#4 – The Penalty Kill
Much like the man advantage, the Oilers penalty kill will also be vital to the team’s success. Gone is Shawn Horcoff and with Gagner on the shelf for upwards of two months, this club needs a reliable faceoff man to win the big draw late in the game when on the penalty kill.
Can Boyd Gordon provide that faceoff relief? There is an excellent chance that he could be based on his faceoff percentage last year in Phoenix. With the Coyotes Gordon won an impressive 57.3% of his draws and when coupled with his plus/minus rating of even, it’s no wonder why the Oilers were so high on him this offseason.
Aside from Gordon the Oilers will have to rely on other new faces like Jesse Joensuu to help contribute to the team’s penalty kill success. Last year the Oilers PK ranked 9th in the league, killing over 83% of their penalties. Interestingly enough, seven of the eight teams ahead of them made the playoffs, including the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Special teams will drive success for the Oilers, but it’s only a portion of what needs to happen if the Oilers are to make a serious run at the playoffs. With that, let’s keep looking at the remaining keys to the Oilers success.