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How the Edmonton Oilers Shape Up for the Post-Season

The Edmonton Oilers lineup is incredibly healthy heading into the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Okay, okay, Connor McDavid aside, but even still you could look at his recent absenteeism as maintenance. The Oilers were firmly in their playoff position. Furthermore, of course, McDavid wanted to maintain his dominance in the Art Ross race, but it is also good to share the love. Currently, McDavid sits on five Art Ross trophies to his name. Plus, Nikita Kucherov has been absolutely on fire and is well-deserving of his second time capturing the Art Ross trophy for the NHL’s regular season scoring title. Nathan MacKinnon is still in the race as well. But the good news for Oilers fans? Looks like McDavid is ready for tonight’s matchup against the San Jose Sharks.

McDavid Should be Ready for the Edmonton Oilers Playoff Lineup

Therefore, we can safely make the assumption that McDavid will be at 100% for round one, game one, and the Oilers are healthy. As a sidebar, the Oilers are 1-3-1 on the season without his services. Needless to say, the Oilers need the top guns to be firing. Luckily as the season wore on, they did get more depth throughout the lineup. However, they are still very top-heavy. Their mid-season acquisitions Corey Perry, Adam Henrique, and Troy Stecher have all added greatly to the team.

If you consider Henrique’s 23 goals as an example, the Oilers have four others with more goals than that amount. Then the two players who have benefitted from being on Leon Draisaitl’s line have supplied some secondary offence. Warren Foegele has 17 goals and 38 points, while Ryan McLeod is at 12 and 30 for the same totals.

The Uncanny Consistency of the Edmonton Oilers Defensive Lineup

One area that may be a surprise to some, is the Oilers consistency on the backend. Their three pairings are set, and that is a huge bonus. Moreover, their top pairing of Evan Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm is one of the top pairings in the entire NHL. If we use hockey-reference’s defensive point share category, you see many top defencemen amongst the leaders. Some others like Cale Makar, might not be near the top of DPS but are near the top of PS because of their offence contributions. For example, Makar is 42nd in DPS, but is fourth among defencemen in PS, trailing Evan Bouchard at 12.6 in third. In addition, Ekholm is tied with Drew Doughty for fifth with a DPS of 5.9.

If we switch over to moneypuck for a look at their blue line, it is impressive again. Reviewing league-wide defence pairings, and with the filter up to 500 minutes, the Oilers are as strong as anyone. If we use the metric for xGoals%, the Oilers are 1st, 12th, and 16th. Besides their effectiveness, no one really matches the combination with consistency. The Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars do have three pairings show up in the top 24, but they total way fewer minutes played as set pairings.

And Finally, the Final Line of Defence

One final aspect of this Oilers group that gives them an edge, is goaltending. Stuart Skinner hasn’t been exceptional, but again, he’s been consistent. And he’s been better than average. He’s around the middle of the pack amongst starters in the NHL this year. His goals saved above expected is at 4.2. His save percentage is .907 and that is .001 above the expected value. Therefore, he saves what he should, and gives a little bonus. So, although he might not steal you games, using the law of averages, he won’t lose you games.

Main photo: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports


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