4 Edmonton Oilers who must elevate their game for a deeper Stanley Cup playoff push

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Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Stop the disappearing act in the playoffs Nuge

As the Edmonton Oilers gear up for another postseason campaign, the spotlight inevitably falls on the performances of key players. Among them, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins stands out as a player whose contributions are crucial to the team's success. However, in past playoff runs, Nugent-Hopkins has struggled to make a significant impact, particularly on the scoresheet—a trend that the Oilers need to reverse if they are to make a deep playoff push.

Despite his invaluable contributions during the regular season, Nugent-Hopkins has often found himself on the periphery in postseason play, with his offensive output failing to meet expectations. While his defensive play and versatility have been lauded, his inability to consistently produce points in playoff games has been a source of concern for both fans and management alike.

It's a perplexing conundrum, considering Nugent-Hopkins' undeniable talent and skill set. As a former first overall draft pick and a seasoned veteran of the league, expectations are naturally high for him to elevate his game when it matters most. Yet, for reasons that remain unclear, Nugent-Hopkins has struggled to replicate his regular-season success in the pressure-cooker environment of playoff hockey.

To be fair, hockey is a team sport, and playoff success cannot be attributed to any single player alone. However, in a league where depth scoring and secondary contributions often prove pivotal, Nugent-Hopkins' lack of offensive production becomes a glaring issue. When the Oilers' top stars such as Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are inevitably targeted and neutralized by opposing defenses, the need for secondary scoring becomes even more pronounced.

Additionally, Nugent-Hopkins must adapt his game to the heightened intensity and physicality of playoff hockey. This means being more assertive in driving to the net, creating scoring chances, and capitalizing on opportunities when they present themselves. Whether it's crashing the net for rebounds or unleashing his accurate shot from the slot, Nugent-Hopkins must find ways to make his presence felt in the offensive zone.