads the NHL in points, but has yet to register a shot on goal on the PP. Powerplay goals and assists are “technically” easier than scoring 5×5, and McDavid has yet to really take advantage of that. It’s crazy when you think about it.
Is it possible a player could score 130+ points in today’s NHL? Had you asked me two years ago I would have said no, but watching McDavid, and seeing what he’s already done in only 52 NHL games, I would not rule it out.
In fact, I’d lean towards him having 130+ points in a season sometime in the next few years.
The Oilers don’t shoot enough on the PP, and I can tell you when McDavid heard the stat I could see him analyzing it on the spot. He doesn’t see it as a negative, he views it as an opportunity.
When I spoke to Oilers head coach Todd McLellan about it, he smiled.
“We are still looking for the perfect pass on the powerplay. Last night Reggie (Andrej Sekera) had a lane and shot and look what happened. Connor is very respectful, and I think he’s passed up a few great shooting opportunities, just like many other guys. I’m sure he and his teammates will start shooting more,” continued McLellan. He walked away grinning, likely because he knows McDavid still hasn’t reached his full potential.
The Oilers’ great start doesn’t mean they are a complete team yet, but they are infinitely more competitive. They have improved, and they still have other areas McLellan wants to see shored up.
- He wants to seem them cut down on their shots against, but they are giving up more outside shots than point-blank chances right now, which he said is good, but reducing shots is a priority.
- He feels their PK is allowing too many quality shots. They need to improve their reads.
- He wants the PP to start shooting the puck. Stop looking for the perfect play.
The head coach and his players are not satisfied with their great start. Yes, you can find some stats which make you leery of them staying hot, but there are stats, like McDavid’s PP shots, which illustrate there are also areas of strengths (offence) where they can improve.
Imagine what McDavid will produce when he starts dominating on the PP.
- Last year Cam Talbot didn’t win his sixth game until January 2nd. He is 6-1 with a .927sv% and 2.49 GAA. He is playing well and I don’t see McLellan giving him a game off until the Oilers play back-to-back against the Islanders and Red Wings on November 5th and 6th.
I see Talbot starting Friday in Vancouver, Sunday at home to Ottawa, Tuesday in Toronto and then next Thursday in New York against his former Rangers teammates.
- Right now, 288 players have at least one shot on the PP, and McDavid isn’t the only player with 20+ minutes of PP time without a shot.
Jordan Staal: 22:35 with no shots and no points for Carolina.
Frans Nielsen: 22:14. No shots and 0-2-2 with Detroit.
Mikael Granlund: 21:57. No shots and 0-1-1 with Minnesota.
Henrik Zetterberg: 21:56. No shots and 0-1-1 in Detroit.
- The Oilers defeated the Capitals and their six D-men played very similar minutes at EV.
Kris Russell, 16:53 and a total of 20:28 TOI.
Eric Gryba, 16:37 anda total of 18:01.
Adam Larsson, 16:03 and a total of 17:50.
Andrej Sekera, 15:42 and a total of 23:04.
Oscar Klefbom, 14:44 and a total of 18:33.
Darnell Nurse, 14:33 and a total of 15:57.
The Oilers are winning without having to rely on one pair to play all the tough minutes. That is huge.
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