If you could find one thing to not like in regards to the Edmonton Oilers begin this season, please hit me up on Twitter. As a result of proper now, they appear like an excellent hockey membership, clicking alongside in all areas early by way of their first 4 video games.
A 4-0 file, a powerplay that has scored in each sport, a celebrity that has notched a multi-point sport in every of 4 outings this yr, and a brand new third line that scratches almost each itch this group took into the summer time. These are the highlights of an Oilers group that walked over the Arizona Coyotes with a 5-1 win, turning into certainly one of simply two golf equipment (together with Florida) to begin the season with 4 straight wins.
Certain, the Coyotes are a weak aspect. And so they couldn’t deal with an Oilers assault that had Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl centring separate traces, with a heavy, hard-skating third line coming over the boards as nicely.
However Mikko Koskinen gave the Oilers the goaltending, the most effective powerplay within the Nationwide Hockey League put the sport on ice with two third interval targets, and all the brand new guys confirmed why Ken Holland introduced them to city this final summer time.
Listed below are some takeaways on a 4-0 begin, and a Coyotes group that may not win 20 video games this season:
Let’s begin on the high, the place McDavid scored profession targets No. 200 and 201 Thursday. It occurred one sport after Draisaitl had scored his two hundredth, as the 2 proceed to commerce “feats of power,” en path to what they hope would be the final award.
“We’ve come up collectively, grown up collectively, actually,” McDavid mentioned of he and Draisaitl, the one two NHL gamers two accumulate greater than 200 factors over the earlier two seasons and the start of 2021-22. “To be going by way of this entire factor collectively, it’s enjoyable. It’s particular to be part of that. We’ve grown actual shut, and it’s actually enjoyable each on and off the ice proper now.”
As suspected, head coach Dave Tippett performed the pair on separate traces for the primary time this season, a method we thought he would make use of on the street the place the Oilers can’t management line matchups as simply.
“We’ve performed collectively, performed aside, and been profitable each methods,” shrugged McDavid, who had a three-point evening whereas Draisaitl was shut out. “It’s enjoyable to play with him, and even enjoyable to observe him from the bench.”
Tippett has watched the 2 mature whereas successful particular person awards, and sees two gamers who now have the final word group trophy of their sights.
“They’re good folks,” Tippett mentioned. “They wish to play onerous, they wish to play the correct approach and so they wish to win. They know they need to do their half — which is a giant half with our group — however you like their angle. You’re keen on their dedication to serving to our group win.”
The victory was Edmonton’s eighth consecutive street win, going again to final season.
Third and Gone
Warren Foegele scored his first aim with the Oilers, dancing round younger Dysin Mayo — the previous Edmonton Oil King taking part in his first NHL sport — earlier than zipping an off-balance wrist shot into the web for the game-opening aim.
The road of Derek Ryan (67 per cent within the faceoff circle Thursday), Zack Kassian (4 factors in three video games) and Foegele was dominant as soon as once more. It’s a new-look third line that’s performing precisely as GM Holland had hoped when he went out and secured Foegele and Ryan this previous summer time.
“They’ve been so good for us. In our 4 video games they’ve obtained our first aim in three of them,” McDavid mentioned. “They’ve obtained an id, and… probably the most spectacular factor is how nicely all of them skate, and their forechecking. They get rolling round within the O-zone, it’s spectacular to observe.”
“Large aim, and an important particular person effort,” Tippett mentioned of Foegele’s aim. “He simply bulled his approach down the ice and obtained it on web and it went in. He comes as marketed. He’s onerous and heavy and goes to the web.”
Foegele, a resurgent Kassian, Zack Hyman — who scored a shorty and a powerplay aim — and large Jesse Puljujarvi have modified the Oilers’ panorama considerably. It’s a transition that interprets to the post-season.
“You take a look at the entrance of the web,” Tippett mentioned. “Puljujarvi, Hyman, Kassian, Foegele are all there. It’s a unique search for our group this yr.”
The Oilers powerplay, tops within the NHL now for 2 seasons working, has transformed on seven of 14 makes an attempt to this point within the younger season. That’s an astounding 50 per cent, averaging 1.75 powerplay targets per sport.
In the meantime, Arizona’s penalty kill has allowed six targets in 9 makes an attempt, for a hit price of 33.3 per cent. To have the next powerplay proportion than your opponent’s PK quantity tells us one factor:
It’s early. However listed here are a few stats with some longevity.
The Oilers are tied with Washington as the most effective group within the league on the street since 2020-21. Each the Oilers and Capitals have a 20-7-2 mark going again to the start of final season.
In aim, Koskinen obtained his first begin Thursday, and Tippett expects to present him his second begin Friday evening in Vegas. Koskinen’s numbers are stellar: a .959 saves proportion, a 1.57 GAA, and a tidy 2-0 file.
He salvaged a sport in opposition to Anaheim when Mike Smith left as a consequence of an damage. Now he’ll probably get the prospect to show that the newer, extra chilled model of himself can carry the ball by way of a back-to-back, with a troublesome divisional foe within the Golden Knights awaiting Edmonton on Friday.
“I modified a bit of bit my mentality,” Koskinen mentioned. “Attempt to be extra relaxed, attempt to have enjoyable. It’s not all the time going to be like that. You’re going to have unhealthy instances throughout the season. However you all the time need to attempt to preserve these unhealthy instances as quick as doable.”
Koskinen was wonderful early in Arizona, then stopped every thing he needed to the remainder of the evening as his teammates took the sport over.