Why the Best Two NHL Forward Lines Play in Edmonton
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That’s right, I said it. You’re probably hearing this for the first time right now, right here. Through the first 10 or so games, the Edmonton Oilers were sitting in dead last in goals for. Since then, they’ve climbed all the way to 12th in most goals scored.
There are other NHL teams that have scored more goals then the Oilers which possess highly-touted top six units—however, no club's top six can compare to the potential of the Oilers unit.
Chicago has Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, while in Pittsburgh Sidney Crosby is back with Evgeni Malkin and other nice complimentary players, but the Oilers have not one, not two, but three young, explosive players that are en route for stellar super-star careers in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
What makes those three players even more enticing is the help the Oilers surrounded them with. Ryan Smyth has been the epitome of sheer class and effort. Captain Canada didn’t come back to Oil Country to write a nice ending to his swan song—he means business.
Forgotten in some of this is the captain, Shawn Horcoff. He’s been scrutinized year after year after signing that massive contract extension, but he’s awaken from the shambles and leads this Oilers team in minutes.
Somewhat of an afterthought, Ales Hemksy has played excellent since returning from injury.
Stats speak for themselves. The Oilers are the only club with three players in the top 20 in point scoring (Smyth, RNH and Eberle). The way Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has entered the NHL spotlight is remarkable: 22 points in 21 games.
It’s embarrassing to think that there was any question if he’d survive the "9-game test." RNH has company for the Calder race though; two American college kids in Craig Smith and Matt Read are chasing him down—but the RNH is in the driver’s seat, it’s his for the taking.
The team is young and they’ll be streaky, but boy, are the ever fun to watch as recently seen at home against Chicago or on the road versus Nashville (against two pretty good teams, may I add).
Lost in this are two forwards that could be top-six forwards, but aren't because they haven’t been able to succeed in new roles—Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi.
In a combined 32 games, the two have a combined total of zero goals and four assists—simply brutal. Both are offensively-gifted, but have failed miserably at adjusting to new roles this season.
Sam Gagner is trade bait, and Magnus Paajarvi could even be on brink of spending time on the farm.
For the most part, coach Renney has been shuffling the top six and it's worked.
To sum up, the Oilers haven’t seen this type of offensive production in a long time. The last time the Oilers had a point-per-game player was Doug Weight in 2000/01, when he collected 90 points in 82 games.
The Oilers are due.
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