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Evan Bouchard’s Playoffs Thus Far and Other Edmonton Oiler News

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Evan Bouchard emerged as an elite NHL defenceman during the 2023-24 season for the Edmonton Oilers. This year he became only the second defenceman in Edmonton Oilers team history with an 80-point plus season (he had 82). The other guy did it five times and won three Stanley Cups with the Oilers, Paul Coffey. Furthermore, for Bouchard, as the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs wear on, he continues to establish himself as an excellent playoff performer.

Evan Bouchard’s Elite 2023-24 Regular Season

This year Bouchard had by far his best career season. Take a look at some career-high totals from this year. He had 18 goals this year (his previous high was 12). Also, he doubled up on his assist high-water mark, from 32 to 64. Previously, his most points was 43. Furthermore, his ice time was at 23:00, whereas his previous best was 19:48. Some of this increase can be attributed to his increase in power play responsibility. However, he was accumulating power play time in years past. So, it was an overall increase in his role based on his performance and career growth development.

He More Than Gets It Done in the Playoffs

Now that the playoffs are here, we have seen Bouchard really establish himself as a top NHL defenceman. That is especially so on the offensive side of the puck. In 2022-23, he had over an assist a game with 13 and 17 points total in 12 playoff games. This year he is proving that his playoff productivity is an expectation, not an anomaly. In nine games, he’s already at 15 points. He is also playing a monstrous 24:38 a night.

If we parse through some intangible stats, there are still plenty of pieces to relish. In this year’s playoffs, he has 34 shots and added 16 blocked shots. Moreover, his CF% Rel has been nothing short of out-of-this-worldly. So far in the playoffs it is humming along at an uncanny 24.4. It’s not even that far from the regular season, where through 81 games, he had a dominant 16.6 CF% Rel standing.

We would be remiss if we didn’t drop a quick note on his partner, Mattias Ekholm. As a top-pairing, they are one of the best. They played 1186 minutes together in 2023-24, the third most among D-pairings. If we filter on pairings with 400 plus minutes, their xGoals% of 62.8 was tops in the NHL. Specifically, the goals for aspect. They had an expected goals for of 73.8, that’s nearly 15 more than second place, Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns at 59.2. As strong as Bouchard has been over that past two seasons, since Ekholm has been around, his played has leaped into another stratosphere.

What About News on the Edmonton Oilers Goalies

Having an elite Evan Bouchard and the rest of the club playing strong team defence is vital. It was something Head Coach Kris Knoblauch was hoping for based on his decision in goal from game four in the series against the Vancouver Canucks. Giving Stuart Skinner a rest and starting Calvin Pickard did seem like a big deal. However, despite Pickard playing against the lesser-weights throughout the NHL in regular season, he put up very strong numbers.

The Latest Edmonton Oilers Lineup News for Game 4 vs the Vancouver Canucks

In 23 games for Pickard, he went 12-7-1. His GAA of 2.45, SV% of .909, and GSAA of 3.2, were all better than Skinner’s numbers from the regular season. Skinner did play a lot more, at 59 games, and started the season poorly at 4-7-1, before having Knoblauch come in to turn the club’s fortunes around. Skinner ended up 36-16-5, with a .905 SV%, 2.62 GAA, and a GSAA of 3.1. That is a number that stands out, the cumulative statistic, GSAA, as Pickard’s standing was higher. So Pickard can be relied on to play consistently, and big saves when he needs to. He’s also older than Skinner, which that type of maturity can be a huge factor in the playoffs. As of yesterday, Knoblauch was telling the media he had remained undecided in game five’s starter. Whoever is in net, having Bouchard and the rest of the D-unit, like his partner, Ekholm, right down the depth charts to Vincent Desharnais, play as they have all year, has been a huge factor.

Main Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports


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