Patrice Bergeron
Photo credit: Theathletic.com

Former coaches and Bergeron assess the Oilers powerplay

Published May 1, 2024 at 6:15 PM

The Edmonton Oilers are painting a masterpiece of strategy and execution in their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, where their power play has been nothing short of sensational. Insights from an array of hockey's sharp minds, collected by Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, reveal a unanimous bewilderment at how to counter Edmonton's power play prowess, a sentiment echoed by NHL stalwart Patrice Bergeron and several veteran coaches.

Patrice Bergeron, known for his tactical acumen, confessed in a candid moment.

«I don't know if I have an answer for that. Holy moly. There's so many threats. Usually it's like pick your poison, right? Like what do you think is the most dangerous shot? Or usually it's seams. You don't want teams to seam you. Then if you take the seams away, they're going to use the low play or use the shot from the point, which — (Bouchard's) usually pretty accurate and usually gets it through.»

This quote encapsulates the conundrum that the Oilers' power play presents to even the most seasoned opponents.

Former Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock, who had a stint with the team during the early days of Connor McDavid's career, shared his perspective with little optimism for defenders.

»I've seen everybody try everything against it. Really aggressive. Really passive. But it's all based on the guy with the puck having movement. The guy with the puck isn't standing still. That's an easy thing to say and a hard thing to do. You just know it's going to be a goal when you see Connor or Leon start to skate around with the puck. You know the angles are going to change and there's going to be seams and gaps.»

His experience reflects the difficulty in neutralizing Edmonton's strategic depth.

The collective insight from respected figures like Dave Tippett, Gerard Gallant, and Craig Berube, alongside Hitchcock and Bergeron, underscores the multifaceted threat posed by the Oilers.

The team's special teams success isn't just about individual talent; it's about a symphony of movement, precision, and tactical execution. Connor McDavid's blistering speed, Leon Draisaitl's sniper-like precision, Zach Hyman's net-front prowess, and Evan Bouchard's commanding presence at the blue line form a quartet of threats that can strike from anywhere at any moment.

With the power play operating as a cornerstone of their strategy, the Oilers have also tuned their penalty kill to an elite level under coach Kris Knoblauch.

Their special teams' combined effectiveness rate stands at an astounding 153% this postseason, a stat that not only highlights their dominance but also positions them as formidable contenders for the Stanley Cup.

The Oilers' strategic superiority has been a spectacle of playoff hockey, demonstrating that when executed perfectly, a well-oiled machine like Edmonton's power play can seem nearly invincible. For more insights and reactions, follow the ongoing discussion at

where Pierre LeBrun continues to cover this intriguing playoff series.
May 1   |   233 answers
Former coaches and Bergeron assess the Oilers powerplay

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