At the most basic level, it's the little things that build great things, moreover, create or break a hockey organization. The space foundation is an absolute necessity if the goal is to build an inspiring, exciting masterpiece from above.
Edmonton Oilers have done so backwards, until now, with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisael among the various star players who worked without the security network of a properly built organization under them.
Today, at last, it seems to be working; that Edmonton has shed a proper foundation on which to build a functioning National Hockey League team. In both the micro and macro terms, the reason Edmonton headed into Tuesday's game in San Jose in second place in the Western Conference and (almost) wire-to-wire leaders in the Pacific Division this season, is because they do the little things like what's needed.
As a development in the right way. How to improve the goals against. Like (yawn) conquering more people.
Yes, Draisaitl and McDavid are first and third in the NHL scoring as we speak. But recall a year ago, when everyone Mc David, Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nursing (and a few others) had career seasons statistically, yet the Oilers weren't close to being a playoff team.
This is not basketball, where four really good players guarantee a level of success. The Oilers proved that last season, and prove it again in 2019-20 by showing us what things look like when they lay the foundation for their superstars.
So, define the foundation?
Well, it comes in many forms.
Properly run organizations should take advantage of the prospect or two of the depth of the draft – not just turn first or second round picks into NHL players. Along comes Ethan Bear, a fifth-place finisher in 2015, who has attracted some love for the Calder Trophy.
The bear is already a Top 4 NHL defender – a right-handed shot with exceptional punching skills. Here's a 22-year-old freshman defender who should be the Edmonton blue line anchor for the next decade, drafted in the 5th Circuit.
Organizations with sufficient, professional roster depth have players on the American Hockey League roster that are the Tweers – players who have proven they can play in the AFL and are not there specifically for development, but as the 24th and 25th players on the roster. the NHL list. In the past, whenever an injury occurred, the Naftar had called in a child who had not yet been proven at the AFL level and was rarely able to assist the NHL.
Now, that call is veteran of 800 games like Sam Gagner, or Colby Cave, who has played less (61 games) but possesses the skills in a NHL looking for a fourth-row player. Neither are overwhelmed with the promotion, and they both actually helped when they arrived – a whole new experience in Edmonton. On defense, Kellab Owens is officially overrun in Bakerfield and will allow Evan Bushar to remain in the minors if the D-man lands in Edmonton.
A successful NHL team has found itself signing unusual European free agents. While neither defender Eloie Persson, 25, nor winger Joakim Nigard, 26, are superstars, both have made the NHL roster better. If we can assume that the two Swedes will feel more comfortable collecting some matches in their new environment, not only will they help the Naftars win now, but they will buy time for young, drawn players to be in the AFL Bakerfield instead of be rushed to the NHL.
Sexy? Not at all.
Effective? Well, the Oilers are not a great team, but tonight they are marking the quarter-finals of the 19-19 season and showing no signs of overlapping the tents.
House of Oilers
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Between Beer and Persson, the Naftars survived the loss of defender Adam Larson in Game 1 of the season. That injury will cripple oilers a year ago.
On the ice, this is an organization that has been ranked dead last in the NHL in penalty shootout over the past five seasons. Today they are fifth in the league (85.7 percent), another area that fans of good teams often take for granted.
They are also fifth in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.47), proof of a team that is much better than the goalkeeper. Among the NHL goalkeepers with at least eight starts this season, Mikko Koskinen (.928) came in sixth with a save percentage, while Mike Smith (.926) came in eighth.
It's pretty simple: Good teams get a good goalkeeper, and as Smith comes in and stops the pack, his value that allows Koskinen to play less doubles his value.
So, five-to-five, the oil companies don't dominate, but they survive. What puts them up is the fact that they beat the special teams game most nights.
Edmonton's power play success rate (29.1%, ranked second) and penalty kill rate (85.7%, fifth place) adds up to 114.8. That's the biggest amount in the NHL, ahead of Boston (114.4), San Jose (112.5), Washington (109.4) and St. Louis (109.1).
Arguing, about six acquisitions, such as Riley Sheehan, Josh Archibald and Marcus Granlund, are there to help, though the three have added nearly zero fouls. What they have done is keep the matches long enough for the stars to win them for Edmonton.
There are enough goals in this lineup to get to three nights at most. There have always been.
Now, they can keep the other team in two.
This is a brand new ball game in Edmonton that we haven't seen in a long time.