Puljujarvi Impresses In First Game On Top Line


Jesse Puljujarvi got put on the top line for the Edmonton Oilers ahead of Sunday’s visit to Winnipeg to take on the Jets. The result? A 62.50% Corsi For for the line, a 61.54% Fenwick For, 83.81% xGF%, 76.47% of the scoring chances and 72.73% of the high-danger chances. In other words? Domination.

(All stats via Natural Stat Trick)

The Oilers also won the game, getting a Leon Draisaitl goal with less than a second left in regulation to win 4-3 and improve to 3-4-0 on the season. Tomorrow night, with another date in Winnipeg, the new look first line is expected to get another run together.

“That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play,” Connor McDavid, the top center, said of Puljujarvi’s performance. “I really liked what he was doing out there.

“I’ve seen him play with confidence and I’ve seen him play without it. He’s so much better when he’s got it going on,” McDavid continued. “He’s adapted a little bit more of a grind to his game. He’s trying to get to the inside, he’s not waiting on the outside to get the puck. His forechecking has been unbelievable. He’s moving great.”

McDavid, who some in the media suspected didn’t enjoy his previous stints with Puljujarvi on his wing, wasn’t the only one impressed with the big Finn’s night in Manitoba.

“He played a strong game because he was relentless on the puck, creating loose pucks and just giving the line a really workman-like attitude,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said postgame. “If he doesn’t go to the net hard, he doesn’t draw that penalty to give us the opportunity to give us a power play for the last two minutes. I give Jesse Puljujarvi a lot of credit.”

For Puljujarvi, one good game won’t cement his spot on Edmonton’s top line. The Oilers are in search of consistency and a winning streak to help separate themselves from the bottom of the North Division. It’s early, but it looks like the big Finn once written off could be a key component to the solution.
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