Oklahoma City Barons: Barons have deadly power-play unit
Games can be won and lost on special teams. OKC leads the American Hockey League in power-play success rate.
“He's so talented,” Eberle said. “Schultzy is Schultzy. He's the type of (defenseman) every team would love to have, especially on their power play.”
Ralph Kruger, named Edmonton's head coach last summer, was the Oilers special teams coach last season. Edmonton improved from 27th in power play percentage to third under the former Swiss national coach whose top priority is outworking opponents.
“When we start to get too fancy we start shooting the puck,” Eberle said. “Obviously, we have a lot of skill, which helps. But I think the biggest thing is you have to win battles, especially after you shoot the puck originally. A lot of stuff comes out of second opportunities.”
There are subtle advantages to having an elite power play. Part of an opponent's game plan is to minimize minutes in the penalty box.
“For sure,” Nelson said. “Teams will want to play disciplined. They don't want to be idiots. They won't take as many chances because they won't want you to have power play opportunities.”
The Oilers haven't made the playoffs the past six seasons. One of the league's top power play units could help end the drought whenever the NHL returns.
And it's a power play unit that should continue to improve.
Nugent-Hopkins is 19. Hall just turned 21. Eberle and Schultz are 22.
“We've developed some chemistry with some good movement,” Eberle said. “If one guy makes a play down to another guy you know what spot you're supposed to be. The more we play with each other we're only going to get better.”
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