The Edmonton Oilers came out flying and never let up. They didn’t match the amount of shots they had from the previous preseason game but were much more efficient with their chances. It helped to have the so-called big boy lineup in, with a lot of the more experienced players getting to see their first action of the season.
This team continues to shut the door and has yet to allow a goal against. This is in part to do with a number of factors. The Oilers’ penalty kill continues to lock it down under head coach Dave Tippett, they are getting pucks out cleanly on their breakout, and there is so much offence, there’s no time for defence.
Power Play in Mid-Season Form
The league’s top-ranked power play over the past two seasons showed up tonight with the regulars inserted into the lineup. The final spot on the power play seems to be up for grabs, as both Zach Hyman and Jesse Puljujarvi got time and recorded a power-play point each. This position was filled by a player who was good around the net and could bang home pucks, deflect, and screen the goalie.
Of course, the locks for the top unit that has performed well above the rest are Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Tyson Barrie. That fifth spot has been an open invitation for anyone showing they have the ability to play. Along with Hyman and Puljujarvi, we could see Yamamoto. But it’s more likely one of the first two names mentioned earned the opportunity, or a split happens.
The power play went two-for-three in the first two periods, but finished two-for-five after they gave the other unit more time with being up by such a large margin. Puljujarvi and McDavid had the power-play goals, and McDavid added an assist on the man advantage.
McDavid’s Line Shines
McDavid looked like he picked right back up from where he left off last season when he finished the regular season with 105 points in 56 games. Puljujarvi looks like he has put in the work and is set for a breakout campaign on the first line. Hyman already knows where to go to get chances on this line, and the chemistry and production will only get better from here.
Hyman was asked about a specific play that has him retrieve the puck, feed it to McDavid, and see him slide it over to Puljujarvi for a shot in the slot in the postgame media session:
“… I think whether it’s me or Jesse (Puljujarvi) or Connor (McDavid), we can all skate and hunt the pucks real well. I think that’s something Jesse is really good at, Connor is underrated at, going in on the forecheck and turning it over and making a quick strike play.”
– Zach Hyman
This just speaks more to how much of a threat this line can be, as nobody is afraid to do the dirty work to get possession of the puck and create chances. He goes on to talk about line chemistry and what he knows he needs to do to play efficient hockey with the best player on the planet.
This line generated seven points last night against the Seattle Kraken. Only one of those were at five-on-five, but the chances were there, as Hyman hit a post on a feed from McDavid. Besides the inevitable opportunities created by McDavid’s speed, Puljujarvi managed to also create chances off the rush using his wheels. This line has a centreman who loves to hold the pucks and control the play, and two wingers who will drive the net hard and retrieve pucks. Both Hyman and Puljujarvi know that a big part of their role on the top line is to get to the right spots and wait for tap-ins or passes to come around the net.
Perlini & Bouchard Impress
It was an impressive showing from a player trying to find his game and a spot on the Oilers roster and a young defenceman who looks to have taken a huge leap forward.
If you watched the game, you would’ve seen a lot of Bouchard. If you didn’t, I’ll break it down for you. His stamina and ability to keep up was on display for everyone to see, as he logged the second-most minutes in the game behind Darnell Nurse, with 24:47 of ice time. Not only that, but it seemed like the puck followed him all night. He was a plus-1 and had one shot. We saw him paired with Markus Niemelainen to start the game, but of course, he was with others as well. It was Bouchard’s second preseason game, and he’s already proving that he should be a lock for the opening night roster.
Perlini got in his second game in a row to start the preseason as well. He saw his ice time go down a little, but that didn’t stop him from putting on a show for the home crowd and playing like his career depends on it. He added to his goal total by potting two goals on as many shots and used his body to record three hits. His first goal was a beautiful give and go with Devin Shore that ended with a one-timer high past Chris Driedger’s glove.
He was feeling very confident as the game progressed, and he was hustling around the ice trying for more shots. He had this to say about his performance when asked about his 200-foot game:
“With Tippett’s teams, he really wants guys playing that 200-foot game. For me that’s the last thing over the past year and a half since I’ve been out of the NHL that I’ve really worked hard on …”
– Brendan Perlini
Perlini, more than Bouchard, will need to continue his strong play throughout preseason to get the attention of the management and make them keep him around. He talks postgame about just focusing on one shift at a time because that’s all he can control.
It was a great showing all around, and to this point, the Oilers look like they’re on a mission to prove that they are contenders. Not only that, but early chemistry has formed between the line of Shore, Perlini, Kyle Turris and the top line of Hyman, McDavid, and Puljujarvi. It was fun to watch a mostly NHL forward group that were able to develop chemistry early on. We should keep watch of the storylines forming from these players battling for a spot on the team.
Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.