Wednesday, January 3, 2018

McDavid, Draisailt are a big reason behind historicially bad Oilers penalty kill

Nobody should mistake Draisailt or McDavid as hard nose, in your face hockey players.  Skilled players in general are not wired that way and there is nothing wrong with that.  97 and 29 are on the Oilers to score goals or set up other people to score goals.  Nobody is paying the money those two players get to dive in front of pucks, and get in opposing team's faces.  The thing about penalty kill is you need those players who live and breath defense.  They don't care about the glory of scoring goals or making a pretty pass.  Players who succeed on the penalty kill live and die for the applause from the fans after two minutes of killing themselves to stop the other team's power play from scoring.  It is the appreciation of the guy in the penalty box after a successful kill that means everything.  The goalie who pats them on the back or the coach that says heck of a job after taking a slapshot to the gut that matters to the penalty killers.

I know we all saw Gretzky and Messier on the PK back in the 80's and part of us thinks why not McDavid or Draisailt.  The thing is with guys who breath offense there mind is always on scoring.  It isn't on getting in front of shots.  It isn't on keeping the box, instead it is the dreams of intercepting a pass, a bobbling puck getting past the dmen on the point leading to one of those beautiful short handed, McDavid drops the puck to Draisailt for a goal.  The problem is when you have players whose minds wander to offensive glory they end up stretching the 4 man box out leading to those wonderful passing lanes for the opposing teams to make cross ice passes.  Cross ice passes lead to goalies having to move horizontally in the crease opening up all sorts of good lanes to beat the goalie.  A good defensive player, that makes his living preventing goals understands to prevent most high percentage scoring chances for the opposing team on the PK you have to collapse just as hard as you expand your box to take away the point shot.  When the puck is passed from one defense to the other it is bust your ass back to position and not let that pass through the box happen.  Nothing against McDavid or Draisailt but those two players are not wired to play that way.  They want to attack not defend. 

You might point out that none of the other players the Oilers put out on PK are any better.  Therein lies the problem.  Neither McDavid or Draisailt are the types of players you want on a good PK.  I believe half the reason they are out there so often is a lack of reliable talent behind them.  Coach has no choice in putting them out there because Letestu and Kassian are not doing any better.  You can only play the cards you have in sports and if you don't have the traditional, hardnose dive in front of pucks, bust your ass to get back in position penalty killers, then you play the best of a bad hand.  Directly 29 and 97 are not doing well on PK.  Coaching staff looks like they are out to lunch... but in reality indirectly it is the GM who bought out a useful penalty killer in Benoit Pouliot, and didn't replace heart and guts Matt Hendricks.  The idea that those who play on the 4th line don't matter is an illusion in hockey.  They matter because they do the things nobody else on the team is willing to do.   The bottom half of the line is there to be the grit, the grunts, the we will hurt so the stars can focus on scoring goals more then preventing them.  Good teams have players that are willing to sacrifice there bodies, for the greater good of the team.  I just don't see those players on the Oilers.

one more point... Just from a pure energy standpoint... there is nothing harder than stopping and starting on the PK.  That two minutes would equate to 30-60 second bag skates.   That energy for McDavid or Draisailt is not being used scoring goals, it is used preventing goals.  In every team sport the best offensive talent are rarely defensive stoppers.  It isn't because they can't play defense.  It is playing defense the way it needs to be played often takes away all your energy, leaving little for offense.  That is why when making up a team there is often a line that coaches use against the other teams best players, and on the PK.  They kill themselves so 29 and 97 can make fans scream in joy after another goal or 20. 

My two cents.. why do you think the Oilers PK is struggling?

They call me the iceman and if you need ice in Edmonton, AB I am your man.

Master Iceman

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