It wasn’t pretty early, but Tyson Barrie stuck with it and has recently been getting the results. Ken Holland’s highest profile addition over the off-season, Barrie currently sits tied for third in the NHL in scoring among defensemen. His 18 points (3 g, 15 a), tied with Montreal’s Jeff Petry, have been extremely helpful to Edmonton’s powerplay.
After a slow start, the powerplay is back to its old ways. Edmonton is currently 7th in the NHL with a 27.2% success rate, scoring 22 times on 81 chances. Barrie is a big reason why, as he has replaced the injured Oscar Klefbom as the unit’s point man.
“His play got better as his confidence grew and even as he got elevated with Bearsy’s (Ethan Bear) injury. He got more ice time. The power play was probably the initial catalyst of that,” Assistant Coach Glen Gulutzan said of Barrie’s powerplay prowess. “Our power play got clicking, especially because of that four-goal game against Ottawa. Then his game has grown. Confidence is important for every player in the League. It’s underrated sometimes and hard to give a player but when they get it, it’s something they can ride for a while.”
Barrie has ridden the confidence to a point where not many are questioning his role and ability with the man advantage. He turned things around just in time to stave off a push from fellow veteran Darnell Nurse and rookie Evan Bouchard.
The powerplay is his domain, and that likely won’t be changing any time soon. That said, he can’t play every single minute with the advantage. That’s where his five-on-five partner, Nurse, comes in.
“Two-thirds of the time we’re going to roll out Tyson. One-third of the time we’re going to roll out Doc (Nurse),” Gulutzan continued. “That’s the initial plan. Game-to-game that can change a little bit because there are different looks that a lefty provides that power play up top. There are different options that he provides. When you’re playing these little miniseries, it’s good to have another option. It’s like a tool in your tool belt so you’re not as predictable. Teams do such a good job pre-scouting from one night to the next.”
So far, the plan has worked out. Not only is Barrie shinning on the powerplay and playing with more confidence at five-on-five, but Nurse has broken out this season. He has 16 points (6 g, 10 a) on the year, is fifth in scoring on the Oilers and is among the top ten in scoring in the NHL among defensemen.