Edmonton Oilers Con-Yak-Pou Mojo


One of the more intriguing stories thus far in 2015/2016 for the Edmonton Oilers is the superb chemistry igniting between Benoit Pouliot, Nail Yakupov and young phenom Connor McDavid. The “Con-Yak-Pou” line is certainly delivering the goods as of late and that success could not have come at a better time. All three players possess a unique skill set that can compliment each others style of play.

The Oil struggled to find offence in the first couple of contests. One goal in the first two games and a lack of offensive punch raised a few question marks. At one point I think people were contemplating sending out a massive search party to look for the missing Oiler superstars that were absent from the scoresheet. However, after a brief episode of dire panic among Oiler fans, the offence finally came to life against the Dallas Stars on October 13th.

Yakupov, McDavid and Pouliot have been dangerous together. They have clicked as a unit and have provided the Oilers with a viable, first line scoring option. Since the game in Dallas, they have been producing at a considerable rate. In 10 games, the trio has combined for 25 points.

I have never even entertained the notion that Yakupov is a bust or a complete write off. Just because he is a first overall pick, doesn’t guarantee he will become an NHL star at age 18. Every player is different. Sometimes a player just takes longer to develop. Maturity level is key in the development process. The more a player matures, the better they will become and I believe we are seeing a much more mature Yakupov then we have ever seen before. As a result, he has improved his game immensely. People that know me understand I am a Yakupov supporter. Yes, I will agree that he has struggled during his very young NHL career, but I think now he is finally finding his niche on the team. He belongs in Edmonton. Not to mention he loves the city and wears the Oilers jersey with honour.

In my opinion all that Yakupov ever needed was a top notch playmaker on his line that can somehow always find a way to get the puck on his stick. He needs a player that can accommodate to his talent and dish him the puck so he can unleash his explosive shot. In the past there has been concern with the fact that when Yak got the chance to play with the top players on the top line, he didn’t do as much as expected in terms of offensive production. Yak and Taylor Hall do not click very well because they are both very different players in terms of style. Hall plays a run and gun game and tries to do a lot by himself. Yak plays hard and often tries to position himself to get the puck in a shooting area, which Hall never really recognized when playing with the Russian sniper. Not to mention, Hall doesn’t strike me as a playmaker. I just never saw the connection between these two players. They were often out of sync with each other when on the same line.

Now, playing with McDavid gives Yak a player that can connect with him in all areas of the ice. It is easy for Yak to get in position to receive a pass or rebound opportunity because McDavid is a genius with the puck. Obviously he has come a long way since he first stepped into the league as a defensive disaster. Now, I believe Yak is becoming a key component to the Oilers top 6 and he should be fully recognized as a potential cornerstone for this franchise moving forward. I would never trade him. He plays with heart and works his butt off every game. If the mighty Connor McDavid is gelling with a particular player, don’t even think about breaking it up. They will only get better as they grow together.

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Pouliot is a very skilled, big bodied winger with all of the tools. The former 4th overall pick of the 2005 NHL Draft can skate like the wind and pick corners with his persistent shot. Pouliot compliments McDavid and Yak because he can create room on the ice. He is more than willing to do the dirty work by battling hard in the corners and retrieving the puck. His smooth and powerful skating stride makes it easy to keep up with the speedy youngsters and he can effectively drive the play up the ice. Pouliot adds the power element to McDavid’s line.

McDavid is the puck handling magician of this line. He is in control. Wherever he wants the puck to go, it will go. The dashing, quick speed of McDavid is almost inhuman. He can make a pass on a dime and even in the toughest angles of the ice or traffic jammed areas, his crisp passes will almost always sneak through to his line mates. If hockey was a science, McDavid would have a Master’s degree. His hockey IQ is out of this world and as a result of his incredibly smart play, players on his line will benefit.

The “Con-Yak-Pou” unit has all of the necessary tools to be an effective scoring line. They have a world class puck distributor in McDavid, a laser beam sniper in Yakupov and the strength, size and skill of Pouliot. What makes a line great is the ability to work together as line mates and find ways to positively benefit from each others skills. Everyone must do their job and endure the role they are given. Communication is key as well. I notice there is good communication between McDavid, Yakupov and Pouliot because they are starting to figure out were each other are on the ice and when to make a pass or take a shot. They are finding ways to get the puck to each other. This is essential as it makes break outs through the neutral zone flow smoothly and execution of offensive attacks successful. Thus, offence can be consistent and more goals will occur for the Oilers. Watch out for these guys.

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