On the Edmonton Journal's "Cult of Hockey" website, David Staples talks about how the season began with the powerplay having wingers on their normal shot side, but it being ineffective. He explains that the Washington Capitals are effective because wingers are on their off-wing and so they have a better angle for quicker shots and passes.
Now that McDavid and Eberle are on their off-wing half-wall, the powerplay has been much better.
The Oilers need to get setup there first! So before we talk about who should be on what PP unit, don't you think it's important we talk about zone entries?
I don't have any stats to show you. Just that my frustration level in the Jets game was through the roof, so that's how I can tell.
Not only do the Oilers have a difficult time 5v5 getting the puck out of their zone, on 5v4, it's glaring how bad the defense is in even making that first pass. You see often. The d-man, often Justin Schultz, with his head up (a good thing), sees a winger heading up the boards, he passes it, and bam, that winger gets checked, there's a turnover, and the opposing team is headed the other way on a two-on-one or the Oil get hemmed in their own zone for half a minute.
Or Taylor Hall decides to just take the bull by the horns and heads up the ice where he runs into 3-4 opposing players at the blue line and bam, loses the puck, or tries to dump it in, but there aren't any Oilers heading there.
Now, assistant coach Jay Woodcroft has a perfectly designed PP zone-entry play that when the players execute it are actually able to quickly gain the zone. This play is widely used in the league.
The way it works is the point-man passes to a winger to skate with the puck to the opposition blue line, turns around and passes to the point-man who is streaking up the ice. If the winger is being checked, the point-man does it himself and once he hits the blue-line, passes it back to a winger who has looped back around to centre ice.
Something like that. There might be another pass in there somewhere, but what it does is force the opposition to collapsing into their zone more without the momentum to check the streaking point-man or winger.
Then what often happens is that guy will pass to a winger at the blue line and the Oilers gain the zone. This play takes less than 10 seconds.
For a while, the Oilers were doing this play and then for some reason, just stopped executing.
Now I know what it actually means when a players says, "Uh, obviously. Yeah, we just didn't execute."
Ok, so now the Oilers are setup and Eberle and McDavid are on their respective off-wing half-walls, and in this 1-3-1 setup, we have:
McDavid Letestu Eberle
Letestu has been ineffectual here, except maybe on the faceoff dot. I think you need more of a grinder here who is better at faceoffs than McDavid, and can tussle it up in front, deflect the puck, and so Matt Hendricks is your guy. Problem is, Oilers have been on the PK a lot and that means Hendricks gets lots of minutes--smart for an older guy? Not sure.
So on the 1st PP unit, I'd go:
McDavid Hendricks Eberle
On the 2nd PP unit the Oilers have:
Korpikoski Draisaitl Purcell
I'm done with Schultz and think Davidson at least has a point shot. If Klefbom comes back, he goes here. And Korpikoski? Sorry. No. Yakupov's shot is deadly and needs to be utilized. Korp is also just as bad if not worse than Yakupov on playing any semblance of a two-way game. It seems as though they're trying to "pump and dump" Korpikoski, who just doesn't belong on this team when guys like Jujhar Khaira and Anton Lander are better.
2nd PP unit I'd go:
Yakupov Draisaitl Purcell
Another option is getting Kassian involved to really muck it up in front.
Hall Kassian Purcell