The Edmonton Oilers have one of the best odds of winning the Stanley Cup this season thanks to their young talented players like Superstar, Connor McDavid, who won the Art Ross Trophy last season. With players like McDavid on the roster, betting odds for the Oilers games will certainly favor Edmonton in most games, but there is more to this team than just their offensive stars.
McDavid didn’t waste any time getting Edmonton fans excited about the season, scoring a hat-trick in their season opener. However, After the game, head coach Todd McLellan saved his biggest praise for the team’s defense.
McLellan commended McDavid and his linemates for doing an excellent job, but added that he was more impressed by the team defense they played. McLellan wasn’t the only one impressed by the team defense, the players were also happy with the way they defended all night as they shut out the Calgary Flames.
After the game, forward Leon Draisaitl said the team started focusing on their defense a lot last year and figured out how they really wanted to play it. The Oilers have a great goalie in Cam Talbot, and the team bought into playing hard on both sides of the puck. For over a decade, getting the Oilers skill players to focus on a defense-oriented approach to the game was a daunting task that was never realized. After the significant change in the team personnel, fans started to see results for Edmonton.
Cam Talbot said his life has been made easier by the change in philosophy, and things have drastically improved from his first season with the team. Even though everybody thinks of the Oilers as an offensive team, Talbot said they are very structured in their D-zone and gave credit to his teammates for embracing McLellan’s system.
McLellan said convincing skill players that a good defense creates better opportunities for them on offense is one of the biggest challenges a coach can face, but the Oilers are living proof that it is worth the effort.
McLellan when on to say, his team now values their defense and take pride in it. He added that regardless of how good a team is offensively, they need to play solid defense if they want to have success in the playoffs. He also said it is very important to get the players to understand and take pride in it, but when they do, it is very rewarding. He added that his team has gotten to the point and have fully embraced it.
McLellan expanded on this point using one of McDavid’s goals as an example. He said while everyone is focused on how great the goal was and how fast McDavid was skating, not too many people noticed the goal was possible because McDavid stripped the puck from Ferland thanks to his good defensive position.
Defenseman Darnell Nurse also noted that playing defense is always easier when you have six guys on the ice working as one. He said they were able to shut Calgary out because they didn’t give them much on the offensive end, and when they had the puck, they held onto it. He added that when a team has possession of the puck for most of the game, their opponents have fewer chances to score.