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No Offense Oilers, but Defense Will Win you a Cup

Carried by their offense, the Oilers are relying on their defense to get them over the hump

May 15 2024

Evan Bouchard celebrating the game-winning goal in the final minute of Game 4. SOURCE EDMONTON OILERS (TWITTER/X)

The subplot to this game and the underlying theme of this series was the Oilers' defense coming to play. They limited the Canucks to only two goals and shut them out through two periods of play.

The Oilers are led by their offense and it’s what gave them the second-best record in the Pacific Division as they averaged 3.56 goals per game this season. Now, the defense is leading them in a hard-fought series and is the reason they might end up winning the Stanley Cup. 

How The Oilers Won With Defense

The Oilers limited the shots on the net in the recent game. Calvin Pickard was the pleasant surprise as he started the game in the net, replacing starter Stuart Skinner but the defensive unit won the game. 

They limited the Canucks to only 21 shots on goal. The Oilers played the shooting lanes and were willing to block shots with Bouchard and Mattias Ekholm leading the way, combining for five blocked shots in the game.

The performance was impressive but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s been happening all season. It’s what makes this Oilers team a unique one that is capable of going on a Cup run.

The Knoblauch Effect

Kris Knoblauch was hired early on in the season, replacing Jay Woodcroft as the head coach. His impact on the team has been monumental. He balanced out their play and more importantly, made them a more sound team defensively.  

The Oilers allowed only 2.88 goals per game this season in part because they played a tighter game with the defensemen playing the shooting lanes in their zone. Pair that with a great offense led by superstars Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Zach Hyman and this team looks like a contender.


Championship-caliber teams win in multiple ways and the Oilers proved they can do that, not just this season but within the Second Round as well. They won Game 4-3 and they clawed away with their recent win 3-2.

Where The Oilers Must Go From Here

The Oilers have all the pieces in place to win the Stanley Cup but to do so, they must see the entire team step up in the two-way game. That starts with McDavid.

He’s the best player in the NHL and is a certain Hall of Famer. The one thing missing in his remarkable career in a Cup title. He’s a great scorer and while he steps up defensively, he needs to stand out on the defensive end of the ice. 

McDavid must control the center of the ice and limit passing lanes. Likewise, he must use possession to his advantage as he can control the puck and keep it away from the Canucks and thus use offense as a way of playing defense. The series is becoming a defense-first, grind-it-out one, and he must embrace it to help the Oilers advance.

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