According to Edmonton Oilers’ defenseman Tyson Barrie, Leon Draisaitl has more confidence in this Oilers team, and perhaps his own ability than even the fans realize. The fan base has quickly learned that you can’t count out this Oilers 2021-22 roster. Whether they’re down by one goal in the late stages of a game, or down by three goals midway through a 60-minute contest, they have the skill and fire to pull off an incredible comeback.
According to Barrie, Draisaitl warned the New York Rangers when the latter happened on Friday. Down 4-1 in the second period and after a slow start, Barrie said Draisaitl skated by the Rangers bench and said something along the lines of ‘Hold on, it’s coming.’ Barrie said the team then went out and banged in three goals.
Some might call that arrogant. Some might call it brash. Others will say it’s the perfect example of just how confident this current Oilers’ roster is.
Oilers Have the Skill
When you have Connor McDavid and Draisailt on your team, it’s a bit easier to be confident. They are arguably the two biggest game-changers in the NHL and within a matter of seconds can impact any hockey game in which they’re playing. Look no further than McDavid’s 1-on-4 goal to tie the game in the third period and you know he’s got the confidence to try anything.
Draisaitl’s got that swagger too. He currently leads the NHL in points and that’s no fluke. He’s been there before and finished with the most points in a single season for NHLers. With 23 points in 10 games, he could lead the league again. Not coincidentally, McDavid is one point behind with 22.
It’s not just McDavid and Draisaitl that are skyrocketing up the leaderboard. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is tied for the league lead in assists with 14 and Jesse Puljujarvi is in the Top 20 in points with 12. Zach Hyman is in the Top 50 with 10 points. All five players are contributing at a point-per-game pace.
Oilers Have the Ability to Turn It Up
It would be wonderful if every team played at 100% all the time. That doesn’t realistically happen. That said, the Oilers have shown an ability to turn up the volume and dictate the pace of play when needed. During the Rangers game, Edmonton outshot New York 15-4 in the third period. It was a dominating 20 minutes and it came at a time when the Oilers desperately needed to apply the pressure.
This is what the Oilers can do. Whether it’s the top line doing top-line things or the third line holding the offensive zone and frustrating the opposition, the Oilers have the ability to take over a section or long stretch of the game. And, when the opposition happens to take a penalty, that opponent is really in trouble.
Draisaitl said of the team’s power-play success — which is producing at an unbelievable 50% success rate –, “Our main goal besides creating chances and scoring goals is to give our team a little momentum.” He added that creating chances and working hard creates the feeling that every power-play unit wants to score every time they go out there. He knows that’s impossible, but it doesn’t stop the Oilers from believing the opposite.
Draisaitl Says No Oiler Is Playing for Individual Accolades
The knock on the Oilers used to be that they were a two-person team. That’s no longer the case as this might be the deepest roster the Oilers have deployed in years. That means the Oilers aren’t exclusively relying on two stars, even if they’re still playing a central role.
Speaking with the media, Draisaitl said he’s “been there and done that” when it comes to getting points and leading the league. He’s extremely proud of what he’s accomplished, but that’s not what he’s playing for. He says neither is McDavid and no players on this current Oilers roster are playing to pad their own stats.
This is a group that wants to win and do the little things every night to make that possible. At the end of the day, that’s where the confidence really pays off. If the Oilers feel their team can come together and beat anyone, they should have the type of swagger Draisailt showcased against the Rangers.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”