In this post, I’d like to review contributions from Edmonton Oilers players not named Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Mike Smith, or Zach Hyman to the Oilers’ second-round series victory over the Calgary Flames.
Obviously, those four players (McDavid, Draisaitl, Hyman, and Smith) were key to the Oilers’ series win; however, there were other contributors to the Game 5 victory that carried Edmonton to a convincing 4-1 game victory.
Contributor One: Duncan Keith
When the Oilers traded for Duncan Keith in July 2021 after his long experience with the Chicago Blackhawks, they did it so he might provide the kind of experienced leadership the team needed to push them into the postseason and have some success there. Obviously, that’s working.
During Game 5’s 5-4 overtime win over the Flames, Keith registered an assist and blocked four shots. Keith’s assist came on Evan Bouchard’s game-tying goal late in the second period. Although the 38-year-old defenseman has only hit the scoresheet in three of the Oilers’ 12 postseason games, he has contributed five points. More important, Keith has logged big minutes while playing in a top-four role.
His leadership is helping the team succeed.
Contributor Two: Ryan Nugent Hopkins
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (RNH) contributed an assist on the power play in Thursday’s win. His pass to Zach Hyman, who was parked in front of the Flames’ net, gave his team their first lead of the game later in the second period.
During the second round of the playoffs, RNH scored two goals and added four assists. He’s having a solid postseason and has put up 11 points in total (four goals and seven assists). During the postseason, Oilers’ head coach Jay Woodcroft has been using his top two lines often; and, as a result, RNH has averaged over 20 minutes a game.
Nugent-Hopkins, who’s the longest-serving Oilers’ player on the roster, will likely continue to be used heavily during the Western Conference Finals.
Contributor Three: Jesse Puljujarvi
Jesse Puljujarvi scored his first goal of the postseason on Thursday night. The goal came on a nice pass from Hyman almost in the middle of period two. Until that goal, Puljujarvi hadn’t registered a point during the last eight playoff games.
The score gave him three points in his 12 games during the postseason. During the playoffs, because of deployment, Puljujarvi has slid into a third-line role. He has, however, been playing well and is rated at even on the plus/minus for the postseason.
Contributor Four: Darnell Nurse
Darnell Nurse is having an interesting series. He hasn’t put up the same point totals as he’s registered over the regular season but he is playing a physical game and is involved in both the offense and the defense. He scored the Oilers’ first goal in the second period on Thursday. It was his first point in nine games.
Nurse’s offense has been unusually quiet during this postseason with only two goals and an assist; however, he’s logged a plus-11 rating in the 11 games he’s played. He’s playing well in his role on the Oilers’ top-pairing.
Contributor Five: Evan Bouchard
Evan Bouchard is emerging as a strong defenseman with a booming shot and high hockey IQ. In a wild second period that saw both teams together score four goals in only 1:11 (which was an NHL playoff record), Bouchard scored the game-tying goal later in that second period.
The 22-year-old defenseman scored three goals in five games against the Flames and now has three goals and five assists (for eight points) during this postseason.
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