Edmonton Oilers’ top players have been shut down so far in the Stanley Cup playoffs, as was somewhat predicted in our playoff prediction piece, as the Winnipeg Jets have looked red hot. Thus far, Edmonton Oilers’ top players Connor McDavid and Leon Draisitl have been held at zero points. This comes as a surprise as McDavid had the most points during the NHL regular season, and as such won the Art Ross Trophy. As the player has been involved in every game the Oilers have played, it is even more surprising that his stats have been kept to zero, while also having a negative plus-minus score.
So far, the only players for the Oilers’ organization to have any points are forward Jesse Puljujarvi, and defensemen Darnell Nurse and Tyson Barrie. The team has only scored one goal across the two games played, and there are a few possibilities as to what has happened to shut the Edmonton Oilers’ top players down before they are able to create any chances.
How the Edmonton Oilers’ Top Players Have Been Stopped
A Red Hot Goalie
Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck has been amazing, whether it be during the regular season or the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During the regular season, Hellebuyck maintained a .917, an impressive feat considering that the player faced 1,335 shots against him in his 45 starts. With this player maintaining an amazing stat sheet through the playoffs as well, so far he has faced 71 shots, in only two games. Even with all this pressure he never seems shaky and plays a massive role in why his team has shut down the Edmonton Oilers’ top players.
Strong Defensive Performances
The Jets’ defense has been firing on all cylinders during the playoffs, with only Josh Morrissey having a negative plus-minus. Each defensive pairing has moved well, and pushed well for possession. As well, each pairing has made a tight press that has truly hindered the opposing team. When on defense, the Jets have moved to close off passing lanes, as well as setting up effective traps along the boards, taking away possession with the body, as well as with strong stick work to make poke checks and perform solid takeaways.
Even the forwards from the Jets have done well on the defensive side of things, doing well on the forecheck, and coming back fast to help the defence. Players such as captain Blake Wheeler, Kyle Connor, and Mark Scheifele have all performed well, able to play strong in either end, and are making arguments for why they should be seen as two-way forwards to some extent during this series.
Known Stars with Known Styles
McDavid and Draisitl are both highly known players and are known to push the net with speed. This serves to some amount of disadvantage for the two of them, as this allows the Jets to put top-performing defensemen, as well as the strongest defensive forwards whenever they see either of these players come on the ice. These players know that the Edmonton Forwards will look to push for skilled shots, and as such make sure that they have nowhere to shoot the puck, and nowhere to make the skilled moves they are known for.
Neither McDavid nor Draisitl are known to be very good with the physical side of the game as each player is more skill and speed-based, rather than being known for playing the body or bumping others off the play. As these two continue to play their game, they have gotten more known for this, and as such can be planned against with the physical style of game the Jets play, as well as not allowing open ice for the players to gain the speed and momentum to make the high paced plays.
A final important aspect to this defensive game is that the two forwards from Edmonton are never unmarked, this makes it hard to get a pass to them, and thus shuts down their ability to make any plays. This effectively shuts them out from any moves that would put their team ahead, while also making it difficult to make a push for the offense.
The Edmonton Oilers’ top players have not been able to put up many minutes of puck possession. The Jets have had the puck more often, they’ve kept it out of their defensive zone, and as such, they have had more chances offensively to score goals. Conversely, the Oilers have had a limited amount of time with the puck, and haven’t had much time outside of their defensive end to put shots on net. The chances they have had have mostly been rushed, and as such haven’t lead to many quality opportunities, as the Jets would fight back to take possession and transition the puck back to the Oilers defensive end.