4 Underrated Oilers Performances From Round 2

Many times the Edmonton Oilers were called a one-man team by the Calgary Flames in Round 2 after Connor McDavid played his game. But there was much more to this team than just one player. Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane showed up and got the recognition for it, but the rest of the team followed suit and it was a strong overall team performance. We’re going to take a look below at four players in particular that aren’t getting the recognition they deserve for their efforts and contributions in Round 2.

Zach Hyman

Not many people may be talking about Zach Hyman from Round 2, but they should. Overshadowed by McDavid, Draisaitl’s multiple NHL records and 17 points, and Kane’s 12 goals in 12 games, Hyman is close behind.

Hyman was the most prolific goalscorer in the series vs. the Flames as he scored a goal in each of the five games and ended the series with six goals, two assists, a plus-7, a game-winning goal, and 25 shots. He was also one of the best players in the series while possibly having the best single-game performance by an Oiler in the fifth game.

Zach Hyman Edmonton Oilers
Zach Hyman, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Hyman has been integral to the Oilers’ run thus far and scored in all three situations in Round 2 (from ‘Zach Hyman Has Been Everything The Oilers Need Him To Be,’ The Hockey News, May 27, 2022). He scored three even-strength goals, two power-play goals, and one shorthanded goal while being a stud defensively and using his speed as he’s known to do every shift.

Evan Bouchard

Evan Bouchard has been the Oilers’ best defenceman in the playoffs thus far and he showed his offensive talents off in the series vs. the Flames. He continues to develop at a very high rate, which bodes well for the Oilers and their plans. With scoring a goal in Round 1 but notching five assists, Bouchard broke the seal and scored three goals in the five games, which also came at key moments. His final goals came to tie Game 5 up at four during the record stretch of four goals in 1:11 of game time.

Bouchard also showed everyone that he is growing as a player in his own end as well. He wasn’t walked around or left in bad position as often as Round 1 and put his body on the line to block shots. He is part of a duo with Duncan Keith that has been able to be a part of tons of offensive pressure that paid off for the high-scoring Oilers.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins took his game to the next level as well in Round 2 and made the Conference Finals for the first time in his 11-year career. He recorded points in four of the five games, and like Hyman, contributed offensively at even strength, on the power play, and while shorthanded.

Nugent-Hopkins’ most impactful game had to have been Game 4 despite the criticism thrown his way from people backing the Flames. He registered the most time on ice among any Oilers’ player, recorded five shots, five blocked shots, and a hit. Not to mention scoring two goals, including the game-winner, with little time left in the third period (from ‘Player grades: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins shakes off ghost of Steve Smith, scores winner against Calgary Flames,’ Edmonton Journal, May 25, 2022). He and his line were out there for two goals for and none against while playing at an impressive expected goals for percentage (xGF%) of 63 in that game.

He is integral to the penalty kill and power play and is producing for the Oilers on the second line like they need him to do. He may not get all the glory for the Oilers’ success, but his six points and key minutes speaks for itself.

Ryan McLeod

As the Oilers have loaded up their top two lines in order to generate a lot of scoring, Ryan McLeod has stepped up in a big way to play third-line centre and allow Jay Woodcroft to be fine with his decision. That line has played at key times and McLeod is showing more and more confidence in his ability as time passes.

Ryan McLeod Edmonton Oilers
Ryan McLeod, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He is able to carry the puck seamlessly up the ice and is able to utilize his speed and puck handling ability to enter through the neutral zone and get the puck in deep in the offensive zone at a high rate. Against the Flames he forechecked and backchecked hard as he is also a relied upon two-way player for the Oilers.

He has gone pointless since Game 2 of Round 1, but not every player’s performance should be based on points. Earlier this season, the Oilers weren’t able to load up the top lines because McLeod wasn’t ready for the role and responsibility of leading the third line, but now he is.

Related: 3 Reasons the Oilers Won the Battle of Alberta

On a team like the Oilers there are always going to be players overlooked since they have two of the best players in the world. It is a team sport and takes everybody to win games. This is just some recognition to those who didn’t receive enough.

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