Has Woodcroft found chemistry in Oilers lines this week? A deep dive

Oct 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal scored by forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 6
Next
Edmonton Oilers
Sep 27, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) carries the puck around Vancouver Canucks defensemen Quinn Hughes (43) during the first period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

Rushing into it … or not

On another note, during the 2022-23 regular season the Oilers had the fifth-highest percentage of their total chances be rush chances out of all 32 teams:

The Oilers simply need to find ways to produce more rush opportunities under the new system, if they want to replicate the success of 2022-23. I believe the lack of rush chances by the McDavid and Ryan McLeod lines, driven by two excellent transition centremen, is a large reason they didn’t produce many actual high danger chances in Nashville, or goals at even strength in either game this week.

In Nashville, the McDavid and McLeod lines produced one tracked rush attempt each per NST, which is simply not enough. What’s worse is the entire team managed one tracked rush attempt in Philadelphia, while giving up three goals on rushes against as per my own tracking.

That’s 0-3 on the night off the rush.

Are they struggling to produce rush chances due to the new system? Are the line combinations sub-optimal? I think it’s a bit of both, and the bright spots give hope that some of the line combinations we’ve seen this week will find success as their luck (fourth-worst in the league at even strength, by measure of a 0.957 PDO) and system fall a bit into place.

Or else, we’ll be having more discussions in November.

Oil On Whyte
Oil On Whyte /

Want your voice heard? Join the Oil On Whyte team!

Write for us!

Note here that the Nugent-Hopkins line lacks the ability to perform consistent entry carries with the puck, and as such went 0-1 for rush attempts this week. However, they still thrived off the wingers’ puck retrieval and cycle abilities.

Line combinations involving Foegele paired with Hyman, and possibly the inclusion of Dylan Holloway and Connor Brown, could make the Oilers a team that creates a lot more offence off the cycle and forecheck, which would be a change of pace for the team. This will be interesting to follow, with my tendency to believe more in balanced line combinations that loosely involve a transitioner, a playdriver, and a shooter.

Players such as Kane — who thrive on the rush —  are best kept off of the Nugent-Hopkins line, where Kane-Nugent-Hopkins-Foegele in Philadelphia posted sub-39% shares in all major statistical categories. Ouch. However, Kane also counts on his centreman to generate rush chances chances; McDavid and McLeod can, and must, do much better at creating 5v5 rush chances.