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Oilers Go as the Power Play Goes

It was finally nice to say the Edmonton Oilers won on Thursday. After the Oilers lost three consecutive games to very beatable teams, things were starting to look a little bleak in "Oil Country" With the win, Edmonton avoided potentially dropping in the Pacific Division standings and steered clear of being outside the playoff picture for the first time this season.

In the victory, Edmonton's recipe for success can be attributed to four main ingredients. The first three are players, in that, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Mark Letestu had incredible games. The fourth is those three players' success on the power play. Edmonton's man-advantage was 3 for 4 on the night and the power play finally became a weapon in the Oilers arsenal.

The Man-Advantage

When the Oilers are successful on the man-advantage, the team tends to win. Of the nine games in which the Oilers have scored a power play goal, Edmonton has won eight of them. Of the 16 games where they did not score a power play goal, Edmonton has lost eleven of them. It is absolutely not a coincidence that Edmonton loses games when their power play isn't effective.

In those games, it's not as though the Oilers didn't get their chances. Every one of those 12 Oilers losses came with an opportunity on the man-advantage. All of the games, with the exception of two, came with more than one opportunity to score. To put it another way, the Oilers went 0-42 in the games that they lost. When the team goes 0-3, 0-4 and 0-6 in a single game, they are just giving away points in the standings. In a number of those games, even one goal would have dramatically changed the outcome.

Opportunities Wasted

One of the ways this Oilers team is going to ultimately find the playoffs is by forcing opposing teams to take penalties. Using their speed and skill to draw opponents into shortcuts and infractions, should give Edmonton the leg up. It is one of the weapons the Oilers have and should use on a nightly basis. Frankly, while it isn't exciting hockey, there is nothing wrong with getting your opponents to hold and hook themselves out of a victory.

However, when Edmonton can't take advantage of any penalties they draw, it allows teams to cut corners in their defensive systems. Edmonton's opponents are no longer afraid of the consequences of getting caught being the rules.

For an Oilers team that employs McDavid, Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as offensive quarterbacks, there is no excuse to at least get set up on the attack. The Oilers haven't been strong in that regard at all. So too, there should be no reason that once establishing the zone, with players like Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon parking in front of the net, Edmonton can't score greasy goals and on rebound opportunities.

The one and only area where the Oilers may have a legitimate beef, is the team's lack of a shot from the point. Edmonton simply does not have that bullet in the chamber and management hasn't provided the coaching staff with a player who can pose a threat from that part of the ice.

Can It Be Fixed?

Clearly, the Oilers think so. Ryan Rishaug of TSN described some of the changes the Oilers were working on with their power play. He briefly outlines an Edmonton team that has put a lot of time into improving a clear weakness and part of the solution meant developing a different setup, using different players. 

So far, the changes seem to be working. For a change, the Oilers looked like a well-oiled machine Thursday. Adding Letestu helped tremendously and the positive results meant Draisaitl stayed one of Edmonton's top go-to players. It's a formula McLellan will go to again.

Can the Oilers keep it going? If Edmonton expects to beat Anaheim on Saturday, they'd better hope so. The Oilers clearly go as their power play goes. When it's clicking, Edmonton tends to win. When it isn't, the Oilers are in for a long night.

But, who cares what I think right? For now, I'll just keep my mouth shut until I feel like spilling my guts again.

Jim Parsons is a business owner, husband, father and sports fan. For more information about Oilersnetwork.com founder and Oil Spill articles author Jim Parsons, click here.

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