The Edmonton Oilers haven’t been playing their best after a great start to the season. Of course, it’s a team effort, but there is only so much a handful of players can do for the team to be successful. Everyone must play hard and contribute, and we haven’t been seeing that from several Oilers.
Head coach Dave Tippett spoke to the media after the loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night and stated, “we have too many guys that aren’t contributing enough to help us here.” He continues to talk about how the special teams and goaltending have stolen some games. This is true, as they have been excellent in both special teams, and goaltending has kept them in games with big saves at the right time.
Along with the top players, he had nothing but praise for a few others, but for the rest of the bunch, Tippett exclaimed, “we need more throughout our lineup.” He was referring to the secondary scoring that helped the team win consistently early in the season. This also helped if the stars or regular contributors had an off-night or just couldn’t get one by the opposing goaltender.
Here are the players that need to start contributing if the Oilers want to get back on track and stay amongst the NHL’s best teams.
Warren Foegele, a fixture on left-wing on the third line, will have to step up his offense. Heading into the season, there was a worry about depth scoring for the Oilers. He was a big part in why that worry went away in a hurry once the season began. The Foegele, Derek Ryan, and Zack Kassian line was off to a great start until an injury to Kassian messed with their momentum and chemistry. Since then, only Kassian has been able to produce.
Foegele’s goalless drought is up to 16 games and counting, with only four assists in that span. The addition of Ryan McLeod to his line should have sparked his offence, as McLeod can carry the puck into the zone and create opportunities. Foegele needs to get back to driving the net hard with the puck and jamming away in the crease.
He has talent and size, but he seems to have forgotten his past success around the net. If he can get back to this, stay strong on the puck and battle along the boards, the scoring will come back.
Ryan’s average ice time has dropped below 10 minutes per game over the past two weeks, and understandably. He has the worst plus/minus on the team by a wide margin, and this doesn’t bode well for a player the Oilers brought in to be a defensive specialist.
Ryan’s average time on ice (ATOI) has fallen significantly since the beginning of the season. He was playing nearly 15 minutes a night, now it’s down around 10 or fewer minutes of ice time per game. Tippett has had to shuffle things around, so Ryan has been playing with different wingers, and we still have yet to see anything from him. With Devin Shore on the cusp of returning to the lineup, Ryan might drop out of the lineup until he can find his game again.
He still only has one goal on the season that came in the second game of 20. Another possible solution is to reunite the line of Foegele, Ryan, and Kassian, and maybe it’ll help kickstart Ryan and Foegele.
Though Philip Broberg is a young player and new to the league, it doesn’t excuse him from playing hard defensively. In his seven NHL games this season, he was a minus in six of them for a minus-seven. He has taken a couple of untimely penalties, one in particular against the Kings. In this instance, he shot from the point as the last man back. These shots have to get through, or deep at the very least so he’s not forced to take a penalty.
Broberg is still learning, but he will need to step up his game if he wants to hang around longer. The more he plays in a game, the better he does. If he is dropped to the third pairing, he struggles more. He has to work on this as it takes time to get top-pairing minutes, especially with Darnell Nurse in front of him.
There are solutions, and all three of these players will have to work harder to improve. Overall, the Oilers haven’t played as well as we saw early in the season, but these players will be key to their success moving forward.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with the NHL Stat Corner and trade talks from around the NHL.
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