The Edmonton Oilers won their fifth game in a row on Thursday night, blanking the Vancouver Canucks by a final score of 3-0. It was the club’s sixth consecutive road victory and their 11th in the last 13 games overall. The Oilers are extremely hot right now.
A big reason why? Their powerplay. In addition to Mike Smith’s fantastic outing in goal, Edmonton’s powerplay found the back of the net twice. Alex Chiasson opened the scoring in the second period, while Jesse Puljujarvi tacked on the insurance marker in the third period. After a slow start, the powerplay is back to doing big things for the Oilers.
“We have great players but there is something we try to cue on. Just getting Tyson up to speed there, I thought we were a little methodical in the beginning,” Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan said on Friday.
He isn’t wrong either. Edmonton’s powerplay struggled to get much of anything going in the first five games of the season. In fact, it was a big reason why Edmonton got swept by the Montreal Canadiens in the second series of the year. The powerplay was -2 in the pair of games, going 0-for-10 with two shorthanded goals allowed.
“We were still creating a ton of chances but I thought we were a little methodical in the beginning,” Gulutzan continued. “Now, we’re a little smoother. We’re moving the puck a little bit quicker and we found a little bit of a rhythm. Power plays are like anything else, you need confidence. We weren’t scoring early so it dug us in a little bit but the last three or four games here, our power play has put us in a really good spot.”
In addition to scoring twice on Thursday, the powerplay gave Edmonton a boost early in the third period on Tuesday night as well. Trailing 3-2 early in the third period and picking up momentum, a quick strike off the stick of Connor McDavid tied the game and completely swung things in the favor of the Oilers.
If the powerplay can sustain the success it has had in the last ten games, the Oilers will almost certainly be a playoff team. Their improved five-on-five play, coupled with an improving penalty kill, should be more than enough to support what has become a truly elite powerplay over the last two seasons.